Sept. 5, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris, along with players Mark Bradford and David Lofton, addressed the media Tuesday at the Stanford Football Press Conference held on the Stanford campus. Stanford (0-1, 0-1 Pac-10) continues its 2006 slate at San Jose State this Saturday, September 9 (3:00 pm, PT, Comcast Sports Net), Stanford is slated to open the new Stanford Stadium versus Navy on Saturday, September 16 (7:00 pm, PT, FSNBA).
Here's some of what coach Harris and the players had to say to the media on Tuesday.
HEAD COACH WALT HARRIS
"We're ready to put that game [at Oregon] behind us. We were not proud of our efforts. I think Oregon probably has a good football team. They have athletes with size and speed, but obviously we're not real pleased with the way we performed. We've got a lot of work to do and a lot of improvement to make so we are excited about that opportunity.
On San Jose State
"We are looking forward to playing San Jose State. I thought they played well against Washington [last Saturday] and obviously had a chance to beat them. I think coach [Dick] Tomey obviously has a squad that believes in what they are doing. They were very opportunistic on defense and then cashed it in and made it happen on offense. I'm sure he the coach feels bad about losing, but he's got to feel proud of where his team is. We know they will provide a very, very good opponent for us, especially for where we are at right now. We are trying to get a lot of younger players, especially on defense, into the mix and understanding what it takes to be a college football player. We know it's going to be a good atmosphere down there; we know it's a home game that's being played on the road, and we understand why. We know its going to be a very big challenge and exciting opportunity for us."
On top things he was not pleased about in the Oregon game
"I think our defense and our run game. I'm not sure you could say one more than the other. I do not think we gave our players the chance, and do not think our players gave themselves the chance, to see how good we are. I felt like we were unable to run the football at the level we needed in order to shorten the game and take some pressure off the passing part of our offense."
On Stanford's offensive line
"I thought that with passing it was as good as it has been. I really did; I was very excited. Three years ago, we gave up 10 sacks [to Oregon]. Last year we gave up five sacks. At halftime [this year] we had given up zero sacks. We really should have given up zero in game, too. We held on one time too long and were holding onto the ball a tad too long in general, but I think that's a vast improvement over what we've seen. We just have to, on the offensive side, do the other part - which is to run the ball effectively.
"We had a lot of wideouts that torpedoed a lot of running games. We got beat physically, we had some assignment busts and some incorrect reads of whom to block. It takes everybody so we have to do a better job of coaching from the start and make our guys understand we can't blow assignments. We might have been able to eek it out if our guys didn't blow their assignments; in our mind, there is no excuse for this, especially since we have such smart guys."
On the blocked field goal [at Oregon]
"It was not a low kick. It was a breakdown in protection stoutness and they rushed two of their larger men; their large men shoved one of our men and somebody else didn't give our guy enough help, so we were not able to keep up the penetration."
On special teams
"That's another area where we are playing very inexperienced guys. That's not an excuse for not punting well, but we are playing a lot of new faces in the area of special teams so we have to grow with those young men. We believe they are going to continue to do better. We will probably make some personnel changes in certain areas."
On freshman running back Toby Gerhart
"I was glad that he got healthy so he could play. He showed some nice movement, and he runs north and south. He is starting to get his pads down, even though he needs to learn to get his pads down even lower. He runs the most physical of our guys, other than Nick Frank, but he actually runs lower than Nick, so we were pleased and it was nice to see. We spent a lot of time recruiting him so it was nice to see that football and baseball got a good athlete."On getting the team to bounce back from Saturday's loss at Oregon
I'm sure there are all sorts of challenges, but I'm not worried. We have good guys who want to play and do well. They've worked hard, and we just have to give ourselves a chance. My big point with them is that we have to make practice like a game, and that's not what's been happening. We have a lot of maturing to do because we gave them those formations, for example, and got lined up correctly in practice but then in the game we didn't get lined up right. As a coaching staff we are not getting it out of them enough and that's what's got to happen. We just can't blow an assignment; it's easy to listen to the call off the line, but I think when you have some young players there will be some of that. We just had too many of those for the caliber of team we were playing against."
On senior wide receiver Mark Bradford
"I thought he had a real solid game for us. He had really good practices and had prepared to play well. I think there was only one play in the game that I felt he didn't play like he could have played. I was very excited; he's one of our captains and was our Offensive Player of the game. He did a really nice job; he made a really great catch on a deep ball and made a couple other outstanding snags. To me it's all about his preparation; it's about his mindset. And in the summer he worked hard when he was healthy, so he was programmed to have a good game and did."
On the rivalry with San Jose State
"I don't know if it matters much, but at Pacific they were our biggest rival. We played for the bell, and it was a thrill when we won the game because on the sidelines we got to ring the bell. Unfortunately, it rang on their sidelines more than ours. So, I do know that San Jose State has always had really fine athletes, and I'm impressed with the job coach [Dick] Tomey has done to rebuild their program. They played their hearts out against Washington so we have our work cut out for us. But for right now, our opponent is more ourselves than anyone else. We have to get ourselves lined up right, executing right, doing what we're coached to do, and then we'll get ready to play San Jose State."