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By: Taylor Temby, Student Assistant SID
Jon Embree Media Day Press Conference Quotes
Release: August 06, 2011
By: CUBuffs.com
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General
“First off, welcome everybody for coming here, fall camp has gone very well for us so far. We’ve had two practices in shorts and we had our first one today in pads. The intensity level keeps rising as we keeping moving through this thing. The thing I’m most pleased about these guys is they are practicing very physical and there is not a lot of mental mistakes, it’s more technique stuff. From a football coach standpoint, that is great because we are throwing a lot of stuff at them and it shows that they’ve been working through the summer in the playbook and watching tape and seeing how things fit. We are excited, we have another day of shells tomorrow and then Monday we get going in full pads. With that, I’ll open it up to any questions.”

On keeping the team in a hotel for fall practice
“We needed to be better as a team of knowing each other, so we are staying in a hotel. I guess in the past they didn’t do that, they stayed in the dorms the last couple of years or whatever. So we are staying in there. We have them rooming offense and defense, trying to split them up and make it as diverse as possible, trying to get guys who we know don’t know each other to room with each other and kind of force that situation. There is not a lot of time at night. Right now they have a little break, they’ll eat lunch and then they’ll come back, lift, go to meetings, then we’ll have a walk-through, then dinner, then another set of meetings. At night, they generally get maybe 40 minutes of free time. We are trying to get them to spend a lot of time with each other and start learning about their teammates. The only way we are going to win is if we are the better team on that day. We are not going to have the best players, I’m ok with that, but we can be the better team. Part of that is trust and the only way you are going to trust someone is if you know them so that is why I feel it is important to do this.”

On culture shock for players from the increase in intensity
“They are doing good. I think they picked up where they left off from spring ball as far as the intensity level and being physical. That has been a pleasant surprise because I wasn’t sure if we had to start all over again and teach them stuff. I still need to get on them a little bit about running on and off the field, chasing the ball on defense, finishing occasionally, but it is starting to become second nature to them. They’ve done a good job in picking up where they left off from the spring.”

On expectations he has for the team
“I don’t have expectations as far as numbers. I have expectations in that we are going to hit you in the mouth. I have expectations that we are going to compete. I have expectations that the other teams are going to have to beat us. We are not going out there to lose. Those are my expectations.”

On reconnecting with former players and restoring some of the old traditions from the past
“We’ve had great support from former players and our fans. We’ve had a lot of people reaching out and wanting to be part of the program. There is a lot of excitement in that we are going to a new conference and the change, that has been good. I’ve had an open door policy; I want former players out there on the field. I don’t mind if they interact with our players, I want them to. As far as traditions, we won’t be coming out with the inflatable tunnel and smoke, we are not doing that. We are just coming out and running behind the buffalo. We are not doing the thunder shoot; we are going to bring the bricks back at some point. There is going to be a lot of things that we are going to do that have been done before.”

On having Brian Cabral finish the 2010 season as the interim head coach
“Having Brian finish is huge because it helped introduce some of the things, especially some pregame stuff, that has been done around here. You could just see a different kind of enthusiasm when you watched the team play those last two games. They played like they had fun, they played like they were excited, and they played like they liked each other. I think some of the things that Brian did had something to do with that.”

On what Brian Cabral means to the program
“I remember when I left to go to UCLA, I had the third or fourth longest tenure at 11 or 12 years, so he’s been here going on 23 years. He was the most tenured at that point. I told athletic director Mike Bohn to get ready to name a street after him at some point. Maybe we’ll name that hill the “Brian Cabral Hill” that we have to walk up. Brian has been great. Last year during the press conference he said he was there to stand in the gap and kind of help bridge things and he did a great job in that. You can just see how his players take to him. During meetings, I don’t just sit in one meeting, yesterday I was in the defensive line meeting and then I sat in the back of the room and listened to the linebackers and just listening to how he teaches and coaches. That is why he is a great coach, because he is a great teacher. That is what we are in it as coaches. If you are not in it to teach kids, then you are not going to make it. That is why he has lasted so long at the level that he has.”

On expectations for the running game
“It is what we have to do. We have to run the ball for a couple reasons, one that needs to be our identity. If you are going to be a physical team, you need to run the ball and implement your will on the other team. The other thing is that it helps our defense. I laugh sometimes when people throw out these defensive statistics, well if you are on the field all the time; you are not going to be a good defense. When you’re on defense and you want every guy running to the ball every play, then you have to limit their plays. You also have to limit the number of plays they get in a row. You can’t go three-and-out on defense, and then the offense goes out there and has the ball for 35 seconds and then they’re back up again. Also, most of your defensive guys are also on your special teams, so then you are forced to make a decision - let me not put this guy on special teams in order to rest him because he’s played so many snaps, but then you get beat on special teams. It all works together. For us to be a successful team and a successful program, that is always going to have to be our staple. We have to be able to run the ball, we have to be able to control the clock, we have to be able to wear people down, and that helps our defense play fast and play with an attitude.”

On the other running backs that have performed well
“Tony Jones had a good spring, he is doing ok right now, expect more out of him. You don’t get to start all over again, you need to keep going. Malcolm Creer, from the young guys is starting to show a little bit of stuff. [Brian] Lockridge hasn’t played in a while. He needs to get going and pick it up. He needs to get that ankle in better shape. He fatigues some it looks like and when he fatigues, he wants to shut it down. He needs to get that ankle better, but between those guys, that is what it is going to have to be.”

On how tailback Rodney Stewart has impressed him
“He is a great little guy, and I mean that in by when you are smaller football player—I was around this with Maurice Jones-Drew at UCLA as his coach—I told offensive coordinator and running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, ‘We need to start getting guys that he has to look up to, to coach.’ When you are a smaller player, especially as a running back and you don’t have an attitude, then you are in trouble. Not all of them have that. The guys I just mentioned, Eric Bieniemy, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Rodney, they play with a chip, no matter if it’s practice. I don’t know how many of you guys were out there, he broke a run and cut back and went around the outside and a safety came, and he tried to kill the guy, and it’s practice and he is three yards where he needs to be to finish. He could have easily just finished and be done with it. It’s a mindset and a mentality, and he has it, and you need to have that if you are going to be a smaller player. That is what I think makes him the player he is.”

On quarterback Tyler Hansen
“I see from Tyler great leadership, he has a great command of the offense, he is getting guys lined up, he knows when to check if a play is not sent in right, he gets it right as far as it is called in the huddle. He had a mistake today that I’m not happy with, but it is probably my fault, I probably didn’t communicate the situation clearly enough. The thing I like about Tyler is that he is really good at making plays on schedule, but he is also a guy that can make plays off schedule, staying alive. He does a great job of working the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field. I think the world of Tyler. I wish I had him longer, but he is a special kid.”

On not having a quarterback competition during fall practice
“I don’t know how much it helps the quarterback, but I think it helps the team. Obviously that is the most important position, and for that to be settled and for the guys to know who it is, generally you hope he is your leader as well—which Tyler is—that combination helps a lot. Every year I hope there is not going to be doubt [of who the quarterback is], but I’m not going to name a guy just to name a guy. When there is doubt, guys are looking around at who it is going to be and they are going to be asked about it—the receivers, who do you think? The reality is they probably don’t know who is throwing them the ball. It alleviates a lot of problems.”

On other possible wide receivers who could contribute this season
“Keenan Canty has done some good things. Kyle Cefalo has done some good things. The kid right now, it’s three straight days and I don’t want to say but I will, he’s a freshman, Tyler McCulloch is doing a lot of good things. He makes mistakes at full speed when he does make a mistake, which doesn’t happen a lot. He is very aggressive catching the ball. He is probably all of 6-5, and he has a way of getting behind people. I gave him [No.] 87 because he reminds me of an 87 I used to watch, a Bronco, Ed McCaffrey. I’m excited to see if he keeps progressing. He’s jumped out right now. Logan Gray has done some good things. Logan has a good role fit for us, a good skill set that we are going to use. We haven’t used it yet, we have implemented a few of those things in our fall camp, that is probably two or three days away so he is another guy that I see helping us a lot. Nelson Spruce has flashed a little, so there are some guys that have flashed here and there, but the guys I just mentioned, especially Tyler McCulloch, at this point has done a good job. Now let’s see if they can sustain it. Like I tell the guys, anybody can do something once so let’s see who can do it time after time.”

On how many times Eric Bieniemy beat him to the office
“Eric Bieniemy has never beaten me to anything. How many times he beat me to the office? There might have been a couple, but those were the days I didn’t come in.”

On what Eric Bieniemy is like in the office
“The great thing about Eric is what you see is what you get. He is relentless in everything he does. He is all in, all the time. He is a guy that whether recruiting, we are talking about offensive installs, talking about how to attack a defense and looking at stuff, he is all in. He is very good at multitasking; just take a look at his office. If something is ever missing, it is probably in his office. He is very relentless, he’s intense and he is very focused.”

On the kicking game
“We did some field goal kicking today in some situation. We put the young kid out there [Will Oliver], he didn’t know that he was going to kick. He made all of them but one, and I think that was about 53 yards. He made all of them but one, three of them were game-winning situations, so he did very well. Justin Castor wasn’t here, that is why he got the reps. Justin Castor had a family matter that he had to attend to, so he’ll be back. Punting, today was the first day of really doing it and I kind of get a feeling for how far they kick it. The thing that I’m seeing is that there is not consistency yet there, but the ball is definitely going high and there are some spirals. That is good news on that front, so we don’t have to go for it on fourth down all the time. It’s coming along and we really try to emphasize it, and it will be interesting to see as camp goes on as we are going to put them in some different situations.”

On not being big on rugby kicking
“No I’m not, but when you do the spread punt that we do, occasionally you are going to have to do it. But I’m not a big fan of that at all.”

On rule changes
“They are trying to do it for safety; I know one rule in particular, a blocking below the waist rule. So you will probably see a lot of penalties this year. We got a video from the Pac-12 and one play they say it is an illegal block, the next time it is legal because the guys is two yards from the tackle, so there is going to be a lot of gray area. We watched it as an offensive staff and we are going to coach it up as best we can. The reason why I don’t like it is it is a lot of gray area. One week they’ll call it and probably the next week you’ll do the same thing and not call it. They are really trying to do some things for the better of the players and protect them.”

On celebration rule change
“The whole celebration rule, I understand the spirit of it but when you’re the University of Washington and you lose to the BYU because your quarterback got excited and scored with no time on the clock, and you are going to kick an extra point to win the game and the extra point gets blocked because you get a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration, I’m not a fan of that. I understand about celebrating before, and we’ve talked about it and we’ll try and coach it up as much as we can. I hope it never happens. Kids are going to be kids, kids get excited, they lose their mind sometimes and it could be a kid celebrating that doesn’t even have the ball. I just hope they use common sense on it, I really do.”

On how far he is along in changing the culture of the team
“We’ll know after we play those first couple games. We’ll know because we can be able to test it then. You can ask me that question probably after the CSU game. We’ll know where we are at and how far we still have to go.”

On the tight end position this season
“There is a lot of joking in the offensive room because they say, ‘Every pass read begins with the tight end.’ That’s ok, it should, but they are going to play an important part for us, not just in the passing game, but also the running game. I know I’m biased, but when you have good tight ends, you can create mismatches in every aspect of the game, running or passing. I was fortunate to have [No.] 88, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Dunn. It was amazing to see the mismatches that you were able to create with people. You got to dictate, and I think that is important when you are an offensive guy, that you can dictate what you want to do and how you want to do it and force people and limit things, whether it’s blitzes or fronts and coverages that they can play because they have a certain person on the game. The way you do that is from your tight end. Also if you have a good tight end, you can open up people on the outside because now you make them use two people to stop you inside-out. It is a fundamental that I think is important in any sport. If you are good from the inside-out, whether it is your infield in baseball, your center in basketball, I believe it has to be good in football too. When you are good from the inside-out, you have a chance.”

On whether he will miss playing Nebraska
“Yes I will. I will miss Nebraska; that is special. Coach Mac built this program on that and you like that opportunity to play those guys. I don’t know, I might have been the few guys but I’ve never liked them, even when I was little and before Coach Mac got here and all that. Not a fan of red, never was. I just never liked them. Whenever, they played Oklahoma, it was probably the only game that I ever watched of them, I always wished that Oklahoma would win. For me, I miss that opportunity but the great thing about it and the great hope is that you get to play them one day in the Rose Bowl. It’s that outside chance and who knows, maybe it will be renewed as our program grows and in our non-conference, maybe we can get back to playing.”

On whether a school can replace Nebraska as a rival
“I don’t think any one takes their place, that’s just me. As far as a rival, I think that will develop as time goes on.  The Pac-12 is a unique conference in that most teams have two rivals, whether it’s Cal and USC for UCLA, or for USC it’s Notre Dame and UCLA. There have been some unique things in that conference, so I think it will happen for us. I was joking around with Chris Fowler, we were at ESPN, and they had me and Kyle Whittingham together, like we were the new rivals and I said, ‘This is not the old world marriage where you two go to the cow and this is your wife and this is your husband.’ We don’t do that, times have changed a little bit. I know something will happen on the field that will make a rivalry for us. You mentioned traditions earlier, one of the things I asked the players was if they felt Missouri last year or during their time here, played them a little harder than other teams, and they said, ‘Yes.’ I asked them if they knew why and none of them knew why. Well, I guarantee you the Fifth Down, I guarantee you if I was at Missouri when that happened, any time you get the chance to beat the back out of Colorado, you’re going to do it. Colorado needs to know every time you play Missouri, it’s not another game, and they’re coming after you. They came after us those last few years and that’s all I’m going to say about that. We need to—something will happen to help create that rivalry and that interest.”

On following Coach McCartney’s strategy of circling the Nebraska game on the schedule with a new rival
“The reason Coach Mac was able to do that is because it was an eight-team league, and Nebraska had consistently, along with Oklahoma, been at the top of the league. We’re in divisions now, so if you say you’re going to go after who is in the top of your league, who’s at the top of the Pac-12? Oregon. Well we don’t play them every year, so it can’t be them. Then if you say it’s USC, for one they’ve got two rivals, two, they haven’t always been at the top of the South. There has been a lot of change going on there, so I think you have to let it happen naturally. Because of the change in divisions and leagues and all that, it’s a little bit different now to go out and just say, ‘This is a team we’re going to play.’ Again, it will happen naturally and it might not happen that the team that ends up being your rival is a team that you are playing every year to win your division.”

On the challenges of preparing for teams in a new conference
“Well, let me ask you this question: Don’t they have to watch us? It’s the same both ways. I don’t buy that theory with a new league. They don’t know anything about us. If anything, we probably have an advantage because they’re not sure what we’re doing. We can watch film on Stanford and know what they’re doing. David Shaw is still there. We can watch tape on Washington and know what they’re doing. I think it’s an advantage for us. We’re unknown in the good way. We all know what they’re going to do.”

On having to prepare for 11 new teams while the rest of the conference only has to prepare for two
“It’s still football. A ‘4-3’ is a ‘4-3.’ A ‘3-4’ is a ‘3-4,’ defensively. If they run a pro-style offense, our defense practices against it all camp and all spring. The thing that you get in this league is a lot of diversity. From week-in to week-out, you’re going to see some different things on both sides of the ball a little bit. At the same time, ‘Cover 2’ is still going to be a ‘Cover 2.’ I’m not worried about going into this new league from a scheme standpoint. It’d be different if everyone in the league ran a wishbone, where we never saw that. But a lot of the offenses and defenses that we’re going to see, there is going to be carry-over whether it’s our team or whether it was going against Texas or Nebraska. You know, Nebraska and Arizona are a lot alike. The Stoops, the Pelinis, they’re tight. They play a lot alike. When we play Arizona, and obviously with Greg Brown being here coming from Arizona, there will be some carry-over, so I’m not too concerned with that aspect of it.”

On Hawai’i being a potential trap game
“Well, it’s not a trap game, we’re the underdogs. Someone sent me a text message; I guess we’re 11 points [underdogs] or something like that. We’ve got our work cut out. That’s what I think about Hawai’i. I’m excited to go. I’m excited to go.”

On travelling to Hawai’i affecting the road trip routine
“It will be a little bit different, but it’s good because we don’t have a routine. We’ve lost 18 on the road. Maybe we need to start taking buses, maybe that’s what we have to do, you know, do something. So it’s good we don’t have a routine. We’ll go out on Thursday; we’ll have an opportunity to get away a little bit. The itinerary is set. I feel good about what we’ll do from a preparation standpoint. Like I said, I’m excited. I’m excited that our first game is on the road, because I want to get that over with. I want to get it over with.”

On Coach McCartney’s influence over his coaching career
“Mac and I, since I left here, we talk semi-regularly—probably once every three months. Maybe a little more than that, so Mac and I have always had a good relationship. Since I’ve been back, we’ve had some talks. He’s given me a lot of great advice. I say advice because he tells you what to do, but it’s really advice. He’s been great. He’s a guy that I told I want around all the time: ‘You don’t need to be invited, you don’t need to ask. You can sit in on any meeting. You can be at any practice. You can tell me what you want, and you have it.’ He’s the guy I learned, obviously, a lot from. He’s got a great ability to get you to believe in yourself. I think that’s the most important thing you can have as a coach, because, no disrespect to our players and when I say our players the guys who were playing back when I was here, he tricked us a lot into thinking we were better than we were. We won a lot of games because we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to win and that was all because of him. I used to joke around, remember the year we went 1-10 and Ed Reinhardt got hurt [1984], there was a lot of self-doubt around a lot of players, myself included. It was a very disheartening event that took place. We had beat Iowa State and I believe they missed a field goal late in the game for us to win. We come in celebrating and we have Nebraska the next week. When we walked out of that locker room, I felt bad for what was going to happen to Nebraska. Now they beat us, but in my mind and a lot of players’ minds it was like, ‘Man, they have no idea what they’re in for.’ That was Coach Mac. That’s what made him such a great coach and a great motivator and a great leader of men, the way he could communicate with you to get you to not see what your negatives were, but to understand what you’re strengths and the positives were within you and within the team, and why that was going to lead for victory.”

On Pac-12 games having less wind
“Well, don’t you need wind to surf out there? I know what Rick [Neuheisel] is saying. In the Rose Bowl, if you haven’t been there, it is as the word says a bowl. Nothing goes through there. It is hot and it wears you out. I don’t worry about those things. I believe the environment that we practice and play in and prepare in gives us the best chance. They were asking the question about the new league and going into a league, we have a distinct advantage with altitude and our weather. As you all know here, when it gets hot and you factor that in with the altitude, it wears you down. Conversely, when it gets cold here, what we think is cold as opposed to what UCLA thinks is cold are two different things. I remember at UCLA we went to play at Washington State. Eric [Bieniemy] and I were in the locker room and were telling everybody to take off their long shirts, these guys it looked like were going skiing, we went through there and made them take all of that off. We went out there and we were going to play in short sleeves. We ended up winning the game. The mindset of them of what cold is and what cold really is are two different things, so that’s great there’s no wind because it helps us. And if there is wind, guess what, it doesn’t matter, it helps us, so weather is not going to affect us.”

On what he’s learned about being a head coach as opposed to a position coach
“You don’t get to do a whole bunch of football, that’s the first thing. You don’t get to do as much as you used to. The other side of it is it has freed me up to be involved with every aspect of the game. Like I said, yesterday I was in with the defensive line going through some stuff with them. I was in with the linebackers going through some stuff with them from a pass coverage point, trying to get them to understand some things that the offense is trying to do to them. This morning I watched 7-on-7 with Coach Brown and the rest of the coaches involved with that. What it’s done is free me up to be involved with everybody. I think it’s important as a head coach—I had some people tell me just keep doing what you do—I’m not just going to stay with tight ends or receivers. I’m fortunate enough to have coached both sides of the ball, fortunate enough that I’ve worked with special teams. I think it’s important as a player, when the head coach can come up and tell them what they did wrong, that they know I’m watching everything. I think that the players need to understand and know that I am watching everything. I’m a fun-loving guy, I like to have a great time and all that, but I don’t miss stuff. I want the players to know that, just because we’re having fun or this and that, I know when a linebacker is supposed to be inside the number two and this guy gets beat, I know whose fault it is. I know the guy to get on. It’s important that they understand that I’m seeing everything. I don’t want a kid—he knows if he’s going to come in and complain about why he’s not playing, he’s not pulling the wool over our eyes and it’s not because coach doesn’t like me. I will tell him, ‘Well, here’s why you’re not playing. You can’t do this, this, and this. We’ve told you to do this and you’ve made this mistake five times. You can’t play yet.’ That has been the refreshing thing about being a head coach. Then being able to run a play over again when I want to. Generally it’s a tight end related play too.”

On whether Eric Bieniemy will be calling all plays on offense
“Yes. He will. I’m sure I’ll suggest some plays that will probably be just touchdowns. He’ll call all the rest of them. But I know I’ve hired a great staff. We have three guys on that side of the ball besides Eric, I know Eric is a first-time coordinator, but Rip Scherer, J.D. Brookhart, Steve Marshall have all been coordinators. So there is enough help over there if he needs help. I’m going to let my coaches coach. I’m going to let them coach and not be the guy who micromanages things to the point where—I don’t have enough time to do everything. I have to trust the guys I hired to do the things I hired them for.”

On whether Coach Bieniemy will be upstairs or on the field
“Right now we’re going to have him upstairs, until he gets kicked out of the booth.”

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