August 19, 2008

Coach Quotes and Practice Notes - 08/19/2008

Notes:

Sophomore defensive tackle Cameron Elisara was absent for yesterday's afternoon practice. Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham addressed the issue.

"Tending to some academic issues," explained Willingham. "Once those are completed, he'll be right back on the field. The probability is that yes, he will be back today."

Willingham touched on yesterday's practice.

"I thought it was a good day for us. I also thought yesterday was a good followup to it, because usually Monday is that kind of vacation day that's very difficult to recover from. I thought we put in two good practices," expressed Willingham. "Understand when I say that, I'm not saying that everything was perfect. There's still a lot of growth and there's still a lot of learning that we need to do, but I was very pleased with the attitude, the approach, the intensity that took place on the field."

Freshman defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu suffered a broken foot during his senior season, and the injury has been bothering him recently, holding him out of practice yesterday. Willingham discussed the issue when asked if the coaching staff is being more cautious with the big lineman.

"I don't think anymore than what we anticipated. Again, his situation is very similar to Juan's [Garcia] in my mind. Those are big men with injuries that I'm not sure we're ready to say precisely what their timetables are," explained Willingham. "Based on the fact that when you're that size, I don't think the world is quite graduated to an in depth understanding of what injuries mean to a man that size. I think we kind of anticipated that. We come in being very cautious, and I think we're pretty much on schedule."




Tyrone Willingham Quotes:

Willingham discussed which of running backs, wide receivers or defensive linemen are easier to coach when comprised of youth.

"Probably the easiest is the running back position, simply because half of their game is just very natural, based on the physical talents. But they're all still very complex, because it's very difficult for a young running back to perform if you don't have understanding of the pass game, the protection and blocking skills. It's not easy on any of them, but if you just eliminated the game, the one skill can kind of carry itself. I'd say d-line is pretty tough because I've always said the game is played the fastest there, because there's basically inches that separate the guys. Decisions have to be made very quickly there, so because of that, the game is a lot faster and there are a lot of decisions that are made in that very short amount of time."

Willingham responded when asked if this is the youngest team he's ever coached.

"I don't know. Go play is what I usually say, so I haven't looked at it to see how it ranks in terms of that. But the one thing that you do have - youth does bring some very good things with it. They're unscarred, they come into it very fresh. They come into it very aggressive, very competitive, so there's some really great things that they bring to the table."

Willingham discussed Washington's young skill position players further.

"Obviously I thought last year at running back, Louis Rankin did a pretty outstanding job. I think you're looking at that corp of [Johri] Fogerson being a young guy, you're looking at [David] Freeman being a young guy, you're looking at [Chris] Polk being in that mix and some other places. They bring a natural competitiveness to it. They bring numbers to us, and that helps from the standpoint of now you get rest, but yet you get competition. They're energy, their speed - those things add up to be a real positive for us. Receivers, it's the same thing. You're just starting to see some of those guys come in with a fresh mindset, the ability to make plays. It's just a matter of them understanding the system, but they come in as kind of natural competitors."

One would expect sophomore quarterback Jake Locker to take a step back, even if it's small, after missing nearly two weeks with a hamstring injury. Willingham discussed the topic.

"He's still limited. We'll be day-to-day with him but very cautious about what we do. We know hamstrings can take some time, but we've said all along, it will just be day-to-day, steady progress with him. I thought for what he did yesterday, he looked pretty good."

When asked if Locker needs to show that he's 100 percent by the time the season opener roles around, Willingham responded:

"The key thing is to have him as close to full speed as possible, because even if he had not had a hamstring injury, the chances of most of the guys being 100 percent for gameday - it's kind of remote. There's always something nagging you or pulling you back. We'll do the right things and we'll take it in that step-by-step, day-by-day process."

Willingham has said numerous times this fall that the younger players must play older if the Huskies are to have success this season. Willingham addressed that thought when asked if he feels the younger guys are in fact playing older.

"I think you can see it in practice. I think you can see it by some of the plays they are making, how familiar they're becoming with the system, how quick they're mastering some skills that usually takes some time. But I think this group is doing very well. I think I've said from day one, that they came in and kind of asserted themselves - a lot of the young guys, right off the bat. I said they did very well. I think it was in their physical conditioning test, which is one way of kind of gaining some idea of where they've been mentally in terms of their preparation. Now they seem to be handling the playbook and most of the things fairly well."

The University of Oregon is closing in on a decision of who it's starting quarterback is going to be. Willingham had this to say when asked if the Ducks' decision has an effect on the Huskies:

"It always does, you'd like to know. It gives you a better look at the what the skills of that individual are. So if you can have that information, it's better to know. I would think, and I think they've said this, they are excited about playing us the first fall game because it gives them time to prepare for our quarterback and our system. Obviously you need that time to prepare for their system, and the sooner we can figure out who that quarterback is, what his strengths are, the better we can kind of pinpoint what we can do and what we think will work."

When asked how tough it is to keep freshman running back Johri Fogerson focused on his position when he has the ability to play defensive back, Willingham responded:

"It's not, because we've kept him on offense. He hasn't done anything with defense. That could probably be a good fist fight with our coaches, to see which side would win and get him. But I think he's really showed himself as a really talented guy, and he's doing well at running back."

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