Oct. 3, 2005
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris along with Cardinal players David Lofton and Matt Traverso addressed the media at Monday's weekly Stanford Football Press Conference. Here's some of what the trio had to say in advance of the Pac-10 contest between Stanford (1-2, 0-1 Pac-10) and Washington State (3-1, 0-1 Pac-10) in Pullman, Washington, this Saturday, October 8 (2:00 pm, PT). There will be no live telecast of the game but an audio broadcast can be heard on Stanford flagship station KNEW 910 AM and via the internet on gostanford.com.
Head Coach Walt Harris
On last Saturday's 44-20 loss to Oregon
"After watching the film, it was no different than we thought. We got beat by a good football team with a lot of athletes, a lot of size and a lot of speed. As for what we didn't do well - we didn't tackle well, and we didn't prevent the big play on defense. On offense, we didn't do what we had to do to mount drives in the second half. We weren't able to put it together. It was a tough loss. There were some good things in the game (for us); we blocked a punt and scored at the end of the game; we broke his (Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens) streak (without an interception), our offense ran the ball more effectively than he had, when given time our quarterback was solid, and I thought Mark Bradford had a good game."
On this Saturday's opponent Washington State
"This week, we're playing a team that is a good solid football team. I was impressed with the battle they had with Oregon State (last Saturday). They were fighting to the end. It's going to be challenging playing on the road and playing up there (in Pullman, Washington). In order for us to be successful, we have to get better at the things we're not doing very well right now - which are tackling, keeping the ball in front of us and getting pressure on the passer. Offensively, our line needs to become much more consistent in protecting the passer. We've got to find a way to score touchdowns."
On how to avoid losing confidence
"All we can do is to get back out there and learn from the mistakes, see them on the video, go back out on the practice field, try to correct them and continue to get better. The confidence will come when we execute on a consistent basis."
On linebacker Michael Okwo
"Michael is one of the most explosive football players that I've ever had the privilege to be around. He really is something; he is so fast, so sudden, so quick and so physical - and really a great guy, too. He's really a perfect football player."
On wide receiver Mark Bradford
"He made some really nice football plays (against Oregon). We're really excited to see him come on and deliver. It was nice to see him make real progress."
On Washington State's offense
"They have an outstanding runner and their quarterback has put up big numbers. They also have a couple of highly ranked receivers, so right now all those things scare us. It presents a big problem. We're not scoring a lot of points on offense, so we've got to really slow them down on defense, get off the field on third down and make it happen."
On the value in taking "baby steps" of improvement
"They're not fast enough and not big enough. Let's face it, we're not working, playing, staying up late and getting up at the crack of dawn to not be successful. We have to work our way through our challenges, and we have quite a few. We're in the process of trying to improve. We've probably got a little better feel for what we've got to work on, and the players also have a better feel for what they need to execute better."
On the possibilities of younger players taking leadership roles
"Most of the young guys are probably very reserved when it comes to saying anything. They haven't done much; haven't proven themselves yet. It's probably best to be an example of leadership rather than voicing leadership. We have enough seniors, enough guys that have been around here that have given their heart and soul to Stanford Football that can give us the right kind of leadership."
On the 2005 senior class
"I met with the seniors after practice last night and tried to make sure they understood that this is their team and their legacy. Everyone is going to remember them by the year 2005. They need to play to the level they're capable of with their talent and experience. They need to help us wherever they can with the younger guys in getting them to play up to the level that we need in order for us to put it together and come away with a win. I'm calling on them. I wanted to remind them how key and critical they are to the success of this football team, because this is their team. They will forever be remembered for this season. Hopefully, we'll make some progress soon."
On the success of previous Stanford teams in Pullman
"Stanford teams have prepared well and gone up there and taken care of the obstacles - and there are many - and gotten it done. Therefore, we should be capable as well."
On Washington State
"They're a solid football team. I've only really gotten a chance to see their offense (on film). They've got some good receivers, a good running back and a solid quarterback. Once again, we are going to be challenged defensively with the passing game and also with the running game."
On the tough day for the Stanford secondary against Oregon
"There a lot of things we need to improve on. We have a lot of young players in the secondary that are playing for the first time - I'm one of them. There are definitely some things that we can sharpen up on, and that will come with experience. We just need to execute our assignments a little better. There were a lot of mental errors out there on Saturday (against Oregon) that if they hadn't of occurred the outcome might have been a little bit different."
On Stanford taking "baby steps" to improve
"It's definitely hard to think in that scope as player, because as a team we have high goals for this season. We don't just want to be making baby steps, we want to making big strides towards our goals. We all need to step up our game because there are a lot of errors in the last couple of games that need to be fixed."
On his recent analysis of game film
"In any week that you lose and you look at game film, you're thinking it must have been pretty bad. But, then when you see it, you see some things that are easy to fix. It's not as bad as one may think."
On what the secondary needs to do to improve
"The thing that makes me hopeful is that we're doing good things. The main thing that we need to work on is our consistency. I see a lot of the guys out there making big plays, but (we need to) just put it together on a more consistent basis and just (improve) our execution. Those things will help make it better for us as a team."
On the team's confidence level
"Aside from the second half (against Oregon), I think we're fairly confident right now. We moved the ball up and down the field fairly well in the first half (against Oregon). All we have to do is put one game together - offense, defense and special teams. Every single facet has had a bright spot in each game. We're really confident that as we keep playing and meshing together, it's going to finally click pretty soon. The more and more we play together, and the more we mesh together, the confidence is going to build every week."
On the hoped improvements for Stanford Football in 2005
"Everyone was hoping for immediate results, but in every facet in life things grow with time. It's the same in the football program. It will get better every single week."
On the mindset of Stanford's 2005 senior class
"I think the seniors have taken a larger role in the last week and a half as far as leading the team and leading by example. At first, it was the coaches leading us, but I feel that in the last week and a half the seniors have really stepped up their leadership and have been leading by example."
On Stanford's first-half play versus Oregon
"The mood in the locker room at halftime was very upbeat, very positive. When we focused on what we had to do, we moved the ball up and down the field and had a lot of opportunities."
On competition among the team for playing time
"I think it's good that there are a lot of "or's" in the depth chart, because we need to compete. Every single day needs to be a competition day. Our backs are against the wall right now; we need to have guys step up, lead the team, compete for positions and have that fire to come out and play every day."
On what Stanford has to do to be successful at Washington State
"We have to stick to our game plan by running the ball successfully and getting into distances that are manageable on offense to get first downs. We have to stay on the field as much as possible. We haven't won the time of possession yet (in the first three games), and that's something we really need to strive to do."
"It was a nice win. It had been a long time since we had won on the road at the point -- since BYU the year before. It was good to get a win in the road in an environment that's not easy to play in. It's very loud and in an isolated community that just loves Washington State football. But, we've had success up there in the past, and that's something we definitely need to use as motivation. There's a confidence in playing up there. It's not an easy place to play, but the guys that have had success up there need to bring the guys who haven't played up there along."
On the importance of the next two games on Stanford's schedule
"Our next two games are critical. We can either go to 1-4 or come up to 3-2. If you're 3-2 and 2-1 in the Pac-10, those are impressive numbers, so these next two weeks are really important games for us."