Quotes from coach Dennis Erickson on football media day
"This is always an exciting time for everybody in college football. Everybody is undefeated. You get a chance to talk about what's going to happen in the future. It's a fun time. For me, it's as fun as there is. There's nothing like college football, the anticipation, what TV game is on, who's going to win the national championship, who's going to go to the Rose Bowl and all those different things. That's what makes it such a great sport. This is a great time. We're excited about our football team. We've got a lot of returners back in a lot of different areas, and we've got a lot of areas where we've got to have people step up and where we're going to be very young. I don't know that it's unlike any year that you're going to have. You're going to have people coming back and experience, and you're going to have inexperience. To me, it's a matter of how you come together, what happens during two-a-days, what happens in the fall, injuries, who steps up and all those different things. We had a very good summer, from what I understand, as far as the offseason workouts. That's how it is anymore. It's an all-around, every-month, everyday job anymore. There is no time off. Our guys spent a lot of time here with our strength coach and did a lot of things on their own. Hopefully it pays off for them."
On if having a full recruiting season helps in closing the gap with USC:
"We'll continue to close that gap. We've had good players here, as I've said many times. Coach [Dirk] Koetter did an outstanding job recruiting here. We're continuing to do that. We're going to be very young at some positions. Our recruiting class that we got a year ago, we're going to have a lot of those guys playing, particularly in the offensive line. This class coming in, it's good on paper. They're all good on paper, but we'll find out tomorrow exactly where they're at. We feel very good about some of those young guys. We really think that they can help us this year, but that remains to be seen. Where we're at right now, we won't know until we start. You don't know how good you are until you start playing. A lot of times it takes three or four games to even find out where you're at. Sometimes it takes longer than that."
On the importance of having an experienced quarterback like Rudy Carpenter:
"Having an experienced quarterback is huge. There's no question about it. Quarterback is a very key position. Is it the total answer? Obviously it's not the total answer, but it's nice to have a guy like Rudy [Carpenter] coming back who's played as many games as he's played. There's nothing like playing. You can have a guy that's very talented, and there are a lot of them in our league, and a lot of new ones in our league that are going to be playing, but there's nothing like having that experience on the football field. With Rudy coming back, I feel very good about that aspect of it. Not only has he played a lot; he's been very successful. He's a guy we're depending on. He's been a real leader for us since he's been here. He's been a real leader this summer for us, as far as organizing the things that needed to get done. We're very fortunate."
On if he expects Carpenter to improve in his second year in this offensive system:
"I certainly hope so. I expect him being in our offense for a year and understanding what we want. We're adding some things too that will really help him, in my opinion. We're a little different team offensively, just because of our personnel, than we were a year ago. Just the experience of the rush, getting the football off on time when people are in your face, getting hit in the mouth - which he did a number of times - all that really makes a big difference."
On going to Camp Tontozona for only one day this season:
"I don't know if it's an advantage or a disadvantage. We made a decision a year ago that we were going to get a new facility here. It has nothing to do with Tontozona at all. It's about our indoor facility. We really feel that we'll have one of the best indoor facilities in the country. It wasn't just about that. It was about being to work in there in the summer time, being able to work in there in the winter, being able to work in there in the heat, not just during training camp, but during the season when we need to. That is such a plus. When you look inside of it and go inside of it, we've got so much room, more than any of the places I've been, as far as practice facilities are concerned. It's going to be a huge advantage for us. So in saying that, there was no reason for us to go up there because of weather. There's an advantage to staying at home, as far as facilities, film work, our own weight room and all those different things. Tontozona has been great for this program over the years, and it was great for us last year. It doesn't have to anything to do with wanting to go up there or not; it's just our new facility."
On if he has ever faced a four-game stretch like the Georgia-Cal-USC-Oregon stretch this season:
"No, I don't believe we have. I try to put those memories behind me, if we have. That's tough. You look at our schedule, we play Northern Arizona [on Aug. 30] - Michigan-Appalachian State. Coach [Jerome] Souers has done a great job up there, and they've got a great opportunity to come down here. I've been on both ends of that. Stanford, to me, is huge, that's our first league game at home. You can go on and on. It's a tough stretch, there's no question about it. The thing about schedules is, and I've grown to live with this the last four or five months, the schedule is the schedule and you go play it. You play them when they're there and just go play them."
On being the only team in the country with both No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 USC on the schedule:
"I knew they'd be on top, and I knew we'd play them both. You knew what it was going to be like. Those are two great programs, and we just happened to play both of them. We happen to play both of them again next year, so that's just how it is."
On what he feels is the biggest question mark about this team:
"We've got to establish our offensive front. There's no question about that. We're going to be young. In talking about that, Richard Tuitu'u, who was at right tackle for us last year, will not play this year. He decided not to play football. So, Adam Tello will be our starter. I'm excited about our offensive front, but it is an area that's young. We've got [Shawn] Lauvao and Paul [Fanaika] coming back. They're the two experienced guys, and everybody else is going to be new. They're athletic, and it will be exciting to see how they come about. That's a real big question. So, we'll see what happens, but that's probably the biggest one we've got right now."
On working with Rudy Carpenter in getting rid of the ball quicker:
"We're going to be involved in some different things, as far as what we're doing offensively. I've been in a lot of offenses in my coaching career, and spread it out before people were spreading it out. So, we're going to do some of that, get it off quick and try to give him a little bit better opportunities. When you're in three- and five-step drops, you get it off a little quicker. He'll get rid of it. The offense will be conducive to him getting rid of it."
On what he expects from the freshmen this season:
"A lot of it depends on what our depth is. There will be some that will play. In my mind, there will probably be four or five of them, but who they are? I'm not sure. We need some help in the defensive front, to develop some depth, so that's a possibility. Same thing in the secondary, at corner and/or safety. At wide receiver, Gerell Robinson probably has a chance to compete and play. It's a good class. We'll see where they're at, but I wouldn't be surprised to see four or five of those true freshmen play."
On the speed of the defense:
"We've got a lot of starters back, so we're about the same as we were a year ago. I think we're a little bit faster. We've got some young guys that will play and continue to improve our speed. We will continue to improve our speed all the time. That's what we believe in defensively, to play fast and play very aggressive. Our defensive philosophy is based on guys that can run. So our defense every year will continue to get faster. We will continue to keep it simple, like we have. We really believe that if you don't have to think, you play faster. That's what we were able to do last year. Now, we'll add some different things, maybe bring a little bit more pressure because we're a little bit more experienced, but speed is the key on defense for us."
On the strengths of this team:
"Our skill areas offensively, at running back and wide receiver, is a strength for us. Any time you have Keegan [Herring] coming back, and Dimitri Nance coming back. We've got three or four guys, Chris McGaha, Kyle Williams, Mike Jones at receiver. So we do have some skill, and then you throw Rudy [Carpenter] in there, that's an area that I like. Our experience at safety with Troy Nolan, linebacker will all those guys that played quite a bit last year, Mike Nixon, [Travis] Goethel, [Gerald] Munns, so we do have some experience, and I don't know that there is anybody that's got a pair of defensive ends like [Luis] Vasquez and Dexter Davis that we have right now. We've got to find a third one, but they're pretty good."
On how equipped this team is to challenge USC in the Pac-10:
"We'll find out. It's hard to say. It kind of depends on how we grow as a football team. Our goal is going to be the same every year, and that's to compete for the championship and to go to the Rose Bowl. We're young and inexperienced in a lot of areas, so we'll see how we grow and how we develop depth, and then go ahead and go from there. I like our team. They've had a good summer. They'll compete and play hard, and then we'll see what happens."
On his feelings going into this season compared to last season:
"We know each other. The players know the coaches, and we know the players. They know how we react to things. We know how they react to things. It's nice being around them for a year. It makes a big difference. Last year, we weren't sure what to expect, and I'm sure they weren't sure what to expect of us. That's the biggest difference."
On Adam Tello starting at right tackle:
"Adam had a good spring. It was a toss-up who was going to start at right tackle for us anyway. Adam is young, but he's very athletic, a very good pass protector. I feel good about him. We've got Mike Marcisz, who can play over there too. [Tom] Njunge could flop from left to right [tackle], and we've got a couple of true freshmen that could end up helping us there too."