Left guard Gunnar Eklund, linebacker Mitch Peterson and receiver River Cracraft were available to speak with the media during Washington State's weekly Monday press conference. Highlights from those interviews are after the jump.
(What was really clicking for the offensive line against Oregon?)
We were slowly building each game to get better as an offensive line and none of us, there's no seniors and it's just kind of this season we've slowly gotten better and better. We're just getting in a groove and we're trying to be the best we can be. When we get everyone trying to be the best they can be on the whole team things are going to start rolling so hopefully it's going to continue to go that way for the whole team.
(Is the expectation now that the line will play that well in every game moving forward?)
No, we want to be better than that game. That's one thing we're stressing right now is if each player was one play better against Oregon we would have beat Oregon and then we could beat any team in the country that we play if we were one play better. And so we can't be satisfied just because we had one good game. As an offensive line we played decently well so we have to get better and better and that's one thing that we're going to do this week. We're going to go out against Utah and play better than we did against Oregon.
(What do you remember about and what did you take away from the 2012 game at Utah when coach Mike Leach criticized the team's effort and had the offensive and defensive lines speak to the media as units afterward?)
At that point there were some kids, there were some people on the team where I don't know if it hurt them as much to lose as it should have, and I'm not calling out anyone in particular or anything. But being up there after that game, it sucked, you know? Just because we didn’t play up to our potential, we didn't give full effort, we didn't do the things we were supposed to do and it hurt. It did, it stung and it still – I won't ever forget it. I'm excited to go back, I've been wanting to go back to Utah for awhile just because we owe them one there. It did stay with me a little bit. I'm excited to go back and play them and that game's far gone, it's not us, it's not Cougar football but deep down it's still with me.
(Is it something you've reflected on over the past two years during other times of adversity?)
After that game we got together as a team and did some stuff, just to flush it. That's one of those games you try to forget because, like I said, we didn’t do the things we're coached to do. We didn't play hard, we didn’t play good at all. We played terrible. You have to get past that to get better as a team, we can't hold onto that, but you think about it every now and then.
(Mitch when you were on the field did it feel like the team was playing together in a way that it hadn't before?)
One thing we always focus on is the rise-up board and so that's just each side of the ball playing together. Once you start a good series off on the offense, good play special teams, defense, it starts to flow a lot better. Once you get in a groove it feels good. You start playing as a team.
(What have you seen from the team these last two weeks?)
Yeah, one thing is we just have to play to our ability. We put in good work in the weight room and in practice. We've just got to translate that to the field and play together as a unit.
(How much easier is your job when the running game gets established early and the outside receivers make big plays?)
Yeah, absolutely. The offense was rolling the other night and we were great on the ground with Jamal and Gerard back there and Connor did a great job finding the receivers.
(Was that game something you can use to take a step forward, even in a loss?)
We definitely can build off it. We played great the other night and we didn't come out on top and that's something we have to improve on, but we definitely took strides as a team.