Oct. 3, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris, along with players Clinton Snyder and Josiah Vinson, addressed the media Tuesday at the weekly Stanford Football Press Conference held on the Stanford campus. Stanford (0-5, 0-3 Pac-10) travels to No. 12 Notre Dame (4-1) for a nationally televised NBC game this Saturday, October 7 (2:30 pm, ET/11:30 am, PT). Pat Haden and Tom Hammond will be in the booth for the telecast with Lewis Johnson providing the sideline reports. 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
"We're here to get ready for Notre Dame. As for our last game, there was some improvement in certain areas. We saw improvement in our defense; offensively, we are still trying to get used to our players. We had our leading ball carrier, Anthony Kimble, out of the game, and that always makes it a little harder to adjust. We are trying to get in a better mode; we are trying to play together as a team and trying to have all three phases play well at the same time. That hasn't happened yet this year; there are a lot of reasons, but we are not going to make excuses. We are going to try to play well for 60 minutes in all three phases."
On this Saturday's game at Notre Dame
"We are facing an outstanding football team in a great stadium. This is a game you will probably never forget when you get to play there; I'm sure this game will be a sellout. Coach [Charlie] Weis has got his team rolling; they are an outstanding team. Brady Quinn is playing extremely well and coming through his senior year. [Rhema] McKnight has done a really nice job. On defense, I'm impressed with how well they run and the speed of their corners. It will be a big challenge for us, but we're not really concerned about Notre Dame - that can't be our focus. Our focus has to be on ourselves and doing the things that we do and are asked to do."
On Anthony Kimble
"We respected Kimble's performance [earlier this year] against Washington State so much, that we named him captain. We had a feeling that he wasn't going to play [versus UCLA last Saturday], and unfortunately that turned out correctly, but we respected what he did so much and how hard he played, that we had him go out for the coin toss even though he wasn't suited up."
On Richard Sherman
"As he continues to practice well, he will be rewarded with more playing time. He did some nice things in the game [versus UCLA] and competed hard. He gave us a little extra and right now that is really important; it is what we need."
On Stanford's progress
"I thought we looked more physical on the run [versus UCLA]. I thought we defended the pass better, and I think we are settling into our positions. We have Michael Okwo back who is gifted athletically and really likes to play; our guys respond to him. In an ideal world, we would like to have veteran players to be the starters and the freshmen to be the backups. As the freshmen talent and execution grows, the emphasis on execution becomes greater through more practice time. Unfortunately, with our situation, they don't have to get much practice time in order to get playing time right now. In general, we are inexperienced and there are some areas where we have to get better at: bigger, stronger, more athletic.
On favorable match-ups against Notre Dame
"I spend very little time thinking about them and most of my time thinking about us, what we can do and what I can do to help us play better."
On keeping Stanford's freshmen motivated
"I'm more worried about the older guys because this is the end of their career. The young guys are probably pretty motivated, but I think the challenge is with the older guys because they see their senior season not going the way they had hoped. They are also the most influential to change it because they are seniors and can set an example and play the best."
On Trent Edwards
"In many ways he is doing a great job; you never see him complain about the cards he has been dealt and has to play with. I admire him tremendously. He has made a lot of real good plays and has scrambled for some first downs that were great. He just has to take care of his game; he can't let everybody else's game affect how his game is. He is still a young quarterback in many ways."
On Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
"I don't know him very well. He and I had a conversation before the game [last year], which was enjoyable, and I saw him at the Nike combine, and we talked for a little bit. He has obviously done an outstanding job and has the results to prove it."
On Stanford's defensive
"I feel like we are coming together better as a defense. The more we play together, the better we are getting as a team. The first game of this season the defense struggled a lot; we hit some hard times and have been hitting some hard times since then, but I feel the defense has been coming together, and we have been getting better every game."
On his personal progress
"I don't want to say it is the speed of the game, I want to say it is the recognition of different things on the offense and me being able to slow the game down in my mind and be comfortable in game situations. I'm playing in different spots so I'm reading different people, and that has made it better for me - to be able to play those different positions and read those different keys. I'm getting better and better as it goes on."
On playing at Notre Dame
"I feel like it is real exciting, but more than that, I feel like we are looking to go there to make a statement that we are a good team to be reckoned with. That is more important to us right now than anything else."
On Will Powers
"It was good that he stepped up and came up big for us [at UCLA]. He stepped up and did a great job. One thing we had been struggling with was responsibility on defense and the defense working as a whole. I feel like this past weekend we came together and everyone did their job for the most part; that is a big reason why we were successful most of the game."
On the final score versus UCLA
"The score didn't come out how we would have liked. I really don't think that the score reflected how we played on defense. We pretty much shut them out in the first half. UCLA couldn't really do what they wanted to do, and so since we stopped them, I feel we did a pretty good job. We just obviously didn't do a good enough job, which is why we need to get better every week and why we come out to practice."
On Stanford's offensive line
"It has been extremely frustrating, especially this year, because we have so many retuning starters on offense. We have really high expectations of ourselves as an offense and individually. If I had the answers, I guess I'd be the coach or something.
"Coach [Walt] Harris has been very clear of what we need to do; we need to eliminate turnovers. We have done a good job of not having very many penalties, but I think that if you watch the game, every time we seem to get something going, we have a turnover and that absolutely kills us. That is everyone's fault on offense; the blame goes around equally."
On dealing with the loss of several Stanford starters due to injury
"It's been a big adjustment period. We have guys that I'm sure have been preparing to play but everyone else didn't expect them to play that much, and now they're playing key roles. But we're not making excuses for that because we are who we are. We are the Stanford Football team, and we just play. We don't make excuses for who we've lost, we just play with who we have."
On his team goals
"I'm really excited about where our defense is going. Obviously, they played a fantastic first half against UCLA. Things just got out of hand towards the end of the game, but they played hard, they played physical, and they really shut down UCLA's offense for a good portion of the game. I'm really excited to see how all of these young guys on defense will continue to improve. As a team, the goal is always the same: to win games. Right now, our goal is to win as many games as we can. That has never changed, but it does get difficult as we go further into the season."
On playing at Notre Dame Stadium
"I actually haven't played there yet because I missed that game two years ago. I was there, but this will be my first time playing. I think our guys will be okay. We just played at the Rose Bowl, which was in front of almost 80,000 people so our guys have been in those types of situations before."
On last year's game against Notre Dame
"That shows us that we can play with those guys. Coach [Tom] Freeman told us we're not playing four horseman, and we're not playing Joe Montana. We're playing this team who we have played with before and were ahead with a minute and a half to go last year. Sure, on one hand that's encouraging, but on the other hand, it's a new year and there are no guarantees in football. We have to prepare and bring everything we have."
On his current season
"I had a pretty difficult training camp. I had a concussion, came back from that and practiced for two days, and then all of a sudden had muscle spasms in my back. It's extremely frustrating for me because this is my last season; these are the last twelve days I have to play for Stanford football. I take each of these as very precious. It's been very frustrating, but I was able to come back and play, and I am just looking forward to the rest of the games."