Oct. 24, 2005
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris along with Cardinal players Mark Bradford and Babatunde Oshinowo 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 (4-2, 3-1 Pac-10) and No. 8 UCLA (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10) at Stanford Stadium this Saturday, October 29 (3:30 pm, PDT). Saturday's contest will be televised live nationally by Fox Sports Net. An audio broadcast can also be heard on Stanford flagship station KNEW 910 AM and via the internet from a gostanford.com link.
Stanford has won three straight games, its longest win streak since the team captured its final four contests of the 2001 regular season. The three consecutive Pac-10 victories mark the longest conference win streak the Cardinal has put together since the club won its first five conference contests in 1999, which culminated with a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Stanford currently sits in fourth-place in the Pac-10 just one game behind the unbeaten Bruins and No. 1 ranked USC, who is also 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Pac-10 action. Oregon is third in the league standings with a 4-1 conference mark.
HEAD COACH WALT HARRIS
On the win over Arizona State last Saturday
"I was really excited about some of the things we did on Saturday. Our combination of [Trent] Edwards and [Mark] Bradford finally played more like what we were trying to do in the other five games. It was great to see that part of the passing game begin to click. But, it was all because our offensive line and backs gave our quarterback time to throw the ball. I was very excited to be ahead 45-7, but what happened after that was very disappointing and very against what we're trying to accomplish, which is to finish the game. Still, all in all it was a good game to win."
On this Saturday's game versus UCLA
"We've come off the clouds and settled back to earth. We gave ourselves 24 hours to enjoy the victory over Arizona State, and now it's time to get ready for the eighth-ranked UCLA football team that is undefeated and obviously very talented. We know it's going to be a real battle; they have some very fine football players and an excellent scheme that puts a lot of pressure on you."
On UCLA's comeback victories this season
"Any time you can come from behind and win games on the road, and beat some of the people they've beaten, it shows what an outstanding team you are. They believe in themselves and they have playmakers that can get it done when they have to. "
On Stanford's senior leadership
"Our guys are starting to know each other better in terms of older guys understanding younger guys and understanding what the coaches are expecting them to do. I can feel the focus is much different; there is much more concentration. I hear the term from the older guys `lock it in'. We've got to focus on what we've got to do to continue to be successful. Our concentration and commitment has been upgraded. They thought they were giving it before, but we had a couple of teams prove that they didn't. They've learned the hard way, and that's the way life is sometimes."
On the play of Babatunde Oshinowo
"He's one of our best football players and a senior leader. He was talking to our team when we gathered on the track [before the Arizona State game]. When you talk to them, you've got to back it up, and it was great to see him back it up. We expect that performance and more out of him. He has the athletic ability with a lot of strength and a lot of quickness, as well as a lot of experience. Whether he gets that many sacks or not, we expect him to play at that level all the time."
On UCLA running back Maurice Drew
"He's extremely well-built with tremendous speed. You can't tackle him, and you just bounce off of him. Our challenge on defense is to tackle well. We struggle against good teams in the area of tackling. We need to show tremendous improvement if we are going to slow him down. He's just a great back."
On the balance of teams in the Pac-10
"Every week the teams are really good. Everyone we've played is capable. Look what Arizona did last week to Oregon. They didn't win it, but they played them right to the end. Everybody's got some really good players."
On last year's 21-0 defeat at UCLA
"We were pretty-well taken care of last year when we played them. They pretty much dominated from everything I've heard about it."
On Michael Craven
"He's the captain of our special teams this week; that's a reward for blocking that punt against Arizona State. Our two punt blocks [last Saturday] were a big part of the halftime score [Stanford, 31-7]. He's playing a new position and is finally healthy. I think he's got more good plays in him that hopefully we'll see here soon."
On defensive keys to success versus UCLA
"We have to make sure that Maurice Drew doesn't dominate the game. Then, we have to put them in down and distances that we feel confident they will throw the ball, and then we have to put the pressure on the passer. We have good players up front with guys like Julian Jenkins, Babatunde Oshinowo, Jon Alston, and assorted other guys, that we are trying to put pressure on the passer. Amongst all those guys, we're trying to mount enough heat to make it happen."
On the play of Mark Bradford
"We've watched Mark since we got here for spring practice and have been excited with what we've seen. He has an excellent [wide receivers] coach Tucker Waugh working with him. He's starting to understand what we're doing, which is key. He and [quarterback] Trent [Edwards] are starting to have that subtle non-verbal communication on the football field that reaps big plays."
On what his team has learned thus far in the season
"They've learned that you play like you've practiced. They've learned that if we take care of the football, don't beat ourselves and do the things that it takes to win games and not do the things that it takes to lose games, we'll have a chance to be in it. How we play down the stretch [of a game] will be critical in whether we win the game."
On UCLA's offense
"They're probably the best one we've seen up to this point because of the explosiveness of Maurice Drew and the skill of their athletes. They also have a tremendous tight end in Mercedes Lewis."
On whether he's ever faced back-to-back unbeaten teams
"Nope, but I'm not worried about anything but the first one we're facing."
On the chemistry between himself and Trent Edwards
"I think we clicked a lot better this last game. I can't really put my finger on it or why it was, but our chemistry is a lot better right now. He's putting the ball in places where I can do something with it."
On being shutout in last year's game at UCLA
"I don't think we're going to look at last year's game in terms of our offense. We are just going to look at it as a new game in terms of what they're doing now and work with that. You really can't look at last year, because at that point in our season we were really struggling and not doing things well. It's a whole different situation right now."
On how far the team has come in the last several weeks
"I think we've come really far in terms of the team coming together and being on the same page, especially the offense. We're just starting to mature right now, but there are still a lot of things we can do better by just executing and being able to go out there and do the things we want to do."
On Walt Harris' reputation for developing wide receivers
"I see the stuff that he knows and all the things he tries to correct in practice have helped me during the game. I can definitely understand how he's helped receivers out."
On whether there is a little more energy and excitement around campus about Stanford Football
"I think there is, especially after this last game. There were a lot of people congratulating us on the win, and that really felt great. A lot of people are starting to take notice and are taking pride in our team."
On winning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors on Monday
"It feels pretty nice. I'll take it for what it is. It's an honor, and I praise God for it, but last week is over."
On UCLA running back Maurice Drew
"Maurice Drew has had a lot of success this year ... he had a great game [against us] last year."
On being in the position to play a big game this week
"A month ago, myself and a couple of seniors looked at the season. We knew then that we just had to take things one game at a time. We're not in a position where we can think about any game being different than another one, or thinking about down the road, or what's happened in the past. All we can think about is playing the next game and improving as a team. It's really exciting to be in the position that we're in, but at the same time it's a game that we just have to treat like every other game by playing better and doing the best we can."
On the possibility that the team would improve as much as it has
"I've felt like it's been possible the whole time. We stumbled early on but took the good from it. It helped us to learn a lot about our team and what we had to do to have success. We realized some of the things we needed to do to improve in terms of our preparation and getting ready for games. We've always felt like we had a good team. We knew after the UC Davis game, we were not going to be expected to do anything and were always going to be the underdog, and that's fine. We just have to take care of our own business."
On his approach to the Arizona State game
"Going into this game, I really just wanted to have a good time. There's so much pressure, and we knew it was an important game against a good team. So many things can happen that you can't control, so I just wanted to do the very best I could at what I could control. I also wanted to help everyone else on the team do the same thing, to do the very best at what they could control."
On what he told the team before the game
"When we were walking onto the field, I just wanted to let everyone know that this is all that we worked for, this is our heart out here on the field. Control what you can control on the field and do everything you can do at your position. Don't try to play above yourself or do anything that you're not responsible for but handle your own business. If we do that, we'll be happy with the results."
On the team's improvement in the last three weeks
"We feel good that progress has been made but at this point, you really can't look back and think we've done anything spectacular because there's still games left to be played and still improvements to be made. We know that while we've played well the last few Saturdays, if we want to continue to play well, there's lots of things we have to get better at."
On containing UCLA's offense
"Their numbers are outstanding. It's amazing the success that they've had this season so far. When you go into a game like this, you do your best to prepare for everything they've got. [Defensive coordinator] Coach [Tom] Hayes will have a plan we'll get into during practice tomorrow. We have to do a really good job preparing. They have a great offense. It will be a tremendous challenge for us."
On UCLA's comeback victories this season
"They came back against Cal and Washington State. They're not going to quit. Hopefully, we're in that position [with a big lead] again, if our offense keeps playing that well. But, we definitely need to finish better for the rest of the season because the teams aren't getting any easier."