Ask Coach Willingham

Oct. 16, 2000

Geoff Johnson (Portland, OR)
Are there any plans to upgrade the stadium in terms of seating and, this would seem to be a major undertaking, but is there a possibility of removing the track to bring the fans in a bit closer?

Yes, I think there are long range plans and hopefully long range at some point means tomorrow. There are plans to improve and upgrade our stadium. The general consensus is that to have the kind of facility that we need at Stanford, it would be a much smaller facility than we have now - possibly reducing the seating to 55,000-60,000, maybe even slightly smaller than that, bringing the stands in as close as possible to the field, and improving the restroom and concession areas. That would really make Stanford a great place to see a football game. The major undertaking would hopefully be to create a new stadium in the same layout (we currently have).

Tom Moore (Palo Alto, CA)
This week's game is critical for both teams. What do you feel will be the key to defeating the Trojans and what are you thoughts on QB Carson Palmer?

The keys to winning the game really don't vary much from week-to-week even though the slight individual adjustments that you have to make for each team varies. The keys basically remain the same. Right now, we've struggled in our red zone scoring. One, we have to improve when we get in the red zone. We've got to score touchdowns and not be willing to trade field goals for touchdowns. Two, we've got to get in the red zone a lot. Therefore, naturally by getting in there a lot, you hopefully increase your ability to score. Two things - score when we get in the red zone and get in the red zone a lot. We have to eliminate the turnovers, because it's been shown at Stanford that when we win the turnover game, we usually are about at 80% in winning the game. That becomes critical for us. Those two things are just a couple of quick points that jump out that if we can win in those areas, we usually have a chance to win the football game.

(on QB Carson Palmer) Carson Palmer is a great quarterback. He has great size, good mobility and a very strong arm...and seems to be a fairly smart quarterback. So, we are facing a young man that I think his coaches and a large part of this conference believes is an outstanding quarterback. What we have to do any time you play a great quarterback are find ways to keep him off-balance. One, is to keep him off-balance by putting great pressure on him with the pass rush. Then it becomes a matter of how you pass rush him - do you zone blitz him, do you all-out blitz him, do you play coverage? So, those are things that we have to do to kind of keep him off-balance. Then we have to hopefully force, as a team, them into being a one-dimensional team. Usually, you prefer that to be the pass because there's no question that any time you pass the football, there are already a couple of built in negatives that have a chance to happen. The quarterback can be inaccurate, the receiver can drop the ball and you also have the ability to intercept the pass or knock it down. So, you have some built-in negatives that have the chance to naturally occur when you pass the football that just work against the law of averages.

Paul Kaveny (Atlanta, GA)
You see a lot of coaches who are very emotional on the sidelines. How do you stay so disciplined to keep a calm head at all times? Is this your natural demeanor out of respect for players and officials, as well as well as an example for your players on how to handle themselves?

First of all, I think if you are to play or coach the game of football, you have to be emotional. As a matter of fact, I believe that life should be emotional. That it should have great passion in it with everything that you do. I hope that I display great passion about football - my love for it, my love of working with young people, my love of winning and having our young people grow during the process. But, they have said that heads are wisest when they're cool. I think that I can make my best decisions if I'm cool on Saturdays and try to help our team from that standpoint. Hopefully, during the course of a practice week, I show emotion, I'm jumping and I'm helping out guys from an emotional standpoint. Hopefully on Saturday afternoons, I'm helping them from the coolness of a strategic standpoint to help us be a better football team.

(on second part of question) I think respect is a key word in my life - respect for others, respect for self. I've always believed that in order to gain respect, you have to give respect. I do think it's important not to try to overshadow officials. I don't believe that officials are making bad decisions or good decisions for one particular team. If they miss something, I think it is just accidental. I don't believe that an official goes out of their way to hurt another team. That would be really disastrous. I do think it's important that we show a certain respect to the game of football, also. The game of football is the ultimate team sport, therefore, it deserves the ultimate respect from the individuals being part of the game.



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