football Edit

WSU players talk Halliday, Falk

PULLMAN -- Washington State held their weekly press conferences on Monday and the
two players with media availability were offensive tackle Joe Dahl and
Jeremiah Allison.
The pair dished on the significance of Connor Halliday's
leg injury, what Luke Falk brings the the locker room and the offense,
and what the main focus will be moving forward.
style="font-weight: bold;">Linebacker Jeremiah Allison press conference

(Now that you've started to play
regularly, what are you trying to work on?) "I just want to
improve on staying consistent and playing with the same intensity that
I started the game with - finishing it. Other than that, I'm going to
do everything that the coaches need me to do."
(You've been able to get to the
quarterback. Are those called blitzes or are you reading the play?)
"They're all designed. Everything that happens on the field, the
coaches are coaching us in practice. The coaches put me in the right
position."
(What would you like to see out of
your team on Saturday?) "Oh, just the fight, the grit, the
passion for the game. You have to play the game like it's meant to be
played. Just the focus and finishing out on top."
(How important would it be to finish
out this season strong?) "Oh, it has a lot to do with it. It
actually plays a major role in the upcoming of players, as far as our
freshman, and it does something to the entire team to finish out
strong."
(What does the defense get out of
those fifteen bowl practices?) "I know, for me personally, that
the coaches got a chance to work with me one-on-one and take the time
to explain why this happens or why that happens. During the season,
they did that with all the players, as well. We got to know why things
happened on defense."

(Now that you can't go to a bowl game,
what is this season about for you guys?) "Win. We still have the
games to be played. No one wants to lose, so I mean, with the bowl
picture not being there, that doesn't change anything for me. At the
end of the day, we still have three games left and we want to win them
all."
(After two blowout losses, is it hard
to buy into the whole "one play at a time, don't look at the
scoreboard, etc.?") "No, not at all. I mean, at the end of the
day, you have to play football the way it's supposed to be played.
You're going to have a win or loss a whether you win by a lot or you
lose by a lot."
(Do you feel like the defense rallied
after Halliday's injury?) "Most definitely. I felt we just went
out there and executed the plays. We calmed down and we executed the
plays that had to be executed."
(You guys are upping the defensive
intensity. Is the conditioning getting harder?) "No, Coach
Lescalzo does a great job with us in the offseason. We have our
two-deep and our three-deep and they're all in shape and I don't think
it's an issue."

(The defense picked it up over the
last three quarters. What changed?) "I don't think anything
really changed. Basically, you know, we found our gashes."

(Oregon State is coming off a
three-game losing streak and they've lost four-of-five. Do you guys see
this as a chance get a win on the road?) "Most definitely.
That's our goal going into any and every game."
(Have you watched their offense on
film yet?) "Yeah, I did, actually. They do a lot of great things
on offense. They're a screen team and they run draws, too. Their
quarterback is very prolific, as well."
(Do you think Sean Mannion is playing
as well as he did last year?) "He's playing great, he's having a
good season and you can't overlook anyone."

(Have you been able to see what Oregon
State has been struggling with over the last few games?) "Our
coaches' job is to put us in the best position to exploit their
weaknesses, but at the end of the day, we have to execute the plays
that they tell us to execute."
(What do you remember from your
freshman year in Corvallis?) "The sidelines are really close to
the stands, so I remember the field being very small. I was a freshman
as a time, so I wasn't really getting a lot of playing time - I was on
special teams - but I know it was a game we should have and could have
won."
(What did you see out of Luke Falk on
Saturday?) "Oh, confidence. Confidence, swagger, make the
necessary play to do everything in power to make sure that we get to
where we need to go and be prosperous."
(How important was it to see him go
out there and play that way?) "I love him. I loved Luke from the
first time I met him. He's a guy with confidence, he loves Tom Brady,
so he always feels like he has a chip on his shoulder and he's a kid
who wants to be better. He doesn't think that he doesn't know the game
to a certain extent, but he wants to get better, he looks for ways to
get better and that's what I really love about Luke. He's a true
competitor so when Connor went down, I looked him in his eye and he
said, 'well, let's get this W.' It wasn't a look of 'Aw, man, I'm going
in' or wasn't a look of distraught, it was a look of confidence and
that's what I loved about him."

(Were you there when he was told he
would be put on scholarship for before the first game?) "I'm not
sure, I don't remember."
(Have you seen Connor yet?) "Yeah,
I saw him last night. He's doing pretty good. He's in good spirits."
(What kind of leader has Halliday been
this season?) "Connor has actually been a big brother to me as
well. When I got a chance to help this team out and start, he was the
first one to tell me 'Jeremiah, this is the moment you've been waiting
for, so do everything in your power to impact the game and help our
defense to what we need to do' and that was against Oregon. From then
on out, he's just been that older role model and mentor for me and
constantly staying in my ear about being a better leader. Connor has
been an inspiration to all of us and he hasn't been a quarterback to
look at his numbers and what he's done, he's always finding ways to
help this team in a positive way. I like the fact that he's not
selfish, he's selfless."

(Since he's not out there, will he
still continue to inspire you guys or how does the team take that?)
"When I went to see him last night, the first thing I could think of
was have Travis [Long] reach out to [Halliday]. When I was a freshman,
Travis had an injury that sidelined him for our Apple Cup game and I
asked him if he had talked to him and [Connor] said that yes, Travis
had called him, but he couldn't get to the phone at the moment. As we
were talking, that was the only thing that could resonate in my mind
was that when Travis went down, we found ways to come together and get
the victory by any means necessary so with this being three games left
until our final game … I texted the boys last night and said 'when you
come visit and talk to Connor, if that doesn't motivate you, I don't
know what will.'"

(How many people have gone and visited
Connor?) "Me, personally, I went by myself. As soon as we were
let out of our meeting, I jetted right over there to see him and
whatnot and I was actually the only one in there. People started
trickling in and it was probably at least ten people in the room. They
had to start cycling us through, but I'm stubborn so I stayed the time
I wanted to stay, shook his hand, gave him a hug and then left."

(As such a young team, how do you guys
find leaders with Connor out?) "Like I said, if Connor's
situation doesn't motivate you, I don't know what will. Conner was one
of the individuals who gave his all to this game of football, which we
love. I mean, it's time for individuals to grow up.  That's the
easiest way to say it; you have to take it upon yourself to do great
things."

(Despite Luke's potential and
leadership ability, does it feel like there's an empty seat at the
table without Connor?) "Connor is an individual who demands
attention when he's in the room. He's a great quarterback. I feel that,
with Luke being young and hungry, he has so much to stride towards and
he has shoes that he would want to fill or make his own presence known.
With that being said, I feel like he's going to do great things."
Left tackle Joe Dahl press
conference
(Have you got a chance to see Connor?)
"Yeah, I was there right after he came out of surgery and I saw him
yesterday, too. I think most people on the team have gone by and seen
him by now."

(How's he doing?) "Obviously,
he's upset but I think that's expected. It's a tough time for him; it's
a tough time for all of us. We all feel for him."

(Did anything he said to you stand
out?) "Just how he wanted to finish his not injured. He just
wanted to finish his career as a Coug and he's just really torn up that
he doesn't get a chance to do that."
(With Connor out, do all of you guys
have to step up into a leadership role?) "Yeah, I think so for
sure, especially with Luke being so inexperienced. I mean, he's a good
leader and already is being a freshman, but I think definitely not
everyone needs to step up their play and support each other."

(Luke's style in the pocket seems
different than Connor's. What was that adjustment like on the fly?)
"I don't think any of us really knew that because we hadn't seen him in
a game, really. There's no contact in practice, so that was the first
time we got to see him move around and see his pocket presence. He got
us out of a few things, which was great. We shouldn't have given up
some of the pressures, but I think he did a pretty good job for having
the circumstances that he had to deal with."
(Are there any adjustments for you
guys on the line with Falk's different style?) "Not really. We
just have to realize that he's moving around a little bit more, so the
play is never over and regardless of where your guy is going, if you
think you're blocking him in the right direction, you might not be, so
you have to stay on your blocks a little bit longer."
(It looked pretty simple as he entered
the game. What qualities allowed him to do that?) "Probably just
how calm he is. He has great demeanor to him, he has confidence in
himself, as he should, and he's going to be a great player. Probably
just how calm he was and it was a seamless transition for him."
(Did he seem pretty confident calling
audibles at the line?) "Yeah, definitely. He's got plenty of
reps in practice and I knew he was ready for that."

(What do you feel like you've
personally improved on during your career here?) "Probably just
being more consistent. Last year I had flashes of having good plays
here and there and then I'd also have poor plays throughout the game. I
think this year I've done a better job of being more consistent
throughout the entire game."

(Does Falk take control of the huddle
when he needs to?) "Yeah, definitely. He has a really good
relationship with all of us. He goes out of his way to build
relationships with everyone on the team. I think that everyone respects
him because we see how hard he works and obviously he was a walk-on
just a few months ago, so we know how hard he works and we all respect
him for that."

(How does he go out of his way to
build a relationship with you?) "More of just a joking fashion.
Kind of getting to know me on a personal level and then obviously I
just see him work day in and day out. He's always watching film, doing
whatever he can to help this team and even as a backup before, people
were noticing those things."
(Do you remember what is was like when
he first introduced himself to you?) "I can't even remember
that far back but I remember when he was first starting to get to know
me, he was a pretty goofy guy. He's just made a good impression on me
for how hard he works."
(Do you guys watch film together?)
"We don't with the quarterbacks other than a few days a week. Normally
it's just position groups but we do get a chance here and there."
(In those brief chances, do you notice
anything he does when he's watching film?) "No. Up until this
week, the number one quarterback is always the one who's talking at the
meeting so I'll probably know better after this week as far as that
goes."

(Did you have to tell him prior to him
coming in that you guys had confidence in him or did that not have to
be said?) "I think a few of us told him that but I don't think
he needed to hear that at all. He was ready to go and I think he's been
ready since the day got here. That's just how he is; he's calm and
confident and he know he would be able to do the job."
(How nice is it to know as an
offensive lineman that if you make a mistake, he can make up for it
with his legs?) "That's a great feeling as an offensive lineman.
We never want to have bad plays but it's just great when, even if you
do have a bad play, it might not negatively affect your team and that's
what Luke brings to it."

(Do you think the three sacks you gave
up were more indicative of how you played or how well Luke is as a
runner?) "I think there probably should have been a few more so
he got us out of a few and we just have to work to limit those. There
shouldn't be any every game."

(What's the main focus, expectations,
etc. over the last three games?) "I think the main focus is … we
realize we're not going to make a bowl game but we're not giving up on
the season. We all realize the importance - especially as an offensive
line, we know that everyone is coming back next year - so right now
we're just trying to win all three of these games and build a great
momentum to come in next year."
(How important is it to get the most
out of these final three weeks?) "I think it's huge. Two years
ago, we ended with that win in the Apple Cup and that just launched us
into the offseason. We had great spring ball, great workouts all summer
long and then we ended up winning three more games last year so I think
it has a huge impact and the momentum definitely carries over."

(Do you think this is a good
opportunity to bounce back against an Oregon State team that's
struggling?) "Really, we don't even look at a team's record. We
know how crazy this conference is and how any team can be any team any
day of the week. I think we're just happy to get another game and try
to get rid of this losing streak."
(You guys have played better on the
road in Pac-12 play. After these two home games, is there something
that makes you guy's breath easier heading to Corvallis?) "I
think there might be, but it shouldn't be that way. I think, as a team,
we love hearing the crowd, we love beating somebody in their own place
and I think we need to carry that over to home games, too, and winning
some here. There's definitely something great about beating a team in
their own place."
(Do you remember playing in Corvallis
two years ago?) "I wasn't actually playing so I didn't get a
chance to see it. I've heard that it's extremely loud and it's a great
environment."
(After all the optimism heading into
this season, how hard is it to swallow how the season has gone?)
"It's not what any of us expected, that's for sure. There's so many
games that could have gone a different way but it's our job to just let
those things go. All we can do now is focus on winning these last three
and it starts this week with Oregon State. But it's definitely been
tough not living up to our expectations heading into the year."
(What do you know about Oregon State?)
"We will kind of just dive into the film today, really. I know that
last year they were extremely hardworking guys, they had good talent on
their defense and they're well coached."
(Is there anything in the way Connor
played that you guys will need to win these next three games?)
"Definitely the passion and competitiveness he brings to it. He just
wanted to win more than anything and I know that rubs off on every
single one of us. I think that will carry over."

(Did Connor have any words for you
guys?) "He had a lot, actually. He wanted to know how the game
went and how everyone played. He was still just as involved as ever.
He's a great teammate in that sense and I know that he'll be kind of
sitting on the edge of his seat just wondering how we're doing in the
game and trying to help us in any way he can during the week at
practice."

(When he's asking you those questions,
does it feel like one of those film sessions you talked about?)
"Yeah, definitely. It sucks that he's just sitting there injured but
he's still got that passion and he still wants to help this team in any
way he can."
(What's it been like playing on the
outside this year and the differences you've faced from the inside last
year?) "It's pretty similar in our offense, really. There's a
little technique things here and there but I think the main difference
is the guys you go against. It's a little bit different than when
you're going up against big, strong guys and going power moves, and now
I'm just facing speed with a little bit of balance and power. That's
probably the main difference is the opponent and not so much the
scheme."
(Seems like left tackle suits you
well…) "Yeah, I've been working really hard at it. I think I
hold my own in there but I have to keep getting better just like all of
us do on the offensive line."
(When you say it's not that different,
is that because the splits put you guys all on an island?)
"Yeah, especially just because of the scheme. In the air raid offense,
it makes everybody except the center kind of a tackle. We have huge
splits so you're going to have a lot of one-on-one battles throughout
the game. The only difference would be the run game techniques."
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