April 2, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford head football coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media at the 2007 spring football press conference two days prior to the start of the program's annual spring workouts, which will run from April 4-28 this year. The first in a series of spring workouts will be held at the Elliott Practice Fields this Wednesday, April 4 (4:00 pm, PT). The series of 15 practice sessions will culminate with the Cardinal-White Spring Football game at Stanford Stadium on Saturday, April 28 (4:00 pm, PT). Below are selected quotes from Harbaugh at Monday's press conferences.
"We've been through 10 weeks of conditioning and strength training, and now we take it to the grass. We go to the football field to determine guys' roles, to determine the starters, the contributors and the leaders; and to find out who our best players are, the players that are going to win games for us, and also find out the players that can get you beat. We don't want them on the field. It's an intense time to evaluate equally with a new football staff and a new team. You talk about a great time to make a first impression. You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. You look for guys to be the workers and the competitors that you want to see, and that impression will last a very long time. Conversely, if you see a guy who's not the worker you want him to be and not a tremendous competitor, that impression will last a very long time as well.
You can imagine how exciting this is for everybody that's involved. We don't want to wait until the UCLA game to bring excitement to Stanford Football. We want to create that excitement now. We want to get the students, our alumni, our fans excited about using their ticket to Stanford Football games. Our practices will be open. We want kids running around at practice. We're going to throw balls to them after practice, let them go out on the football field after practice. I think we'll win on a lot of levels there. We want to get those kids into the locker room, getting autographs and meeting our players, and developing a love for Stanford Football with our youth in Palo Alto. There'll be a lot of things going on. There's a big alumni game coming at the end of spring drills that will pit the coaching staff of Stanford Football and area venture capitalists against former Stanford Football players. That will be something exciting coming down the road as well ... flag football, just like at the Pro Bowl (laughter).
But, mainly the concentration will be the 15 practices, scrimmage, and implementing our systems offensively, defensively and special teams. I think you'll see big energy from our football team. That's what we're looking for - enthusiasm, energy, guys that run and guys that hit. Hopefully you'll leave those practice sessions saying `that's the flyingest-around Stanford team in quite some time'. That will be the goal for spring practice - identifying guys' roles, creating the attitude on our football team that will win football games, a commitment to prepare, to show our team how we practice and how we prepare for practice and games, and getting our football team into a position where they can execute under pressure. That's how you win football games."
"I love the attitude of our team. There's been a vision here since the very beginning. The nuts and bolts of the plan have been coming together the last 10 weeks. It's been implemented in the weight room and now it goes to the grass. We're putting on the cleats, the great Stanford headgear and the Stanford uniform, and we go out and we practice football. We take it to the gridiron. I love the attitude on our football team right now."
"No big concerns that stand out right now. We don't know who our best football players are, that's what we are going to find out. There is a tremendous opportunity across the board for all of our football players. Of course we have an idea of who the starters will be, who the contributors will be, and who the guys are that will help us win football games. We want that reinforced on the football field. Past performance predicts future achievement, therefore there will be guys that we predict will help us win football games but we want that reinforced on the football field."
"We have studied the latest and healthiest tape of every single player on the roster, trying to find anyone that will be a contributor. We want anyone who is motivated, talented, who loves football and who wants to compete. If we can find that guy there will be a spot on this football team for that guy, and it is our job as coaches to put them in positions to be successful. We have evaluated that on the film, the weight room, and in the running sessions and now it is time to bring that to the football field where it really counts the most. We evaluate all things. We even evaluate what they do in the classroom, and we will do anything to try and predict who will help us win football games and compete."
"There is a depth chart right now, there will be a depth chart at the end of spring ball and there will be a depth chart in training camp, and all those evaluations go on daily as to who the best players are and where they should be playing. Sometimes you see players who were playing on the offensive side of the ball and now are playing on the defensive side, and vice-versa. Getting guys in the spots where we can use their talent and their leadership is an ongoing daily process."
"It hasn't been as difficult as one might have expected. We have talented guys; we have experienced guys, guys who have been there before and guys who have a deep desire to win. They need to see what the plan is and be in a position to be successful, but like I said, our attitude has been extremely good. You'd think it would be tough, we won one football game last year, that makes it tough psychologically, but it was also a beat-up football team where a third of the team was hurt which has led to our off-season program and that rehabilitation is now taking place. We are getting healthier and healthier and we are now at our healthiest we have been in the entire off-season going into spring ball.
"They have already been learning the system, our players are dedicating time to learn in the classroom. They will be much better (in the system) after spring ball and they will be much better before the UCLA game comes around. After six months, they'll really know this system and after a year they'll know it like their name, and after two years they will be able to teach it to other people. There is a progression there, and just putting the system out there and seeing what our players do well. We want to put our players in a position where they can be successful, using their talents. The systems are big enough to encompass any talented and motivated football player."
"The system is both sides of the ball and on special teams. They are very large and encompass a lot of things. I am not a big fan of saying some guy doesn't fit the system, unless were talking about character or toughness or work ethic and love of the game. Talented and motivated guys who love football; we can find a spot for them in our systems because the systems are big enough. We will incorporate what our guys do best."
"I am really excited about that as a football player. Guys that have been here four or five years and maybe haven't had a chance to play as much as they have liked. Also guys that are new and haven't had a role now have a chance and competitors love this kind of opportunity with so many starting spots open. This will be the toughest spring ball in the history of spring ball. The team knows that going in, and that's not by chance, that's by choice because we have a lot of ground to make up. We are not worried about the physical nature of the spring that is upon us. This will be a physical spring at Stanford University."
"It has been great. I have been here three months and there has not been one thing I have not liked about this job and about Stanford University. This is the best and you can have it all here. You can have academics and BCS football, and I love our athletic department and the support we have gotten from our administration, from Bob Bowlsby to Darrin Nelson, just right on down the line. I just couldn't ask for a better situation. I also love our coaching staff; I am the oldest member of the staff at 43 years old. We have a young staff, we have big energy and you will see that at spring ball. I love our players and as I have said many times this is a talented football team, and I am excited to see what they are going to do this spring."
"I came from Ann Arbor, Michigan as a high school junior to Paly (Palo Alto) High School and there was a new coach at the time by the name of Earl Hansen. The team was 1-9 the year before I got here, and my first year here and Hansen's first year here we went 9-1. Being in Palo Alto and watching the guys here at Stanford and throwing with guys like John Elway and Guy Benjamin and those guys in the summer really made me a much better football player. My impression then as it is now is that there are just so many good people here, in this University and in this town that it really feels like being back home again. I feel like I bring a lot of knowledge to our football team and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and a love for the game."