Toledo's Comments

Head Coach Bob Toledo answers questions at his press conference Monday. He talks about the San Diego State game, the mindset heading into the Pac-10, Ed Blanton and the wide receiver rotation, among other things...

Exerpts from Head Coach Bob Toledo's press conference on Monday...

On the San Diego State game...

"We bounced back and won a road game. I'm not here to say that San Diego State was a great football team by any means. But if you look at some of the things they've done, and their players, and how they've been close in almost every game. They had the #1 and #3 wide receivers in the nation, and the second-leading passer in the nation. They've done some good things and I'm pleased that we did what we did. I was. Overall I thought our team performance was good. Offensively, defensively, and special teams.

"What was nice is we got to play a lot of football players. We took a lot of kids down there and played a bunch of walk-on kids at the end. They don't get many opportunities. This week for example we can only take 60 players, so a lot of those guys, and some scholarship players, will have to stay home. But it's pleasing to me to let a kid to go in for just one play. It's great for morale and I really enjoy doing it.

"My main concern was the sacks. We had five sacks. There are reasons for that, and different people involved. It's not just one person for all five sacks, and I'm not going to get into that. But it's something we need to continue to work on and continue to improve."

On now starting Pac-10 play and whether there is a difference in seriousness...

"There is now a sense of urgency. These games now count. Not that the other ones didn't. But if you win these you get a chance to win the conference championship. We've proven in the past that if you win your non-league games it doesn't really matter unless you win your league games. This is a tough league, and I'm sure the champion probably won't go undefeated either. We were the last team to go undefeated in this conference. There have only been four in the history of the conference. Every week any team can beat anybody."

On using Manuel White more and whether he'll start at tailback...

"We either come out in two backs or one back. In two backs, Manuel's been the fullback. If we come out in one back, Manuel will be the one back. He did that quite a bit last week. He's an excellent runner and a physical runner. He and Akil Harris are both going to play, like they have. They're both considered starters in my opinion. But we have to wait and see what's going to happen during the course of the week and see how we're going to start the game. As you know, we script the first dozen plays and it depends on what we do and that will determine who starts.

"When we're throwing the football, we like them both in there because they're both good receivers. But they're also good pass blockers. The other thing is, we're struggling at fullback right now because of the injuries. They're not 100% healthy. We've been using some H-back. We've been using Marcedes Lewis as an H-back, which is almost like a fullback. Keith Carter is back, too, which gives us another H-Back.

"But Manuel needs to be on the field. He can run the ball and catch the ball at both tailback and fullback. He's a blocker at fullback. I wish I had another Manuel. It'd sold a lot of problems."

On the performance of the fullbacks...

"They have to continue to improve. They're both nicked up and it shows. They both have played better. J.D. Groves, with his neck, it hurts when he gets hit. He's not healthy and neither is Norton."

On how Ed Blanton played taking the place of injured starting tackle Mike Saffer...

"Pretty good. I was very pleased with how he played. He didn't cause a sack, he knew who to block. He smothered some guys. I kept referring to him when looking at the film as "Mountain Man," since he's as big as a mountain. He's 6-9, 335 pounds. He's athletic and he's tough, and competitive. Great second effort. I tell you what. He's going to be a heck of a football player. I told Mike Saffer, ‘Mike, you're like his personal coach. I want you watching every play and every time he comes off the field, I want you talking to him.' Mike said, ‘Coach, he's doing a heck of a job.' And he did. He was nervous as heck. But I was really pleased with his performance.

"I think anytime you put a guy in there who's never taken a snap, you just never know. That's what's great about college athletics. You throw them in there and you see what they do. Practice is never like the games. That's what exciting about coaching. To see young guys go out there and perform. Blanton now feels good about himself. I feel good about him. He gained a lot of respect from his teammates. When we watch that film today they'll gain a lot of respect for him. He now knows he can play football at this level. You never know until you're in there."

On making other changes on the offensive line...

"We went into the game, seeing how he was going to do. We always have the ability to move Vieira to tackle. But Vieira has been nicked up, too. He has a pinched nerve. So I was hoping this kid could get us through it, and learn from it. I was very pleased. He's the backup right tackle. When Mike Saffer comes back he's the starter. But we've found a guy for the future, I know that. Vieira knows how to do play tackcle, and Mociler knows how to do that. Mociler played both at the end there, guard and tackle. The thing with Vieira, I'd rather not do it if I can help it. He has a stinger in his neck, and it goes numb on him once in a while."

On linebacker Patrick Pierre-Louis and whether he might redshirt...

"He's not ready to play yet. Until he can go through some drills and protect himself he's not ready to play. As we keep going it's more difficult for him to start to play. He's not ready right now, no."

On potentially using a nickel package...

"You'd like to see what you can do with four. We had a nickel package ready to go in that game, but we didn't need it. We put it in one time and they called time out. So we didn't run the nickel package and didn't need it. We didn't run it once all last year and we were fine. Again, you have a plan, you have a package. You get in the game and feel your way through it. You see what you have to do and you can always grab it if you need it. We didn't need it."

On getting pressure on the quarterback...

"Our philosophy is to bring heat with other people, rather than with just the defensive line. We played one snap of man in that game. A lot of people don't realize that. They think that because you're blitzing all the time. We're playing a lot of zone blitz, like everyone's doing. So we really only played man coverage one time in that entire game."

On not having lost a fumble yet this year...

"It's going to happen one of these times. We're the only team among 117 in NCAA division 1-AA football that hasn't lost a fumble. So, it's bouncing pretty nice for us right now. I'll take it right now. You win a lot of football games if you win the turnover ratio. Don't give me bad luck now. Jiminy Christmas."

On whether Drew Olson will see action in the Pac-10...

"We wanted to get him some playing time in the non-league games, and we did that. He learned a great lesson the other day. If he had gotten rid of one ball they guy would still be running. He's learning some great lessons in the little time he's had on the field. These games count now. Not that the others didn't. But Paus is playing until the game is decided on the field."

On using a more limited rotation of receivers...

"Well, you have to give them a rest every once in a while, because Bragg and Perry are on special teams. But we won't play as many receivers. But we're still going to play four, and sometimes a fifth guy will go. The substitution, the rotation, has really paid off I think. We're as healthy as any team in the country. Ryan Smith is the third receiver. And Junior Taylor has really started to come on .So you'll see a little more of Junior as we go. He has to learn a little more of the offense. He's been a little confused. I think he's catching the ball a little better. He's not a natural catcher. He certainly has a lot of speed."


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