Rick Neuheisel took questions after the Cal game Saturday afternoon.
‘'Congratulations to Stanford, they played a whale of a ball game. Their offense was as advertised and they got done what they said they could get done. But I really am proud of the way we fought and the way we scratched our way back into the game. That's what I expect from our guys and if we can clean up some of the mistakes that gave drives new life and kept us from getting in the end zone when we needed to, we'll be a better product, too. We've just got to go back to the drawing board and keep trying to fix things, because we need more touchdowns rather than just field goals.''
Was Toby Gerhart more than you expected?
‘'No, we played against him last year. I mean, he's a load now. He'll be sore, but he's a load.''
You used some different personnel in the second half, with Damien Thigpen, Ryan Moya …
‘'Well, we've got a lot of young players and each of them you try to give little bits and pieces of roles, share the ball, and as we learn more about our team we'll start narrowing things down. But we've got a lot of young players that I want to keep developing in our program.''
It seemed like you pulled out some stuff from the offense after you got down, was there any apprehension of bringing that stuff out earlier?
‘'Well, I thought we were moving the ball earlier. It wasn't a case of not moving it. We got two critical holding calls that took us out of drives. I didn't think … when you've got special plays, there's a timing for them, and I trust the instincts of Norm (Chow) on that. I kind of remind him of them, but I trust his instincts as to what's the right time to do it.''
The hit by Rahim Moore, how costly was that?
‘'Well, it was a huge play in the game. It's third down and 10 and we finally get them off the field, but now they're alive and also we lose a very, very talented safety that you just know is going to make plays in the game and he's gone. But hopefully he'll be healthy and we'll get him back.''
Did you think that was a penalty on that play?
‘'Those are always bang-bang plays. I'm not going to question anyone's judgment. I can see why he called it. I can also see why he wouldn't call it. It's one of those, very close. I mean, kids commit and the ball is in the air and they're trying to go ... they can't tell that ball is over his head. I mean, there's no way he can tell. Especially looking into the sun, where he was. He's just going to try to make a play. But I can't fault the official.''
What did you think about Kevin Craft today?
‘'You know, there's some really good things and there are some things, when we look at the tape, we're going to wish we had done differently. Usually, when he's playing at the right tempo, the speed, and he's playing organized, he's pretty darn good. When he gets going too fast, he starts getting a little quick, he starts going faster than the offense and then his timing gets off. There was some of both of that. Some where he was really efficient and good and some where he just went too quickly. Keep working … keep working.''
With the guys in your defensive front seven, should Stanford be able to move the ball like that?
‘'Well, they did some things with an extra lineman, and things to create new gaps and so forth. And they're a heavy bunch up front. You know, we didn't get it done to the extent possible, but I thought we improved as the game went on.''
Anything on the final drive you'd like to have back?
‘'Yeah, a touchdown. We had a timeout. We're down on the 20, 25 yard line. We need some plays. We just didn't make them. We've got to hit those passes. We can't miss them. You've got to make those plays.''
How about their passing efficiency?
‘'I thought their quarterback was terrific. He made a lot of plays, he made plays with his legs, he made plays with his arm. The pitch back pass, that was a big play in the game that got them down to the 6, which led to a touchdown. That was a huge play and a great throw. I was impressed with him. He's a very talented young man.''
The focus you have to put on Gerhart, does that allow the quarterback to seize those opportunities?
‘'Sure it does. The more you pound away and slug, the more you have to add guys to the box and the more you add guys to the box the more space there is outside. And with Chris Owusu and the other kid making as many plays as they did, you know, they're a tough group. They play well, they're tough.''
What sort of landmark is this for your program?
‘'Well, it's a reminder that we're not there yet. But I think most people would have taken 3-1. You know, I don't like the loss, I was hoping like heck and fighting and scratching and clawing to the finish to get to 4-0. But 3-1 is an improvement from where we were a year ago, and we can't lose sight of the big picture as we're fighting and scratching in this season. The big picture is you've got to keep showing signs of improvement. We fought to the bitter end. We were in the game to the bitter end and Stanford, they got the job done.''
How do you expect them to bounce back?
‘'I expect them to bounce back just like they bounced back from 24-6, fighting to the finish. That's what we do.''
Third down conversions, Stanford had quite a few, especially early.
‘'You've got to get guys off the field. That's why that 3rd-and-10 where they get the penalty is such a big play because you finally get them off, you know, you're starting to turn the momentum of the game and it's not to be.''
What is the status with Rahim?
‘'Rahim was trying hard to get back in the game. Wisely, our doctors said not to do that and obviously I concur with that decision and hopefully his head will clear. I think it's pretty clear right now and he'll be available next week. That's my hope.''
Neuheisel Talks After Stanford
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