Sept. 26, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford football head coach Walt Harris, along with players Chris Horn and Kelton Lynn, addressed the media Tuesday at the weekly Stanford Football Press Conference held on the Stanford campus. Stanford (0-4, 0-2 Pac-10) hits the road to face UCLA (2-1, 0-1 Pac-10) in the Rose Bowl this Saturday, September 30 (7:15 pm, PT). The game will be telecast live by Fox Sports Net with Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis on the microphones. Stanford's audio account of the contest featuring Ted Robinson and Bob Murphy can be heard live on KNBR 1050 AM and from a link 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
Opening Statement "Last week was a frustrating experience. We couldn't get off the field on defense, and we ended up being in horrendous position on offense. We didn't give ourselves much of a chance when you get stuck in those situations. In the third quarter we came out and had a little success; fortunately we got a field goal. Then we get a turnover, and we're back down there again and the whole atmosphere was different, but then we fumble. We had a blocked punt and there is no excuse for a blocked punt; we had an interception for a touchdown and there is no excuse for that. Freshmen were involved with both of those plays. You'd like to not have them in there, but they're the best we have to offer so we have to live with their maturity and growth."
On this Saturday's upcoming game versus UCLA "They obviously have a good team; they've had a couple of good wins and a tough loss last week. They were dominating the game for quite a bit and let it slip in the second half. I think the biggest difference in their team is how they play on defense. I think that they're much improved on defense; they have lettermen in every position playing that have moved ahead. They are playing good on defense, and we will have a real challenge. We have to get it going; we have to get some positive, successful things happening early. We are going to practice hard, practice with enthusiasm, go down to the Rose Bowl and fight them tooth-and-nail."
On Stanford's offensive field position versus Washington State "It has an effect on everybody. Anytime you have to drive the ball, that's called field position. One of our team goals is the field position game. The shorter the drive, the percentages are with you to score, or to allow the opponent to score more often the shorter distance you have to defend. We work very diligently to educate our guys at that; that's one of the biggest things about turnovers and special teams."
On keeping freshman mentality up "First of all, most of these guys really like to play; a lot of them are really enthusiastic about playing. I just think that a lot of them don't know about the need and necessity for execution. It's also not just the freshman; we have a lot of older guys who have played a lot of football here that still have trouble getting lined up. The curse, so to speak, of playing a lot of people who are not lettermen, is that they think they know what's going on but they really don't. That has been one of our biggest challenges. We're learning on the run."
On faults from playing non-lettermen and how it affects Stanford's quarterback "It's a combination of things: too long of yardage, not good enough protection holding the ball, and we've had way too many sacks on the ball. Our quarterback [Trent Edwards] has got to do better. I think he has to feel it better; he needs to feel the pressure better. One of the best things that he does is scramble, and he slammed it up in there one time. I admire his toughness and competitiveness, but that's still just one area that he has to do better on."
On future years with the current younger players "Honestly, I'm not giving myself much chance to think about a year from now or two years from now. Right now we don't spend much time thinking about or wishing and hoping about that. We spend our time on trying to get it right, trying to get our guys motivated."
On standout freshmen "Right now, if they're in the starting lineup, be it as a true freshman or a redshirt freshman, then they're the best we have to offer. I think that says a lot about what they're doing in relationship to who they are competing against."
On containing the opposing team "Well, we can contain them by executing our defense - all eleven guys. It sounds real simple, but they have eleven guys on the other side of the ball that are going to try to keep us from doing that. We are still our own worst enemy. If we get lined up right, I think it gives our players a better chance. But, there are some players who have still refused to do that and so their game time will be adjusted. We will make some moves based on what we observe during practice."
On senior linebacker Michael Okwo "Mike Okwo has some real gifts. You saw how explosively quick he is and how he gets all over the field. The area we have to help him in is to get him out of there [the game] once in a while because he is not nearly in as good of football-shape as others who are playing, since he's been out. But he played a magnificent game; he was good in doing what he was supposed to be doing and has some superb talent."
On recruiting two-sport [baseball, football] freshman running back Toby Gerhart "We thought so much of Toby as a person and as a student, as well as a football player. We knew that we had to recruit him to play both sports. Now that we've seen him play, it'd be good for him to be in spring practice, but it also gives him a great chance of not getting injured, by not being in spring training. He's getting a lot of good experience this year so it is working out."
SENIOR CHRIS HORN
On Stanford containing UCLA's offensive line "Well, it all starts with doing what we are coached to do, that's something that coach Harris really stresses. We have to work on maintaining our own gap integrity, and then after we secure our gaps, we have to make sure we can rally around the ball."
On team morale "I think our guys are actually really motivated. Obviously, we haven't performed the way we have wanted, but we have the sense we have to get better; and we are doing everything we can to get better. I think we are real motivated on getting back into the winning mentality. On defense, I think coach Harris was really impressed with the turnovers we got."
On the memory of last year's game against UCLA and the rapid turn of events "I think that will be a little extra motivation. We obviously view last year as a game we felt we had; we were up and we just let the opportunity slip away. On defense, it was tough. We did everything we could; we just couldn't defend their offense. I've never been involved in anything that drastic. It's a game of momentum, and they just got it; we could just never take it back."
On the challenges for Stanford's defensive line "I can't speak for everyone, but what I see is that we lost two really good players from last year and have a lot of younger players this year. There are little technique things that the veteran players have a sense for but the new guys, who are trying their hardest, just sometimes get their technique off."
On guidance and motivation from defensive line coach Dave Tipton "Coach Tipton is a great guy. He's the type of coach everybody would like to play for. You just want to win for the guy. He really motivates you and keeps you on that path."
JUNIOR WIDE RECEIVER KELTON LYNN
On how it feels to be the most experienced Stanford receiver this season "It's obviously a tough role to fill; it's very strange going through pre-game routines without Mark [Bradford] and Marcus [McCutcheon] out there. It's weird being one of the older guys. Michael Miller was out there, and I still look to him as a role model in terms of his knowledge of the game and his experience."
On his college football learning curve "I need to get a lot better. That was obvious. Now, having that full game under my belt, I know exactly what I need to improve upon and can go out there and just work on those individual things."
On playing at the Rose Bowl this coming weekend "I'm excited and thankful for the opportunity, but there's also a lot of pressure that comes with that in terms of performing. Last season [against UCLA] I was on the sidelines, just as surprised as everyone else [by the UCLA comeback victory]. It was tough to watch, and I was wishing I could do something to help us but that wasn't my role at the time. Hopefully, I will get the chance to help us this Saturday."
On the memory of last year's game against UCLA "I definitely think it will motivate us, but I don't really think we need any other source of motivation right now other than that we are playing for each other and really want to execute and play well."
On senior quarterback Trent Edwards "Trent is one of those guys that just makes you want to go out and play incredibly hard for every snap. It's really tough to see him get tackled, take sacks, and to see things not going well for him in his senior season. Trent has amazing character in him. He's always positive, always a great role model, and he's always someone for the team to look towards. I think that in itself, is a whole lot of motivation."
On what he is proud about from last week's game versus Washington State "I'm catching the ball, but I still need to improve a lot of other aspects of my game. I think I need to play a lot better, as well as gain a little weight [laughter]."