Willingham Monday Press Conference

Oct. 3, 2005

General Comments:'There were definitely some positives, but the negatives still outweigh the positives, because there is only one thing to focus on, and that is, we didn't get the win.'

On Washington playing well against UCLA:
'You don't ever minimize the good things, hopefully our coaching philosophy is such that we are always acknowledging the good things that we are doing. But, I think the players are the same, I don't think they walked out of that stadium very happy with a loss. As I talk to our staff and I talk to our players, I would much prefer to be crying to our team, and to you today, about how poorly we played, but we won. That is what you want to do, you want to win. You still don't minimize the good things that we are doing, and I think there are some.'

Whether improvement makes it easier to coach the system:
'I don't think so, because I think the things that we are doing, I think players always have the ability to kind of look and judge for themselves, whether this is right or that is right. They can obviously see the things that we are doing are right, and to continue along this path, and get better at it. Then you will have success.'

On whether older players feel they are improving:
'I always defer to them, to answer certain questions. And hopefully, you will ask that question of them and they will have a very positive answer. From my perspective, I think that we are doing some things right, and that there are some things to improve on. One of those things that we need to improve on is our play in the fourth quarter. That is an area where we have got to tighten up.'

On big plays deciding the game:
'When it comes down to it, that is the bottom line. They made plays and we didn't make plays. But I think we are capable of making those plays.'

On stopping Maurice Drew:
'We emphasized the same things that we focus on every week. One, we have got to be a better tackling team against a guy that can really run the football, and that guy we really felt could run the football. You need more than just one guy to bring him down, and I think you saw a couple of opportunities where we made good hits on him, but we didn't bring him down. There was one down by the endzone, where it looks like we have him stopped, forward momentum and everything. Then all of a sudden he is coming out of there, another five yards up the field and he would have been on the sideline. You have to emphasize that, which we constantly do, and that won't change this week. Even though we don't have an opponent this week, we will still talk about being good solid tacklers and doing that. You have got to talk about overall execution, that is the key thing. Where you need to be, where your help is, all of those things you need to talk about to be a better team.'

On defensive line:'I think those offensive lines that we have played have been pretty good. This has been a pretty good schedule, I don't think there has been any really weak ones. Some less than others, but I don't think there has been any weak ones. So, our group has had to rise to the challenge each week. Some weeks it is different. I think they continue to be inspired to play good football, and they try and do that.'

On injuries creating problems:
'You always like to have what are supposed to be your, best players, on the field. That is the reason they won the job in the first place. Hopefully, they can do the job better than the next guy. But what you expect is, even though you might be thin, is to have the next guy step in there and get it done. He is trained, he is conditioned, he has trained to get his work done during that stretch of time, which is usually the fourth quarter, which is usually the most critical stretch of time. So, I don't think that I can attribute all of our malfunction, all of our failure to just the fact that we are thin. In some cases it doesn't make a difference, and in some cases it does.'

On injuries:
'I think the major ones, came back into the ball game. But the ones that haven't been with us, Toledo I think it was, Macklin, hopefully we anticipate their arrival, their return next week.'

On timing of bi-week:
'I think it is a great time for it. If it wasn't here, I would say the same thing. You take what comes at you, if it is here, what we have to learn how to do is use it. We have got some extra days, so lets sure we can make sure and get some of those guys that are banged up and bruised healthy during this stretch. So this is a great time for that to occur.'

On moving Shelton Sampson to cornerback:
'I think that it was justified that we had done it this week. I think all things contributed, being thin at the position, and needing to find some additional help for us at the cornerback position. I think it was a move that was necessitated just by our injury situation.'

On J.R. Hasty:
'I am keeping J.R. very close. I like a lot of things that he is doing. I am still wrestling with the decision of whether to activate him or not. I might wrestle until the end of the year, I probably won't let him wrestle that long.'

On any other freshmen that might be activated:
'I don't think we have many that are sitting on the top of the fence. I think probably J.R. is the only one right now, as far as most of the other guys, our decisions are fairly firm, if they haven't had activity up to this point.'

On Louis Rankin:
'I think he has gotten better, I'm not sure I can say that it is game-by-game, I think there have been some things he has added. One of the things that I think will make Louis good I believe is his ability to be patient. I think that that is something that sometimes you see in one quarter, where he looks amazingly patient, and in another quarter he doesn't. When he is in that particular zone, he does very, very well. I was very pleased with the play that he had this weekend.'

Things team has improved on:
'First of all, overall. I think we have improved on the way have gone about our work. That has to do with your overall attitude, about how we work and how we go about becoming a better football team. I think the changes in our lineup, have created some good things in term of our offensive run game. Our quarterback continues to be very positive in his improvement. I think our defense has shown signs of improvement that I am very comfortable with.'

On punt returns:
'It could be, we will look and see. Anthony, had the one drop, and was hobbling just a little bit. We thought it might be time to get Marlon Wood in there. I think he had two or three opportunities, and I think he stepped up and did very well. He had a decent run on one, and he stepped up and made a fair catch, that was a fairly difficult catch to make. There was a collision with him, in fact. It takes a lot of poise to be able to do that.'

On whether there is a certain amount of runs per game for Stanback:
'Overall, you have to be very careful with how, and I think so much of it depends on the young man himself. His body type, what he can and can't handle physically. I have seen some quarterbacks make some big runs, and on the next play they are limping, and they can't quite get a pass off, or their pass becomes inaccurate. It is a not a number count like you would do with a pitcher.'

On Stanback as a runner:
'I like Isaiah, he has a really strong body type that you can involve in that a great deal. I think his conditioning is excellent and that he pushes himself to be conditioned. So, I think he could be, I think we could use him extensively.'

On Stanback blocking for Rankin:
'Actually he didn't get a block, it was probably as fine an effort as you would see of any player. I think if you noticed that play, you saw him run by probably three-quarters of both teams to get down there. That just speaks to what kind of player he is, those are the guys you want on your team. Guys that are willing to compete and throw their body around, or think to throw their body around and make that kind of hustle.'

On players hustling to make plays:
'That goes back to the question that was asked a few seconds ago, when I spoke about overall attitude, about how we are going about working on the game of football. Also, when you stop and measure your teams commitment and attitude about playing the game. When you see those kind of plays and those kind of efforts, I think it really speaks well to the direction of our program.'

On quarterbacks:
'I think at any time your quarterback becomes critical to what you are doing. That is not just Isaiah, that is all of our quarterbacks. Their presence, what they have done for the team, not just from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint in terms of understanding the offense. When you have guys that you can trust at the position, not only can the coaches trust them, but their teammates can trust them, and they follow them and they take directions from them, that is critical. It is a positive.'

On small corners guarding larger receivers:
'That is difficult, because the taller man does have somewhat of an advantage in a jump ball situation. And sometimes they are difficult to negate. We teach our guys to have good fundamentals, and how to position themselves at the appropriate angle. On certain plays you position yourself in front of a guy, much like you might do if you were playing basketball, when some guy is trying to post you up, and they are trying to get the pass into him. Sometimes you would defend him from behind if you want to cut the angles off. You really try to educate your guys about being smart about their position, and you really have to be aggressive with a much bigger guy.'

On instant replays:
'I think, for the most part, it works. But you still involve the same human factor. That is never going to leave, until you get a machine that does it all. So, therefore, you can make mistakes, even with the replay system. But, I think for the most part it is working fairly well.'

On plans for bi-week:
'For our football time, we will have three priorities for the week. Number one is to get healthy, that is the first thing we try to do with a bye week. And two, will be to try and get some work at a opponent or some opponents. That does not necessarily mean we will focus on just Oregon, there are other teams that we are looking at from a coaching standpoint. Our players won't even know what we are looking at through the course of our practice. The other thing will be to get some of our younger players the chance to play the game of football. Because some of those younger players have not had the opportunity in a number of weeks. We will also try and do some recruiting, and get out on the road and get that face to face time with recruits. You can be on location and lets you do a better job with your evaluation.'

On spiking of ball at the end of the first half:
'We wanted to do that, but not at that time. That was my fault, because if you go back through the sequence of plays that we wanted, I think there was a sack, which means we had to expend the timeout, which is a pretty standard reaction if we have one. So that we don't lose a lot of time trying to get everyone back. Then what you want to do is see if you can get a couple of plays off, and not having a timeout, put yourself in a position to clock it. So that was my fault, with our communication. We did what we wanted to do, but not at the times we wanted to do it.'

On missed kick:
'Snaps were fairly good, protection was fairly good, we just missed it. I think he has been fairly consistent so far. He has missed two, is that right? And one, was a 56-yarder, I think it was. So no, not a concern yet.'

On losing strong defensive players:
'Anytime you lose great players, guys that have contributed to the program, it does take sometime to regain that level of poise. You are going to be able to rotate in some places, but you aren't going to have that level of experience. But hopefully, we won't take a step back.'

On comment that intensity is improving:
'Thank you, but we still have to get to the bottom line, and I'm not pleased, and I don't think our players are content, until we get there. That is where we have to go, we have to get to the win column. I think we can do it, I like the direction we are going, but we are not there yet.'

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