Willingham Finds No Solace in Close Losses

There is no shame being edged by the conference elite. Especially when you're on the road and expectations of your team in 2006 were quite tempered. Washington head coach, who addressed the ASU media on Monday, doesn't believe in moral victories, but he does see the positives that came from the two losses to USC and last Saturday to Cal.

Q: Where does the program stand after nearly beating two of the best teams in the league?

"With two losses in the conference, I know it sounds like cliché but there are moral victories. But that's not what we're building this program on and I think our young men believe in that. It is nice to play well but it is better to play well (and win) and we didn't accomplish that so were not happy with that."

Teams mentality after tough lose to Cal?

"Well we really don't work with our teams today (Monday), and today is our off day. I'll get a batter sense of their emotional level on Tuesday. But our football team should have had a certain sense of hurt and pain, but at the same time I hope they recognize that what our program is geared on is what's next. Obviously our next opponent is a good opponent and we have to play better to be successful."

Can you talk about your Quarterback Carl Bonnell and how he has done for you?

"Well, he has had a couple of opportunities to step in and kind of clean up ball games. Coming into last week for his first start at the University of California, I thought in some areas he did a remarkable job. I thought the poise that he displayed, the leadership for our football team, the command of our football system…I'm looking forward for Carl to improve as we go into this next week because now he is more comfortable and he's at home."

The defense lead by the linebackers has been consistent for you. Can you talk about that group?

"We are in the process of growing and hopefully getting a lot better. Hopefully the last quarter of the schedule will allow us or afford that opportunity, because we expect them to display leadership from the linebacker position and we also expect great play."

What do you see in ASU's offense?

"The thing that we knew about (Rudy) Carpenter is that we knew he could really play. I don't think there is anyone in the conference that doubts the skill level of any of the offensive personal. We know that they can flat out play and that we got to be prepared for their best game, which normally for some reason the Huskies seem to bring out people's best games and we have to be prepared for that."

Can you talk about Clay walker and his play?

"Clay Walker is our starting right guard. He has been a leader both on and off the field and is a young man that I look to and our football team also looks to. He has provided that all year and I hope nothing changed."

What changes did you make on defense and how have those worked out for you?

"They really weren't changes in our defensive system. They were looked upon from the outside as changes; all we did was basically change our rotation."

Punter Sean Douglas has had an excellent year. What has he meant to the team?

"I think we probably have the best punter in the country. Shaun is doing, I think, an unbelievable job killing balls inside the 10 and inside the 20. He's doing a great job in terms of the directional punting. That is a major sacrifice for a guy who can hit balls 80, 70 yards. At some point this season he would like to probably go out and see if he could do that every time and because of his desire to have our team's success and be our team leader, he is making all the sacrifices for the team. That's what you expect out of a great punter and a great player. We are excited about him."

What are the keys for Saturday's game?

"If we have the right focus and come in the fight manner to this football game, then we have an opportunity to have one heck of a football game. I would imagine that they're going to have the same focus coming in and that will create the right type of attitude playing the game. Once you get the minds in the right place, it comes down to who can eliminate turnovers and who can be the most disciplined within their own structure. I think those will be the things that will determine the game."

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