We're really anxious to have this opportunity to come home finally and get back in the Coliseum. That was one of our first thoughts after the last game--about us getting a chance to come back home now. It has been very important to the success of our program to play well in the Coliseum. We've enjoyed a good run here. We have the chance to get after it again. This is a big deal to us as a program to play well at home and get things start. So, we're looking forward to his. There's a good crowd coming, a terrific opponent and we're looking forward to this matchup against Colorado State.
(On developing young players during bye weeks)
That's part of our approach in every bye week, to develop the depth and give the guys an opportunity to move up and challenge the guys that are playing. That's part of the competitive approach that we take. And we did that in this past week. It helped our confidence in the players as they develop and helps the players, too. I think that this week you'll see some young guys play who didn't play in the opener because of that. It's important. That's not the only criteria of the off week at all. There are plenty of things to get done. But that is one of the issues we try to deal with. I'm excited about a couple guys. It will definitely help the receivers and the guys who are playing in the line like Jeff Byers and Jeff Schweiger. They got great work and Keith Rivers got great work. They played with the first group in and out to make sure we can feel comfortable with those guys playing and that they're comfortable.
(On the play of the wide receivers against Va. Tech)
I feel it was a very hard game for us. They squashed on us so hard with their coverage. It made the fast rhythm stuff difficult, but they gave us the stuff up top. Reggie and Steve Smith were the guys who ended up getting behind them. It just was a hard game for those guys, but it was good for them. They had to work their tails off to get off the line of scrimmage. They had to work to get open downfield. There was a lot of traffic in the zones and in the areas where they were running their routes. So, again, they were in a big crowd and in a hostile situation, but they survived it and we'll improve from that.
(Impressions of CSU)
I think they've got a great program. Watching their film from the summer and spring, you couldn't help but notice what a great layer Van Pelt was. We were kind of hoping that the quarterback position would take a step backwards, but then Holland comes out and just tears it up. He had a great game. Their team played a fantastic football game. It was just an incredible game from start to finish. To withstand the surge, the excitement, the crowd and the upbeat team they played in Colorado and then to hang in there and play a great football game--to make the plays and get in a position to win--it was just a heartbreaking defeat for them. But they played like winners and they know that. I'm sure they took great confidence out of that. They deserved to. I think we've got a great opponent. Sonny Lubick has been a great coach for years. He's won forever. They've had tons and tons of winning seasons. He's maybe not as noticed around the country as he deserves. Their just a great program. You can see it in every thing that they do. The way they play hard, the way they scheme, the way they pick their personnel and use their personnel, it's top notch. So we have a great opponent. These guys have been able to go against teams from different conferences and win and they've had big upsets in their history and we take them very seriously.
(The status of Darnell Bing)
He's got a sore shoulder is what it amounts to. We're just trying to get him through this week and get him ready to play this weekend. But he has missed enough time where he's got to have to get back and going or we won't be able to play him as much as we normally would. Scott Ware has stepped up and done a nice job and he is ready to play if that's the way we go. It's Tuesday and really the first day of the week today. We'll see how he fares. He's going to be able to play. Whether he plays a lot, we'll wait and see.
(On the use of Reggie Bush against Va. Tech)
He was deployed outside last year as well. We didn't do anything different this week that we hadn't done before. We were just able to get the ball to him and they gave us some opportunities down the field and we took advantage of them. Reggie will play inside, outside--he'll be all over the place. That's kind of how we use him. We certainly will see him in the tailback spot a lot, too, in this game. He's just so talented and has such a wide range of skills. He can do all of those things. And he's a real bright kid and a hard worker, so he can get prepared to do that stuff. We're really fortunate that we have him.
(On whether you can expect a team to improve from game 1 to game 2)
I hope so. Sometimes you can. That doesn't always happen, but you hope for it. In young players you can usually see a jump as they settle down. You can see it in year one to year two, just like you may see it in game one to game two. In particular, after the case with an enormous game in a setting that was all you can expect in a college football game, I expect our guys to feel a lot more comfortable than they did.
(On what goes on at halftime and during the game to adjust gameplans)
There's no film to watch at halftime. The adjustments are ongoing. The adjustments that showed up statistically in the second half really started in the second quarter. So we zeroed in on a couple things they were doing really well. Coach Orgeron up front got his guys really tuned in to what they were doing. It made sense to them and they made a nice little switch and it put us in a much better position. I was really happy that we found it early. It looks like second half adjustments because of how the numbers play out. It's an ongoing process. What happens at halftimes is you look at your issues and take in all the information and try to get things tweaked. With the things we had practiced against, we didn't play as well as we hoped to right off the bat, so we had to clean things up. This defense should be able to adjust. They've been around. We're counting on them to make those kind of adaptations during the game. The leadership of the guys on the field--guys like Cody, Pattesron, Grootegoed--they can really handle that stuff. That's a benefit for us right now.
(Was he disappointed in the play of the wide receivers against Va. Tech?)
A little bit. I thought we might be able to do a little better than we did. But Virginia Tech had something to say about that. The style that they played and how they squashed on us--when you look at the game, you would see why they were able to do that. They took advantage of jumping on stuff and they were very vulnerable up top. WE just needed to get zeroed in on how to get them and, once we did, it was alright. It just happened to be Reggie that got the call and opportunities, though Steve Smith got dep on them, too. Yeah, I wouldn't like to be talking about this issue of transition, but it's the facts. The young guys have to come on and do a good job for us. Once we got in the game, Matt Leinart really helped everybody, too. He played great in the second half and that was a part of it. Hopefully we can show some improvement. It's clear--one guy from last year is going to play a bunch of games in the NFL and the other is a highly regarded guy once he comes out. So, those were fantastic football players that we lost and our guys need to make a big move to catch up there. And until that happens, we need to find out way, so we'll use Reggie and LenDale White and the tight ends and all that.
(On the need for chemistry between QB and WRs)
It wasn't there in the first game. Chemistry is a good word because it's true. It's about believing in each other. The quarterback believes in the receiver to be in the right spot so he goes to him on rhythm and all that. But we're not there yet. It's not as good as it should be, not as good as it was. But we've got to keep working hard on it to get it right by the time we get into conference. It could take us that long.
(On the lack of balance against Va. Tech and what kind of balance they plan for)
We're not trying to do it in that fashion. We'll try to keep the philosophy that we've had. I think we ran the ball the same number of times that we threw it. But if you talk about production, I think the production came out of the running back spot more than anywhere else. But that's all right. It doesn't really matter to me as long as we're spreading it out and making our opponents have to be stressed by the way we are doing things. It doesn't matter who is catching it or who is making the numbers. However, it's clear that we would like to see more production out of the receiver spot and we'll keep working with that until we get it done.
(On whether freshman end Jeff Schweiger is on the verge of starting)
He's right there. He has played with the starters through the bye week as we rested Frostee Rucker to get his foot back in order. Frostee came back yesterday and we'll figure it out later in the week. But whether he starts or not, he'll play. He's part of the gameplan and we're counting on him to do some good things. I think that at this time, if we're relying heavily on a freshman to play, we're going to be disappointed. There is just too much for them to handle to be consistent throughout an entire gameplan. So we're going to mix our guys in there and try to spot play and try to minimize their setbacks they might have because they don't have the experience.
(On how he would prefer to rotate defensive linemen)
I think you try to keep guys as fresh as possible so they can play at a really high level late in the game. We were really fortunate that we had guys like Mike Patterson and Shaun Cody who had played all night and were still smoking and making things happen in the fourth quarter. You'd like to keep your guys really fresh. If you can get it so they each play maybe 2/3 of the game, that's kind of how you'd like to do it. But you are not always able to. We keep working towards that end.
(On how the defensive ends played against Va. Tech)
Well, there were some issues. We were concerned about the quarterback running the football. They did a really nice job with their formations. Also, Lawrence Jackson had never played before. Also, Frostee hadn't played a whole bunch either. They're just new. Once they settled down, they played some pretty good football. I think this week was really important for those guys who played for the first time to get more comfortable for the next game.
(On the status of Matt Leinart's elbow)
Matt has thrown every day so he's over the hump. That's great for us and great for Matty, too, and his confidence. He hasn't missed a day. We'll still manage him some and work the reps out, but we hadn't had back-to-back days with him since maybe last spring. He had good rest over the weekend and he threw really well yesterday. I think he's ready to go this week.
(On all the college games this past weekend)
It was a great weekend of college football. I was glued to the TV. There were a lot of good teams that executed really well without a lot of turnovers. Just good, sharp football. Cal played a great game. Oregon State had a fantastic game against LSU. That was an all-time game to watch. It was a game that just wouldn't end. If there was just a few more seconds there, Oregon State would have had a great win. There were a lot big teams that came out flying like Texas and Penn State.
(On looking at future opponents on TV over the weekend)
We were fortunate to see BYU and Notre Dame. We saw a bunch of our opponents play. When I watch those games, I watch for different reasons than other games. We're all impressed by the play of the teams we have to play in the next couple weeks.
(On who he rooted for in the LSU-Oregon State game)
As the game went on, I found myself pulling for the Pac-10. I don't think it was anything more than that. They were playing such great defense. I was cheering for them as you'd cheer the underdog. So I was disappointed for them when they didn't get their win.
Colorado State Coach Sonny Lubick
(On last weekend's tough 27-24 loss to Colorado)
It was definitely the opener of all openers. That's what happens when you play your rivals. It would be like USC and UCLA playing in the first game of the season. It has its pluses and its minuses in preparation. It was a heartbreaking loss for our football team. I don't know if we've gotten over it yet, but I think we'll be okay when we start practice this evening. I'm probably the one who is hurting as much as anyone. But it's over with, we've got to move on now. We've got a real football team we're going to play this week. We've got good young men in the program and we'll bounce back. I feel quite confident we'll be okay from this.
(Comparing current quarterback Justin Holland with last year's quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt)
They're opposite in many ways. Justin Holland is more of a pure quarterback than Bradlee Van Pelt was. He broke all the Colorado high school passing records--if that means anything. But he was very well coached in high school and he's a student of the game. He's got the demeanor of a quarterback, great composure and is knowledgeable and coachable. The number one thing that sets him apart is that he is a very accurate passer. I think you'll see that on Saturday. He puts the ball where it has to be placed. He might be as good as any quarterback I've had since we've been here. We've had some decent quarterbacks, but he's special in that regard.
(On the impact of tailback Marcus Houston and the CSU running game)
We didn't rush the ball very well this past week. It's a combination of everything. We didn't knock people off the ball. It's going to be a lot harder this week, I know that, because USC is excellent on defense. We think Marcus will continue to plug along and be a player for us. We have to get him some running room, but we have a couple other backs who will get an opportunity to show what they can do.
(On CSU's wide receivers)
Of course, David Anderson from out in your area has been our star for the last two years. He came out of nowhere as a true freshman and then had an excellent sophomore year. He's worked hard to be the best he can be. He's off to a good start this year. Dustin Osborne is in his first year starting. They all catch the ball well. Johnny Walker is from out there in Southern California. He was hurt and we thought we might have lost him for the season, however he has healed and made a couple great catches last week. We have a lot of guys who can catch the ball. I don't know if they are all 4.2 guys like USC may have but our young guys go out and catch the football. Damon Morton made a great catch, too, and he's going to play as a true freshman for us. Those are probably our top four guys. George Hill is another guy who can catch it, but I'm really excited about our receiving corps.
(On his defense)
I was pleased with our defense in the second half last week. In the first quarter we didn't slow anyone down. They rushed the ball against us pretty well. It was the first game and there was the speed to get used to. I probably should have had our guys hit a little more that last week of practice. All of a sudden we got in the game and we were on our heels in the first quarter. After that, we played better as the game progressed. But we'll have to be even better this week. We played against a couple good backs last week, but nothing like we'll see at USC.
(On the last few seconds of the Colorado game, where CSU went for the win from inside the 5-yard line with seconds remaining)
It was a poor handling of the play clock. We were down there with time left to run a few plays on the one yard line. My thing was, we were down there on the 1 yard line. We were not going to kick the field goal for the tie, we were going to punch it in with a yard to go. We spiked the ball and tried to get in, but didn't get in. Now the clock was running, and we had the wrong personnel and we tried to call a play. The quarterback thought it was fourth down and it was third down. We called the play with the wrong personnel and the play went the wrong way for a loss of two yards. It wasn't too smart on my part.
(On USC and the significance of the game)
I think this will probably be the biggest, fastest, best-coached team we'll face. A lot of teams are well coached, but I know Pete does a great job. I knew Ed Orgeron back when I was with him at Miami. I have great respect for Coach Carroll and USC is something pretty special. We beat Arizona a few years back when they were number four in the nation. But none of that matches coming down to the Coliseum.
(On receiver Johnny Walker)
Johnny Walker has had as good a camp as any receiver we have. He's very confident and he's only a redshirt freshman. He's a wonderful guy to coach, a very disciplined kid. I don't know how fast he is, or whether he can run away from anyone. But he's got good speed. His main asset is that he can catch a football and go anywhere to catch it.