EUGENE — No. 17 Oregon hosts rival No. 7 Washington this week.
Ducks coach Mario Cristobal held his weekly press conference Monday morning to discuss the game coming off Oregon’s bye week.
Below is a transcript from Cristobal’s press conference.
“Coming off a bye week we had a lot of productive practice time, recovery time as well. We got a of things accomplished in terms of fundamentals and technique, schematically our program assessment, recruiting, all the things you want to do in your bye week. I think it was very productive in that sense and at the same time got a jump on our opponent this week, Washington, a 12:30 kickoff obviously on Saturday at Autzen.”
On lessons from Stanford game paying off this week:
“I think anything as a season goes on any time of experience you have is always very useful and applicable as you go forward. Talking yesterday as an offensive staff we have really one senior on the offense and that’s two grad transfers in Kano (Dillon) and Tabari (Hines). That’s something that I think our guys have kept in mind. We certainly don’t think we’re the same team that we were a year ago. We certainly don’t feel we’re the same team as we were three weeks ago. With every rep, with every down, with every game that goes by we feel like we gain a little more ground and make more progress towards what we want to do and what we want to be.”
On how he approaches rivalry games:
“I think when you’re playing Pac-12 or you’re playing conference football, every single week is a playoff game. When you add that fact that it’s a rivalry, an extremely intense one, which everyone knows and no one can or should deny, I think that the motivation for that takes care of itself, in a positive way and I think it’s a necessary aspect always to address with your players, which we have. They’re excited. I know the entire country will be having eyes over here on this game to see exactly what goes down in Autzen. I don’t know if that answers your question but we prepare; we don’t ever try to mask or hide or downplay the factors that go into rivalry games, I guess that’s the best way I can answer that. It’s always going to be like that with the way that we prepare and motivate our players. It’s always going to be at the highest level we can possible do it.”
On his takeaways after self-scouting last week:
“We certainly feel that we’re improved from a discipline standpoint. It’s obvious and at the same time there’s plenty of room for improvement, there are moments and there are times in plays and series where we feel that we really could have and didn’t take that next step as an offense, a defense or a special teams unit. But there is progress in that part we’re certainly happy about. We certainly want to improve our coverage teams over the bye week which we started off the year very well. This last game, the last couple of reps, especially on kickoff, I felt like we took our foot off the gas and our players recognized that and it’s been addressed and we did a much better job during the bye week working on special teams at full=speed. Also felt that some of the things that maybe we didn’t so as well early in the season, certain pressures to block, certain movements, certain pass patterns to cover, certain times we want to bring or use our pressures and technique at the line of scrimmage, pad level, use of hands, hat position, all that stuff, I don’t think there’s ever a time where you’re not finding a little pieces and places where you can improve. It’s a really long list but it’s going to be a long checklist every single bye week but we wanted to instead of going overboard and trying to do too many things and getting lost and getting spread out thin we want to focus on three things by position group and then three things overall as a unit. I think we feel good about accomplishing those goals.”
On what differences he’s seen in Washington with a new offensive play-caller:
“They’re very similar. They’ve got a big, seasoned and physical offensive line, arguably one of the best backs in the country, a guy that is explosive, has power, hard to tackle, and they have a quarterback that I believe has started every game since he’s been there if I’m not mistaken but who knows how to run that offense through and through. Not only as a guy that can throw the ball, obviously he’s very accurate and can make the big play, can extend plays with his feet but he also puts them in the right run game situations and can get to advantage runs. We don’t see any drop-off in them offensively.
“On defense, again it’s the same kind of stuff.. they’re really big and physical up front defensively but I don’t think they get enough credit for is how athletic they are and they can get very exotic on third down and bring a bunch of different pressures but on first and second down football you’ll see corner fires, safeties coming off the edge, you’ll see linebacker plugs. They have packages and they bring a lot of different things to test you offensively, test your blocking schemes, put pressure on the perimeter game as well. We see a lot of the same stuff, we don’t see much change on either side of the football.”
On Aaron Fuller:
“He’s a great player and he’s explosive. He’s a fast guy. They do a great job on those 50-50 balls and he can high-point the ball, he can get up there to high-point the ball. He has the ability to do it and he goes and he has the demeanor to go and do it. they, even though the word was their receivers were unproven, we found out quickly and just watching this game last week is that they can really stretch the field. They get in and out of their breaks extremely well. They catch the ball, they get their hands out there on the ball; they’re not body catchers. They’re really good football players.”
On watching games last Saturday:
“Our staff was able to get back late Friday night so we could get to work on our opponent all throughout the morning and into the afternoon. So the first game that I saw was my son’s flag game. He did a pretty decent job, gotta get his hands inside, got called for a penalty, but we’ve addressed that at home. Aside from that when we did get home, when I did get home, got all those, whatever that button is, record DVR, technology, whatever. Anyways, I got to see a replay of all the Pac games and got to see a bunch of them. I think what stands out is the competitive nature of the Pac-12 is incredible. It’s anybody’s conference. I mean, the league is wide open. You see monster plays being made in all three phases by every opponent at some point in time or another. I think that was exciting to see, that gets our players fired up. Being part of the conference is an honor.
“Certainly I got to watch the UCLA-Washington game. When we get here, when it’s in our system, it’s better film. But got to see a lot of things, I lot of thing we kind of knew and confirmed some of those things watching that. At the same time saw some other things that really stood out. We feel like we really prepared well and we’ll be ready for Saturday.”
On injury updates:
“Feel good and even surprisingly ahead of schedule is Braxton Burmeister. He moved around yesterday pretty well, so we feel good about him potentially being full-go as early as (Tuesday), which would be great. Austin is good to go, Jake Breeland has been really good. Felix should be back, if not tomorrow, by Wednesday. So we feel good about him. CJ has been fine. …
“We feel good about our health, the bye week has helped. We’ve been banging it up pretty good, too. We practiced hard, we took some of the physical part of practice away from the guys that logged a lot of reps, but we also didn’t remove that completely. They did get their physical work good on good, making sure that technique and fundamentals were at the forefront of everything and that we are playing and elevating our level of effort as it relates to everything that we do. But we feel like the bye week certainly helped, it came at the right time.”
On expanding reps for second and third-teammers:
“I think it went great. You wish you had more practice time throughout the course of the day and the year to see that. That’s why we use Friday’s like we do. On Friday we actually have scrimmages. Guys on the third team that are not part of the travel squad and a couple guys that are part of the travel squad but we don’t expect to see much action or extensive action, we have those guys actually run 24 live plays so we can keep developing those guys. You think about it, 24 12 times a year adds to a lot of extra plays, a lot of extra development. We have seen some really god things show from a couple guys.
“One thing that stands out, a guy like Steven Jones, it really showed that he’s improving. A guy that has walked on for us, Justin Collins, is a guy that showed some good burst and some really good ball skills. We expect him to do some things. Sampson continues to develop as a really good linebacker, showed that not only can he contribute on special teams but he could get downhill as a linebacker and stop the run. He did a really good job in pass coverage as well. There’s a good number of guys, I’d say a half dozen, maybe eight or so, that showed they’re going to be factors as we go deeper into the season.”
On importance of pressuring Jake Browning:
“You want the game plan, don’t you? The first thing is he’s pretty good under pressure now. I’ve seen him up close and personal a couple years ago in the College Football Playoff. I think what stands out is they’re different from a protection standpoint now than they were in game one. Their tight ends do a heck of a job, they’re some of the most versatile players on their team. They’re good in the run game, they’re good in the pass game and they’re also really good as blockers, not only in the run game but in protection. They’ll shore that thing up and they’ll create seven- and eight-man protections to let these guys run down the field and throw up some shots. The Auburn defensive line is very impressive, as you know, they’ve got some guys on there that are going to be playing on Sundays. But even with that they had their moments and if not for some red zone issues that game could have gone the other way.
“With what we do right now defensively and the caliber of player of their guys up front, they understand the importance of making sure that that pocket is uncomfortable. I think everyone that plays quarterback like him has to keep that in mind and has to be a major part of the game plan. Because if he’s comfortable back there and has a lot of time it makes for a really tough day for the secondary. Certainly a huge factor in our preparation.”
On what he senses from fans about meaning of the rivalry:
“It’s as important as it gets. I think it’s no secret that Autzen is going to be quite a scene on Saturday. It obviously provides such an advantage for us when Autzen comes to life like it does on game day. Intensity of a rivalry like this is through the roof, it’s off the charts. You could talk about it, write about it, explain it and it still doesn’t capture the true fire and intensity, the true passion that goes behind something like this. Our players understand it and our players have seen it and they know the history of this series. They understand how, what’s the best word to put it? Let’s use the word passionate. How passionate both fan bases are with this thing. It’s critically important for both programs involved. We understand that. We also understand the importance of making sure that we attack practice and preparation with passion and not emotion. Because you have to make sure at the end of the day, after that first series or so, a lot of that emotional stuff kind of withers away and then you are playing on your preparation, you’re playing with a passion you have for the game and your teammates and your desire to do better than your opponents. Those are critical factors that we understand and those are critical factors that we focus on. I think the combination of both those things provide the right recipe that you need to be successful on Saturday.”