Q & A: Tyrone Willingham

Oct. 8, 2001

1) Stanford fans like myself are extremely pleased at the match up problems Teyo Johnson is causing opponents. I've noticed that Darin Naatjes is getting some playing time too. Any chance that the 'big' wide receiving tandem of 6'7' Johnson, 6'7' tight end Naatjes, 6'6' tight end Brett Pierce and 6'5' Matt Wright will see more action in the red zone at the same time?

Tyrone Willingham: It is never for me to release what I consider sensitive information regarding our game plan, but we have used Teyo and Darin in a formation this season. We will look to see if there are other looks that we might use as you have described the 'big' wide receivers.

2) Coach Baer's defense against Southern Cal was outstanding last week. There was a lot more penetration by the line without having to utilizing the blitz much. This is the best the defense has played since 1992. My question to you is , did coach Baer and staff absorb more from the Baltimore Ravens defensive staff then he has let on in past interviews? Whatever he's doing is outstanding.

Tyrone Willingham: Thank you, our defense is playing really well. They would agree with that, except for about six plays. It takes a combination of coaching and player execution to have great defense. We are improving in both those areas and will need to improve each week if we are to continue winning. The Ravens, without question, have one of the best defensive systems in football and the smallest points become really helpful. It was a beneficial visit for our defensive staff.

3) Why does Stanford become so conservative offensively with the lead? We lose momentum, become predictable and barely hold on or lose (e.g.. Washington, USC). Bill Walsh taught being relentless and finishing off opponents, why not keep the offensive in gear, stay aggressive and not just resort to running on every or most first and second downs?

Tyrone Willingham: You are correct that sometimes we do become conservative in a game that we have a big lead. But in the case of the USC game we began the second half with 5 of the first 10 plays being passes with a variety of styles to keep our opponent off balance. That it is something that we always have to guard against. Thank you for that observation.

4) What are the admission requirements to get into Stanford as a football player?

Tyrone Willingham: The requirements to get into Stanford as a football player are the same as any student. Stanford looks at the abilities of the individual and not just a standard gpa or board score or athletic ability. The university is curious as to what the individual can bring to the university community as a whole. Our advice to prospective student athletes: 1) score as high as possible, 2) be very involved with your school and community outside of athletics and 3) be a quality person that will add to any social community.

5) How do you prepare the offense to overcome the loud , disruptive noise from fans in places like Husky (or Autzen ) Stadium?

Tyrone Willingham: Most coaches will pipe in loud noise and we follow that procedure. But the key is to have a team that really desires to accomplish your goal of winning the game. It is amazing what you hear or don't hear when you are concentrating on a task. Reflect on when you are really occupied with a thought and others are speaking to you, and you never hear, that is the focus of which I am speaking.

7) Coach, the punting of the Stanford team is not up to snuff. Isn't there any one on the squad that can punt the ball for at least a 39 to 40 yard average? If not I would suggest that you seek a punter from the rugby team. those guys can really punt.

Tyrone Willingham: Our punting at times has been a struggle, but I have confidence that we will become consistent and become another solid area in our special teams. Today our punter is averaging 36.4 yards per punt. We are eager to average more in our punting and welcome those who can perform better regardless of their team.

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