Oct. 17, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris, along with players Trent Edwards and T.C. Ostrander addressed the media Tuesday at the weekly Stanford Football Press Conference held on the Stanford campus. Edwards will miss the final five games of his Stanford career due to a broken bone in his right foot the school announced today. Edwards suffered the injury on Stanford's first offensive series in a game against Arizona last Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
Stanford (0-7, 0-4 Pac-10) travels to Arizona State (3-3, 0-3 Pac-10) for a Pac-10 contest this Saturday, October 21 (12:30 pm, MT/PT). The game will not be televised but Stanford's audio account of the contest featuring Ted Robinson and Bob Murphy 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
"First of all last week's ballgame was the most unique one I can remember, and I'm working on not trying remembering much of it. As a coach you get 12 hours to think about the last game, and then you have to put it behind you and move on. It was a really difficult day for our offense; we had a couple new guys in there that hadn't been starting and it made a difference, but we weren't sharp as we needed to be on offense. Defensively, we started a little slow and they got ahead of us, and then we settled down a little bit but we need to start sooner.
On last Saturday's Arizona game
"There were some good things -- our punter punted the ball the best he has, I thought we covered the punts the best we have, Wopamo [Osaisai] did a great job covering kicks. Obviously, his interception return for a touchdown was beautiful. It was a tremendous effort by a lot of guys. It was a tipped ball and that shows his hands are getting better. He also made a great run and did a great job of accelerating into the open area. But, it was not a happy day for us by any stretch of the imagination."
On Trent Edwards' broken foot
"Unfortunately, we should announce that we have lost our quarterback for the remainder of the season. Trent Edwards will not be able to play; he has a broken bone in his foot, hopefully that's all he's got. It is a very devastating thing to happen to him. Obviously it hurts out team, but mostly for this young man who has fought and scratched and maintained tremendous class through a very difficult four of his five years here. As I talked to him on Sunday, one thing he is trying not to do is trying not to ask is `Why?'. He is trying to just deal with what he has to deal with. All of our emotion goes out to him, but it's like any of our injuries [this season] -- Nick Frank, Mark Bradford, Tim Mattran -- that get knocked out for the entire season. It's just devastating for the young man and obviously it hurts our football team."
On this Saturday's upcoming game versus Arizona State
"They are a real good football team. I think they really came of age last week in a tough loss against USC on the road. They were 21-21 [at one point]; they were opportunistic; and they got the ball turned over twice in the second half and turned them both into touchdowns, which put them right back into the game after being down 21-7. They've got an outstanding runner, their quarterback almost single-handedly brought them back last year [versus Stanford] from a huge deficit to get them back in the game and make it real close. We're playing on the road, which has been something that our squad done well. Their defense is very aggressive. They have two outstanding corners that shut people down. They have good players everywhere; they have a strong blitz package that has made it difficult on a lot of people. It's a good football team and will be a big challenge for us. Our goal though, as always, is not to be concerned about Arizona State other than what they do. Our concern is Stanford and what we do. We've got to play better, and we have to execute."
On Trent Edwards' potential at the next level
I see tremendous potential. I think his better football playing days are still in front of him. Obviously, he has some things to work on that would have been exciting to work on these last five weeks and the remainder of that game last week I think would have been different. But, we can't worry about that. I think he has a lot of ability and has to continue to mature as a quarterback. You mature while you play more than just standing on the side, and the hard part with the NFL is how early does a young quarterback get a chance to play. That's the only way you get better because the defenses are more complicated in the NFL, the systems are more complicated, and there is a learning curve, but you've got to get to a place where he can play."
On what Trent Edwards needs to work on at the next level
"I just think seeing the look and not getting locked on to a certain guy. But now that I am looking back without him, he has a tremendous amount of upside. He's a smart quarterback in terms of learning the game plan, handling the signals and handling the formations. He's really intelligent from that standpoint. I thought he did a good job that way, and he just has to play more and hopefully he'll be able to continue to grow and continue to mature."
On the personal hurt and reaction to Trent Edwards' injury
"Quite honestly, on a personal level, all the season-ending injuries that we've had [makes] you kind of feel a little punchy. I probably have tried not to look at the reality of this, other than when I met with T.C. [Ostrander] and went back to talk to Trent after Sunday's meeting. When you are watching the game tape with someone else, you really get a better feel for what the last one did. When you're coaching one person, for example, you're always trying to get him better on the different things he needs to get better at, and you take for granted all the good things he did."
On the competition between Trent Edwards and T.C. Ostrander
"I think this has been a very frustrating experience for T.C. He's a competitor and anybody that has talent like he has comes into a situation where he has a player who's a year older, who has a lot of talent and who's ahead of him in the learning process, it's a natural competition area. I have admired how well those two help each other and get along. It's a great competition, and it's all positive. It's been very classy. They are classy guys and great guys, which is part of the "mo" of coming to Stanford. You've got to be a great guy and a classy person, and both of them have demonstrated that. I think it's been a frustrating experience, and that's part of why T.C. is going to find a way to get out on the field. But I believe the mind is everything in this world, and how you look at things is really how you deal with them. If you look at things in a positive manner that will help motivate you, and then I think good things will happen to you. And I think TC sees this opportunity. There's a lot of frustration of not playing because he thought he could play, which is what all competitors think, and now he has his opportunity."
On what he expects from T.C. Ostrander on Saturday at Arizona State
"I expect him to execute our system, which is pretty much the same thing I've asked of him and Trent, and any other QB I've coached. His concentration should be on playing he game the way that our system needs him to play it, and not get caught up in `now this is my chance to prove something.' Usually when that happens, guys have a tendency to do more than what they are capable of doing and try to play bigger than the situation allows them, and they end up playing poorly."
On what T.C. Ostrander brings to the Stanford offense
"I think he brings a lot of the same things Trent brings They are close in a lot of ways. He has a very good arm. He probably doesn't get rid of the ball as fast as Trent, but he can throw the ball with the same velocity and maybe has a stronger arm. He does a real good job on scrambles and has excellent vision while scrambling. He brings a lot to the table. He's a smart football player. Of course, he's at Stanford so that goes without saying."
On whether what he saw of T.C. Ostrander last Saturday versus Arizona is a good representation of what he can do as a quarterback
"When you get as much pressure as he got, you have a tendency as a player who hasn't played much and hasn't practiced much to get a tendency to look at the rush and not the player down the field. Of course, I can understand why he was looking at the rush, but in order to perform those quarterbacks have to understand that they won't hit them if the balls not in their hands."
On the repetitions Tavita Pritchard will get at quarterback during practice this week
"I'm going to first watch how well T.C. moves around. We have to really be sure that T.C. is healthy enough to play. He hasn't done anything in the way of running yet, so we will get a close look at that. Tavita will grow into the roll of our second-teamer."
On watching the film of Trent Edwards' injury
"He didn't feel like anyone was open, and he started to run. I think the guy from the backside fell on him. There was a defensive lineman coming off of the pass rush and when Trent started to scramble to the right, he cut back, which made that guy closer to him. One of those 300-pounders landed on his foot in an awkward way. So it was a very freak injury, but this has been a year of freak injuries."
On the balance of Arizona State's offense
"They are very dynamic. Rudy Carpenter moves around and is able to run. He had a nice long run against USC, which is something different than what he'd done. They have a nice combination of big linemen, good wideouts, an outstanding tight end, and what looks like an outstanding tailback."
On whether he's been through a season with this many injuries
No I haven't, and I'm hoping this is my penance, so I don't have to do this again, or we don't have to do it again. Not just me but all our coaches, all our players and all the people who support us loyally. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, and we have a lot of work to do."
On the temperature of the team
"It will be interesting, but I trust in our seniors and I trust in the investment that we've made that were going to come out and be practicing today with the right attitude. We've got to continue that attitude every day this week, including on Saturday, especially when adversity hits. The hardest part in dealing with what happens is not necessarily the injuries. It's what happens in the game ... I think our confidence level, especially on offense, is what's so tenuous, and it's understandable. But, we've got to change that. That's because we haven't executed well enough, or done our job well enough. So we've got to find a way to do it."
On Chris Marinelli's first career start versus Arizona
"He was up against a mighty fine football player, and I thought he represented himself pretty well. He is going to remain as the starting right tackle. I think that is a very positive thing for Chris and for us. Now did he do everything right, no, he got beat a couple times, and only one time it affected the game. That's when T.C. had the ball knocked out of his hand when he was getting ready to hit an open guy running down the field. One other time he got beat, but Toby Gerhart was there to pick up the guy and did an outstanding job. The rest of the time he held his own, which is outstanding."
On Wopamo Osaisai improving each week
He sure is. He wants to, but football is a game where you have to be a football player and not just an athlete. What's happened to Wopamo is he's getting playing time, and he has pride in his game. When he doesn't do well, he tries to improve. I think the improvement of Wopamo is something all our players should try to emulate. The only person that holds you back from improving is yourself, so we need to find a way."
On the speed shown by Wopamo Osaisai on his interception return for a TD versus Arizona
"What I liked most about that return was the fact he caught a tipped ball. Catching a tipped ball for Wopamo, as it is for a lot of people, is a very difficult task because you get a lot less time to react to the thrown ball. And I think that's been as much of a problem on kick returns, I don't think the running part has been the problem, it's the consistency in catching the ball. We're going to work towards it [having Wopamo run back kicks]. You don't just see it on the return, you see it every time he covers a punt, you see speed. They double team him, and he beats both of them. He's starting to accelerate to the ball. He made a play at Notre Dame against what we refer to as four vertical. He was a corner on the outside receiver and when the ball was thrown he leaped over there and knocked the ball down. He's really starting to put his athletic ability into his playing ability, and that's what happens when you have a talented young athlete and you give him playing time. Unfortunately, we had a lot of growing pains until we got there.
On playing lots of young players
"We have 28 guys that have never played [in college] before that are now playing, so there's a learning curve. The learning curve is affected directly by their attitude and their talent. If you have a lot of talent and a real good attitude, then your going to get in and do what Wopamo has done. If you have an okay attitude and a lot of talent, your progress isn't going to be as fast. This is a combination game of very talented athletes with great attitudes. The attitudes could have been developed by not playing. At a lot of places people don't see the field for a long, long, long time until they have gone through the hard road of seeing how high the expectations are of execution and falling short of the mark. The meat and potatoes of your football team, they don't usually play until they're redshirt juniors and now they've been through four years. Just like T.C., he's what you refer to as a redshirt junior, he's gone through the hard times so hopefully he has learned some valuable lessons during those hard times. Now he gets his opportunity to step up and really play well. Of course as we know, quarterbacks playing well is dependent on a lot of other people, not just himself."
On the long-term prognosis of his injury
"They said I should make a full recovery. There isn't anything that should linger if I do the proper therapy. It didn't feel like anything major had happened. I have taken much harder hits here in my career here, and I've gotten up faster than I did on Saturday from this hits I've taken."
On his emotions
"It hasn't really set in yet. I've talked to three well renowned doctors telling me I'm not going to be playing a game again in my collegiate career. You hear someone say that to you, but I don't think its really going to settle in until I watch the team practice or play, and I'm not in the locker room suiting up or putting on my jersey for the game. Emotionally I'm alright right now, but it's going to be a little more noticeable once gametime comes around."
On the injuries he has suffered at Stanford
"That's a part of the game. Football is a very physically taxing sport and injuries do occur in it. The hard thing is you do put a lot of time in during the off-season, getting up at 6:00 am and lifting, and to not have anything to show for that whether it's team wins or statistics is difficult to fathom sometimes. I play this sport for different reasons; I play because I enjoy it. I enjoy winning, and I enjoy competing. Injuries are part of that ,and that's a risk I'm willing to take. I've enjoyed every moment I've had here."
On what he's going to take most from his Stanford career
"Mostly the relationships and the people I've met. Take for instance Steve Stenstrom, I just spoke with him about an hour ago, he's faced a lot of the things I've faced in my life, and if I hadn't been at a place like Stanford I wouldn't have had the luxury of a person like Steve calling me, supporting me, and meeting on a weekly basis. I know it's just a minor example, but those relationships like that I'll be able to take away."
On stepping in for injured starter Trent Edwards
"I'm not going to try to come in and replace him; he's a tough guy to replace. There's a lot of things I have to do better to be successful, so I just need to focus on doing those things and improving. That's really all I can do at this point."
On what he needs to do to improve
"I think just making quicker decisions with the football, trying to limit the negative plays and really just trying to move the team down the field, which is something we didn't do on Saturday."
On whether he will have a different mindset as the starting quarterback
"When I was the second-stringer, I always tried to prepare myself like I was the starter. But obviously this is a different situation. I will be taking more practice reps that will help a little bit in the game preparation. But, I don't think my preparation will change that much. I've always spent a lot of time in the film room doing whatever I can to give me an edge, so nothing is really going to change."
On whether it's been his dream to play at Stanford having spent his prep days nearby at Menlo-Atherton High School
"Yeah, it's always been a dream of mine, but obviously I wish it wasn't under these circumstances with Trent being hurt the way he is. But, it's an opportunity for me to get out on the field, and I'm going to try to take advantage of that."