JM: It was a good practice. Any worries or concerns about being able to refocus and get on to the next one to me were eliminated by the way they came out this morning, and jumped right into it and absorbed the information we gave them last night in terms of our game plan and scouting report on Stanford, and applied it very well. I thought the energy was great. They were physical. Like I’ve said, I think for these guys, they’re just excited to play football. They can’t wait to line up again next Saturday. And they’re willing to put in the work during the week that allows them to have a chance at success on Saturday and I saw that again today. So as a coach, that’s encouraging. You’re kind of looking for telltale signs when you come back on the field after a big win. These guys continue to impress me. That’s encouraging.
Q: what were the telltale signs?
JM: just their focus. Their energy. The way they move from drill to drill.
Q: how do you pick out their focus?
JM: just through experience. I’ve had a lot of practices in my life. I’m getting older. Real old.
Q: you’re 51.
Q: I’m 54.
JM: I know. I was about to point that out. But you know, it’s a vibe. A feel. It’s just based on being around many teams for many years. And sometimes, you have to prod guys to get them going. And these guys, you don’t have to do that. And I think that’s a real credit to the leaders on this team. They do a heck of a job.
Q: does winning make that a little easier?
JM: I believe so. You know they’re excited to play again. You win a game. And I think a lot of people look for a letdown, but these guys just think “we won a game, let’s go again. Let’s keep playing.” When you have success, and you realize what it feels like to have success, you want to have more success. And if you have a little maturity like these guys have, then it bodes well for us.
Q: is your schedule affected at all by the holiday?
JM: no. We’ll do exactly what we do every Thursday. It’ll be zero change.
Q: will you guys have a team dinner or something?
Q: you guys have turkey every Thursday?
JM: we feed them breakfast on Thursday.
Q: but they all can go home and have Thanksgiving…
JM: we don’t meet on Thursday afternoons. So as soon as we’re done with practice at 8:30AM on Thursdays, they’re done for the day. So they can do whatever they want. I made sure yesterday in the team meeting that everyone had a place to go. Guys that live in the area that have a place to go will take kids that are from out of state. I’m sure there’ll be some parents in from out of town. We’ll be out of here early and that’ll help you guys too. So everyone can enjoy a good Thursday. And it doesn’t upset the flow of our week at all.
Q: with Stanford being such a physical team, is there anything in practice that you guys can do to sort of match that intensity?
JM: no. Because I think we’re a physical team as well. I don’t think that there’s any need to do other than practice like we’ve always practiced. We have physical practices, and we play with intensity. So I think that’s enough.
Q: can you talk about how much [Joe] Fauria has come along this year? The weapon that he’s become and the matchup problem that he is?
JM: he’s a big-time matchup problem. He’s so long. He uses his body well to shield the defender. And go up and catch it. It’s a comfort zone for Brett to know that he can just toss it high and put it on the top shelf and tell Joe to go get it. Stanford has about 3 guys like that. So at least our guys have a chance to try to defend it in practice. I think the thing that he’s done really well that kind of surprises me, with the way that he’s built, is he’s able to block. He’s a pretty darn good on-line blocker. He’s able to bend his knees and play with leverage.
Q: how big is that as far as the next level?
JM: it’s huge. At the next level, they’re obviously looking for guys that can spread the field. Can create matchup problems with linebackers and DBs. But if you’re one-dimensional, you better be really special. So you have to be able to do a couple things more. Run routes, catch the ball, and then block.
Q: how far has he come in terms of maturity since you first got here and started coaching him?
JM: he’s still goofy Joe which is great. He’s great for the team because he keeps it loose. But he works hard in practice. If you go back to spring, remember, he let kind of nagging things hold him back, and I think he just reached the point up in San Bernardino where he realizes… I’ve talked to him about the next level, at the next level, you can’t let anything hold you back or they’ll find someone else to take your spot. And he’s embraced that. He pushes through things now. I know his teammates really enjoy being around him.
Q: how’s the state of your offensive line at this point?
JM: it’s good. Like what do you mean?
JM: they’re great. They’re all ready to roll. They’re all fine.
Q: have you given yourself a chance to keep all the different scenarios…
JM: don’t even think about it. Just thinking about one thing and that’s trying to prepare to have a great game and win Saturday.
Q: is there any change that you made at all knowing the fact that you might play the same team a week later or is…
JM: might, might not. Doesn’t even matter. All that matters is Saturday. I don’t have time to waste on those things.
Q: if you guys win and Oregon wins, you play Oregon.
JM: I have no idea what you said. You sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah wah wah…
Q: alright I’ll slow it down for you.
JM: no, we’re good.
Q: coach, how would you evaluate Aaron Hester’s season, prior to this past week?
JM: somewhat inconsistent but getting better. He works hard. He’s got a lot of good physical tools. What I’ve seen Aaron improve on is being more comfortable playing the ball in the air at the point of attack. I think one of the knocks on him early in the season was fighting late in the down instead of just having the confidence to look back and locate the ball and make the play. And I think he’s getting better at that. He continues to work at it and I see improvement there.
Q: did you see that getting that first interception of the season early in the [USC] game last week make a difference in him?
JM: I don’t know. We were in zone and he was kind of sitting in the short flat… I think it’s more just of a function of the success he’s having out here in practice. I think he’s just feeling more comfortable doing those things we’re asking him to do. And the drill work he’s getting. I don’t know if the interception helped him or not. He can tell you that. I don’t know. If it had been man-to-man coverage on a fade route to Marqise Lee and he had gone up and intercepted it, I would’ve said yes. But we were playing a 2-deep zone, he was sitting in the flat. Barkley kind of threw it to him. But if it helped, it helped. I’ll take it.
Q: when you talked about him being inconsistent, is there anything you can identify…
JM: somewhat inconstant.
Q: you talked about him being somewhat inconsistent, is there anything you can identify anything specifically helps him make a difference?
JM: well, just work and drills and getting good coaching and taking good coaching and applying it on game day. These guys are still developing players. There’s really not a player in college football, maybe a couple but not many, that aren’t still in the development stage. Even the pros, they’re constantly working at their craft to get better. So you find levels of inconsistency in every player. Unless they have a bronze bust in Canton [Ohio]. So it’s just a matter of recognizing your deficiencies and working on them.