Oct. 15, 2001
First of all, the Washington game. There is no question it was a big win for our football team and our program. They had a 12-game winning streak and we stopped that. They hadn't lost a fumble this year and they fumbled twice and we recovered. They hadn't given up a rushing touchdown since us a year ago when they gave up two to DeShaun (Foster), well they gave up four to DeShaun this year. They didn't get a comeback win and that was something that we wanted to do which was win in the fourth quarter. They had won 18 games when they had 30 minutes or more in time of possession. That is something that I talked about and because were winning, I told DeShaun to make a long run so we didn't have more time of possession (laughter). So that's the first game they lost when they had time of possession. In regards to the special teams' battle, that is something we worked extremely hard on in the bye week and I thought we won the special teams battle. We responded very well after a bye. You are always concerned when you have a bye because you don't know if you are going to lose your rhythm, your tempo and those types of things and we didn't. As I told the team, if you are going to have a chance to win the (Pac-10) championship, you have to knock out the champion and so we knocked out the champion from a year ago. And obviously we beat another ranked team. Four out of our last five teams have been ranked and we won our fourth one.
There is a lot of areas we can get better at and that is why we keep coaching, that's why we keep playing. Offensively, we had three fumbles, two of them in the red zone, one on the 20 and one on the 10. We had a sack in the red zone. We probably could've scored more points if we didn't turn the ball over. Throwing the football, one of the things that we did going into the game, our plan was to try and throw some deep balls. We probably ended up throwing too many deep balls. Some of that is by design and some of that is just airing it out. We dropped a couple deep balls too and if we would've caught two or three balls, it would've made a bigger difference in the football game and in Cory's stats. Defensively, we need to work on the little things, the fundamentals, the footwork, the positioning and those kinds of things. But we are playing extremely well right now defensively. Special teams, we can't kick the ball out of bounds. Nate (Fikse) is a great kicker, but he gets so emotional. He is like a linebacker. It's like when you play golf, if you swing that wedge too hard, you don't know where that ball is going. He'll be fine.
The upcoming game against Cal, it's homecoming. I will use the old Serpentine Huddle again for Red Sanders. I have to figure out which play to run. Right now it is one game at a time. The last two years we've lost to Cal and there is no question that this is a big rivalry game featuring the two UC system schools. The thing that I'm reminding our players is that regardless of what happens the rest of the year, if you don't win one more, you're not bowl eligible. So we need to win one more game down the road here to become bowl eligible. I know a lot of people are talking about winning the national championship and those types of things and I think that's great. I think that's one of the goals of every school in the country. It should be a goal. It's always going to be a goal of ours - to eventually compete for a national championship. We were close a few years ago and I don't know what is going to happen this year. But we have positioned ourselves, at this point, to maybe have an opportunity. We are not going to beat our chest and tell you how great we are and say we're No.1 and all that garbage. That's not going to happen. I'm not going to say it and our team is not going to say it. But you have to realize, just like I realize, that we have positioned ourselves that it is a possibility if we continue to win. So that is why the only important thing right now is the next game. That is how we're approaching it. I believe we have an experienced football team. I believe we have a mature football team and I believe we have a confident, not a cocky, a confident football team. Having said that we will take on the Bears and see what happens.
I know a lot of people are going to ask about Al Borges. Al was with me the last five years and did a great job. We're great friends. He left on great terms. I think the world of the guy and I hope he thinks the same of me. He is an excellent coach and they are struggling a little bit, but we all understand that too. But there is nothing between Al Borges and myself and I want to say that right now because I know that is one of the questions someone will probably ask and it would be absurd to even think that there is something between us. We are as close as any coach I have ever been associated with.
I want to appeal to the fans, we need a good crowd. We need a home field advantage, it's homecoming. We take that little walk through the crowd two hours before the game, it's important that we get people there to cheer that group of players on. We need noise. We need those 12th-Bruin towels. We are looking forward to getting a good crowd for homecoming.
As far as injuries, Matt Ball has a knee and a calf bruise, he won't practice today. All of these guys will be day to day for now. Brandon Chillar has a quad bruise, he got hit in the thigh. He'll be day to day. Shane Lehmann has a sprained ankle and he's in a boot. Matt Stanley, the ankle, we're hoping he's getting better. So those guys we're just going to keep an eye on and see what happens. Chris Kluwe is out with a knee. Cody Joyce is still out with a concussion. The one big injury we have right now is Brian Poli-Dixon. He dislocated his shoulder and that is a two to three week type ordeal. This is the most beat up we've been, yet it's still a pretty healthy football team. We have some players that can play in their places, but we are losing some depth and that always concerns you.
The captain for this game will be Kenyon Coleman, along with the other three people. Offensively, our player of the game was Foster. Our defensive player was the entire defensive line. We played 12 defensive lineman. We had four sacks and we had 21 hits on the quarterback. You watch the game, I was starting to feel sorry for their quarterback because he was getting beat up. You always feel for a kid that gets hit that many times. Special teams wise, Marcus Reese did a great job. You noticed him when he blocked the punt, but you didn't notice him on all the other special teams. He did a fantastic job on special teams.
For coach Toledo's complete press conference audio, including his question and answer session with the media, please click on the audio link located at the top of this page.