(Eliminating distractions again?) “I don’t think we have to change. We’ve been talking this way from the beginning of zero distractions. We’ve been faced with numerous ones already on a variety of fronts. I think our kids have done an excellent job of staying focused on what they need to focus on. This week’s no different. Obviously there’s plenty of things we could get distracted by. If today was any indication of will we, it was awesome, they came in with a great attitude, they took to the constructive criticism coming off a ballgame and they went to work today.”
(Kevin Smith play and Stanford faking injuries?) “My take doesn’t change a whole lot on Kevin’s play after looking at the film. It was a very difficult call to make at the moment of the call. It was ruled a catch. I accepted the fact that it was a ruled a catch. If it was ruled incomplete, I would have accepted the fact that it was ruled incomplete. It was ruled a catch so we went with the call. The explanation from the Pac-12, using the same video replay we saw on the JumboTron, the back angle that the ESPN shot was, that it was conclusive that it was not a catch.
“I disagree but that’s just my opinion. I don’t think that that was conclusive but again, I’m not an official. I’m a football coach and my opinion varies in importance when it comes to those things.”
“As far as the injuries are concerned, we saw what we saw, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
(Would you be in favor of making injured players sit more than one play) “I would be more involved in that if I was on a rule committee or things of that nature. I tend not to spend too much times on things that I can’t control. That part’s out of my control. If we’re going to have a head coaches summit about those things or if I’m on a rules committee I’ll offer up my suggestions but until that time comes I have to focus on what I can control and that’s getting our team prepared to play Oregon.”
(How did Keith’s thumb look in practice?) “He practiced. Mondays are typically a light day for any of our starting quarterbacks in year’s past. Keith was out there. I think he’ll be fine come Saturday.”
(Overall health?) ”We looked good. Everybody practiced. I don’t know if it’s our conditioning or whatever it may be but we look in great shape. We looked in awesome shape in the second half. I thought we were a really well-conditioned football team. We came out of it today, our entire roster was back on the field.
(Special teams? Where were the breakdowns?) ”A couple spots. One, let’s credit Stanford. They did a great job. They did a good job with their schemes. They have a tremendous returner in Ty Montgomery. A couple of the breakdowns were execution points to where we didn’t execute the coverage lanes the way we were capable of, and so we went right back to it today. The first thing we did in practice was working on how we take on those blocks and covering kickoffs and whether we use it with speed or power and how we fit returns and so we can execute it better. But we can coach it better to ensure that can happen. It was a big point of emphasis of ours and it will continue to be until we get it to a point where we feel comfortable with it.”
(Any drastic special teams changes?) ”Subtle changes in scheme but nothing extremely drastic. I think we can kick the ball better than we did. The only reason I say that is because I’ve seen him kick the ball better than that in worse conditions here at Husky Stadium. And I think we can cover better than that. Again, we have to coach it better to make that happen.”
(Were there any options in not using Cameron Van Winkle if he wasn’t 100 percent?) ”We did make a switch to Travis at the end. The other option we tried to use we tried to utilize the popover kick and we didn’t execute that one great, either. We have to spend more time on it.”
(What led to the popover decision?) ”I just didn’t want them to return it 100 yards right back in our face again. That was the second kickoff after the first one when I watched them run right in front of me so I just felt like if we could execute and pop it over and they get the ball on the 25 then go play good defense. Obviously, they got the ball on the 40.”
(Process after a loss vs. after a win?) “The same as in a win. We evaluate the film, we evaluate our performance, we grade every player, every snap, we come together as a team Monday mornings, we get to the truth of what really occurred in the ball game. We go through in our opinion what the winning stats in the game and our winning formula and the areas we need to be successful. We turn the page. We learn from our mistakes. We try to build our positives and we move on. We have to this week more than ever. It’s such a drastic change and philosophy when you go to a Stanford to and Oregon. We don’t have too long to dwell on Stanford and that ballgame. We gotta learn from it but we have to get ready for a completely different in style in Oregon this week?”
(Did Micah Hatchie miss a block on the tipped interception?) “No, I think it was a heck of a play by number 93, Trent Murphy, who is a fantastic football player for them as we all know. He made a nice move on Micah to come underneath him. Keith really had a run-pass option on the play and the read gave him the proper read to throw it there and he was looking for Jaydon (Mickens) in the end zone. 93 made a heck of a play. Hindsight, if Micah could do it all over he would have kept a little better inside leverage to try to get 93’s hands down but the kid’s 6-6 and he’s long and he intercepted a pass for a touchdown against us a year ago and he did it a week ago against Wazzu. That’s the strength of his game.”
(What coverage were you in when you let td at end of the half?) ”We felt good about the call. We felt good about the matchup really. We really felt like they were playing to try and get into field goal range. I think there was 17 or 18 seconds left in the half and they were just trying to get into field goal range. We were trying to eliminate the hitch routes, the quick outs to where they could get right in to field goal range. We felt good about Marcus (Peters) in bump-and-run coverage. Marcus was there stride for stride. I think he relaxed a little bit and the kid made a heck of a throw. He made the best throw of the night …
“We played good pass defense. They made a play. Their quarterback, their receiver really double catches that one too. I didn’t realize that. I thought it was just a clean catch. He double caught that one. We were just hoping Marcus could throw a hand in there and maybe punch it out, but they made the play.”
(Has Oregon made major changes under Helfrich?) ”Not major, no. I think there’s maybe some subtleties there, but they go fast, they execute really well, they have premier speed on the perimeter whether it’s at running back or wide receiver. Obviously Marcus (Mariota) is playing at such a high level at quarterback whether it’s throwing it or running it they look very similar that way. They look like a dynamic football team that can hurt you in all three phases.”
(You missed on Marcus in recruiting?) “Where’s Doug Nussmeier? No, just kidding. Marcus came to camp with us heading into his senior season and he was a really good player. He was a fantastic player in camp. He hadn’t started on his high school football team quite yet so there was some hesitation on our part quite honestly in evaluating him. Credit to Oregon, they went for it on him before we did. We tried to come in late and he stuck with his commitment to Oregon. He’s a heck of a player for them. What can you say?”
(Are you more equipped to handle UO in second half?) ”I think we have a lot more depth on our roster than we’ve ever had. That’s been the talk since training camp. I think we have the depth in place to substitute and rotate players earlier in the ball game and not have such a significant drop off. I think we’re a better conditioned football team than we’ve ever been in the past. I think we perform well in the second half. Thirdly, I think we’ll be a lot more comfortable in that environment and the speed they operate at because of the speed that we operate at at our offensive end.
“All of that being said, it’s still a very tall task. They’re a very good football team.”
(How influential was Oregon was pushing you in moving to the spread?) ”I think that was part of it. I watched how difficult it was to defend them. They were unique in the way they did it. You think uptempo and you think at that time spread offense. I think initially it was throw, throw, throw. Oregon went about it a different way. They were run, run, run. Early on with Chip (Kelly) it was a run-first offense and it still continues to be. There was unique challenges to it that opened my eyes to trying to understand what they were doing and how they were doing it and the success they were having and the issues it gave us. I think it definitely played a part in it.
“It came about just in the way our roster developed I think. The way we recruited to our roster. The depth that you need to play this way, the athletic offensive linemen that you need to have, the quarterbacks that can really operate that system. There’s a lot that goes into it. I don’t know if it was an a-ha moment, that all of a sudden it was no, no no and now yes, yes, yes. I think it was gradual over time. But I think it’s been a positive change for us.”
(On preparing for Oregon) “Today, we went to practice and didn’t have a service period. We went goods on goods every period because of so much of the similarities between the offenses and the defenses and I think it allows us to keep the tempo, the pace, the physicality of practice where it needs to be in preparation for Saturday.
(On trying to get revenge against Oregon for last nine years) “I can’t go back and .. one game’s not going to change the last nine years. We’re not naive to the fact that our fans, this university want to win this game, but we’re also understanding that the process that it takes, those rah-rah speeches on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, those aren’t going to help us play Saturday. It’s our process and our focus and our attention to detail and our understanding of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it is what’s so critical. We’re going to play really hard Saturday. We’re going to come out of the tunnel, we’ll be fired up and all that stuff and they’re going to be too. But our preparation is way more important than getting caught up in we need to avenge the nine previous seasons and all that. That’s great for the blogs and all that kind of stuff and it’s for the fans and it’s what rivalry games are all about. That’s what makes college football so unique and so cool. But the reality of it is we need to understand how to fit outside zone, we need to understand how we’re going to block their pressures and how we’re going to block Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner and how we can get open against Terrance Mitchell. That stuff to me is more important, and then that puts us in a position on Saturday to maybe make up for some of that stuff that happened before. What I do know is we played a top five team in America a week ago on the road and played our tails off and had a chance to win and just missed it. We have another opportunity this week to show our resolve and show how we can respond from that tough loss and go play the No. 2 team in the country in Husky Stadium with the entire country watching in an amazing atmosphere for college football that we’re fortunate to be part of. We’re going to go out and put our best foot forward and see if that’s good enough to win.”
(Price against Stanford vs. Price against Baylor) “I think he got hit a lot more Saturday. Stanford’s front seven, that’s an NFL front. They got after him, they hit him, and I just thought he showed a great deal of toughness. The Alamo Bowl, he had some fun plays in there, he was running around, throwing the ball all over the place. But the toughness he exuded Saturday was I think the biggest difference there in those two games. I think he was the focal point in both games, but that game Saturday, some of the shots he took, for him to continue to get back up to throw the football, to make really critical throws on third downs in the second half, I just thought was tremendous.”
(Comparing Oregon and Stanford’s defense) “Defense, we can make it as elaborate as we want to make it. At the end of the day you have to line up right, you have to use really good technique and you have to tackle. That won’t change. That doesn’t change if Stanford comes out with eight offensive linemen or if Oregon comes out in an open set with four wide receivers. At the end of the day the principles of defense remain the same. Those principles will remain the same for us. Without getting into schematics and Mark Helfrich going into their offensive staff meeting saying ‘this is what Sark said they’re going to do on defense,’ we’re going to line up, we’re going to use really good technique and we’re going to try to tackle these guys down after down after down. That’s the challenge they put on you. They get you in space, they force 1 on 1 matchups, 1 on 1 opportunities, they make guys miss and they turn them into big plays. We have to be very sound in our alignment, we have to use great technique and communication and then ultimately we have to tackle really well in space.
(Price maybe coming out?) “The one issue was just with the thumb, his ability to grip the football. But he continued to reassure us that he was fine. We were prepared to put Cyler in the game. Cyler felt good about it, but Keith just continued to reassure us he was fine and there was nothing in his play that made us think otherwise. He was making tremendous throws under distress.”
(ASJ’s drop?) “Austin’s a competitive guy. Nobody wanted him to catch that ball more than him.”
(Penalties?) “That were some penalties that I agree with. They made calls that I felt were the correct calls to make, and there were other ones that I disagree with. But that part of it is a little bit irrelevant. I can go back and I can send in the report and they can send it back to me and say yeah, you were right, but the game’s over. We lost the football game. So it’s time for us to move on. We can sit around and keep talking about what happened in the Stanford game, what happened in the Stanford game, but Oregon practiced today too. We’re got to get ready to play the No. 2 team in the country.”
(Common denominator with penalties?) “Not much. We’ve gotten just about every one of them there is to be called against you. Hopefully we learn from others’ mistakes and try not to be repetitive in the penalties that are getting called upon us. But I really think that our kids played hard. Again, I think there were some legitimate penalties. The chop block on Bishop was a chop block. The false starts on (Ben) Riva and (Colin) Tanigawa were false starts. I’m not sure where the hands to the face were on Hau’oli (Kikaha). I’m not sure where that occurred. I don’t know. So there’s stuff like that that’s in there, but that’s football. You have to deal with it and you have to move on to the next snap, you have to move on to the next opponent and that’s what we’re doing.”
(Beating Oregon re: recruiting) “Saturday’s ballgame is about trying to keep us with only one loss in conference play. We know Oregon’s a good football team and if we want to remain in the hunt in the pac-12 north we need to win Saturday. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about some 17-year-old kid in Southern California. It’s about, we need to win this ballgame Saturday, we need to prepare really well to stay within the hunt in the Pac-12 North, because that’s the goal.”
(Is this the ultimate challenge for your defense?) “Every week feels like the ultimate challenge. We went and faced eight offensive linemen with seven defensive linemen and Travis Feeney’s playing free safety against Stanford a week ago. So every week’s the ultimate challenge. That’s the beauty of our conference and the challenges of our conference. The week before we went against the nation’s leading rusher in Ka’Deem Carey. Every week’s the ultimate challenge and that’s just how we view it.”
(What stands out about your defense?) “I think our pass defense has just been phenomenal. Week after week we hear about how great the quarterbacks are we’re getting ready to play, and at the end of the game I go in the locker room, they hand me a stat sheet, and that guy didn’t perform anywhere near his numbers as he had been coming into the game. I think it’s a combination of things. I think one, our coaches put together a tremendous gameplan each week. Two, I think our players accept the gameplan and ultimately go out and execute it. I think we put enough pressure on the quarterback to make hi uncomfortable. I think we do a great job recognizing route combinations and matching those route combinations, and then thirdly I think we do a good job making plays on the football when we get our chances. And it’s not just about one or two guys. It’s a group effort.”