San Jose State Press Conference

The aftermath of the loss to Michigan is difficult to put to rest, for the fans and even for the coaches. Much of Monday's press conference was spent reliving the unlikely events of that steamy Saturday afternoon.

Two days later, and the pain hasn't lessened at all. "It stings more because all you can do is think of things you could have done differently," admitted Head Coach Rick Neuheisel. Describing this game with phrases such as "absolutely mortified with the way things turned out" and "a nightmare of epic proportions," it is no wonder the coach is still losing some sleep.

"Lying there trying to get some sleep and going through this countless times, it is difficult to swallow that we've got 12 guys on the field. But, swallow we will and we'll move on."

That might be more difficult than it sounds, because Neuheisel is still digesting the carnage frame by frame.

"The events that unfolded there are hard to fathom. On first down, the guy caught the ball with his knee on the ground and then he dives out of bounds and they marked him out of bounds. The clock should have kept going because his knee is clearly down when he caught it. On second down, we knock the ball down. On third and two, we stuff them. The clock should keep going and Greg (Carothers) cramps. They stop the clock, now they get time to call their fourth-down play. They throw it and Chris Massey breaks it up. It is difficult to see because of the camera angle whether he caught it or not. I just know that when there is a fumble, the official is supposed to throw a bean bag. There is no bean bag, none, and everybody looks indecisive. The guy who supposedly caught the ball, he doesn't dive on the ball. He stands there as if the game is over. Then two other players run over and jump on the ball. That is a little bit of a head-scratcher. The rest of the story has been told many times," recalled Neuheisel.

Painful as it was, there were some positives to take away from the loss on Saturday. "We were down 14-0 in one of the more difficult places to play in the country. We found our way back a couple of times and took the lead. If not for a 15-yard penalty at the end of the ballgame, I am fairly confident that our defense would have held. In the past, we have given up scores in that same situation. And this time, we did hold. In fact, there is some controversy as to whether we didn't already hold with respect to the completion on fourth and two," said Neuheisel.

Neuheisel singled out Rich Alexis, Charles Frederick, and his offensive line as performing well in the game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Neuheisel was plussed by some of his defenders as well. Particularly Marquis Cooper, who led the team with 11 tackles in a reserve role. "Has been an outstanding linebacker for us. He played well much of the time in the ballgame, and he has a tremendous future.

Defensive end Kai Ellis made an impact as well, and Neuheisel is excited about his health. "He says he feels great, which is great news for us. He is one of our better defensive players, really a force on the field."

Injuries played a role in the game on Saturday. Not so much because of those missing the game, but those that weren't able to practice.

"Derrick Johnson and Roc Alexander are not up to midseason form because they couldn't practice. Reggie Williams isn't in shape yet. We are all aware that Reggie is a terrific player and we would love him to be in the game a lot. But he graded out as low as he ever has graded out in a ballgame because he was dying. He asked off of the punt return team because he couldn't run. The problem is he was unable to participate in the summer because of the foot injury," said Neuheisel.

When addressing the 12-men penalty, Neuheisel said that it would be addressed. "We have a mechanism in place for how we substitute. It just broke and so we are fixing it. We are addressing it this afternoon and we will address it every Friday before every game. It is demoralizing that everybody needs to suffer because of a mistake at the most critical time of the ballgame. But, you win as a team and you lose as a team."

Washington will definitely address their special teams as well. "We need to get the guys that can run well and get down the field. We have to get our snappers to put the ball where it needs to be," said Neuheisel. "We had misfortunate when Elliott Zajac went down. He has been our snapper for the last two years, and Tim Galloway has been thrown into the mix. We are all out of sync. We need to spend time on our field goal and extra point teams so we can get quicker. In the long snapping, we can't put the ball on the ground and expect to survive against quality opponents."

The roll-out punt was a disaster, but Neuheisel defends his decision to use it. "If you are not aware that it is a called play, you think something has broken down and it looks disorganized. We had a punt blocked last year against Michigan and a lot of their blitzes are A-Gap blitzes, meaning coming on either side of the center. He (Derek McLaughlin) has practiced it several times and has done well with it. He just kicked it too far outside," said Neuheisel of McLaughlin's punt that traveled only 20 yards.

Washington's defense for the most part played pretty well. Still, there are some corrections to be made. "In five plays, we gave up 190 yards of offense. In the other 72 plays, we gave up about 200 yards. A vast majority of the time we are playing really well on defense. On the first big play, a young player did not execute the defense. We had a zone blitz on and he didn't get to his gap and all of a sudden there is a gaping hole. I talked about pursuit angles, we took some poor pursuit angles and we are down 7-0. You are going to make mistakes in the first game. I wish we could have survived it and still have a victory, but we didn't. Maybe it will make it that much easier to impress upon our players the importance of doing things exactly right," said Neuheisel.

Washington now turns their focus to San Jose State, who will open the Huskies home schedule on Saturday.

"They won 33-14, I'd trade with them. They are 1-0 and we are not," said Neuheisel of the Spartans' win over Arkansas State. "They have great schemes, good speed, and confidence after a victory and a defense that causes turnovers."

Spartans Coach Fitz Hill was on the line this afternoon and talked about his team. "We are pleased with how our defense played, but we turned the ball over too much offensively," said Hill of last Saturday.

"We are still in the building process. We only have 62 guys on scholarship."

They are allowed 85 scholarship athletes by NCAA rule.

"Our guys are excited about playing this schedule. I just want them to play up to the very best of their abilities. It is a football game and it is supposed to be fun experience for the guys. And as long as nobody is shooting at us and there are no terrorists involved, then we are going to have a good time," quipped Hill of his team's tough match up in Seattle on Saturday.

Last year the Spartans played at USC, ASU and Colorado, so they know tough when they see it.

"We competed well last year in those games. We can't turn the ball over and make stupid mistakes against a quality opponent like Washington. I always think it is a good measuring stick to expose your team to that environment."

NOTES:

Newell out: Jimmy Newell has dislocated two fingers. They have been repaired but the concern now is infection. It is commonplace to have a great opportunity for infection. If we can keep an infection from happening, then he could be back as soon as the Wyoming game. If infection becomes a part of it, then it becomes a longer injury.

Growing up: Today is the day to expand the roster beyond 105 players, so a complete list of players should be available tomorrow.

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