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NCAA Cross Country Champions
By: CUBuffs.com
Jon Embree Press Conference Quotes
Release: September 11, 2012
By: Maggie Still, Student Assistant SID

Below is the transcript from Jon Embree's weekly press conference on Sept. 11, 2012:

General

"Getting ready for Fresno State, our first road game, so our preparation will start today.  Well, it actually really started yesterday; we got some work done pertaining to that.  We watched tape as far as Sac State and looked at a few things, identified a few things that we can keep doing to improve.  We are going to keep being competitive, we are going to keep grinding and fighting.  As I said at my press conference afterwards, that's who I am as a person and that's what my staff is comprised of, a lot of competitors, a lot of guys who will fight, and we are spreading that attitude to the team.  The players were great in their meetings, we talked about details; some of the issues that have kept us from winning.  Some details and how we can fix it as coaches and players.  So we showed some video and talked about some other stuff that pertains to that and I think that they understand that now.  The way they went out there and practiced and some of the things they did yesterday shows me that they are still willing to compete and fight.  So we are looking forward to going to Fresno and we will see what happens."

On The Team Taking Ownership Of The Losses

 "Yeah, we all have, coaches too.  In the video, there were basically eight plays that if we make any one of those eight plays on either side of the ball, you win the game.  Last year, unfortunately our games weren't like that. Now as a team, we have to learn how to continue to finish. We have a 14-point lead early, we have an 11-point lead early in the other game and we just need to be better about understanding that the other team is going to come back and fight.  We have to keep our foot on the gas and keep doing the things we have that have been successful on previous drives to keep putting pressure on the other team.  Some of that is when you are young, sometimes you don't understand that.  Then there are some things we can do as a coaching standpoint too that can help those guys."

On Fresno State QB Derek Carr

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I don't know if it was his mom or dad in the family that had the arm but they passed the gene down.  He is a good player, he has a great release, a lot of velocity on the ball, and he is accurate.  He isn't afraid of sitting there, wait for his receiver and make the throw. He is a very good player."

On How The Games Keep Slipping Away

"It is a part of competition.  When you are going against teams that are competitive like you, they are going to come back at some point, or they are going to do something to try and create something to give them momentum. We have to be better when momentum swings, of regaining it back.  I thought we were better at it Saturday, but obviously when we seize it, we need to be better at extending leads."    

On Seeing Progress

"Yeah, I do believe we have gotten better.  Our record doesn't show it but we are better than what we were in the past.  I just look at our players; I look at how they have changed.  I look at the plays that they are making, I'm looking at some of the young kids who are going to be really good players as they get more comfortable.  I see a significant change in our team, than what we were from a year ago."

On RB Christian Powell

"Christian was the guy when we were recruiting him, he showed some ability as a tailback.  We felt he could maybe be a guy who eventually might be a tailback and who had that skill set.  When we were able to have this opportunity arise this past week of putting him in there, he obviously did a very good job.  He left a lot of yards out there, but that is just from inexperience and some things with his footwork in which [running backs coach] Eric [Bieniemy] is getting him corrected on.  He is the guy when there was two yards there, he was getting five and six, and that is what you like as a back so he doesn't always have to be blocked perfectly. We will go with him again this week and see if he can continue to build on what he did last week."

On Re-evaluating Every Position

"Yeah, we looked at it.  We just wanted to see where we were and are we getting the best 11 on the field, those kind of things.  We are going to get [QB] Connor Woods some reps this week in the game, trying to get him going and see how he responds to some stuff.  The week before, we moved [Will] Pericak from inside to outside to defensive end. I think we will continue to make sure those young guys inside are getting some reps: [Tyler] Henington, [Justin] Solis and [Josh] Tupou along with Nate Bonsu. Linebackers, now that [Doug] Rippy is out, getting Brady Daigh going more-he had earned more playing time anyway.  So now that Doug is down for a while, we will get him doing some things.  Same with Kyle Washington, he has been making a lot of plays and doing some stuff for us on [special] teams.  So those are all guys that we will continue to get involved more."

On How Close The Games Have Been

"It was a couple plays here and there.  When you are going through what we are going through, every game is going to be like that.  We are going to have a lot more games where it's going to come down to some stuff and it's just whether or not we execute and do it or we don't.  Unfortunately, that is a part of the process that you go through with a team that you have guys playing a lot of ball for the first time, so that's part of it.  But as you win, you hope that builds confidence so that the next time they are in that situation, they know how to finish or know how to make a play so that we can win the game."

On The Team's Attitude

"It is significantly better. Our kids expect to win and that is good.  You heard me say that last year, we didn't really expect to win.  You can tell how they react after a loss immediately in the locker room, and then how they come to work on Monday and the accountability to their teammates, that has changed significantly.  They care about each other; they know about each other, they help each other.  The stuff they are doing off the field, in the classroom, is night and day.  There is a lot of "want to" and so there is just a matter of time before it clicks for them.  Something will happen where it will help them have success and then as you get some success, you will get some confidence and things will get going."

On The Coaches Meeting After The Game

"Well the first thing about that meeting was that I wanted to reassure the coaches that we are in it together.  I know there is outrage and whatever else is going on, but I wanted them to understand that I still believe in them, that they are good coaches, which they are.  And what we need to do is that we need to make sure that we are doing our do-diligence as far as continuing to give our kids the opportunity to win.  Then it comes up to players to make plays. That pass to Gerald Thomas was not drawn up that way, but he is a playmaker and he made it into a very good play.  So what we have to do is make sure we are giving our players opportunities.  Whether we will have to continue to streamline stuff, whether we have to continue to tweak personnel, whatever it is, we have to do to give them the opportunity to have success.  So I just wanted to make sure that as they went home that night and watched the tape, that we were watching it with that in mind.  Like I said, 'It's okay to be disappointed, but don't be discouraged.' We have to continue to work and fix things and as I told the guys, 'If the guy misses the field goal, there is still things we have to work on.' Even if we would have beaten CSU that didn't change the fact that we didn't run the ball, and we found a way to get better and run the ball.  Now we have to figure out how to be better against zone options, zone read teams to stop the run; we have to be better at communicating.  Those issues don't change whether you won or loss, and that is what I shared with the players; we are always going to be trying to fix things.  You look at the games we won last year, we didn't play perfect games, we came into work, to fix the issues, and so that is what they have to understand and you have to forget about what happened and focus on the next game.  That is the great thing about competition, that is the great thing about what we do, is that there is going to be another Saturday and your mindset has to be win, loose. or draw the week before; what am I going to do to get better for that next competition?"  

On The Coaches Response

"Not so much of that, but more of, 'Hey, we need to do more of this. This is starting to be the identity of our team so we need to do more of this.'  Every coach is beating himself up over a couple calls down the stretch. But it wasn't a long list of, 'I didn't do this and this, why didn't I do this for my guy.' I think if you looked at it for the most part, there were some guys that played really well, it's just when we had opportunities or needed to do things to close the game on either side of the ball, we didn't make those plays.  Whether it is completing a pass, or knocking down a pass, we didn't do it."

On What Made The Team Keep Believing In 1986

"There were a lot of guys a lot like me.  So we had Eric Coyle, Barry Remington, Steve Beck, Darin Schubeck, Solomon Wilcots, we refused to not believe.  We lost some heartbreaking games, we lost to Oregon I think by one, Ohio State by three, Arizona by four, and the CSU where we had all of the turnovers, I think we lost by 13, but we never waivered.  I shared with the team a little bit because I know they are getting a lot of flack on campus or wherever, and that doesn't change, it was happening back in 1986. That is part of the deal.  Our mindset was, it's going to break and it did and the same people who were booing us and calling us names turned down the goal post on October 20th.  It is how it goes."

On Flack Changing With Social Media

"Oh, it is way different, but it is part of the deal, it goes with the territory."

On Getting Off Twitter

"Just some inappropriate stuff and that is fine.  It is what it is with that, but it is just inappropriate stuff.  The main reason I was on there was for recruiting and just a way for me to stay in contact with my kids and see how they are doing, so I will find other ways."

On People Responding To Him About Last Week's Game On Twitter

"No, because that is just the way it is in society.  It is part of the deal, there are people that, that's what they do.  You know like I said, for our players and coaches, 'You know who is for you' in the support you get and the people you hear from after a tough loss like that, what you are going through.  Like I told a player, you have an opportunity to find out who your friends really are, and I think that is a good thing.  It was ironic, we talked about Thursday about believing, and one of the things I said to the players is there really is only a handful of people who really believe in you, and when you go through hard times you find out who those people are.  The good news about it is that you only need a handful of people to believe in you if you believe in yourself, and trust the process and the direction and how you need to do it to be successful.  Whatever it is, you are going to do in life, you are always going to have challenges, you are always going to have people waiting to say, 'I told you so.'  Long before I got this job, I had a lot of people going through different failures that were like that and you can't worry about that, you just have to be strong enough within yourself and be surrounded by enough people that are strong enough within themselves and eventually you will have success.  It wasn't easy getting here to where I am and it wasn't easy for some of our players to get here as players.  You are always going to have struggles, conflicts and issues and you just have to know that from the jump.  You knew when you took this job and when these coaches came in that it doesn't happen over night, you want it to but it doesn't.  But you are going to keep working to make it happen overnight, now it doesn't, but you don't stop working.  You have to work at that pace and you have to work at that mindset, or you are not going to be able to recruit players because you are not going to be able to convince them of what your vision or what your plan is.  You are not going to be able to get your players to maximize there talents and abilities because they are going to say, 'Well you don't really believe in it, you are waiting for this.'  No, I tell every senior class, 'I want them to have the same success I had.'  I want them to go out with a bowl game and have some success.  The struggles I went through allowed guys like [Eric] Bieniemy, Chad [Brown], C.J. (Charles Johnson) and those guys to play for a national title.  I didn't get the benefits, and I shared that with the team the other day; you guys are going to struggle, some people are going to have successes off of your hard work, off of you breaking your back.  You won't get to share those successes in the same way that they will.  In other words, I didn't get to be a part of the National Championship team, but I felt like I was a part of it, because I recruited those guys in here, I know what I did before to help it get to that level.  I shared that with the players and I believe it."

On The Team's Identity

"Well offensively, we are getting there running the ball, we are still not there.  We had a good day but we are still not there, I want it to be just like it was 2001, where everyone said they are going to run '98 G-lead,' and we run it and we need three [yards] we get five [yards].  So we are not there yet, but that mentality is starting to develop.  One of the things that helped us along that line last week, we went live for a period of team run; cut blocking, tackling, the whole thing, and we will do it again today, we do it every Tuesday.  So that is starting to get that mentality that we need there.  We are better starting, but we are still not where we need to be in terms of starting a game. We are getting better in special teams, we really are; and that can be a weapon for us as Kenneth [Crawley], Marques [Mosley], and Donta [Abron] continue to get confidence back there, we can have a return game to where people start doing things because of the threat of our guys doing something when they get the ball in their hand.  There are some things we are getting better at, we are better at stopping the traditional run, but we are not good enough stopping the zone option game.  That's where you look at their explosive plays in the run game; it was on those plays, some of that is assignment, some of that is being in your gap.  It is hard as a defensive player because you are used to running to the ball and that is a great equalizer when maybe you aren't the same talent level in that you have to go to your assignment.  So even though you think the ball is over here and your assignment is that gap, it's opposite of what you've been trained, so you have got to run to that gap.  So what happens is you don't think the ball is going there and you want to try to help make the play and guess what, that is where the ball went.  So we have to be better at our assignment football.  Its some things that are fixable, but we have made strides.  I really do feel like we have been better on both sides of the ball about taking steps towards certain things that we need to do to be successful."  

On CU Men's Basketball Coach Tad Boyle's Support

"Yeah, I and Tad were together for a little over an hour talking about different things.  Him going through some of this, in his different stops and just sharing some things that helped him get through it.  I heard from a lot of people in the coaching business and it was good to hear from them, just sharing advice and saying, 'Hang in there and keep going, it's going to turn and your doing it the right way just keep grinding and keep pushing and fighting through it.' A lot of times I tell players, the closer you get to something the harder it is.  Whether we are being tested about how strongly we believe in what we are doing or whether we are being tested about our abilities, that is when you have to hunker down more and get in it."  

On What Stands Out About Fresno State

"Well we talked about [Derek] Carr and he has some good speed out on the perimeter at receiver.  At running back, [Robert] Rouse I think he is 50, 60 yards away from being the all-time leading rusher there. That says a lot, they have had a lot of good backs come out of there.  He is an explosive player, he does a good job at being patient as a runner and waiting for things to open up and then he can get through the hole.  He is a physical kid too; I think he is a real good player.  Defensively, they are a zone pressure team; three man front, so they are going to bring blitzes and different pressures from different angles, so you have to be solid in what you are doing.  They are very fundamentally sound on defense.  Tim [DeRuyter], who I have gotten to spend a little time with, has done a good job with that defense; they have a great mentality, they try to hurt you and I think that is great.  The linebackers like to run and hit you, so we will have to protect the ball.  Last week, they had four turnovers, all in the second half.  Three of them were forced and what I mean by forced is that they hit a guy to make him put the ball on the ground.  That says a lot about you when you are forcing them that way.  Another one was more of Oregon mishandling the ball, but they were around to get it. That is another thing, when you are recovering fumbles, that says a lot about your defense, means you are running to the ball.  Means you have four or five guys around the ball when it comes out so you are there to get on it.  That is what we will be facing so it will be a great test for us.  We will see what we are made of.  We have a one game win road streak, how about that.  We will see if somehow we can get to two, but it will be good for our young kids to go into a hostile environment, their fans are great, they will be loud and rowdy and all that.  I have played against them three times, twice here (at CU), once at UCLA and it's always been great going against them because there teams are generally similar to what we want our teams to be like or what our teams were like; they are going to be physical, get after you.  It is going to be a lot of fun."

On Starting QB Jordan Webb

"He (Jordan) knew about that and he knew it was a possibility last week doing it. There were some circumstances around it of why; so he was aware of that.  I think Jordan will be fine with it, and as any competitor would be, just do what you do and you won't have to worry about it."

On Backup QB Connor Wood

"Connor has done well, after the initial disappointment, he has bounced back.  He is competing again against Jordan [Webb].  He is better at taking what is out there instead of forcing things.  I think he has gotten a lot better at that, instead of worrying about what the guy before him did, just going through his progressions and reads.  He has cleaned up that and some other things with his footwork; he is a very diligent kid about it.  The kids watch tape and all that and he watches five hours of tape outside of what we do with the staff. That is one of the things about college football; you only get them for twenty hours and so all of our kids have iPads and have the ability to watch tape, and we can see how much tape they watch, and he watched five hours of tape above and beyond last week.  That says a lot about you, when you are not 'the guy,' that you are going to watch that much tape and you are going to prepare in that manner, and that is great because it raises the bar in the room. All those quarterbacks have been like that, and I think a lot that has to do with him because they see how hard he works, and especially at that position, you better be a student of the game, you better be able to process stuff before the ball snaps, because stuff happens so quickly and if you hesitate, it is too late, your window to make that pass is gone, or you are sacked or whatever it is.  He has forced that room to be students of the game."

On Certain Situations to Bring in Connor Wood

"No, it will be like the third series or the fourth series, we'll figure it out unless it's like we're backed up or something kind of unusual and then it would be the one after that, so it just be a preset."

On What Jordan Webb Needs to Improve

"Yeah, he's usually fairly accurate on the deep ball, a couple of times it's been the receiver, but sometimes it's been him too.  We need him to be that guy like he was in camp, completing those


 

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