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Tyrone Willingham Quotes
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 09/05/2000

Can you discuss quickly injuries? Brian (Allen), what's his status?

To be honest with you, I really don't know right now. Everything is tentative. Probably this afternoon I will see exactly what his status is. For you guys who haven't been with us, usually it is Tuesday afternoon when I start to get something clean. I've got reports from our trainer about the status, but you really don't know until you start to see them on the field what they can and can not do.

Concussion is what it turned out to be?

Mild, yes.

Who were some of the younger guys that impressed you guys (coaching staff) when you watched them on the field?

Our overall team impressed us at points and there were some points that we did not live up to what we consider our standards. But, I think there were some good things in every sector. Obviously, our quarterback did very well considering all the things that he was confronted with in his first start. Our receivers did some good things. You saw a big play by Luke Powell in the ballgame, so there were some things there that they had to do to make contributions to help us be successful. Obviously, some of the things that we did in the offensive line with some of the guys getting their first starts there were very pleasing. So, all in all, I think it was some very good things and still at the same time still not up to the performance that we are going to need to be a very successful football team.

Is there anything that heading into this week you would say 'We've got to fix this quick before our next game?'

No, I don't think there is anything that is overly outstanding that needs a fix-up. I think we've got to improve in all those areas. I think that the team we are playing this week is a much better football team. They run the ball better. Their quarterback will play with a lot more poise. The wide receivers will be more explosive. Defensively, they have always been very aggressive. They match up very well. So, we've got to improve in all areas. It's not one thing that we can say 'Oh boy, we did that well and we don't have to worry about that.'

Are they (San Jose State) a more dangerous team coming off of the loss that they just came off of? I know that you guys experienced that last year in week one. Does that make a team maybe a little more dangerous?

Well, I don't know if you can be any more dangerous than they are. I mean, you've got probably the best (running) back (DeOnce Whitaker) that we may play this year. Of course, he'll be different. He won't be the size of a DeShaun Foster or somebody along those lines, but he will offer as much explosiveness as anyone we will see this year. I think that when you look at the game film against Nebraska, you see a player that almost single-handedly embarrassed Nebraska to some degree, and I think those are the reports that are coming from them and their press, their media. Some of the remarks from their coaches were that this was one hell of a football player. When you talk about being dangerous, I think they have some things - with the quarterback, the poise that he has shown, in playing a #1 team in the country, their receivers and the things they have done. They don't need anything to be more explosive than what they already have.

How much does what's happened the last two years to San Jose State (two Stanford losses) factor in this week?

I think it's something that you obviously want to change. This is a team that's right around the corner from you. There is always bragging rights - places you go, people you bump into. You want to have that opportunity to say we beat that team in our neighborhood. From childhood, you've learned that. It doesn't change as we approach this football game.

Can you talk a little bit about the rivalry that you have established with San Jose State?

I think the rivalry goes back a long way. I don't think this is something that has just started. We've been reasonably successful against them, but at the same time they've been treated kind of like the underdog in many occasions or in many facets. This is a rivalry that is probably as competitive and as strong as any we'll play this year. What we have to do is be prepared to play our best football.

What are some of the things you like about San Jose State this year?

Ones that I've already commented on - the running back, I think there is absolutely no question that this may be as fine a player as we will play all year. That is number one. You look at their quarterback (Marcus Arroyo). He is an outstanding guy. He has had success at all the levels he's played. He's very poised, and I have said that before. You look at the offensive linemen - they have great size. They are probably a little bit larger than we are as a matter fact. There are a lot of things that they offer, especially offensively. Defensively, they are a very aggressive team. We have great respect for their linebackers and their secondary people. This is a good football team. It's a shame that some people may not recognize that coming out of the Nebraska ballgame, because Nebraska's also a very talented football team. But, I think San Jose State acquitted themselves very well.

Can you talk about bragging rights, running into people? Do you encounter any of that?

Well, you always do. I mean there's always someone who reminds you of a loss when you are a coach. So no matter where you go - 'Coach, you did a nice job ... but.' So, you always see that. Occasionally, even you guys (the media) do it.

How important or unimportant is it to get this first home victory? To win at home and really get the Stanford fans out here. It's not sold out yet.

Some of those things I am not as concerned about. What's important to me is winning. Whether it's in Pullman, whether it's at Stanford, whether it's in Pasadena - doesn't make any difference. I am concerned about winning and hopefully our football team will be concerned about the same thing. We need this football game. It would be great for Stanford to start this year 2-0. To do that, we have to beat San Jose State.

It's sort of David versus Goliath when they come up here. Do you warn your kids about that? Don't take this team lightly.

It's amazing that it's kind of characterized in that manner as David versus Goliath. I guess we probably look at it more like there is going to be two David's out there and somebody, by the end of the day, may determine that they are Goliath if that's the case. But, no, we want to be as emotionally up for this football game as any football game we play. It's an important game to us. It gives us all the things that we want for our season. This is an important ball game, and we should not be minus the emotions or anything else that some people attribute to in that David and Goliath type attitude or approach.

What about Randy Fasani? Were you pleased with his first start?

I was very pleased with Randy's first start because the number one criteria we expect from our guys is to win. At that position, that's what we have to do. He has to put our football team in a position for us to win, and I thought Randy did that very well.

Will you use a similar defensive approach with San Jose State?

No, I think we've got to change some things. Of course, as you guys know, I'm not prepared to tell you what those changes are right now. But at the same time, we have to do some things different against them because they offer some different things to us. I mean some different challenges that are a little bit different. First of all, if you just start with their number one player, their (running) back. I can talk about him, on and on and on. We have to have some changes for him, number one. Then, you have to have some changes for the passing game. There are things that they do within the structure of their passing game. So, no, I don't anticipate that we'll be having exactly the same game plan that they saw last week. That would not be an advantage for us to do that because they've seen it, they've viewed it, and they'll know how to attack that one.

Do they run the spread?

Yes, they do.

You've talked whenever anybody's asked you about DeRonnie (Pitts) this year...you've frequently used the phrase 'the most underrated player in the league last year.' Could you talk about...1) why you think that and 2) what particularly about him makes him so good?

In my description of DeRonnie Pitts, I've kind of said two things about him ... 1) that I do believe that he is probably the most underrated player in the Pac-10 and 2) the only thing that I've said about him and probably the most recent is that I consider him a playmaker. To me, that's a very a special term - a guy that just flat goes out and makes plays. But, I think DeRonnie can be described in those manners because he very quietly goes about his job. He doesn't make a lot of loud noises, doesn't bring much attention to himself. But, at the end of the day, he's got six catches, he's got 10 catches, he's got 100 yards. He quietly goes out and plays the game and what makes him outstanding is his competitive desire. A year ago or two years ago, he played a full season on basically two bad ankles - and no one knows that and every week he's back out there. He just continues to make plays and make plays and make plays. I do think that he is probably one of the most underrated players in the Pac-10 and, maybe as a wide receiver, one of the most underrated wide receivers in Stanford history.

Every year, you have a new football team. You don't know what to expect when you go into the season-opener. Pullman's always been one of the toughest places to play. Were you pleasantly surprised with the overall team, their performance after one game?

I thought the victory at Pullman was a great victory for us. Those that have been to Pullman, they know that it's first of all a tough place to get to. You take the flight into Lewiston if you're lucky. You almost bump your head on the seat in front of you because the pilot is pulling the breaks so fast. You start with a difficult place to get into and then you've got to play a football team that can be very explosive. I mean they can be an explosive football team. Granted, this first ballgame we didn't see that, but you don't know that prior to. So, we were pleased. You also take into account some of the inexperience that we took up there. So, I thought this was a great win for us. To be able to open the season with a win and to open the season with a Pac-10 win is a very delightful place to be sitting.

Can you comment about the performance of the defense on Saturday?

You don't have to say a whole lot about our defense at least from my perspective. When you limit a team to no touchdowns, that says that your defense played well. I'm especially pleased with our defense after we gave up the punt block because that was an opportunity for our opponent to gain some momentum, to be re-energized about the football game and now feel that they have a chance. Our defense just kept playing and didn't allow them to put a touchdown on the board. If my memory is correct, the farthest penetration they had after that point would have been to about our 18-yard line or somewhere along those lines. So, I think when you say that, you said a lot about the performance of our defense that ballgame. But, I think we all understand that our defense still has to improve. We have to get better because there are more challenges out there.

Coach, that's the first time they haven't scored an offensive touchdown in six years.

Well, I'm delighted that we were able to help them with that.

What about the job Coy Wire did?

You, first of all, have to be impressed with Coy making the transition from offense to defense, because that is not an easy transition. Your read, your keys, the overall mentality that you have, and your learning is just changed and rearranged entirely. So, I'm impressed, first of all, with his transition to defense and, second of all, to begin probably our camp as a secondary guy, a strong safety - and then all of a sudden be able to make the next transition from strong safety to linebacker was tremendous. We're very pleased with Coy's performance and think that he'll do nothing but get better. There will probably be a multiple of opportunities for him within the structure of our defense.

Do you anticipate Wire rolling back and forth between those spots (safety and linebacker) depending on the defense?

Well, I think, probably depending on the team we're playing - the opponent, there could be a lot of roles for Coy Wire.

Matt Leonard will play, will be eligible, will be allowed to play?

Matt Leonard will hopefully be able to suit up, yes.


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