Did you think the team was flat coming out for the WSU game?
I feel like the team was playing. I think everybody was ready to play. On the first kick-off things just didn't go our way. I think we just let that get to us too much as a team, and we let it get us down. So it appeared like we were walking around kind of discouraged about the way things went early on in the game, but we just have to bounce back from that."
What happened at halftime?
"Coach (Karl) Dorrell talked to us, about our body language and stuff. Basically although those things have happened, and we were facing adversity, we just had to have fun. I watched the tape. It wan't that people weren't playing with effort. I saw people flying around. But we missed a lot of tackles. It looked like we weren't having fun. It wasn't like the same team. So we just had to go out there and have fun again, run around excited and have fun. And that's what we did in the second half."
Could part of the problem have been that the defensive call wasn't coming in quickly enough and you were still running around getting set?
"They ran a hurry-up offense, and we did get some of the calls late. That affected us being able to line up how we were supposed to. People were late getting on things. They never really got a big play off of that, but it did happen a couple of times."
Why do you think the defense had such trouble tackling against WSU?
"It's something I can't even explain."
Did you see that on film?
"Yeah. We had 21 missed tackles. Again, it wasn't that people weren't playing hard. It just seemed that sometimes we'd get to places too fast, we'd over-run the ball carrier and he'd cut back. We just have to be more sure tacklers. If you're not going to tackle on defense it's going to be pretty tough to stop anybody."
What's a normal number of missed tackles for your defense this year in a game?
"It's been around ten. You'd like to keep it under double digits. But this year we've been around ten. Against Stanford we only had about 7. That tells you everything. If you're going to play your best defense you can't miss tackles."
Is it something with the program or something week to week getting you guys ready to play?
"It's week to week. It starts in practice. We practice really hard. It's physical. You have to go full speed. I think that's how we've been ready to play in every game. Things just didn't go our way at the beginning of the Washington State game, and unfortunately we didn't play a good first half."
You didn't practice in full pads at all last week. Did that affect the game?
"I don't think that played into it all. I think they (the coaches) didn't want people getting taken to the ground by accident and that kind of helps you. When you see a guy in shorts you're not going to dive and try to tackle him low. I don't think that was what hurt us. I just think we just have to handle problems that happen in the game better than we did."
How important is this week in the big picture for the program?
"It's huge. It's still the season. We have two more games left. We have to go up to Oregon and beat a good football team. We just have to go out and practice and get ready for that, and that will be a huge win. We still have to get to a bowl game."
You think you've played your best when you're up against it this year?
"We don't have quitters on this team. Probably the best characteristic of our team is taht we'll never quit, we're always fighting. We'll definitely be ready to play against Oregon. We've been there, after the Arizona State game, when it seemed like everybody else felt it was all over for us. This team won't quit, and they won't listen to any of that. We'll come out fighting, I know that."
Do you think you guys were emotionally ready at the very beginning of the game?
"At the very beginning it seemed like it. But as some things happened in the game it seemed like it kind of came out of us. Instead of us going out there and having fun we were kind of just playing. People were still running and playing hard, but that excitement didn't seem like it was there anymore."
Is that a mental toughness issue?
"Somewhat. You just have to learn. It's not necessarily that we thought we're not as good as them, we knew we were as good as them. You just can't let affect you, especially so eaerly on in the game. That was just the first quarter."
How does a team get over something like that? It seemed like last year there were a lot of mental toughness issues as the year wore on. How does a program get over that?
"I think we got over it at halftime. We should never see that happen again. It's the first time it's happened to this team all year. Nobody was happy about it all. We just can't have it. And I seriously doubt it will happen again. With the character on this team, we won't allow it to happen again."
How do you feel about the comments of the WSU players after the game?
"I don't know what they said."
They said they knew early on they were going to be able to move the ball because you guys weren't arguing amongst yourselves, but holding your heads down.
"That's what Coach Dorrell was talking about in the locker room. Body language. If you let a team think that they're beating you then that's what they're going to feel like. It's going to get them more confidence and make them a better team."
Was there arguing going on? One of the WSU offensive lineman said he heard arguing going on amongst the UCLA defense.
"I didn't hear arguing. There might have been yelling, trying to figure out what the call was, because we got it late. Yelling at each other, 'What's the call?' But I didn't hear any arguing amongst our team."
Was getting the calls late do you think because defensive coordinator Larry Kerr was upstairs and it took so long to get it in?
"I think so. But you know, I really can't say. They ran a hurry-up offense. They got on the ball really quickly. I can't really tell you what was the problem. That may have been the problem, but I can't say. I don't know if he was still trying to run what defense he was trying to run and get it in."
If you have a blitz called and you can hear the quarterback calling an audible, do you have flexibility to check out of it?
"You can check out of it, but you don't want to start checking right away. You want to see what he's trying to audible to. There's still a chance you can run that blitz against it. They checked out of some stuff early, and got some stuff on us. But then, on one play, he had checked out of a call he was in, and we were in a blitz. We checked our defense, and they ran the play right into where the blitz would have been. So you never can tell. Sometimes you have to stick with your stuff and sometimes you have to make choices."
Who checks out of it on your defense?
"First of all, the coaches will let us know if we can check out of it. And then it's Justin London who can check out of it if he makes the call."
When Coach Kerr calls the play from upstairs, who's it go to on the sideline?
"It goes to Coach (Brian) Snyder."
Then Justin relays it to you guys?
"Justin runs the huddle. The secondary doesn't go in the huddle. We just look at the sideline and get the call ourselves. Then Justin gives it to the d-line and linebackers."
How do you offset the home field advantage in Oregon?
"You can't let them be in the game. If you come out and play like last week, and let them get out in front of you, it will be one of the loudest stadiums in the nation. But if you can take them out of the game they won't have anything to cheer about."