BOULDER— University of Colorado head football coach Gary Barnett held his weekly Press Conference Tuesday at the Dal Ward Athletic Center. He recapped last Saturday’s game against Kansas State, as well as this week’s upcoming showdown against the Missouri Tigers. Quarterback Joel Klatt also talked to reporters after the gathering. The following are quotes from the session:
ON KANSAS STATE GAME—“Upon further review of the Kansas State game, it was a lot of mistakes. There were some good things though, in particular, the play of (freshman defensive end) Maurice Lucas. He started his first game in a hostile environment and playing against that type of team he did a pretty good job for an 18-year old freshman. I thought a lot of guys in our secondary played really well. Obviously (senior wide receiver) Evan Judge had a big day. He had some great catches for us. It was great to see (freshman wide receiver) Patrick Williams make a contested, terrific play. Hopefully we’ve turned the corner with him a bit and he can start making those plays on a regular basis. Kansas State’s crowd does a good job of making it a hostile environment. We are sitting in front of their band and they play all the way through up until you call your audibles and that makes it tough. The wind Saturday made the whole day a grind. We were fortunate to get through that and get home.”
ON MASON CROSBY’S GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL AGAINST KSU— “The field goal by Mason (Crosby) and the kicking job that he did was phenomenal. We had good protection all day and great snaps from Greg Pace. That’s an area that nobody really talks about—him and (holder) Nick Holz. With that much pressure on that play at that time, it was absolutely letter perfect. I went to some of our coaches and our players and said ‘Now look, this is a 50-yard field goal and, and if we don’t make it we go to overtime, it’s no big deal.’ I didn’t want them hanging everything on Mason if he missed a 50-yard field goal. Fortunately Mason put it right through ,and you could tell that he knew it was in there right when he kicked it.”
ON MISSOURI GAME—“We’re still in the position that we wanted to be in—where we control our own destiny. Missouri’s loss (last week) doesn’t change anything for us. It’s still a must win game for us. It’s great to get back at home and everybody is anxious to play on grass and be in front of our crowd against Missouri. Offensively, our running game is a bit of an issue for me. That is an area that has got to get better. We have to improve to be able to get out and run the football. We are throwing the football really well considering everything. Mason has to be Mason here and (punter) John (Torp) has to be John. We have a decided advantage in the punting game and we have to make sure that we control that and maintain it.”
ON MISSOURI QB BRAD SMITH— “I think there are only two quarterbacks in the country like Brad Smith. One is Brad Smith and the other one is (Texas QB) Vince Young. I think those two guys are so valuable to their teams in what they do during the game. They can just take control of a football game. We’ve played him now for four years. He is just a wonderful player, he has a wonderful ability and he is the game. We have to somehow find a way to control him. Kansas and Iowa State, who probably did the best on him all year, really didn’t do anything special. They just tackled extremely well, didn’t leave their pass rush lanes, they didn’t let him break out of containment—it wasn’t like they came up with new defenses. Nebraska is the only one who came up with a new defense and (Missouri) went through them like Sherman through Atlanta. Nebraska played a straight “50” defense which everybody claims is the answer to (Missouri’s) offense. It didn’t work that day. Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference what you play because (Smith) is just good. We know he is going to get his yards but we’ve got to slow him down a little bit. Brad Smith has been a dominant player in this conference, there’s no question about it.”
ON CU’S RUNNING GAME— “It’s never just one thing—if that was the case that is all we would work on. I think in some respects when you’ve got a veteran quarterback like Joel (Klatt) and you’ve got veteran receivers and tight ends you say ‘why do we want to pound this thing in there for three yards when we can throw it for what we can?’ We’re second in the conference in throwing the football, so it comes down to using what we have rather than forcing the issue.”
ON SENIORS CALLING A TEAM MEETING AFTER KSU GAME—“This group has taken control all along. It’s just typical of the leadership we have on this football team. This meeting was about trying to explain to the younger guys where we are in the season and how big of a game this is.”
ON EVERY GAME BEING A MUST-WIN THIS SEASON—“The difference between football and basketball is that we are in a playoff every week. That is why you get the crowds and why all the games mean something. In basketball you always want to do well in the regular season, but to me, college football is one big playoff, especially when you are in a conference like ours. Every game becomes absolutely critical. That’s one of the reasons I am opposed to a playoff system; we already have a playoff—it’s called every week. If you want to control your own destiny, which is the ultimate goal, then every game becomes a must-win. I don’t want to be sitting around hoping and crossing fingers.”
ON WHAT OPPOSING TEAMS FEEL WHEN THEY ENTER FOLSOM FIELD—“Everything is so close. Our stadium is loud. The new addition has kept a lot of the noise in there. Having the opponent look across (from the opposing bench) and see all that gold of our students is huge for us. As soon as we find someone with enough guts to go paint on the box suites, the opposition will have stand there and look at ‘National Champions’ and ‘Big 12 Champions.’ There is a sign in their locker room that says how high it is here. (Visitors) know they are coming into a place that has tradition against a team that knows how to win games.”
ON MISSOURI’S DEFENSE—“They are really good at rushing the passer. We counted 40 times that they hit Nebraska’s quarterback in that game. They are second in the conference in sacks and that is just their personality—they put a lot of pressure on you up front. They are a lot like Colorado State in the type of movement that they provide. Everybody is moving so much and doing so many zone blitzes that sometimes the answer is to go out and throw the ball.
Quarterback Joel Klatt
ON MASON CROSBY’S GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL AGAINST KSU— “I didn’t even realize it was that long until it was brought up afterward. He brings a great dimension to our football team—he is a tremendous asset for us. Especially as a quarterback, in those two-minute situations we know that we don’t have to get the ball far to give him a chance.”
ON CU’S RUNNING GAME— “We are going to work really hard this week on winning the line of scrimmage and getting some push up front. The offensive line knows that we need to run the ball a little better, the running backs know it and our whole offense knows it. I’m sure you’ll see us really force that part of the game on Saturday.”
ON CU’S PENALTIES THIS SEASON— “It’s very frustrating from a player’s standpoint. Obviously you are going to have penalties during the football game. What you hope is that they are aggressive penalties like pass interference or even holding. The offsides and the false starts and the illegal formations—those are the ones that really kill a drive. Those are the things that we need to cut out of our game. It’s been a point in practice, so hopefully it shows this week. Nobody is out there trying to commit a penalty, but the foolish ones are the ones we need to cut back on.”
ON BEING IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT IN THE BIG 12 NORTH— “We know that Missouri has a tremendous football team. We know that they are going to be fired up after last week’s game, so we will have our work cut out for us. At the same time, we want to stay in the driver’s seat. We are going to play just as hard as anyone this Saturday just because of that fact. We’ll try to get on them early and bury them a little bit.”
ON MISSOURI’S DEFENSE— “They are a very good unit. They remind me a lot of (Colorado state), structurally. They do a lot of things very well. Their safety Jason Simpson is back—I’ve played against him for a few years now. They are going to try to come after us. They like to pressure a lot, so hopefully we can pick everything up and get the ball down the field.