Todd Graham met with the media on Friday afternoon to talk about the upcoming game against the Ducks and discuss his team’s 51-17 win over Colorado.
On his approach to the Oregon game:
“This game…Thursday night, the entire nation watching, playing the three-time Pac-12 champion, number two team ranked in the country…this is why you practice. We need our fans to pack the stadium. We need that 12th man mentality. I know our students will be out there in force. We need them to also be at the Devil Walk. We need that kind of atmosphere and support.
“I can tell you that I spent the entire last week watching those guys (Oregon). That’s no disrespect to Colorado, I watched them as well. But this is a game…this is why you coach. This is why you play. To have the blackout right here for our national audience, for all the recruits – it means the world to us to have that support. We really need every person in those stands, to create an atmosphere that gives us an opportunity to do something great.
“We know we are playing one of, and in my opinion the best, team in the country. We are excited about the opportunity. We have a good football team and we don’t have to be over emotional about any game. The key to winning this game on Thursday is our preparation and how well we execute this system that is made for our guys.”
On what he sees on film from Oregon:
“They are very sound in what they do defensively. I think their defense is the thing that stands out to me as the most improved thing about what they do. I think they are a quality defensive football team. They have dynamic players obviously. There will be a lot of athleticism and a lot of explosive players on the field.
“All you have to tell our guys is that they (Oregon) are a three-time conference champion. So they have proved it on the field. They are the team everybody is shooting for. Obviously this is the biggest game of the year, the best team we will play all year. They are a great football team but I have all the confidence in ours. I know our guys will play the best game Thursday.”
On the halftime adjustments in the Colorado game:
“What we had to do is just settle down and do what we are coached to do. Watching the film, we had more freelancing that we just haven’t had. It renders your powerless if you aren’t doing what you are coached to do. There was probably some distraction from our guys and you do everything you can to prevent that from happening. This was the first game I really felt that we had distractions. I thought defensive line wise it was the worst game we played. But obviously Will Sutton plays outstanding every game. But we just had too much freelancing.
“But I was very proud in how they responded (in the second half) shutting them out 31-0 and dominate a team we should dominate. My halftime speech was forget about the first half, settle down and do what we are coached to do.”
On the play of Marion Grice
“I’ll tell you what’s unbelievable with him. If you watch kickoff coverage and he’s making tackles on kickoff coverage. He’s done an outstanding job on punt return. That just says a lot about him, not only the pride he takes playing running back.”
On the success of the screen game
“We run a couple of screens a week. They (Colorado) were trying to bring a lot of pressure and we are going to take what they give us. Our backs are pretty talented coming out of the backfield. That’s what we do – we take what they give us. I thought (offensive coordinator) Coach Norvell did a great job and we developing a lot of diversity in our attack and I was impressed by that.”
On the special teams play
“I thought we won the special teams but obviously we missed our first extra point, we fumbled a kickoff (return). We just need to learn to get down there. We’re trying to fight for yardage when we don’t need to. Both fumbles we had was trying to get yardage and that extra little foot won’t make the difference. So we have to be a little smarter on those things. We shanked a punt which is uncharacteristic.
“There were a lot of positives things, breaking that kickoff return (for a touchdown) was huge. Our kickoff coverage…I’m so pleased with Alex (Garoutte). Here is a guy fighting for his job, we give (Jon) Mora the start and let him go in and take the first extra point. So what does he (Garoutte) do? He’s only the first one to run down on kickoff coverage. He made tackles on our kickoff coverage. He did unbelievable kicking off the ball. Obviously had an opportunity to go back in there and made every (extra point) kick he attempted. That is what a team guy is all about.”
On the battle for placekicking duties between Garoutte and Mora
“We don’t need to have a kicking controversy right in the middle of the season. We need some consistency there. We have confidence in both those guys. Alex is 100 percent on extra points so we’ll probably stay with him. And we’ll see how they do through the week kicking field goals. Mora did a nice job kicking the field goal he made.
“I got a lot of confidence in Alex. We just can’t come off a game where he misses three field goals. We have to score points when we have the opportunity. The games we are coming into now will be decided by a point or less, so we have to make sure we have those. But I do have a lot of confidence in him. “