Erickson Meets The Press

Oct. 10, 2000

(On Stanford in general) 'They're a football team that is very capable of playing extremely well against anybody, as you can tell when they beat Texas at home and had a tremendous opportunity to beat Notre Dame on the road last week. They beat Washington State convincingly in Pullman. You don't know how to figure them sometimes, and that's kind of how it was at the beginning of last year. They lost to San Jose State and came back and went to the Rose Bowl.

'They're a very talented football team, and a group that's really trying to readjust offensively just because of the quarterback change. Chris Lewis is a kid who was really highly-recruited out of Long Beach Poly, he's young, but he's really talented and he's getting better all the time. You look at the second half of the Notre Dame game, and they moved the ball extremely well - they ran it and threw it and had a good chance to win the football game. They've got two really good running backs in Brian Allen and Kerry Carter, who both played against us last year and had extremely good success. But the guy we really need to deal with, besides those guys, is DeRonnie Pitts, the wide receiver who might be as good as anybody in the league and makes a lot of big plays. You've got to make sure you know where he is, that he's taken care of, because he can make the big play for them and he has during the year.

'Defensively, they've been playing well for the most part. They played very well against Notre Dame and Washington State and in some of those games. They've got two players who probably are as good at their position as anybody in the league in Riall Johnson at outside linebacker and defensive end and Willie Howard, another defensive tackle you have to deal with who is very similar to (Washington's Larry) Tripplett in a lot of ways. He's maybe a little better athlete, he moves around and creates a lot of havoc for them. They moved a guy named Coy Wire to inside linebacker and he makes a heck of a lot of plays for them. Their secondary is led by Ruben Carter, who has been playing for the last couple years. Many of you who have been around here probably know Denny Schuler, who coached here at one time and has coached many places, and coaches their secondary. Kent Baer is their defensive coordinator, who has worked with coach (Dan) Cozzetto (OSU's running backs coach) and has been at Idaho and been around a lot, too. They're very well-coached. They will probably try to attack us with a seven- or eight-man front and try to stop the running game.

'They're a football team in the same position we are right now - they're 1-1 in the league and it's a make `em or break `em, probably, as far as having an opportunity to win the Pac-10 Conference. I don't know that you can lose two games and win it. The biggest thing for us is, obviously, you want to win at home. To me, it's so important that you don't lose games at home, that you win at home and do what you have to on the road. It's a big game for us, coming off that emotional loss to Washington. I expect that we'll bounce back today in practice. Obviously, we're very disappointed after the game Saturday and on Sunday, we felt we had opportunities to win it and probably didn't play as well as we could have in a lot of different areas and yet played well in other areas. But you've got to give credit to Washington, too - they did some darn good things against us. But we need to bounce back, it's very important that we get it together and play well this Saturday if we want to stay in the race for the championship.'

(After seeing the game film, why was Washington so successful on offense?) 'I mentioned after the game, it was more a matter of making mistakes and not being at the right place than anything. They blocked us some. It was a combination of some different things, but we didn't tackle as well as we have. Sometimes we weren't taking the right gaps, we were leaving ourselves out on an island as far as making a play was concerned. It was a combination of all those different things, and they played well.

'It's not anything that can't be adjusted, and we've got to make those adjustments. They attacked us well and did a nice job of attacking us. Their runners ran real well and broke tackles, we didn't tackle as well as we're capable of tackling. We just didn't play like we're capable of playing against them, and part of that is how they played, too. Hopefully, we learned from that and we'll be better this week.'

(Is defensive tackle Eric Manning suspended for his ejection in the second half of the game at Washington?) 'No. I wasn't very clear on the rule, either. The only time you have to sit out is if it's a fight, per se. My understanding is that the reason the rule was added was because of the bench-clearing brawls that occurred years ago. But he does not have to sit out for this, because it was just a personal foul, it wasn't what they consider a fight, I guess. I didn't know that, and we called the (Pac-10) office because I wanted to know what the punishment was, and that's what they told us. And I wasn't going to argue.'

(Is that just one of those situations that happens in an emotional game?) 'It's one of those things that we see time and time again - you've got to control your emotions. You talk to them about it. One guy punches one guy in a pile or something, and so the other guy retaliates or gets caught, and that's what happened. Sometimes, you do it in a pile and that's different from being out in front of God and everybody. And it was the right call, there's no question about that. We've got to control our emotions. I think in an emotional game like that, you've just got to understand that. Things happen, and other things led up to it, but they led the call and I guess they did what they had to do. But it's an emotional game. We can't have that happen. It didn't hurt us, because they went for two and we ended up scoring two points on the thing. I mean, it didn't hurt us on that particular penalty but it hurt us the remainder of the game because he wasn't playing. But it's done, and hopefully everybody will learn from that. You talk to them about it and talk to them about it and talk to them about it, and boom - all of a sudden it happens, and reality sets in a little bit.'

(Defending Stanford quarterback Chris Lewis vs. defending Randy Fasani, who was the starter before being injured) 'Experience, more than anything. Fasani had been around and played a lot and was their No. 1 guy during the spring and so forth, had played in games. Chris Lewis hasn't. Chris is probably more athletic than any of the quarterbacks they've had in the last couple years, but he's just learning the offense and trying to pick things up. You look at him and he gets better all the time, he's got a great arm, he's accurate, very athletic, good size - he's going to get better all the time. But the biggest difference I see is experience right now, but he'll get better every game.'

(Will it help OSU having seen a mobile quarterback like Washington's Marques Tuiasosopo immediately before seeing Stanford's Chris Lewis?) 'Tuiasosopo - the guy makes plays. He's a heck of a player and made plays against us, he's the catalyst of everything they do. Athletically, they're kind of similar, but Tuiasosopo has proven it over a period of time. But he (Lewis) moves around, they're similar in that way.'

(On OSU running back Patrick McCall's contributions at Washington) 'It was important for Patrick to have some success. He's played well all during camp, and he played well early in the year. But this was really kind of a breakout game for him as far as making plays. We used him a heck of a lot more. It's kind of the rotation we'd like to have so we can keep Ken fresh and keep him so he doesn't get beat up as the year goes on - we've got a lot of games left. If you can have that one-two punch, it really makes a difference as the year goes on.'

(OSU free safety Calvin Carlyle's injury) 'He's fine, he's just got that shoulder he had surgery on. We came out of it fairly good. We've got bumps and bruises, I'll know more at practice today but I don't see anybody missing that game. I know (OSU cornerback Dennis) Weathersby has been a problem in the fourth quarter - he cramps up, is what happens to him. We've got to find out how to solve that problem, because you want to have him in the game in the fourth quarter when it's right down to it and that hasn't happened to him in the last three weeks, so we've got to get that problem solved. I'm not sure what the problem is.'

(The trendy pickle juice solution?) 'Yeah - that pickle juice is good stuff. We'll probably give him some.'

(On OSU's resiliency after falling behind at Washington) 'That's kind of the mark of a good football team, without a doubt. Resiliency is what it's all about. That's a tough place, and then to have them go ahead 10 and have all the momentum, and to come back and make the play we made - which is a great play by Jonathan (Smith, quarterback) and Chad (Johnson, wide receiver) - but then to come out on defense and get the ball back really does show resilience. And I believe that they believe they're going to win, and do what they have to to win every time out. To me, that's an attitude that's been changed around here in the last couple years. I don't know if that's resilience or not, but to me, that's what it is. The truth of resilience will be this week for us - how do we bounce back from that game to this game, because there's no room for error, period. I like to think we'll bounce back and play well. All we can do is play as well as we can, and then whatever happens, happens.'

(Any word from the equipment staff on why OSU is losing shoes, such as Jonathan Smith stepping out of his shoe before hitting Chad Johnson with the 80-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter at Washington?) 'No, not really. That hasn't been one of my priorities. When I go downstairs, I'll ask him. I don't know - we've had a couple of shoes come off. When you asked me that (a few weeks ago), I really meant to ask him. But it's like I said, heck ... if he throws like that, he may as well play without shoes. Let him play in stocking feet.'

(Were you surprised to still be in the Top 25 after losing?) 'I'm not surprised at anything in the national rankings, to be very honest with you. I voted for many years when I was at Washington State and Miami. I think sometimes people watch that game on TV, and thought it was a hell of a game and we came back, and for that reason they thought we were a pretty good team. I don't know what goes into voting, to be honest with you. You try to research it, but as a coach you don't have much time - you get done playing Saturday and you've got to have that thing in by something like noon Sunday, so you're looking through the papers ... it's by no means the answer. And, of course, the AP (Associated Press media poll) has all the experts.'

(Do you still vote in the coaches' poll?) 'No. Thank God.' (Just more homework?) 'Yes. And if you're going to do a good job, you can't just wake up Sunday and flip a coin. I swear, that's probably what happens sometimes. And sometimes they don't know what the scores are out west. It's kind of an interesting process.'

(How are coaches selected to vote?) 'Just an honest face, probably. They look through the mug book of coaches - `That guy's honest'.' You look at some of those pictures in the post office, those guys don't look honest.'

(How important is it for OSU to be in position to think about two losses costing it a chance at the Pacific-10 title?) 'That's exactly what it's all about, and we've got to do it. But I believe we can compete in the next six games against anybody, and that's what it's all about. There isn't a game we can't win, and there isn't a game we can't lose. But we're in position where, if we play well, we can win them. I'm not saying we will or we won't, but I feel - and I know our players feel - we have an opportunity. So let's get our fifth win and go from there. You can't get your sixth win without your fifth. That's kind of where we're focusing right now. But, yes, that's quite a bit different from how it was a year ago at this time. And who knows what the end results will be? But that's where our mindset is right now, just like anybody else in our league.

'I don't think there's anybody who's got one loss right now or is undefeated who doesn't think they have a chance. If you don't, then you're not preaching the right thing. As you look at this league, there isn't anybody who can't win. I've looked at everybody on video ... I just watched Arizona play Stanford, and that's a pretty darn good football team. They've beaten USC and Stanford on the road - they're not in bad shape. Then there's UCLA, which has lost one on the road, there's Oregon, but they haven't played on the road yet. There are so many scenarios ... there's us, Arizona State hasn't lost a game yet, so who knows. Let's see what happens. But I don't see anybody out there who's just totally dominant over anybody else. Injuries will come into it. All you can do is try to figure out a way to win the next one. I know that's what everybody in our league is trying to do. I guess maybe for Oregon State to say that is odd, but it's fun.'

(On how OSU handled the big-game atmosphere at Husky Stadium) 'I thought we handled it real well. We had two penalties going in, and one wasn't because of noise, it was because we lined up wrong, the other one, we jumped. But I thought we handled it extremely well. There were some times that he (quarterback Jonathan Smith) couldn't hear, so what he ended up having to do was go underneath the center at the end of the game as opposed to being in the shotgun because he couldn't hear. Jonathan made that adjustment. But I thought they handled it real well. The offsides that killed us was on defense, and there's no reason for that because you're going on the ball. We go offsides five times on defense, and that's ridiculous - you can't have that happen. And that's not because of crowd noise. We lined up offside twice, and then jumped three times. Lining up, you should never line up offside. But Marques (Tuiasosopo) did a nice job with the snap count, and that's part of the advantage of playing at home - you change that snap count up. We're that style of defense where we get an edge by getting off, that's what we teach - you're going to have one (offside) occasionally, but not that many.'

(On Stanford being an up and down team - such as the win over Texas and loss to Arizona) 'They moved the ball extremely well against Texas and didn't move it very well against Arizona. That's what that game broke down to - turnovers, and Arizona played great defense. They're not much different than they were a year ago at this time, in my opinion - we've just got to wait and see what happens.'