UW Football Pac-10 Media Day Notes
Aug. 1, 2005
The Upcoming Schedule: Washington's newcomers and veterans will hold their first practices at Husky Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 9. Specific practice times have yet to be announced. The Huskies report to campus on Sunday, Aug. 7 and will have an administrative day on Monday, Aug. 8. Washington's annual preseason press conference will take place Aug. 8 at noon. After practicing at Evergreen State College the past few years during two-a-days, Washington will remain on campus this fall for its entire preseason practice schedule.
Picture Day: Washington's annual Picture Day will be held at Husky Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 1-3 p.m. Schedule posters, schedule cards and other promotional items will be distributed to fans in attendance. Free food and drinks will also be available to fans in attendance. Husky players and coaches will be available during the two-hour period for autographs and photos.
Squad Breakdown: Washington returns a total of 62 lettermen, including eight starters on offense and nine on defense from last season's squad. There are 28 lettermen back on offense, 31 on defense and three kickers. The 62 returning lettermen have combined to earn a total of 101 letters. The eight returning offensive starters combined for 68 games last year while the nine returning starters on defense made a total of 82 games. Notably, the Huskies have nine returning lettermen on the offensive line (10 if you include one player returning from a two-year mission) and 12 former letterwinners in the defensive backfield.
Willingham Era Set To Begin At Home on the Road: Washington opens the 2005 season with its first game under new head coach Tyrone Willingham in a 'road game' that will be played only a few miles from Husky Stadium. The Dawgs' opener against Air Force will be played Sept. 3 at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, after the Falcons' home game was moved from Colorado Springs. The Huskies will play as the road team despite the fact that the distance between Husky Stadium and Qwest Field is about six miles while Falcon Stadium is about 1,400 miles away. Willingham, who previously served as head coach at Stanford (1995-2001) and Notre Dame (2002-2004), is the third Husky coach in the last four seasons and the fifth UW head man in the last 13 years. In his 10 total seasons as a head coach, Willingham has compiled a 65-51-1 overall record.
If It's September, It Must Seattle: The Washington football team won't have to travel outside of its home town until the second month of the season. After opening the season with a 'road' game vs. Air Force at Qwest Field in downtown Seattle, the Huskies will play three straight home games at Husky Stadium before finally taking to the road for the first time in October. After the Air Force game Sept. 3, Washington plays host to California (Sept. 10), Idaho (Sept. 17) and Notre Dame (Sept. 24) before traveling to Pasadena for a date with UCLA on Oct. 1. After an off week Oct. 8, the Huskies alternate road and home games the rest of the season.
Willingham Selected for Hula Bowl: Washington first-year coach Tyrone Willingham will direct the West Team during the 2006 Hula Bowl scheduled for Jan. 21 at War Memorial Stadium on the island of Maui. Auburn's Tommy Tuberville will direct the East squad. Willingham will be assisted by San Jose State head coach Dick Tomey. The American Football Coaches Association's 2005 Division I-AA, Division II and Division III coach of the year winners will also serve as assistants in the game. This year's game will be the 60th edition of the all-star classic.
both sides of the field: Tyrone Willingham will get the opportunity to pull off the somewhat rare feat of coaching a matchup from both sides in consecutive years this season when the Huskies take on Notre Dame Sept. 24 at Husky Stadium. Last year, Washington traveled to South Bend, where Willingham's Irish squad handled the Dawgs in a 38-3 win. The situation, however, is somewhat familiar to Husky fans, however. In 1999, in the UW's third game under coach Rick Neuheisel, Washington beat Colorado (Neuheisel's former team), 31-24. However, the Huskies hadn't previously played the Buffalos since the 1996 Holiday Bowl. Facing his former school will not be a new experience for Willingham. While at Notre Dame he coached against Stanford, his first stop as a head coach, and Michigan State, his alma mater.
Willingham vs. the Pac-10: Thanks mostly to his time at Stanford, but also via frequent games vs. western teams while at Notre Dame, Tyrone Willingham has amassed a lengthy record against Pac-10 teams. Overall, Willingham is 47-28 against Pac-10 teams. Interestingly, his teams have struggled the most against Washington, as he's gone 1-6 against his new charges. Here's Willingham's record against each Pac-10 team: Arizona (2-3), Arizona State (4-3), California (7-0), Oregon (4-1), Oregon State (3-4), Stanford (3-0), UCLA (3-4), USC (4-6), Washington (1-5), Washington State (6-2).
Coaching Staff: Washington's new coaching staff, under first-year head coach Tyrone Willingham includes a number of names that might be familiar to more savvy Pac-10 football fans. Willingham, of course, spent seven seasons in charge of Stanford, where he'd previously served as an assistant (1989-91) for three seasons. And, two members of the Husky staff from last season were held over as well, lending more than a little familiarity. Defensive line coach Randy Hart is now working for his fifth different head coach as a member of the Husky staff while linebackers coach Chris Tormey, is beginning his 15th season at the UW, spread over three different stints. Aside for those three, several other UW coaches have experience in or around the Northwest. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer has acoached in the Pac-10 at California, Arizona State and Stanford, as well as at Idaho. Spokane native Tim Lappano previously worked at Idaho, Washington State, California, Oregon State and with the Seattle Seahawks. Receivers coach Eric Yarber, an Idaho grad, has spent time at his alma mater, with the Seahawks and at Oregon State while Mike Denbrock (offensive line) and Trent Miles (running backs) both worked one season each at Stanford. Only tight ends/special teams coach Bob Simmons, the former Oklahoma State head coach, and defensive backs coach Steven Wilks can't trace their coaching roots through the Pac-10.
Bouncing Back: Last season, Washington saw its streak of 27 straight .500-or-better seasons come to an end as the Huskies finished 1-10 overall. The last time the Huskies finished under .500 was in 1976, the UW's second season under Coach Don James. That `76 team finished 5-6 overall and 3-4 (tie-4th) in the Pac-8. The following year, the Huskies won the conference and went to the Rose Bowl, going 10-2 overall (including the Rose Bowl win over Michigan) and 6-1 in conference play. Interestingly in 1977, the Huskies actually began the season 1-3 in four non-conference games. However, their season-opening loss to Mississippi State, as well as a loss to UCLA later in the season, were eventually forfeited to the UW thanks to use of ineligible players. Nonetheless, the UW won the conference title and the Rose Bowl the year after their most recent losing season. Washington hasn't posted back-to-back losing seasons since 1973 (2-9, 0-7) and 1974 (5-6, 3-4), the last two seasons of former coach Jim Owens' tenure at the UW.
Experience Abounds: Washington's 2005 roster includes an unusually large number of experienced players and starters. Officially speaking, the Huskies return eigth starters on offense, nine on defense and both their starting punter and kicker. That total of 19 (out of 24) starters returning is already high, but doesn't even take into account the even larger number of players that have started a few times and even more that have seen significant playing time. A total of 18 players on this season's roster started at least one game on offense last season and 15 current Huskies started at least once on defense in 2004. Along with the two specialists, that's a total of 35 players that started at least one game last year. The two lines are especially experienced. Washington returns nine lettermen on the offensive line (that group has totaled 18 letters combined) and a stunning 11 lettermen on the defensive line (17 letters total). Clearly, the Huskies' least experienced unit is the cornerbacks. Only one current player (Matt Fountaine) has ever made a start at corner as a Husky, and he's made only two, including one as a nickleback.
Breaking Down the Numbers: Washington's running backs (tailbacks and fullbacks) accounted for 1203 net rushing yards last season. A total of six of the seven ballcarriers return from last year's team who had a rushing attempt. Combinded, that group accounted for 1,141 rushing yards, or 95 percent of last year's total ground gain. The only non-returner among the running backs is fullback Zach Tuiasosopo, who signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The receiving corps features seven wide receivers and tight ends who had at least one reception in 2004. Husky wide receivers and tight ends caught 135 passes for 1,863 yards. UW's seven returners at those positions accounted for 75 of those catches (55 percent) and 1,131 (61 percent) of the receiving yards. The top loss among the receivers was TE Joe Toledo who moved to offensive tackle last spring.
Top Tacklers Return: Washington welcomes back all three regular starting linebackers from last season. Outside linebacker Evan Benjamin was one of only five UW players (offense or defense) to start every game last season. Inside linebackers Joe Lobendahn and Scott White were also fixtures in the lineup as Lobendahn missed starting only the Apple Cup and White started nine of 11. All three of those players finished among the top six tacklers in the Pac-10 Conference. Lobendahn was third in the Pac-10 and tied for 20th in the nation with 10.0 tackles per game (100 total), Benjamin was fourth in the league and 34th in Division I-A at 9.5 per game (105) and White was sixth at 8.3 per game (83). Additionally, Lobendahn ranked seventh in the Pac-10 and 30th in the nation with 13.5 tackles for loss while Benjamin was first on the team and 10th in the Pac-10 with his three interceptions.
Hopoi Sacking the Record Books: Defensive lineman Manase Hopoi returns for his senior season after having led the Pacific-10 Conference in tackles for loss last year. His 22 tackles for loss tied for second-most in UW single-season history (one behind Ron Holmes' 1983 total of 23). Those 22 TFLs were also good for fourth in the nation (he's second among players returning this year, behind only Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College). Hopoi's nine sacks were fifth-most in the Pac-10 and 14th in the nation while also ranking tied for ninth in UW single-season history. Entering his senior season, Hopoi is only 58.5 yards short of the UW career tackles for lost yardage (Travis Richardson (1987-90), 268.5) and is seven quarterback sacks behind Ron Holmes' career mark of 28 (1981-84).
Hopoi on Outland List: Washington senior defensive tackle Manase Hopoi has been named to the 36-player watch list for the 2005 Outland Trophy. The list of nominees was announced by The Football Writers Association of America. The Outland Trophy has been awarded to the best interior offensive or defensive lineman in college football since 1946. The winner is selected by the FWAA's All-America Committee, which selects the association's 25-man team and picks three Outland Trophy finalists. Hopoi was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection for the Huskies last season. He had 54 total tackles and led the conference with 22 tackles for loss, one shy of the UW single-season record. Hopoi has started all 36 games in his Husky career. The 2005 Outland Trophy announcement will be on Dec. 8 in Orlando, Fla., on the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The Outland Trophy presentation banquet, sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee and First Data Corporation, is set for Jan. 12, 2006, in Omaha, Neb.
QB or not QB: Washington enters the fall in an odd situation, at least by Husky football standards, in that it's completely up in the air as to who will be the UW's starting quarterback when the season begins Sept. 3 vs. Air Force. Three returners and a newcomer figure in the mix and, even with a full spring practice season under his belt, coach Tyrone Willingham wasn't yet prepared to name a starter. Three returners saw extensive action under center last season. Senior Casey Paus threw no fewer than five passes in ever game and started eight of 11 games, including the first three and the last four. Sophomore Carl Bonnell played in four games started two in a row, at Stanford and at home vs. San Jose State. Finally, Isaiah Stanback got one start, vs. Oregon State, and played in four other games. Finally, transfer Johnny DuRocher, a Puyallup product that started his career at Oregon, entered the mix last spring after transferring from Eugene.
Turnover Troubles: If there is one area the Huskies must improve in 2005 it is turnovers. Last season Washington combinded to throw xx interceptions and lose xx fumbles for 42 total turnovers. That was by far the most of any Division I school, ranking UW 117th of 117 teams in the NCAA statistics. The next closest team was Ball State with 35. The next closest Pac-10 team was Washington State with 30.California led the Pac-10 with the fewest miscues at 18.
Kava Back With the Dawgs: Washington regained one additional offensive lineman during the offseason. Willie Kava will be a sophomore offensive guard for Washington this fall. Kava lettered in 2002 as a redshirt freshman before leaving the program for two years on an LDS mission in West Africa. Listed at 6-3 and 275 pounds prior to the start of his redshirt freshman season, Kava saw his weight drop to 210 while on his mission. A native of Kaneohe, Hawaii, Kava was enrolled at summer school at Washington and worked out with the team over the past two months. His weigth is now back up to 275.
Stadium Renovation: The Washington athletic department announced in June the international design firm of HOK Sport + Venue + Event has been chosen to complete a conceptual Intercollegiate Athletics Facilities Study, including potential improvements to Husky Stadium. The firm will work with the University's Capital Projects Office and the athletic department to establish relevant planning goals and objectives, analyze existing and future facility needs and develop a conceptual Athletics Master Plan. The scope of the project will include Husky Stadium, Graves Annex, Washington's existing athletic facilities and surrounding areas as well as proposed projects and venues, including the planned baseball/soccer complex. A significant portion of the study will focus on site planning and will examine vehicular and pedestrian circulation, landscape, signage and lighting, as well as coordination with the upcoming Sound Transit station to be located immediately west of the Stadium. HOK S+V+E will use the services of Conventions Sports & Leisure to conduct a Market and Financial Study for Husky Stadium's renovation. The study will determine demand for a variety of amenities and seating options, and will develop financial projections and funding options for a renovation of Husky Stadium. Husky Stadium currently has a seating capacity of 72,500. Constructed in 1920, it is the fifth oldest Division I football stadium. Its original capacity was 30,000. Husky Stadium has experienced a number of expansion projects. Most recently, 13,000 seats were added in 1987 with the addition of the north upper deck and the west end was rebuilt in 1989.
The Schedule: The Washington football schedule, as noted earlier, includes several unique qualities this season. One is that the Huskies' opener, which is a road game vs. Air Force, will be played at Qwest Field in downtown Seattle, about six miles from Husky Stadium. That, coupled with the fact the Huskies' next three games in September are at home, means that the Dawgs won't have to play outside of the Emerald City until an Oct. 1 game at UCLA. After that game in Pasadena, and an off week Oct. 8, the Huskies will alternate road and home games over the final six weeks of the season.