Coach Erickson quotes from football media day
We're really looking forward to the year. We have been through three practices, two in shorts and one in shoulder pads. The enthusiasm is looking good and we have practiced really well. It is an exciting time for all of us right now. It's the start of the season and like everybody else in the country we are undefeated right now, which is always a positive thing. We are looking forward to competing for the Pac-10 championship and making up for what happened to us last year. We are not satisfied with 5-7 and that is not where we want this program to be. We have talked about that ever since the season was over and our goal is to compete for the championship and go to a bowl game. Again, sometimes you get a wake-up call and hopefully last year was [a wake-up call] and we have to figure out how to win football games.
On the quarterback situation:
At the end of spring Danny Sullivan was number one coming out of spring football and he still is. Samson Szakacsy is behind him and Brock Osweiler is behind him. The competition was very competitive in the spring, but Danny understands what we are doing. He is very smart and he understands our offense. His experience really put him ahead in the spring. He's also physically talented. He has a strong and accurate arm, which allows him to make things happen. Last year, we put him in a tough situation against USC and he didn't have his best game. But I don't know who did. He has to learn from that, but Samson pushed him. He's one of the fastest players on the team and he gives you a different look. If he were the quarterback we would probably run some option and do some different things. Brock has a lot of great talent but it's a matter of him learning what we are doing offensively. He's 18 years old, but he is very mature beyond his years. I look at this as a positive, because there is competition and there are three quarterbacks I feel good about playing. Like I said, Danny is our starter and I am not afraid to put another quarterback in during the game because it is all about winning. We won't know that until it gets closer to game time.
On the wide receivers:
Chris McGaha is healthy now. He had a great year my first year here but was hurt last year. Kerry [Taylor], Kyle [Williams], Chris, T.J. [Simpson], Gerell [Robinson], A.J. [Pickens], and Brandon Smith give us a very good group of wide receivers. We are moving Chris around and playing him in the slot, with T.J. outside. Gerell Robinson has stood out during the first three days of camp. He has lost weight and looks like a receiver now. He has learned a lot physically about himself. I feel very good about where we are at receiver wise. We will probably be in three sets most of the time. During the game we will probably be in it 90 percent of the time. We will be in some four wide and five wide sets, depending on our strengths going into the game.
On running out of the shotgun this year:
It is our plan. We were in two tight end sets the last two years. I have normally been in three wide formations where we can spread everybody out and run the football. The only difference that we are doing now that I haven't done is that we are in the shotgun more. I have been in the shotgun, but I haven't run the ball as much out of it. We have been working on it all summer and it has been good for us. We will be spreading people out and running the short passing game, which are things we have always done. I like what we are doing and I feel comfortable with what we are doing. It is what I know and it is part of the reason why [Offensive Coordinator] Rich Olson will be upstairs. I will be down on the sideline calling the plays with input from him. I have done that my whole career and I am looking forward to it offensively.
On the depth of the offensive line:
For the first time we can sit in our room and realize we are two-deep and three-deep in some areas. We were barely one-deep in some areas. We have experience coming back. They have taken a lot of criticism, which I don't think they deserve because there are a lot of other things involved. I have the best offensive line coach in the country and he has proved that over and over again. It is an exciting time for us because we have guys back from injuries. We are seeing guys like [Matt] Hustad and [Zach] Schlink out there who have been hurt. It is fun to watch them get better and they have a chip on their shoulder because they can read and they understand what's going on.
On the defense:
Our defense has a chance to be good. We don't have a lot of depth in some areas, but for the first time I can sit back there and see five corners who can play. I have been in that defensive room where if someone got hurt we would only have two. We have more depth but our safeties are going to be new. Our defensive front has talent but we can't afford to get any one hurt like most teams in the country. The strength of our defense is our linebackers. They are guys who have been around. We are two deep and a lot faster then we have been before, but we won't know until we get out there and play.
On the state of the program:
I am excited about where we are at. We are young in a lot of areas. Those who come out there can see that the athletes we have are continuing to get better and better. I feel that we are starting to develop some depth, which takes some time. We have to take it to the next level and beat some teams to get up there. We're getting there and I am excited about where the program is at.