Media Day Interview with Toledo

Head Coach Bob Toledo took questions at the Pac-10 Media Day Wednesday. He talked candidly about the nose-dive from last season, Cory Paus, and the goals for the upcoming season...

What's the status of Jarrad Page?

"Well, I've talked to his dad and him, and he has no intention right now of signing [the baseball contract]. If you ask me, he may do both in college. He won't do the Ricky Manning thing, at least he hasn't signed yet, and he might not."

What is your stance on the C.J. Niusulu situation?

"First, if anyone gets convicted of a felony, they're gone. But whatever he did prior to his reporting, I'm not going to handle that. When he comes in, we're going to sit down and talk. Again, I'll educate him about what he's supposed to do. He can't go around hitting people obviously. But if you're convicted of a felony while in school, you're gone."

How's the situation with Cory Paus?

"What I tried to do, is tell Cory he has to walk the straight line. He has to stay out of trouble off the field and improve his performance on the field. Right now, Cory is very confident. He feels very good about himself. He feels like he's the guy. But he knows, in talking to him, there's a hammer over his head and he can't afford to make any mistakes."

You have said you were going to give the other quarterbacks an opportunity to win the starting job.

" I told John Sciarra and the freshmen I was going to give them a chance to come in and compete. Sciarra and the two incoming freshmen will have time in practice to compete, and Sciarra will run some stuff with the first group. And if either one of those freshmen mentally can handle it, I'll run some stuff for them with the first group as well. And then, I've already told Cory whether he's the starter or not, one of those other guys is going to get an opportunity to play in the first game. At what point I'm not sure yet, but I'm going to try to get another guy prepared even if Cory starts, or if something happens to Cory in the future. If he got hurt, for example, at least we have someone who has game experience in those first few games. The other guy going to play early in the game, not at the end of the game. It's not going to be a rotating deal. Just one of those guys will get a chance."

Is it scary going into the season without an experience backup at quarterback?

"Yeah, it is. That's why I'm going to do what I'm going to do. Get another quartrerback with some experience. We have four non-league games. And we've proven that winning the non-league games doesn't help you much, right? So, one, or maybe two, maybe all three, will get an opportunity to play."

The young quarterbacks have been working out with the players. What have you heard about them?

"Good reports. I've heard that they've all done a pretty good job. They were coming from Cory. Cory was really impressed. He's tough on those guys. He was really tough on Sciarra last year. But he said that they look pretty good."

How could you foresee another quarterback starting over Paus?

"The only way that would happen would be if I thought those other guys were considerably better than him and caught on to the offense quickly. It's very likely that he will be the starter, but he has to know that he can't make any mistakes."

What kind of pressure do you feel to have a good season?

"The pressure I put on me. Someone asked about a hot seat. A hot seat to me are the nine miners that were trapped. That's a hot seat. If you look at what happened, we've done some good things. We had the 20-game win streak and won a couple of Pac-10 championships. Then we took a little nose-dive. I think that had to do with the recruiting thing. Last year was our first recruiting class. We have steadily progressed in each of the last three years. It's not just 17-17. It's 4-7, 6-6 and 7-4. And I think we're making progress. We have lost some close football games. Last year, we lost three games by 17 points, and lost to the eventual champion by one point. I'm not in a panic mode. I don't feel like I'm on the hot seat. I put pressure on myself. I want to do well. I think our administration is very understanding. I think I'm a good football coach. I think we've recruited well. The cupboard's not bare. I think we'll be very competitive."

When did you feel your team lost confidence last year?

"When we lost to Stanford, our confidence was shattered. We had set goals, and our goals were to win the national championship. When we lost to Stanford, in our team locker room, you look on the wall, and there are our goals. Ryan Nece came to me and say, ‘Coach, when you're talking and I'm looking behind you, it says Win the National Championship, Win the Pac-10, and all of a sudden the goals are gone. So, what are we playing for?' So, it was an attitude. Off the field with those two kids, it hurt us chemistry-wise. And then couple that with the turnover ratio, which was huge. We were fourth in the nation in the first six games and we ended up 22nd in the nation at the end of the season. So turnovers played a big part. It was chemistry thing, an attitude thing. It all played a big part. Particularly in the SC game. It really affected our football team. That's when DeShaun was declared ineligible, and that's when Cory was discovered to have a problem. So, that was a knockout punch for that game."

What kind of goals do you have set for this season?

"Our goal this year is to win the upcoming game. And team unity. Those are the two goals. But the biggest one is to not worry about what's happening and not too look to far in the future. We lost that one game last year, and the season was over. It was a lesson on my part. We had 23 seniors. And I thought we had mature, experienced guys and I let them set the goals. They gave me ten goals and I narrowed it down to the five that we voted on. But this year I'm setting the goals. And I think the players appreciate it, too."

Are you more careful with setting goals now?

I'm a very goal-oriented person. And positive. And that's the first time in my life that goals really affected the entire outlook for the season. I've always said my goal is to compete for a national championship. I've always been quoted as saying that. Not winning a national championship. Compete for the national championship and win the Pac-10. But by saying that we wanted to win the national championship, win the Pac-10, go undefeated, we set ourselves up for failure when we lost the first game. A lot of players came to me and said that was the mental thing. The game is so mental, that that really affected our football team. The great thing about is that we had 23 seniors, and those guys are gone, so it's like we have a new team. We only have 15 seniors. We have a lot of young guys. They saw what happened last year, and they want to atone for that. So the attitude right now is really good and the team chemistry is very good. And setting goals the way we have, we're realistic. And we can always point to it if we lose again, hey the season isn't over. We're going to win the next game."

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