Despite the shellacking on the scoreboard, the players from Washington State walked into the press conference with pride intact and heads held high.
“We just got to do anything we can to win,” left tackle Gunnar Eklund said, “It’s tough, but in the end you got to get the job done.”
“In the years past, around this program, at halftime, we have come in and the mood’s kind of quiet and down . . . [this game] at halftime everyone seemed to be bought in. It was a good step forward for the program. Everyone seemed pretty upbeat,” Eklund said.
Safety Deone Bucannon had praise for the Ducks:
“Oregon is a great team, they speak for themselves.” He said, “They are fundamentally sound. They don’t make too many mistakes, and as a defense, we made a few too many. We should have been a lot more physical.”
“It does make it difficult when they get to the ball so quick. It takes you by surprise. You can’t simulate that in practice. The scout team, they can’t simulate Oregon’s speed. You didn’t see that speed all week,” Bucannon said.
Xavier Cooper had a different take on Oregon’s speed.
“We got a lot of fast guys on our team. It wasn’t a surprise to us. We just had some mental lapses, that’s all there was. We’ll get in the film room, clean it up and move on.”
“My shoulder’s pretty messed up, my ankle’s pretty messed up, my head’s pretty messed up, kind of a perfect time for the bye week,” starting quarterback Connor Halliday said. Referring to his record setting performance, he said “It’s pretty cool, to be able to do that. The bottom line is, we got to find a way not to turn the ball over. That’s kind of been the whole story of our season. We didn’t quit, we kept playing.”
Showing the confidence of a starting quarterback he added, “I know I am the best option to win us games.”
And then there was the always-entertaining head coach Mike Leach.
“We did a lot of good things. I felt we played real hard. We played for 60 minutes. I thought we over-pursued sometimes, I also thought we occasionally hesitated on opportunities to make tackles,” Leach said.
“One thing that is impressive about Oregon is how decisively they play. They are probably the most decisive team, as far as how they play, that I can think of. Some plays they were more decisive than we were. They deserve a lot of credit. As we get older and develop as players, that’s what we need to do.”
“The play started, and they’ll run decisively, they don’t hesitate on anything they do. We played three good quarters against Oregon. We had plenty of adversity this game, more and more often, but we never allowed it take us out of our focus, what we were trying to do,” Leach said.