Husky Football Readies For Challenge
July 5, 2007
SEATTLE - When Husky football fans look forward to the 2007 season, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the schedule. The Huskies' 13-game slate features a non-conference foursome (Syracuse, Boise State, Ohio State and Hawai'i) that would send a chill through many teams. Together with the always-rigorous Pac-10 opposition, it all adds up to what many experts consider the nation's toughest schedule.
'If you look at our schedule, the first thing that jumps outat you is that it's a challenging schedule,' says third-year headcoach Tyrone Willingham. 'That's the number one thing thathits me. It's an opportunity. It's a challenge. It's exciting. It's timeto step the game up.'
Willingham, who coached the UW to a 5-7 record in 2006,notes while a fan might find the schedule daunting, the playershave to look at it with relish.
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'Athletes like playing big-time football games,' he says.'We've got big-time football games on the schedule. To me, it'spretty simple. We love this kind of challenge.'
It's also notable that all three of the UW's games againstBCS bowl teams from last season (Boise State, Ohio State andUSC) come at Husky Stadium. That has to be a point in the Huskies'favor.
'Any time that you can get a chance to force a team outsideof its comfort zone, that's an advantage for us,' Willingham says.'They have to travel, they have to sleep in a new hotel. All thosekinds of things. We should be sitting comfortable.'
First things first, however. The Huskies have to get readyfor that schedule and while the building process continues onMontlake, there still isn't a large margin of error.
'The first thing we have to do is to stay healthy,' Willinghamsays. 'We're not blessed with the most depth in our conference.We have got to stay healthy. That means no off-seasonaccidents or injuries or things of that nature. If we can do that, itputs us at a position where we can go forward.
'When we go forward,' he continues, 'what we have to dois to get some real intensity in terms of our development physicallyand mentally. If we've said it's a challenge and we don'tgrow and progress, then we're not equal to the challenge.
'As for specific areas where we need to grow and improve,one is the defensive secondary,' Willingham concludes. 'That'san area that we need to improve our skill sets, our knowledgeand our confidence in each other. On the offensive line, our skillsets have to grow. We have to get our technique down to wherewe can execute all the things we're called on to execute playafter play. Then, it'll be just the general improvement of gettingto know your teammates, getting comfortable with them andcontinuing to grow within the system, and being ready to go into2007 with a very positive attitude about what we can accomplish.'