Game Week Returns With Idaho on Saturday

Today in the Don James Center Rick Neuheisel went through a press conference where very few questions about football were raised. "Given the events of last week, the trauma, the grief, and the cataclysmic events, we're excited to try to get back to some level of normalcy," said Neuheisel.

Neuheisel is glad to be playing football again on Saturday. "I think it is also going to be a nice way and an appropriate way to honor all those who suffered immense losses given the last week and the events therein. I am excited about playing, thankful that we get the opportunity and certainly looking forward to getting back on track. This has been a strange set of circumstances and I'm proud of how our guys have handled this."

"It's definitely brought us closer, we're very lucky to be coaching these young men," said Neuheisel.

Starting MIKE Linebacker Jamaun Willis visibly slumped in his chair when describing last week's events. "Nothing like this has ever happened during my lifetime. My parents went through the Vietnam War, but this was an event that happened over the course of a couple of hours. It's just devastating to the whole world."

"Football is just a game. Life is precious and sometimes things like this have to remind us that we can't take things for granted. Those people in New York went to work just like any other day, and who would know that would happen? It was unreal," said Willis.

Now Willis must prepare for the game on Saturday, as he is the quarterback of the defense. He'll do so with a different focus. "I think this causes us to focus even more. You have to separate the game from life and just cherish every moment that you have. With what happened to us last year with Curtis (Williams) put everything into perspective as far as football is concerned. The latest events put life into perspective in general. I know that I'm focused a lot more on cherishing every moment I have here because it could be over just like that."

Idaho has a balanced, West Coast style offense that gave Washington some trouble last season. Willis believes that the defense will get everything ironed out this week. "Idaho has some good players. Their quarterback is a good player and we're just looking forward to playing. All we want to accomplish is to get better. That's our goal in every game, to get better."

Starting SAM Linebacker Anthony Kelley reflected on last week in a very hushed tone. "It's been very hectic. With everything that is going on it's been hard to focus on football. There are more important things going on, but the coaches are doing a good job of keeping us honed in. I think that losing our fans last week is going to make us play real hard this Saturday," said Kelley in reference to the plane crash in Mexico that took the lives of 16 Husky fans that had traveled to see the UW vs. Miami game.

"You definitely learn how to appreciate things more. Even though it happened on the other side of the country it still has an effect on all of us. And losing Husky fans on top of that is a double blow. You learn to appreciate waking up in the morning and coming to practice and not worrying about your family being trapped in a building somewhere. It really opens your eyes. Seeing things like that here in the United States … I still haven't gotten over that yet so I haven't been able to get into practice."

After a sizable pause, Kelley added, "We lost our fans and I know that they would want us to go out and have an awesome season, so that is where I'm drawing my inspiration to get through each day."

Starting Tight End Jerramy Stevens is trying to put on his game face to get through the adversity. "I think it's been a week like no other. We have so many other things to think about besides football, that's very different from normal. It's been a hard time and a confusing time, but now I think it's time to do what we came here to do, and that's play football. I don't know that there's anything else that we can do."

"Losing some of our fans gives us another reason to play hard and push even harder in the fourth quarter. If that's what we can do to make those people proud, than that's what we need to do."

"I think we're looking to be a little more fluent on offense," said Stevens about recent practices. "We've had more time to work on it, now it's time to put together the whole package of offense, defense, and special teams, and play the best that we can. We got into pads four times last week and banged a lot, so now we're ready to polish it up this week."

Defensive captain Larry Tripplett shook his head very slowly before talking about what's been going through his mind. "It's been rough, man. I'll be honest, it's been emotionally draining. It feels good to get back to playing some football. It's been very hard."

As a senior, Tripplett takes his leadership role to another level this week. "In these situations, the seniors really have to help the rest of the team to focus. It's an unspoken rule around here. We're in a situation where we want to put our minds somewhere else so what you do is put it on the task at hand. For us, that's playing Idaho on Saturday."

"You know, I will never be able to forget those fans that won't be here. They'll never leave my mind or my heart, but right now I want to focus in on playing Idaho and getting back into a routine of playing these games."

Washington hopes to improve on their defensive showing last year, when Idaho was able to have some success through the air. "Idaho is a very good team with an outstanding quarterback. We're going to put some things in to get after him this week," said Tripplett.
Husky Notebook:

Sublett returns: Former UW graduate assistant Tarn Sublett is the wide receivers coach for Idaho. He knows the UW offensive signals and sets about as well as anyone can. "He has very detailed information on our personnel. We may have to change the way we communicate a bit this weekend," said Neuheisel.

Hedges asks for help: UW Athletic Director Barbara Hedges asked for the help of all Husky fans to ensure that everyone has a good time at the game on Saturday. "We're asking for our fans to help us. If you see anything out of the ordinary, please report it. The climate in America has now changed. I know our fans and I know that they'll help out. I anticipate no problems at all on Saturday."

Get here early: Hedges also requested that fans NOT bring large bags, coolers, bottles, etc… into Husky Stadium. Anyone carrying in a bag will be asked to empty the contents for viewing before entering the stadium. For that reason, Husky fans should expect for it to take longer to enter the Stadium and should arrive earlier than usual.

In memory: Washington will memorialize the 16 Husky fans that were killed in a plane crash in Mexico, as well as a former UW ban member that died in England, at halftime this Saturday. Additionally, the school will hold a memorial service in Hec-Ed beginning at 7:30PM on Wednesday for the victims of the crash and their families. The doors will open at 7:00PM.

Schedule Change: Barbara Hedges and Miami Athletic Director Paul Dees have reached an agreement to make up the postponed game on Saturday November 24th. The time is to be announced, pending ABC's schedule.

School Days: Rick Neuheisel took in two high school games last weekend, watching Auburn play Kentwood and then Garfield play Eastlake. He called it "extremely therapeutic" to be at those games. Washington is recruiting Garfield QB Isaiah Stanback and Kentwood Quarterback Carl Bonnell. Running backs coach Tony Alford was in Tacoma watching Clover Park, where Husky recruiting target Shelton Sampson plays.

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