Nov. 14, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris, along with players Bo McNally and Richard Sherman addressed the media Tuesday at the weekly Stanford Football Press Conference held on the Stanford campus.
Stanford (1-9, 1-6 Pac-10) returns to Stanford Stadium for its final home game of the season this Saturday, November 18 (12:30 pm, PT). The game will be televised live on both Fox Sports Net Bay Area and Fox Sports Net Northwest. Stanford's audio account of the contest featuring Dave Fleming and Bob Murphy in the booth with Mike McLaughlin on the sidelines can be heard live on KNBR 1050 AM and from a Yahoo Sports! link at gostanford.com.
Here's some of what coach Harris and the players had to say to the media on Tuesday.
HEAD COACH WALT HARRIS
"We don't give ourselves much time to live in the clouds with regards to last week's victory. That was a great job by our football team. As a head coach you are always indebted to your football players because the game is won on the field. Our coaches have kept working to try to get our guys better. I don't think anyone gave us a chance except for, as Brandon Harrison said [in a previous press conference], the guys in our locker room. We were fortunate. some good things happened to us, but we made a lot of our own breaks. It was really an exciting time for our football team."
On Oregon State
"Now, we are playing an Oregon State team that had a tough loss week. They also have an unbelievable win against the University of Southern California. They are very good on both sides of the ball. Upfront, they are very strong and they have speed. Their quarterback [Matt Moore] is having an outstanding season, and their running back, Yvenson Bernard, is an outstanding player. He's a load; he's not very tall, but he's extremely strong and tough. They have wideouts that can run, they are big in the kicking game and they have corners that are outstanding. We are going to try to give our players a plan that will give them a chance, but it's up to our players to make it happen. Like I said earlier, the game is won by our players on the field. We are going to bring that plan out today and make sure we all believe in what we are doing, and we all get it done."
On this past Sunday's practice
"They were excited and fired up [about winning at Washington], but you know they are ready for the next challenge. That is what's great about Stanford students; they are always ready for a challenge. It was business as normal, we had a couple laughs, and I congratulated Bo McNally for his touchdown run and `tripping' into the end zone."
On the positives from the Washington game
"We executed on defense the best we've executed this year. Our defense played tremendous. It was great to watch our guys start to get what [defensive coordinator] A.J. Christoff and our staff is trying to get them to do and them starting to believe in it. It was great to see those new guys step up and make things happen like they did. Offensively it wasn't easy, it was very hard in fact. We didn't have a turnover, T.C. [Ostrander] managed the game well, and when we had a chance to strike, we struck. It was great to see Richard Sherman make a couple plays for us, so it was a good solid day on offense.
On T.C. Ostrander settling in at quarterback
"When things start to work, it's a lot easier to believe. That's our quarterback's [T.C. Ostrander] third game starting, so he's settled down a lot. He still has some areas that he needs to get a better grip on, but he's starting to see things better and the game is starting to slow down for him. I think everyone else is starting to get a little more accustomed to him and at times we had excellent protection. We had some good route running, and we made the catches. That was a tough area to catch the ball up there. We dropped some passes and they dropped some passes. The wind and the cold affected the passing game, so it's a credit to how well T.C. threw it and how well Richard caught it."
On Stanford's run defense
"I think A.J. [Christoff] and the staff really do an outstanding job. But I think our guys are starting to, what we refer to as, fit the run game better. For Southern Cal having to take the last four plays to get over a hundred yards rushing speaks volumes about how much improvement our defensive unit and players have made. We have a good defensive system that was questioned many times during the season, but I think it's just more the inexperience of executing it versus it being not worthy. As we continue to grow and mature we will continue to get better. We will be up against a difficult team this week because they run the ball so well and they throw it so well. They are a difficult team to line up against and to pick what you are going to try to defend."
On the seniors playing there last home game at Stanford Stadium versus Oregon State this Saturday
"What a big event that is. That's what helped make the game last week sweeter, winning when it's the seniors' last couple of games. Our seniors have gone through a really tough four or five years, depending upon the situation. Our coaching staff, and me in particular, and our Stanford supporters respect these guys and appreciate all the things they have done. We're trying to go out on the right foot for them and play our best game in all three phases and come up with a victory."
On playing well in all aspects of the game
"You just have to play well in all three phases. Oregon State's punt return against Southern Cal was huge. Their ability to create turnovers against Southern Cal was huge, and the turnovers were huge last week against them. We have to play the game the way it's supposed to be played, and I think we played it closer to that last week than any other game this season. We stopped the run, we controlled the pass, and on offense we were opportunistic when we could be. We didn't turn the ball over, and I thought our quarterback managed the game well. That's what you have to do to be a good football team and to be competitive week after week. In the past we have been doing the things that get you beat."
On Clinton Snyder
"Clinton Snyder cares a lot. He's into football, and he plays his heart out. He just had to learn that it's not just playing hard that's important, it's playing and doing your responsibility. Quite honestly, there's really no other way for a redshirt freshman to learn it other than in the meeting room, practicing a lot, not playing for a year or two and learning from the older guy. Unfortunately, Clinton had to learn it during games, like a lot of our young guys have done."
On getting the first win at Washington last Saturday
"It's hard to believe. It was really exciting and also tough. We did so well in the game, and I personally did so well. Then Sunday after all the great feelings went away, we realized we have another game this week, and we have to move on. It was awesome for those couple days we had to celebrate, but now we are putting that game behind us and focusing on Oregon State."
On learning throughout the season
"Overall, the season has been pretty frustrating because we have been working really hard and the coaches have been working really hard. But, it has been a really good learning experience, and I've been really lucky to be with these guys because everyone has stayed positive and kept working hard. The seniors and the leaders have set forth a pretty amazing example of how we need to be when we are seniors. Every practice, [Brandon] Harrison and [Trevor] Hooper are on me hard, making sure I don't make mistakes. They are amazing leaders, and I learned a lot from them."
On Oregon State
"Oregon State has a lot of talent this year. The only game I've watched them play this year was against USC. So that was a good display of their athleticism and ability. I'm sure coach [A.J. Christoff] has a great defensive scheme for us, and we'll take it to them. Obviously their quarterback [Matt Moore] is very good, and we will have to do a lot of things to contain him."
On playing well defensively
"Holding them [Washington] to three points and 39 rushing yards is a big confidence booster for our defense. We've been improving week by week, and the young guys have been getting more experience. We are just finally coming together as a defense, and because of that we are going to play a lot better."
On the season to date
"The last eight weeks have been pretty exciting actually. Every week at practice the team is working hard, expecting to win. To finally win one is really exciting for the team; every week you see people getting better."
On learning the offense
"It was very difficult. My offense in high school was nowhere near as complex. We had about 35 plays in the playbook, and now we have over 400 plays."
On running the "bubble screen"
"We've run that play many times in many games. It's always about that block, and it gets you 10, maybe 15 yards. That block is the springboard for the whole play, and this time the safety shrunk in, and I was by him. We practice that play so much, and it all depends on the angle and the pass. "
On the reaction to the touchdown
"It was pure excitement on the sideline, everyone was going crazy. T.C [Ostrander] was going crazy because he had no idea that I would score on a bubble screen."
On seeing single coverage from the defense
"I get really excited. When it is single coverage it's a great chance that either I or Evan will get the ball. That's what we work on in practice against Brandon Harrison, whom I believe is one of the best corners in the Pac-10. So if we are one on one, then [T.C. Ostrander] is going to get the ball to us."
On learning from the older guys
"The older guys have helped me along more than I can say. Marcus McCutcheon, Mark Bradford, Evan [Moore], Trent [Edwards] have helped me with the plays and the coverages. When I first got here I had no idea how to read coverages."