Rick Neuheisel quotes - 4/12

Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel talked with the media for a good 15-minutes after Saturday's scrimmage. Many questions were asked, and an up-beat Neuheisel addressed them all.

On where the team stands this spring: We've been trying to really focus on the physical nature of our play during spring ball. So far I think we have looked better physically than we maybe did a year ago. That certainly is not to say that we are satisfied or anywhere close to where we want to be, but I do think that we are playing with a better pad level and are more physical now. We just have got to get all of our assignments wired down and keep coaching them hard. They are not unwilling. They are willing to battle on, and we are going to keep working to where we need to be. I'm encouraged. Once we get everybody on the same page I think we'll like what we have.

On Kenny James' injury: He sprained his MCL, which will probably cost him the rest of spring. That's really the downside of today's scrimmage because he was having a great spring and had a couple of carries that looked pretty good to date. It was just an unfortunate occurrence. The good news is that it's not anything that is going to require surgery, at least preliminarily. We'll hope that he'll be fine. I'm sure that he will have (a MRI) on Monday, if not tomorrow.

On Shelton Sampson: I think he did some good things. He certainly is blessed with some great speed and quickness. At times he's got to learn how to get his pads down and get the three-yard gain rather than the 30-yard gain. He's still got a long ways to go as a pass-blocker, and in terms of taking care of the ball. The good news for Shelton today is that there were no fumbles. That hadn't happened to date. He's a gifted athlete, and we'll find a place for him.

On the backup quarterbacks, Isaiah Stanback and Casey Paus: I think as coaches we'd all love to see them go out there and shine. It's a very difficult position to play. I think both went out and did some good things, but certainly neither showed the consistency that we are going to need at that position. We've got to keep working. Competition is great at that position. Now we need someone to step up and win the job.

On Stanback at quarterback: I think we will keep him right where he is at, and see if he will improve. I'm keeping my options open, but I will say that we won't do much with him at receiver this spring.

On the lack of depth at receiver: It's a concern. We've got a lot of incoming athletes who are certainly capable of playing. Whether they are mature enough to play is another question, but we'll have to address that as we go on.

On adding depth to the receiver position: If you look at years past, it is a position that freshman can play. It's not something that you want to bank on on a yearly basis. We were fortunate to have Reggie Williams play really well as a freshman, and Justin Robbins play very well as a freshman. You'd prefer not to be in that situation, but with Eddie Jackson's departure and now Robbins' injury, we are in a situation where we may have to do that. There are people on the defensive side of the ball who I could pull over to fix that, but it might leave a hole on the defense. I'm evaluating that on a day-to-day basis.

On Justin Robbins' injured knee: He's going to go in and have it scoped, at least that's what I think is going to happen. He's going to see if there is any further damage. The MRI is a little bit inconclusive, so our hope is that there won't be any (further damage) and it's just a sprain.

On the fullback position: I don't think they played great today. There were a lot of dropped balls. There were at least to that Zach (Tuiasosopo) dropped. But, I think there is great competition there. I think Ty Eriks has improved, and I think Zach knows that there is someone breathing down his neck. It will be a good position for us, I believe that.

On utilizing Eriks at tailback: We put Ty Eriks in as a goal line tailback just for play, and he looked pretty good doing it. That's not to say that we are going to do that, but it might merit some consideration.

On Donny Mateaki's absence from the scrimmage: He's got a sore shoulder. Nothing structurally wrong, but because it is a repaired shoulder we want to be very careful. I think he'll be ready to go on Monday.

On Isaiah Stanback's tough day: It's his first real scrimmage. He played some scout stuff last year, but this was his first real go. We all would have probably hoped that he would have been 8-8, but this was a starting point. I feel really encouraged with his ability to do lots of things. We haven't tailored the offense to him at all, we're just having him learn the offense. If he were to be the guy, I'm sure we'd come up with ways to utilize his unique talents. The key for Isaiah is to grow and be a guy that can be a leader, not just a guy who executes plays. That's what you are always looking for at that position.

On the Pickett-to-Williams connection: If we were trying to win the game, we would have used it more. But we are trying to improve. There are no wins and losses today. What you are trying to do is develop weaponry for the fall. We are not happy with everything that is going on, there will be some concerns when we watch the tapes. We are going to stay the course and stay committed to doing the things that we think we need to do to build a championship football team.

On the development of Reggie Williams: He's matured into a player of stature that is now going to be a leader whether he is vocal or not. He just needs to learn how to channel that in the right way so he becomes a positive influence.

On linebacker Joe Lobendahn growing as a player: He's got the whole spring to himself to develop and mature. College football, anymore, the pressure is such that guys are expected to play at a senior level before they are seniors. Some of that is on us as coaches. We've got to make sure that we give them things that they can execute so they can go out there and be the athletes that they are. I think Joe is a perfect example of that, and he is good football player. We need to just let him play. I'm excited about watching him in the fall.

On linebacker Greg Carothers: At the point of contact, Greg is a good football player. We've got him closer to the ball so he's going to be in position to make more plays. He's another kid that loves to play the game and has great leadership skills, so hopefully we'll get all of that from him.

On Jerome Stevens and Junior Coffin: I think those guys are rolling (at defensive tackle). I'm not sure that we have a necessary starter there. They are 1A and 1B.

On Graham Lasee: It's a difficult chore to replace Kai Ellis, but Graham is still a young player in our program who gives us some great athleticism.

On the individual surprises of spring: I think that Jon Lyon is going to be a good football player and we are excited what he can bring to our football program. Ben Bandel, tight end, is an exciting player who's not there yet, but we are excited about him. Clay Walker is kind of learning, and we feel like he is going to be a good football player. Ty Eriks, Kenny James, and Shelton Sampson are on course. Defensively, Junior Coffin is doing some decent things for us. Scott White showed up a little bit in my mind today. He's got to get physical and get stronger, but he's got instincts for the position. Tyler Krambrink has been doing good things early. As long as he stays organized and gets lined up a the right place, he's a pretty fast kid. Jimmy Newell, it's good to have him back this spring. Evan Benjamin is playing well. It's difficult to make those kind of evaluations without looking at tapes, but those kids come to mind.

On the possibility of moving Tui Alailefaleula to offense: I'm going to study the tape. This was, in my mind, the day that we were going to figure it all out. I'm going to study the tape and see if he did what he needed to do because I'm still looking for someone who can come over and help us at the offensive tackle position.

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