Ask Tyrone Willingham

Oct. 23, 2000

Bob Marshall (Los Gatos, CA)
Congrats on the great win over USC! In Chris Lewis' relief appearance on Saturday, he scrambled for positive yardage and also stepped up in the pocket on the game-winning play. However, during Chris' three starts, he seemed reluctant to run or step up and Coach Diedrick also avoided any QB running plays like Borchard's bootlegs last year. Since Chris obviously has the ability to run, did you purposely put the clamps on him to try to avoid injury while Randy was out? Best of luck this year and in the future years at Stanford. We are extremely fortunate to have you as our coach, and I think the young men that you coach are just as fortunate to be on your team.

No, we did not (purposely put the clamps on him to try to avoid injury while Randy was out). What we found is that in the growth of most quarterbacks, they express their personality. Chris has marvelous running skills, but as he's learning and progressing in our offense, his first thoughts are, when given situations to run, to stay with the receivers and to continue to look for them downfield. As he grows and develops, he'll better recognize those situations and will be more at ease in the offense. He will then pick and choose better in those situations. So, times that he could run and get more yardage than pass, he'll do it, and times that he should stay with it, find a receiver and make a better play passing, he will do it. That is just one of those areas that we believe comes as he gains experience.

Brad Hart (Redwood Shores, CA)
Since the scoreboard was wrong on the amount of timeouts left for you (at the end of the USC game), if you had called one then are you penalized or are you just not granted one?

In researching the rule again to make sure I was correct, it seems as though you will not be granted one by the officials. There will not be a penalty there, but you would not be granted one. So, as long as you keep signaling, he'll just let the time run. It is a very difficult situation to be in.

Sam Boot (Vancouver, WA)
Congratulations on a gutsy win over USC! It seemed that when USC ran for long gains that the Stanford linebackers were not in a position to tackle once the runner got through the line. Was that a result of a particular defensive play or did the linebackers just make an unlucky guess as to where the play would go?

It was the design of a particular defensive play. In a couple of cases, our linebackers did not get to the appropriate gaps that we needed, and in a couple of other situations, different defensive members did not get to the proper gaps that they need to and USC hit us for big plays.

Bill Jones (San Dimas, CA)
Coach, what happened on the delay of game penalty near the end? It kind of seemed it was on purpose. Is it easier to have an extra five yards to work with in the red zone on a sure passing down? Great win coach!

It depends on the exact yardage and distance that you need in the red zone. Where we were initially located at would have been about the 10-yard line. Therefore, we had not only a false start but also the delay of game penalty, which took us back the additional distance. Being that we needed a touchdown in that situation, it gave us probably more room to work with to stretch things out and force the defense to have to play more area. In this case, it worked very well for us. Not just the delay of game but also the false start penalty.

Jonas Hallion (San Francisco, CA)
What thoughts were running through your head when the ball was snapped on the final play? Was Chris given a play to run or was it a read-and-react situation?

Chris was given a specific play to run. What we had noticed the two or three previous snaps (was) that our young man DeRonnie Pitts, that had had such a fantastic ballgame with 13 catches for 176 yards at that time, was being double covered. Our coaches did a great job - coach (Bill) Diedrick, coach (Mose) Rison and his staff - of figuring out the best way to use DeRonnie as a decoy, and then believing that this would give us the chance to score the touchdown. We're very fortunate that it worked out just as diagrammed.

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