Below is the transcript from Jon Embree's weekly press luncheon on Oct. 11, 2011:
"The games I've watched them play in, they have had a couple of close calls and they found a way to win them. They do a good job in bringing the quarterback along, this is his first time playing really, (Keith) Price, and he's a good player. He has the same type of good demeanor, whether it is a turnover or something bad that happens, he has a good demeanor about himself and that is obviously important at that position. Their running back (Chris Polk) is a good back. He is physical. If you don't tackle him, he'll run through arm tackles so you have to tackle him and you have to get more than one guy there at the ball. You just can't be relying on one guy and that really I think is important in the fourth quarter when you are tired and worn down; he is the classic big back that wears you down, wears you down and then all of a sudden those two-yard gains are eight and 12 and 14 yards. They also have two good kids on the outside, the local kid (Devin Aguilar) who was here - he is playing well - they have him on the edge with (Jermaine) Kearse. Good line, they do a good job of protecting and they do a good job in trying to be physical and open up the run game. Then defensively I think they are finally finding their stride. I know that Nick (Holt) and obviously (Steve) Sarkisian were with Pete (Carroll) at USC and kind of the mold that they are trying to build their team in. You can see from the way that they've recruited, some of the kids they have upfront are big, some big guys. They do a good job in getting push, they rotate guys, they have some good outside linebackers and then some veteran guys back there as well. They play well on the back end, they'll get up and play man, they'll run with you, press, mix their coverages. It is a good team, it really is. Sark has done a good job."
On If He Thinks Washington Is Farther Along Than What They Expected To Be At
"I think you will have to ask him that. I don't know what in his (Steve Sarkisian) mind, what his plan was or what they looked like when he first got there, but I think the little I've seen from them this year and from Sark, by any means they are not a finished product. He wants them to keep improving and getting better and feels like they can do a lot of great things if they keep along the path they are on."
On The Parallels Between His Program And The One In Washington
"It is similar. There were two programs in which I looked at and tried to get a feel for, and that was Washington and Stanford, for just what they were doing. How they were built and building - depends on which one - I think Stanford is finally at the place where they want to be and with Washington continuing on the path that they're on. I've looked at both programs."
On The Two Schools With Great Tradition Trying To Get Back To Their Winning Ways
"There are a lot of similarities. You know when Washington has been successful; it's been with the California kids. When Colorado has been successful, the playmakers have been for the most part from California. There is that and Sark has done a good job over in the island and recruiting over there. You can see the similarities and the foot print so to speak of what each program is trying to do and how we are trying to get it."
On If He Is Doing Anything To Keep The Morale High
"No, yesterday we had good enthusiasm. The seniors understand how the clock is running and then part of it is having a lot of young guys who are still playing and it is still there first time going through it so there is natural excitement on their part so it's been a good blend. Our staff has done a great job in keeping them focused at the task at hand and keeping them motivated and energized."
On What The Key Is To Keep A Team Getting Better As The Season Progresses
"There's a lot but sometimes it is what you have to play for. What is your motivation has a determining factor in that. Obviously teams that have a lot to play for are going to continue to improve and teams that feel like all of their goals or whatever they set out to do can't be obtained. I think that has a large part to do with it with these kids. It depends on what their circumstances surrounding the team. If it's injuries and guys feel like, 'Oh, we can't win because we don't have player X,' or if guys look at it, 'So-and-so are hurt, we're going to play for him until he gets back.' There are a lot of different things that go into it, but ultimately I think it comes down to what you are playing for."
On What He Is Asking His Players To Play For
"As I said after the game, 'The seniors, a lot of you only have seven guaranteed opportunities left to play the game, not just for this year, but I'm talking about forever.' If they love the game, they are going to miss it. If they love the game, they are going to sit back three or four years from now and reflect on this year. So they have seven opportunities left if they are lucky and stay healthy and go all the way through it. For the younger guys, it is about playing and preparing. I tell the guys a lot, 'You have to work on your skill set every time you go practice. You have to work in order to improve and get better and push yourself. For some of the younger guys, it is their first time playing and there's the excitement of getting to go play another game. You just have to continue to do that and find different ways to help your team improve, because the guys that are coming back, you don't want to be starting all over again next year on the same things. As you build this program, you want to keep instilling certain values, whether it is how you practice, how you play, being prepared, all those things. You can't change that, you have to keep reinforcing the standard and you have to keep holding the players to that standard."
On If It Is Difficult Recruiting Given How The Season Has Gone
"No, a lot of the kids that we have recruited and the kids that we are recruiting; we have been very well received. A lot of them see opportunity, for some kids they just want that opportunity. A lot of them understand what is going on in the inside; they've been here on trips already and have seen it from the inside out. So it has not been an issue."
On How The Seniors Have Responded To How The Season Has Gone
"I've seen disappointment. I haven't asked them, that is something that you guys can ask and could probably get a little more in-depth with it, but I've seen some disappointment and I've seen some frustration. I've seen some guys step up into a leadership role and try and bring some guys with them. I've seen a little bit of everything. I haven't seen any senior check it in. I haven't seen any senior not go out there and play with maximum effort and give you everything that they have. As far as in-depth feelings, I think that is something you will have to ask them. When I think back to my senior year, I really don't think you begin to reflect on it until your last couple games, then you realize that it is about to be over. We have seven games left, we've played six, it's a long season and I don't think they have gotten to that point where they are kind of reminiscing yet."
On If Last Week Was A Step Forward In The Kickoff Return Game
"Kickoff coverage was better. As far as our kickoff return game, we had enough chances at it, huh? Rodney (Stewart) did do well. He does better in all of the special teams. You hold your breath, he's down there making tackles, and he just loves to play so you just keep your fingers crossed with him back there. He is such a competitor and wants to be the guy that makes the difference every time he is out there. That is one of the reasons why I think he is a good special teams player. We did make an improvement there."
On How To Identify The Player That Has Passion For The Game During Recruiting
"I think there are a few things. There are some key questions that you ask kids. When I was in the (National Football) League and you go to the combine, there are certain questions that I ask kids and you could tell if they loved football and it was important to them. You get kids, even to get to that point, they have gotten there purely on athletic ability, and really the hardest jump is high school to college because you come in as an 18-year-old boy and you are going to be playing with 23-year-old men. That is really the biggest jump. If you are able to make that jump quicker than later, you have to have a certain mental toughness, you have to have a certain self confidence in yourself that you can do this and not be worried about the circumstances surrounding you. When you talk to these kids and depending how they answer certain questions, some of these kids, they don't know. What you have to find out then is how are they going to react when they get to your school and it might take two years for them to play. Are they going to keep working or are they going to look for the easy way out? Those are all important things that you have to have because as you continue building this, you have to have football players, guys that love football, understand the game, understand the little things that go within the game to have success, to win and start winning consistently. Obviously once you get the elite playmakers, that is what takes you to the final level, so to speak. As we've gone through here, even when we got here, we have been trying to identify who the football player are, who are they, and we are doing that as we are going through this recruiting process. I think it is a testament to those that have played for us as freshmen about their ability to handle this and, you know, our schedule. It is not like we have put in all of our freshmen and play dear old Tech University and let their feet get wet. For some of these guys, they're first one is Ohio State or at Stanford, so they are playing at big stages against legitimate opponents and they are answering the bell and not blinking. I do appreciate the freshmen that have played, they haven't blinked. (Placekicker) Will Oliver hasn't blinked. Woodson Greer played last time for his first time, he played well, he did, he played well. Juda Parker continues to improve. You go down that list and those guys, they didn't blink. They went in there and played and they've been ready and some of the stuff that we've been asking them to do, well you could just say, 'He's a freshmen and he's probably going to make a mistake,' but they don't make a lot of mistakes. They understand football, they understand the scheme, they understand what we are trying to do, and then they are out there physically going out there and doing it. It has been encouraging to go out there and see those guys. Tyler McCulloch, he almost had another touchdown on Saturday. These guys, they have been really good. I feel like our ability to identify football players and what we've been doing has been on track and we just have to keep going."
On If He Has An Update On Any Injuries
"No. I'll know more probably after Wednesday's practice, who is in, who is out. P-Rich (Paul Richardson), those guys are out, and the guys that have been out, (Travis) Sandersfeld, those guys are still out. As far as new injuries - I don't think we have any new injuries that are going to cause guys to miss the game."
On What Positions He Is Targeting In Recruiting
"No. Tight End, we need to get more tight ends in here. The usual suspects, corners, D-linemen, I'm laughing because before I came down here, talking to the coaches, they all want six scholarships for their positions and pleading their case why, but we are targeting all of the positions."
On If It Is Hard To Game Plan Against A Balanced Offensive Team
"No, because if you are playing man, you are playing man. If you are playing zone, then you are playing zone. That isn't the issue; it is when you are playing a team and they have one guy like an (USC WR) Robert Woods and you have to find out where he is and figure out, 'Ok, are we bracketing, are we doubling him here,' that is when it becomes an issue because then they move around in motion and do all that. Sark's going to do what he does, what they do in the passing game and what they do in the running game. They are not a line-me-up and trick you and all that. Are they going to have a wrinkle here and there? Yeah, but that is more of a testament to the quarterback and him finding guys open and throwing them the ball."
On Getting A Big Running Back Like Washington's Chris Polk
"I told E.B. (offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy) that every running back that he recruits from here on, he has to look up to them. I've given him that kind of parameters to start with. I think it is important that you have a big back. I'm not trying to take anything away from Rodney (Stewart) or Tony (Jones), I love those guy and have been good players for us and will be. It is comforting to have a Chris Brown because they wear you down and help you. They wear the other team down and when you are trying to put the game away in the fourth quarter, and that big battering ram keeps coming at you, it helps."
On If He Is Going To Make Any Changes To His Field Goal Kicking Team
"We've made some changes. The one on Saturday, I'm not going to comment on that. Just a kid making a mistake. Blocked out, you always blocked down. We always got to block the inside gap. That kid has been reliable and he just made a mistake."
On What Makes Washington QB Keith Price So Effective
"He has good accuracy, he does a good job like our guy, when he scrambles, he scrambles to throw. In most quarterbacks, they are eight yards deep and they take off to run and tuck the ball away, you love that as a defense. It is those guys that are still looking downfield, have the ball in the passing position, that you kind of stay back and don't know when to go and don't know if he's past the line of scrimmage and all of those things. Once they get past the line of scrimmage, they can hurt you in the open field. They are elusive enough that you can't just go up and hit them. They are not just going to go up and slide. Like I said, the thing that I get the sense from watching him on tape is, he's got a great mindset, if he fumbles the ball in the pocket or if he throws an interception, he comes right back and I think that is a great attribute to have as a young quarterback and especially replacing (Jake) Locker. I'm sure there are a lot of things that are going on around that, having to fill those shoes and probably a little pressure in having to live up to that and he seems comfortable in his skin. He feels comfortable in doing what he does best and not forcing a lot of things."
On Players Making Mistakes That Hurt The Team
"Sometimes kids do too much. They try and do the guy next to them's job and their job. I would say that is one of the biggest culprits. They just want to win so badly and sometimes you try and do extra and it hurts you, if you just do normal and do your job. I've talked to the team and I feel that is the reason why the fans and you guys don't see the reaction might think when something like that happens when you talk to a kid because you see it in their eyes, it is not something they do maliciously, it is not something they were coached to, they were just trying to do something extra to help the team win. That's it at the end of the day. I'm trying to get the team to understand, just do your job and trust the guy next to you to do their job and that is what we have to do. No one is going to play a perfect game, God knows that I've never played or coached a perfect game, no one has, and so you don't necessarily need to do those things to win. When you look back at our win against CSU, there were a lot of mistakes, but when it was time to get it done, we got it done, and that is what we have to understand. We don't have to go play perfect, we don't have to go out there and be Superman. If we just go out there and do our thing, that is what is going to give us the opportunity to win and the chance to win. Sometimes the mistakes that have hurt us - and I'm not talking about the kick - is somebody trying to do a little more and it is unfortunate because it happens on a lot of teams but ours ends up being magnified. Other teams, it happens and it doesn't quite end like that. I appreciate their effort and understand it and that is why when those things happen, I'm sure some people want me to do certain things, but being around these kids for the time that I've been around them and some of the kids that this is happening too, I know where their heart is at, I know where their effort it, I understand all of that, and so to me that all goes into account. And their teammates know. You probably don't get the reaction that people may think they will get on those things."
On The Suspensions And If Any Has Been Lifted
"Josh Moten is back. They were all suspended for different things and Josh had some business to take care of and I wanted him to handle and he got that done. Josh is the student-athlete of the month and has done a lot of good things since we've been here. The other guys, they still have some work to do so we'll see."
On If Flipping Washington Recruits Into Becoming CU Recruits Is Water Under The Bridge
"There are kids, whether it was (Greg) Henderson or (Stephane) Nembot or Paulay (Asiata), I think of it as a couple of things. As we just talked about, we see the parallels in our program and what we are trying build and the kind of kid that we are trying to get and obviously we are on the right kids, and recruiting that, that happens a lot. As far as rival, your rival has to be in the South Division because we have to play them every year. I'm sure we will bang heads again this year in recruiting. I know there are a couple of guys that we've been looking and they've been looking at, and as coaches being competitive, it is kind of fun going into a house and another coach is leaving. The parents and families are freaking out because they think a fight is going to happen in the living room or something like that, it is kind of funny because invariably in some cases - depending on the relationship you have with the coach - usually after those home visits are done, you and that coach are going to have some dinner or something like that afterwards. The parents are like, 'Oh no, I hope they don't know that school X was here,' I'm like, 'I don't worry about it, I'm going to see him right after the home visit.' It is not quite like how they make it out in the movies sometimes about recruiting and all of that. When you have a healthy respect for a coach and a program, it ends up being ok. The issue is when you don't have a healthy respect for that coach or for that program, when it can be an issue. As I said I know Sark, I saw him right after he got the job in the LAX airport, I was out there visiting my son and ran into him, and he's running through the airport with Starbucks and talked to him for a little bit. I always thought that Sark is a good guy and I like what he is doing up there and how he is doing it, I don't have a problem with him."