Five for Five with Terrence Austin

On what it’s like to get avoided in the return game:
“Man, it’s frustrating, it really is. You kind of get real hot, you’re on a roll, you’re running them back, you’re getting some big returns, and then the other team kicks it away. It’s tough. That’s what comes when you’re making big plays though.”

On the magnitude of the game:
“We do know this is an important game, and we know the situation with the Pac-10, but really we’re trying to take this step by step. As far as we’re concerned, this is the best game we’re going to play for the rest of the season, because it’s the next game. That’s what we’re more worried about.”

On the 3-0 start:
“It’s real important we started at 3-0. It’s definitely given us confidence. We’ve pretty much forgot about all that happened last year, but we’re not forgetting 4-8. We know that it’s the beginning, we’re 3-0 and it’s Pac-10 play now. In order for us to kickstart and show that we’re improved, we have to keep winning. It starts right here.”

On the Stanford game last season:
“The game was a scratch-and-claw the whole game. All four quarters were tough. Stanford pulled away, we came back – it was a tug-of-war. I remember it really violent out there, a really physical game, and we pulled it out in the end.”

On Kevin Craft’s game-winning touchdown to Cory Harkey against Stanford last year:
“I remember running around in the backside, and Harkey was covered a little bit. Kevin scrambled a little to try and make room, and Harkey shook loose. I’m looking from the backside, and I’m like, ‘Aww, there’s nobody open. Is Kevin gonna run?’ I’m running over to try to get a block, and I see Kevin let the ball go, and I’m looking like, ‘Oh man, where’s the ball going?’ Harkey’s back there to catch the ball, and I just went berserk.”

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Three for Three with Terrence Austin

On what went wrong in the special teams game against Kansas State:
“We had some mistakes on the kickoff team, some miscues that allowed them to get some returns on us. We worked on that specifically a whole lot this whole week. We can’t set up our defense up like that.”

On the focus of special teams during the bye week:
“I think we were getting a little loose last week, and we need to tighten up. We can’t afford that. The Pac-10 is really tough, so we have to get it down.”

On ST coach Frank Gansz getting fired up:
“He’s been on us hard. He’s been ornery – that’s his thing. We’ve got offensive and defensive players on special teams, so it’s a mixture of us, and we kind of have to be one. Everybody has to be in there solid. We have to have the gameplan down.”

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Looking Up with Randall Carroll

Freshman wide receiver Randall Carroll has effectively earned his spot in the wide receiver rotation.
He is thankful for the potential playing time.
He is more thankful to be learning the position under Terrence Austin and Taylor Embree.
“As young guys, we’re all hotheaded,” Carroll said. “If something happens, we snap. The older guys show us how to hold our composure, how to work in pressure situations. Two-minute drills when you’re tired, keep working. Don’t talk to the defense; let them talk all day to us. They lead by example, and say, ‘Stay quiet and just show by your play on the field.’”

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Four for Four with Frank Gansz, Jr.

After Saturday’s up-and-down performance on special teams, I figured I should catch up with Coach Gansz.

A brief recap: With Kai Forbath nursing a sore kicking leg, Jeff Locke stepped in and was excellent. Locke locked up (sorry, had to) the punting duties with several nice boots, including a coffin-corner kick that bounced out at the 1-yard line. Locke also added field goals of 53, 35 and 23 yards, and Gansz said he will help contribute on kickoffs, as well.

With two long touchdown returns – one by freshman Damien Thigpen and another by redshirt sophomore Courtney Viney – Gansz was excited by the possibility of added depth in the return game behind Terrence Austin.

On what he liked on Saturday:
“We were working against a look squad, but I was excited that our return game did big things. We expect it; we’re faster, we’ve got guys who know what they’re doing, we’re much more detailed with our work. We’re going to have those plays. We expect them.”

On the decision to redshirt Thigpen or use him:
“That won’t be my decision, that’ll be a staff decision, but he’s an explosive athlete. We saw that when we recruited him. It didn’t surprise me. We see it on the practice field all the time. He’s explosive and instinctive and very impressive.”

On Austin’s role in the return game:
“Terrence is the guy right now. But you’re going to need to have, as it bears out with most teams, a lot of depth. This gives us that. Terrence is definitely our guy, but obviously when you have a lot of guys who can run, it gives you some options to do different things with those guys.”

On Locke’s performance and the possibility of more playing time for the redshirt freshman:
“You need to have Plan B guys. He gives you that. He gives you another guy who can get it done if you need him. Jeff’s a talented guy. We feel good about him. That’s when you become good, when you start to have multiple guys who can step in and get it done.”

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Terrence Austin at Media Day

On new starting quarterback Kevin Prince:
“He lines up in the huddle, he has 10 guys looking at him, waiting for him to call the play, waiting for him to direct the offense,” Austin said. “It hasn’t been gameday yet, he’s going to have his jitters of course, but he sits there and directs the offense, no problem. He’s not nervous, he’s confident when he speaks to us; if there’s something wrong, he fixes it. That’s darn good for a redshirt freshman. I don’t think he has anything but upside to him.
“When he walks around campus he’s a cool cat, but when he steps on the field, it’s different – he’s leading us and directing us.”

On finding positives in the offense last season:
“There were definitely some positives last year,” Austin said. “The charisma on offense – we just kept going. We had some setbacks. One game we threw five interceptions, but we came back and won the game. That’s something a lot of people didn’t see last year. When you have a team that has the ability to still go on each game and make an effort, all you have to do is make some changes to make it.”

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