In the Trenches with Kenny James
Sept. 14, 2004
Kenny James likes to go about his business quietly. Perhaps that's why James' outstanding 2003 season, in which he averaged more yards per carry than all but three featured Husky running backs in the last seven years, generated so little buzz. James doesn't mind, though -- his game is about substance, not flash, a philosophy reflected in a running style which relies more on speed and power than shake-and-bake moves. Only a sophomore, James has the chance in 2004 to close within striking distance of the Huskies' all-time career rushing list. He'll get there quicker with more games like his season-opener against Fresno State, during which the Fresno native rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries, a 4.5-yard average. The soft-spoken James opened up to GoHuskies.com correspondent Jesse Hulsing about the game, his future, and his interests off the field.'
GoHuskies.com: You have quite a bit of depth at running back, and it looks like coach Gilbertson might be going to the run game a little bit more than in past years. Do you like that?
Kenny James: 'Yeah, I like that. As a running back you have to like it. You have to go out on the field with the mindset of, `I can break anything, at anytime.' The most important thing is the win, whether we pass or run the ball.'
GH: Last year against UCLA, the Huskies were in control in the first half, only to watch the game get away after halftime. What do you need to do to make sure that doesn't happen again?
James: 'We've got to redeem ourselves. Last year we played well the first half, but in the second half we turned the ball over and made lots of minor mistakes. We can't let that happen again. We need to start strong and finish strong. We need to play all four quarters, all 60 minutes of the game. It's important for us to go out there and give 110 percent.'
GH: What are your goals for this game?
James: 'My goal is to win. No matter how we do it. Whatever my role -- whether its blocking, running, or passing, I just want to help this team win.'
GH: Rose Bowl vs. Husky Stadium. Which is more impressive?
James: 'The Rose Bowl is one of the nicer stadiums I've played in, but there is nothing like Husky Stadium. Coming out in front of a packed house on Saturday, it sends chills down your spine. We have great fans, and the whole experience just makes you want to go out there and put on a great show.'
GH: I know the Fresno State game didn't give a good representation of what this offense can really do. Is there any feeling among the offense that you want to go out this week and prove to people that you can succeed?
James: 'The fans have already had a glimpse of what we can do. Besides those five turnovers, we had the game won. This is a great team, with a great defense, a great offensive line that opens up a lot of holes, and some talented quarterbacks. If we minimize the mistakes this is going to be a great team.'
GH: There has been a lot of debate about the quarterback situation, and the Huskies' struggles to pass the ball. Does that put more pressure on you as a running back?
James: 'I always expect myself to perform at the highest level. We are a team; we are all in this together. My goal is to run the ball, to block when it calls for me to block, and to come out of the backfield and catch the ball. If I come out there and coach needs me to run the ball 25-30 times to take the pressure off the quarterback then I'm up for it.'
GH: Are bye weeks hard after a loss?
James: 'Yeah, they are hard, we want to get back out there and redeem ourselves. Last weekend we showed people what we could do. It was just kind of heartbreaking to turn the ball over as much as we did. But now we've had a chance to get things figured out and get ready for UCLA.'
GH: Bye weeks are all about practice. What is your favorite drill in practice?
James: 'I really don't have a favorite drill -- not too many players like practices. But it's important to go out there and get better and get more fundamentally sound. This last week we came out focused so we can be ready for UCLA.'
GH: Are you looking forward to school starting?
James: 'Honestly, I'd rather just do this all day! During the school year I have to wake up, then go to class, then go to practice.'
GH: Sounds like a pretty full schedule. What do you do on your spare time?
James: 'I just chill and watch T.V. and movies with some guys from the team. That's all we have time for.'
GH: You have a favorite TV show?
James: 'Not really, I just watch ESPN. I guess maybe you could call that a TV show.'
GH: Do you have a favorite team or player you follow?
James: 'I usually just follow the guys from here who are playing in the NFL. We have so many guys in the league right now; it's exciting to watch them play.
GH: Thanks for your time, Kenny, and good luck against UCLA.'James: 'No problem.'