Nov. 15, 1999
Listen to the audio version of this press conference.
LOS ANGELES - The Washington game was a great win for our football team, the program and all the people associated with it. It's the least amount of points we've scored since I've been here and still won the football game, which speaks volumes for our defense. Our defense held Washington to 236 yards. That's a real credit to Bobby Field, the coordinator and the assistant coaches and the young men playing the game. I thought we showed a lot of courage, a lot of heart and an awful lot of character considering the circumstances. You look at the second series of the game and our center breaks his collarbone. Then you look at the second quarter and our quarterback breaks his collarbone. Our safety goes out with a concussion, I can go on and on. But anyway, I thought the kids showed a lot of character and a lot of courage in doing what they did.
We talk about sudden change and turnovers and responding to turnovers both offensively and defensively. I thought we really did a good job on both sides of the ball. We had two fumbled snaps because of the quarterback-center exchange and they only got one field goal out of that. They had two fumbles and we scored a touchdown and we kicked a field goal and of course they had the interception at the end and then we ended up kicking the field goal to win in overtime. So from a sudden change standpoint I thought it worked out real well. It's something we practice. In the middle of practice I'll just yell out "sudden change" and we get down on the 25 and it simulates not only a turnover, but it simulates an overtime period and I tell that to our football team. And I think when we had to take the field for the overtime, that was something that I expressed to them. That these were things that we've practiced in the past and we're ready for it. It worked out pretty well. I thought some of the players that filled in because of the injuries really did an outstanding job and I can talk more about that later if you're interested. It's important that when one or two guys go down, the other guys go in and perform to the best of their ability. It was a nice win and a nice overtime win for all of us.
As far as the USC game, one of the things I'm doing, just to make you aware of it, like I've done every year, is that we will close practice to everyone except the media of course and pro scouts. So friends and family won't be out there and we will try to keep it as intimate as we can because it's our last week together. Both teams are very similar in what they do. They are both similar in the problems that we have. We have the same records. We've had our quarterbacks knocked out. We've had a lot of injuries on the offensive line, so both teams are very similar. You know as well as I do that when you play in this particular game, you just throw out all the records of what has happened in the past and that season and it's a one-game season. It's an inner-city rivaly. It's one of the great rivalries in college football and I've been associated with several different rivalries in these type of games and there is none better than this one. It's the last game for the seniors and I think for the seniors it means an awful lot. On both sides of the street. It means a lot to them too. Our seniors have never lost and their seniors have never won. Our younger players want to be the ones to say they've never lost so they don't want to get it started either. And the other thing that I'll mention is, and I know it's in the release, that I've been on both sides of this rivalry. It's kind of interesting to see it from both sides. I've been fortunate, I haven't lost yet on either side and hopefully I can continue that.
As far as an injury update, I think you guys got a list of the players that are hurt and we can talk more about that if you so desire. The one thing that I think is interesting is that going into this game we will have three new starters that have never started before which makes it 45 different players that have started this season. I have never ever been associated with a football team that has started 45 different people. Today, we will vote for two more team captains that will go along with (Danny) Farmer and (Pete) Holland. They will be the captains for the game and they'll be considered the captains for the whole year.
Our players of the game, we felt that our offensive line really did a nice job and deserves a lot of credit. So we gave our offensive player to two players: Brian Polak who went from right tackle to right guard and Oscar Cabrera who has really been a steady performer. And then defensively, we gave it to two players as well. Pete Holland had probably the best game, making as many tackles as he has ever made and really gave us a lot of good leadership. And of course Robert Thomas came back from a concussion that he got two weeks ago against Arizona and performed very well, leading the team in tackles. Special teams wise, Chris Griffith kicked three field goals and made the big one in the overtime period. So those are the players of the game.