Coach's Corner: Home against Huskies

The Wildcats have suffered two blowout losses in a row agter hanging tough three weeks in a row. The Cats get ready to host Washington, a team they've taken to the wire the past two weeks. Mike Hankwitz took the time to discuss the Wildcat football team and their recent fortunes.

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Coach Hankwitz opened the press conference by discussing the Huskies:

Mike Hankwitz: "Washington has been up and down. They lost early to Ohio State, and then
they lost to Nevada, where they turned the ball over a number of times. The
UCLA game was a tale of two games because in the first half, they appeared
to be dominating the game, but in the second half, UCLA came back and won
handily. They are playing better as of late, and they are a very talented
team. They are a team that has been playing better over the last couple of

"They have the leading receiver in the Pac-10 in Reggie Williams, and he is
one of the top receivers in the country. Then, they have (Charles) Frederick
on the other side, and between Williams and Frederick, that is a pretty
strong 1-2 punch because Williams is so good that if you try to double-team
him, the other guy has the speed to take it to the house."

"(Cody) Pickett did not play in the second half because he had headaches,
nausea and some memory loss. It will probably depend upon how fast he
recovers. But, (Casey) Paus came in during a tight game, and they won going
away with him. So, it doesn't appear that they are going to drop off
significantly (if Pickett does not play). Pickett is a veteran, especially
for a guy who has thrown for that many yards in his career. He is a tough,
hard-nosed, blue-collar quarterback."

"It will be a great challenge. We have to be able to control the passing
game and not let them get the running game going. I think our players will
be really excited about this week because the last two times we have been at
home, TCU and UCLA, we have played our best games. With Homecoming, it
should be a big crowd, and our players will feed off of that."

How do you defend a guy like Reggie Williams?

Hankwitz: "You are never going to take him away totally, but you really have to
control and not let him get big plays on you. They know they have a great
receiver, and they are moving him around to try to keep people from
overloading coverage one way or the other. They are going to a lot of empty
sets where they have five wideouts to spread the field and keep you from
putting somebody on him and bumping the heck out of him and taking away his
release. Also, by moving him around, it is hard to shift your coverage to
wherever he is because they can still throw to other guys like (Charles)
Frederick in single routes. (Cody) Pickett is very experienced in getting
the ball to people."

What are your feelings about what happened at Oregon State?

Hankwitz: "After watching our video of the Oregon State game, I really thought that
our kids went up there and played hard. We didn't go up there just to show
up. We went up there to play with effort, but unfortunately, we didn't play
and execute as well as we are capable of doing. That is something that we
have to continue to learn; it isn't just enough to go out and play hard. You
have to do it effectively if you want to win. We went up there and stopped
an excellent running back (Steven Jackson) and controlled an excellent
running back. If you had told me that we could control him like that and get
beaten like that, I would not have thought that could happen.

"We are young enough that maybe we overemphasize a certain area at times. We
stopped the run, but we didn't execute nearly as well against the pass as we
are capable of doing. We have to learn that if we are going to take away one
of their strengths, we can't let the other phase just beat us.
Unfortunately, that's what happened; we made too many mistakes in coverage,
and we didn't play aggressively enough at times. They certainly threw the
ball much more effectively, and they had excellent receivers. We should have
been in a position to contest the plays that they were able to make, and
that was frustrating."

"The thing about our players is that they kept playing, and they played much
better in the second half. It wasn't all in the fourth quarter, either. I
told them (at halftime) that it doesn't get much tougher than that because
we went out there and played hard, but we were still getting beat. We have
to learn from it and keep pushing. They did come out and play harder in the
second half. We have to build on some of that. Sometimes when we're young,
it's like we have to re-learn things, and sometimes that is frustrating, but
we are going to keep pushing. We give effort in the game, and we practice
hard, but we have to learn to practice a little harder and be more effective
to where we are able to utilize our effort in the games more effectively."

Talk about what you saw from Mike Bell.

Hankwitz: "Mike Bell continues to run well. He gets better each week, and for him to
rush for a better average than Steven Jackson is a real tribute to our
offensive line and Mike Bell. Mike had 97 of his yards in three quarters
when they still had their starters in, so it wasn't like he got them all in
the fourth quarter. He will continue to get better. He is running tough, and
he is still learning. There are still some times that he could make better
cuts, and I think he will do that."

What do you think about the way Kris Heavner is playing?

Hankwitz: "Kris (Heavner) was trying to do too much, and he was trying to win the game
by himself. He was trying to make the perfect throw all of the time. He wasn
't as reactive or as instinctive in throwing the ball like he had been, but
he played better in the second half."

You used Marcu sHollingsworth as a kick returner, how do you think he did?

Hankwitz: "I think he has a knack. He is a tough, hard-nosed guy, and he showed some
good running skills. We will give him a chance to do that some more."

How tough was last week?

Hankwitz: "It was an unusual week. In 33 years of coaching, I don't think I've ever
been anywhere where we lost five guys who started in a week. When you're
young, your players don't always know how to cope with that. They're
probably wondering what is going to happen or wondering what is next. It is
hard for young people to block that out and not think about it even though
you know you have to keep forging ahead."

"You have to just keep pushing ahead. Sometimes, the players kid me about
the quotes I use, but I believe they have a lot of credence. You can't let
what you don't have prevent you from using what you do have. We have enough;
let's take what we have and keep building on it. Let's not worry about what
we don't have or who we don't have. Let's take the guys we have and get them
to be as good as they can be and learn to compete and make the best of what
we have. Let's put stuff behind us and change the focus to us and what we're
doing. You can't dwell on it. During the season, you are going to lose guys
to injuries, but you don't expect to lose four or five in a week. You have
to take what you've got, go to work and go play."


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