Dorrell's Monday Press Conference

Head Coach Karl Dorrell is particularly upbeat addressesing the media in his weekly Monday Press conference. After the ASU game, he talks about the team learning to finish...

Karl Dorrell had his weekly Monday press conference where he addressed the media.

"Recapping the game from Saturday, as you know it was a very disappointing loss. We had some good things that were done and we improved upon in the game. It was a heck of a football game. That's one thing. When we came back and watched it on Sunday and went through the whole process with film watch, it was a very competitive football game. The difference in the game as you know early on we made some mistakes early and they capitalized on some of those mistakes. They came out with a big lead against us. We fought ourselves back into the game and came up with a couple of turnovers on our side of it that translated in points for us. It got us close, back in the game at half. We had an excellent third quarter. We went out ahead, in the early portion of the fourth quarter. With seven minutes left, as a matter of fact, it was seven minutes and 12 seconds from what I saw on our film, we were up 42-31 and in pretty good position for an opportunity to win the football game and we didn't win the football game. We didn't finish. We were competitive and played hard and did all those things you need to do. But we have to learn how to finish. That is what we are real close at doing as a team. To go in that environment and put that many points on the board, and have a defense do some good things in that game, where they had three sacks and three interceptions. It was our first game under 200 yards rushing. There were some positives to take from that game. Some guys did improve. We did do some good things to battle. Unfortunately we just came up a little bit short. We are at the point now where we know what we are capable of doing. It is two weeks in a row where we played against two highly-ranked teams. The Cal game, and we battled in that game. We didn't get as close in the end to make it as close as it should have been. Then the Arizona State game, where we had a chance to win the football game and didn't finish the game. There is a lot to build from from this past week. Our kids are not moping around. The coaches are not moping around. We're all excited about the opportunity this week. We fell off the horse on Saturday and we jumped right back on it Sunday afternoon. We are excited to get going and play against Stanford this week, and to take those steps closer to doing the capabilities of what our program should be doing."

How did Shannon Tevaga play?

"Shannon played well. He started for the first time at strong guard for us, and really played well. He got pretty comfortable as the game unfolded and really did some good things in the game. That was a great move on our part. He did some good things for us, and we're excited about what he's done. He really helped start production in the run game. Our run game had a better production than in the past two or three weeks. We did a nice job controlling the line of scrimmage, for the most part."

Is Trey Brown going to start this week?

"Trey Brown will start this week. He came in as you know during the middle of the game and made a couple of really good plays. Like I tell most corners that play for the first time, you're going to get picked on and you're going to get beat at some point. So the game that he actually made the plays in he actually got beat, too. It's one of those games. It was a critical error at a critical time in the game. But you know what? He is a great kid who will build from this. He showed a lot of guts and played well. Unfortunately he made a mistake on a coverage play and they capitalized on it, but that is going to happen. Corners are on islands, and they're going to get beat from time to time. He's the type of kid, no sweat off his back.  He's ready to roll and step in and play for us this week."

What precipitated using Trey Brown over Rodney Van?

"He had a great week of practice. We were having him play both left and right corner, and he just proved to us in practice that he was ready to go. He was really focused and doing a lot of things good in practice. We felt good about him coming into the game and backing up either side."

He was one that had a really good spring, correct?

"Yes, he did. He had a very good spring. He had a good game. For a first time stepping out there, he had an interception and made a couple of tackles. It was good to see him come out and make those kind of plays in that type of environment."

You talked about the team learning to finish. Can you teach that or is that something the team has to learn on its own?

"I think you have to learn it. I really do. To be in games like that and to have opportunities like that, you have to learn how to finish a game. That's a learning process for young players and in some cases for older players too, that have not been in those situations before. We're closer and closer to getting where we want to be. That's what we're building on here in our program. They see that. We watched the tape yesterday. They saw the positions that we were in. They saw the opportunities that we had in our grasp. We just didn't finish and those are the things we will build and continue to work with as we finish these next four games of the season."

Is there an extra emphasis on this next game against Stanford now, given where you are in the season?

"Our emphasis isn't going to change. It's extra emphasis every week, as the latter weeks continue through the rest of the season. But it's a great point. Each game matters that much more as it gets closer to the end. This is a very similar team. Stanford is in a similar situation. The difference is we have a lot of young players and they have a lot of experienced players. We like this matchup. Given the state of the game we had last week and the positives we had from the game, after watching it again on Sunday, we're ready to get back in the horse, and take the next few steps forward."

What is the status of Chris Horton's injury?

"Chris Horton has a foot sprain. It is a pretty significant one. He will not be available this week. It swelled up on him Sunday. He is still on crutches. It is one of those injuries where he won't be able to run or do anything until the swelling goes down and that is probably going to take a little while."

So, it's a multiple week thing?

"I'm guessing that. I don't know the prognosis. I would say for sure not this week, and we'll see next week."

If you had a chance to re-play the last seven minutes of the game  would you have done anything differently defensively?

"No. And you know, it wasn't just a defensive issue. The offensive staff is beating themselves up. If we only would have gotten two or three first downs. You can say that after the fact, in a lot of different cases in the game. That's part of it. Hindsight is 20-20, right? In the state of that game, the play calls weren't bad. We just have to execute. We have to turn the antennas up that much more and finish the game. That's a learned trait to do. It's like when a boxer gets a punch on a guy and he knows he's buckled his legs, and he's down and he's hurt. He attacks him. It's the same kind of deal. When you are in the position to do something like that, you have to attack and finish what you've started. And that is something we will learn to do. Unfortunately we lost the game because of that situation, but we'll learn a great deal because of that situation."

Marcedes Lewis said that this year is different from last year, that this year's team had a feeling of - what are we playing for? What type of attitude do you see with this team right now that you're happy with at this point?

"I'm happy with this team because it is nowhere close to last year's team. It is a totally different makeup and a totally different mindset. The character of this team is unbelievable. We have been in this situation before this year. We have lost games and we have responded and played hard and did some good things the following weeks. Our attitude right now is that we know we are really close. We see it. Unfortunately we did not prove it and complete it last week. That is why they are eager to take those next steps forward to get this thing where it should be."

How do you now work the rotation at tailback, with Chris Markey coming on?

"We'll work that very similar to what you saw on Saturday. Manuel White and Maurice are our primary two, but then our off-speed pitch will be Chris Markey getting in there in some point in the game, probably somewhere in the second quarter. It's not going to change the rotation of what we do all that much. We like what he brings to the table, and we'll continue to use him in certain areas, and certain times of the game."

Do you think he'll get more carries?

"He is going to earn it. He'll get at least what he's gotten. Maybe a little bit more, but not significantly more."

The play where Trey Brown got beat on the hitch and go, was that zone or man coverage?

"That was man coverage. Man free. Like most corners, they jump up on the first move. He saw the mistake on tape. He's going to be fine. That happens to any young corner. We picked on a couple of young corners on their team. It's the same thing. It's going to happen. You can't stop it. He'll live through it and build on it."

When you saw the tape, were Drew Olson's interceptions anything different than what you saw during the game?

"Drew played well. He had great stats. He made a couple mistakes that he knows he wishes he wouldn't have done. He knew right after he threw it. That is the sign of a guy that is mature, a sign of a guy who really understands the process of what he's doing in directing an offense. He is just as frustrated as anybody with that type of thing happening in the middle of a football game. But if you look at the other side of it, he had some strings in the middle of the game after he threw his third interception when he got hot. He started doing some really good things. You talk about character, there are a lot of quarterbacks that when you have that type of start, you can't get them to finish. You can't get them to do things right from that point on. He shows that type of resolve as a player to just get refocused and start doing great things. That is what I love about the kid. He is very grounded. It takes a lot to rattle him and he wasn't rattled. He just kept fighting and I think he is really playing well for us."

What kind of season has Matt Clark had?

"He's having a good season. He's been beat a little bit, but not that bad. He's been in position. On the ones he's been beat he's been in position to make those plays. There was a play I think late in the fourth quarter where they scored a touchdown on them, and he tripped up. He was in position, in perfect coverage. His feet get tangled up with the receiver and he falls. What do you say? He was in great coverage. That's just one of those unfortunate things that happens. He's playing well. He's very confident in his man-to-man skills. He's playing pretty well."

Why did you do better against the run?

"This was the first team we held to under 200 yards rushing. We really wanted to make an effort to stop the run game. And that was a good thing that we did. It was also a good game by having three sacks. We hadn't had that many sacks in a game. That was a positive. Three interceptions. We haven't had that many interceptions in a game. So there were a lot of things that were positives that the defense improved on this last week. We're going to build on those things and continue to get better with this young defense."

Can you quantify how much the offense has improved over a year ago?

"A lot.  I think it's a three-year process. And we're in a pretty good start in year two. We'll be lights out in year three. That's how confident I am in this offense. The great thing about it, there are a lot of players back on that side of the ball. They're going to be a lot more experienced in what we're doing. We have good skill in a lot of different areas. That's what this offense does. It makes you defend everybody."

How many years process is it on defense?

"It wasn't a whole year last year. Our defense I think is going to be really good. In fact, I know it's going to be really good. Part of it is the growing pains of playing with some young players. And we're not real big. Our d-line is not real big. We have some linebackers that have some experience, but our experienced players, one is hurt and one has been making all the tackles and he's been getting a little worn down. Then you have everyone else who is new. You have a backend that's in pretty good shape with your safeties and your corners. But the interior, the nucleus of this defense is young."

Do you recruit more for size on defense?

"No, I would error on the side of the athlete than the size. That's why you see guys playing for us that, for instance, like William Snead or Bruce Davis, who are 235 or 240, playing against guys who are 280 or 290.  In a year from now, when they're 260 and 265 and lightning quick with great change movement, those are the kind of players you want on the edge. That's the style of athlete we want in our defense. We just have these holes to fill from last year."

But you'll continue to go after better athletes and then bulk them up when they're here?

"Ideally you want the size and the athlete. But those are hard to find. It's what call Doc Kreis in the weight room, kind of thing, to develop those guys."

How much will Craig Bragg play?

"He played in the game and had no setbacks. He's full go. He'll be back in his starting role, playing and hopefully with the production he left off with. That's what we're counting on."

Will he play as much as he did before his injury?

"He won't play as much as he did before the injury. He's going to start. He'll be in the rotation consistently. That's going to be a gradual process to get him back to where he's full time. He played a limited number of plays Saturday, and he'll get more plays this time, probably half the plays of our offense. Until we feel he's full-go where he can be out there for 90% of the time."

With Tab Perry behind him, does that mean there's less than a usual drop-off when you go to your back-up?

"When Bragg left, there was a hole, after the Washington game. He's been gone for three or four weeks, and the younger guys have picked it up. So they've grown with the throwing game, just as Drew Olson has grown with the throwing game. So in terms of him being back, I don't see any drop off. I see it as a solid group of receivers. Whether Bragg is in there or not, we'll be able to sustain and be exactly what we need to be in productive out there. Before the injury, there might have been a little bit of an experience issue. But now with those games under their belt, they're playing pretty well."

With this defense, you have said they are a bend-and-not-break type, and being young and inexperienced, and then in this game spending so much time on the field, do you think it all caught up with them in the fourth quarter?

"It could have been a factor. But their offense is out there, too, for 88 plays. They have to play. There's no excuses for that. The offense has to do what they got to do, and the defense has to do what they got to do to put ourselves in a position to win the football game. That's the bottom line. You have to learn to do that. Let me put a case in point. We're up 11 points in the game. And Jarrad Page, who has played a lot of plays on defense, on the ensuing kick-off he makes a great tackle on the kick-off returner inside the 20-yard line, just flying down the field and making that play. Is that a reflection that he's had too many plays and can't make that play? No. He understands that it's that point in the game where we have to make these kind of plays. That's just one individual. You need your team to do that. The antennas have to go up like, 'Hey, we got it. We got what we have to do. This is how we have to finish. This is how we got to make those plays.' That's the process we fell short with, and we'll learn from that."

You talk about how the team has improved from a year ago, how do you feel personally from a year ago, from November to November?

"Ten times better than I was a year ago. Even though it may not be reflected in wins and losses right now, I know where we're at. So it's different. The transition period is over. The steps that you see your program making right now, the attitude of your players, I can see more light at the end of the tunnel now than a year ago. Everything is right in line where it should be. I believe in that, our staff believes in that, and our players are right there. They understand they have to go through these periods of improvement and growing up and maturing to be where you want to be, and they're understanding that process as they move along through the season."

A year ago were you worried you weren't headed in the right way?

"No, not at all. It was just getting used to your players. You don't know your players all that well. You're putting in your offense and defense. It was a different feeling with some of the older, outgoing players. This year's team is a young football team that really wants to be something special. They really want to learn and make those steps to make this program what it should be."

Are you enjoying yourself more?

"Sure I am. The players help. It's fun. After the game I was just as disappointed as they were. And they knew that. That's why we're together as a program, as a staff and as a team. They share the same disappointments we do. They know they can count on us. And yesterday we got back on the horse. We viewed the game, saw the issues that are our problems, and we decided, 'Let's go. It's time to go.' We've done some good things, and we're going to keep building and keep moving forward."


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