Colorado Buffaloes new head coach Jon Embree participated in his first media day as a member of the Pac-12 conference this afternoon. The league's 12 head coaches all gave a brief introduction to the upcoming season and then took questions from the audience for around fifteen minutes. Each university also sent one player representative from the team, with the Buffs bringing along senior quarterback Tyler Hansen.
You can check out the full interview transcript after the jump (thanks to California Golden Blogs for asking the last question for us, it turned out to be the best of the bunch).
COACH EMBREE: First off I'd like to say we're very excited to be a part of the Pac 12. When I say we, the University of Colorado, feel like it's a great fit for us academically and athletically. All of our alumni that we have out here in these areas really make it good for us.
So we're very excited to be part of this conference.
Q. After you signed on the dotted line, what did you tell athletic director Mike Bohn about playing 13 straight games with no break?
COACH EMBREE: You know, that's one of the things about coming from the NFL. I think last year in Washington we didn't get our bye until I think we played nine or ten straight. So you factor that in with preseason and all of that, you get used to it. We'll just have to be smart how we practice towards the end of the season.
But what it really does is it creates a lot of opportunity for our young players because we're going to have to play everybody that we can that's not red shirting to give us a chance in these games.
So for them, they should be excited about it. I just told him I was glad he didn't put the Packers on the schedule.
Q. Obviously going into a new role you have a lot of things you want to change. But what one thing would you do, I guess, to win more football games?
COACH EMBREE: What one thing would I what?
Q. Are you looking to do as your major improve many to win more football games?
COACH EMBREE: I want to improve the identity of our program. I want when people see us play, I want them to understand we're a physical program, physical team. Being able to run the football. I don't think we've run the football like we should.
When Colorado's been successful in its past, we've been a good running team. And that's what we need to do. I think to be an effective team running the ball; you have to have a physical kind of mindset.
Q. Tyler, being a California kid, and getting to be in the Pac 12 now and playing a lot of teams from the west coast, what's that mean to you? And Coach, how is it going to affect the recruiting? Obviously, you guys have always tried to have a foothold here being in the conference and now competing with teams in the conference. What's that mean?
TYLER HANSEN: Being from California, I grew up a Pac 10 fan, watching Pac 10 games. So being my senior year and being part of the Pac 12 is something that's really special. I look forward to competing against Pac 12 teams. So it's going to be a lot of fun.
COACH EMBREE: From a recruiting standpoint, it helps us a lot being able to come back here every year, whether we're playing USC, UCLA, or even, and that helps us a lot. We have to get to where we're recruiting this state again effectively. I believe we have four or five kids committed in state or from California in the state currently in this cycle. And we have to continue to improve on that.
Q. There is a lot of talent at the quarterback position in this league. Where does Tyler fit in with that group of guys and what are your expectations for him this year?
COACH EMBREE: I think Tyler fits and belongs with the groups of guys that you have here, and the quarterbacks that you have in this conference. For Tyler to be effective, I look at touchdown and reception ratio. If he's throwing a lot of touchdowns, a lot of interceptions, I'm happy with it. My last year at UCLA we had Drew Olson who was overshadowed by everybody in the conference, and I think Drew finished 37 touchdowns and four interceptions in that range. I'll take that every year.
So to look at Tyler, that's what I think he'll be judged by as far as his on the field performance. But off the field he's done everything we need to do.
I tell Tyler, the thing that I think will make him a successful person and help him be successful this year is he loves to prepare probably more than he loves to play.
When you have that within you, that allows you to be successful. You know, he loves watching tape. He gets the guys out there to throw. He understands when we say something to him. He picked up the offense very quickly. He had a spring practice where he went 18 out of 19 for about 250 and three touchdowns. The thing that was really most impressive about that is out of his 19 attempts, only twice did he get downgraded for having a poor decision.
So that tells me he knows where to go with the ball. He understands progression, he understands how coverage dictates some things to him, and he had a good feel for it.
I'm very happy to have Tyler sitting up here next to me. I wish he was a junior (laughing).
Q. You're playing an offense now that's similar to the one you ran in high school at Chaparral, do you feel that's going to help you this year?
TYLER HANSEN: Absolutely, absolutely. I'm under center, not in the shotgun anymore. I'm getting the ball out on time. Whether that's a 3 5 or 7 7 drop. I think with the play makers I have outside, if I get the ball out on time, I think we can have a real successful year on offense, because I have some great play makers on the outside.
My job's easy. I get the ball to them. So I feel in high school it was the same offense, so I feel really comfortable in this offense right now, so, yeah.
Q. Now that you guys are out of the Big 12, what are your thoughts about the Texas Network and the competitive balance in that conference? Also your thoughts about how things went down last year with the expansion which could have been the Pac-16 instead of just the Pac 12?
COACH EMBREE: I think 12 is better than 16. I think it's a better fit just from the championship game and doing all of that. I think that was better for the conference.
Then as far as the Texas Network, doesn't matter to me. I mean, it doesn't affect this conference. It doesn't affect Colorado at all, so I don't worry about it.
Q. How much harder is it to prepare for teams that you haven't faced a lot in the past and what adjustments have you made to be able to do so?
COACH EMBREE: Well, they still have to prepare for us too, so it's hard for both teams. I do have some familiarity with this conference. I was at UCLA for three years and then my son's been at UCLA the last three years going into his senior year. So I've watched a lot of different games, always UCLA involved, but watched some of the teams play.
There is so much diversity in this league offensively and defensively that you're not going to see the same style on both sides of the ball maybe week to week. So you always have to prepare. You can't go in with a cookie cutter kind of mentality and say if we just do this, we'll be prepared for everybody in our conference.
So because of that, I think that you have to have within your systems, you have to have great flexibility and adaptability to what's going on and what you're going to face from week to week. If you play Oregon you're going to play fast break football, right. And next week if you're playing Stanford, it's power football.
So as a defensive coordinator, you just can't come out of here and say here's what we are. You have to have tons of flexibility and you have to be very creative. And that's what's so great about this conference.
Q. Coach, how do you come in and change the culture and the mindset of a team that's not run on the road since 2007?
COACH EMBREE: We haven't. How do you change that? Well, that's been a sticking point with me. One, I don't run away from it. I've addressed it with the team. To be exact, we've lost 18 consecutive games on the road.
I believe there is no one on our team that's played in a road win. I'm taking it head on. I believe it all starts from how you prepare. It all starts with the mindset. Good teams win on the road. Obviously we haven't been a good team or I wouldn't be here.
So if we want to do the things that the players want to do, be it Bowl games and championships and all that, we have to win on the road. The schedule was mentioned here earlier, and about us playing 13 straight. The thing I'm excited about is our first game's on the road because we need to address that issue immediately. I'll leave it at that. We need to address that issue immediately. It does not sit well with me.
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