Keith Gilbertson press conference - 9/1

When asked if he was going to have any sentimental thoughts about coaching his first home game as Washington's new head coach this Saturday, Keith Gilbertson showed his soft side. Just a little bit.

"Well, I hope we play better," Gilbertson said Monday afternoon during his press conference. "That's as sentimental as I get."

After having to fly home with their collective tails between their legs, Washington is looking for a punching bag, and the Indiana Hoosiers will perhaps be the salve they can use to heal their wounds. The Huskies played hard, but lost in convincing fashion to Ohio State Saturday night in front of over 105,000 Buckeye faithful and millions watching on national television.

There will be a national audience tuning in this coming Saturday to see the Huskies and Hoosiers square off, and Gilbertson is expecting his team to bounce back. "The focus for us now is that we have to get better every week. And I think our guys have a great sense of that. They are anxious to get back on the practice field. Every aspect needs improving. We need to take everything up a notch and a level. There's nothing we're satisfied with. There's lots of work that has to get done.

"I was disappointed but I'm not discouraged."

He's hoping his players come back even more ready to do what they have to do to take that next step after having their weaknesses exposed in dramatic fashion. "I think mostly it has to come from the athlete," Gilbertson said about wanting to improve and get better. "They have to want to get better. Coaches will be relentless in their coaching. If the guy will take coaching and wants to get better, we'll give them every opportunity. But most of it is intrinsic. It has to come from the athlete themself. You can push them to a point, but it mostly has to come from them."

Any notion of a letdown during the next few home games was quickly quelled by Gilbertson. "There will be none of that," he said emphatically. "We will respect everybody we line up against."

Gilbertson said that he had not seen film of Indiana yet and wouldn't be seeing any until Monday afternoon, so most of the press conference centered around last Saturday night. "Ohio State is a great, great, talented football team," he said. "Everyone saw that and knows that. I have a lot of respect for them and they are immensely talented. They are deep at every position and so experienced. We're not quite there yet, but that doesn't mean we can't get there."

Because of what happened with the offensive line, there have been some changes to the two-deeps for this Saturday's game. Todd Bachert, a 6-4, 300-pound senior from Mission Viejo, California, who was slated to back up Dan Dicks at Ohio State, has won his job back after his performance against the Buckeyes. Gilbertson lauded Bachert's effort.

"Todd Bachert played very well and was far and away the best in that game," he said. "At weak guard we need both Dan (Dicks) and Clay (Walker) there. Dan has a little more experience, and Clay did some good things on Saturday. And we'll keep the competition alive at the other guard spot (between Tusi Sa'au and Rob Meadow). But Bachert played well and clearly won the job."

The only other spot being contested in Washington's official two-deeps is the defensive end position, where neither Graham Lasee nor Dan Milsten were able to separate themselves with their play.

Gilbertson did mention some specific players and commended them on the effort they gave against Ohio State. "Roc Alexander played about as well as he as ever played at Washington," he said. "He had a fine game." Joe Lobendahn, Scott White and Jimmy Newell as others that did some 'fine things' on defense, while Reggie Williams, Charles Frederick and Cody Pickett were singled out on offense.

Overall, 21 newcomers got their first snaps. Tahj Bomar, a 6-2, 215-pound freshman linebacker from Kent, made his first plane trip ever and then made the first tackle of the season for the Huskies on the opening kickoff at Ohio State. It was inexperience that cost the Huskies somewhat, but Gilbertson feels the lessons learned by the youngsters will make this team that much better down the road.

"For instance, not having Chris Singleton meant Rich (Alexis) had to carry the ball a lot more than we would have liked him to," he said. "He went something like 78-80 snaps, which was too many. Ideally we would like to go to a 3-1 or a 3-1-1 (ratio) with the other backs, but they need reps too and the other things that concern you would be pass protection and blitz pickups. When Kenny James made that run, he totally missed the scheme. It was a designed outside run. So instead of having a first-and-ten, we're out of another drive.

"And that's just repetition. And our guys will get a lot of repetitions this week. They'll get more than what they've had. And Rich will be slowed Monday and Tuesday by a quad contusion, so those kids will get lots of work."

Gilbertson had much the same things to say about the freshman receiving corps. "They had that look in their eyes like they were in the prime time and those guys in red on the other side of the field look pretty good. They didn't get a lot of chances. Bobby (Whithorne) ran a route wrong and put himself in traffic when he didn't have to.

"They played like freshmen, and that's how I expected them to play. That is a daunting thing to do - play in front of 105,000 people their very first game against the national champs. For 21 guys, they'll be telling their grandchildren about it. It's an unbelievable experience. And I'm glad we did it.

"I think it was good for us to get into a situation where it's that hostile, that tough, and sometimes for youngsters like that, that intimidating. That is really good for your team."

The special teams were a pleasant surprise for the Huskies Saturday considering their lack of experience, but Gilbertson is looking for a lot more. "Sean Douglas has the best leg, but Garth Erickson did some really nice things in that game," he said of his two punters. "I'm still looking for a better net-punt average, and better hang time that will help us cover. But Garth was a real positive."

Evan Knudson had a field goal blocked, one Gilbertson believes he could have laid a hand on. - "The last field goal time was 1.47 (from snap to kick). I could get there and block that. And we were timing their people and their kicks were getting off at 1.16. Their snapper was so fast you could not get there.

"And that's another part of the game - field position. They were getting their punts off at 1.96 (seconds) and their punter had three kicks that had a hang time of over 5 seconds. So it's frustrating when you're looking for some help with field position because your offense is struggling on and their punter puts you right back out of field position."

More stats for Reggie: Reggie Williams is second in the country in receptions after week one, averaging 10 per game. P.J. Fleck, of Northern Illinois, leads the country.

Not so fast, my friend...: UW is 0-2 lifetime against Indiana, losing 20-13 in 1976 and 14-7 in 1978. Lee Corso, who now covers college football for ESPN, was the Hoosiers' coach in both games.

Roster expansion: Monday, Washington's roster expanded to 115, including the following returnees: WR Sterling Brown, PK Ricardo DoValle, PK Ben Hoefer, P Lucas Michener, and OG T.J. Orthmeyer. Also joining them are five more true freshmen walk-ons: Jake Darling, a 5-9, 175-pound safety from Snohomish, Dan Foafoa, a 6-0, 220-pound linebacker from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln, Ben Heubschman, a 6-3, 215-pound QB from Vancouver (Wash.) Mt. View, Chris Rohrbach, a 6-1, 175-pound WR from Lynnwood (Wash.) Meadowdale and Jordan Stair, a 6-1, 180-pound QB/ATH from Des Moines (Wash.) Mount Rainier.

The experience continues: The "Washington Football Experience" will air again each Thursday during the season on Fox Sports Northwest (schedule subject to change based on Mariners broadcasts). This is the second season for the "Experience".

Family ties: IU head coach spent a number of years at Colorado, but never coached alongside any of Washington's current coaches. The only coaching staff that had coaches from both teams was Purdue, from 1979 to 1981. IU defensive coordinator Tim Kish coached with current Husky defensive line coach Randy Hart on that staff. Husky DT Terry Johnson lived in Gary, Indiana as a youngter before moving to Tempe, Arizona as a teenager.

Home openers: Washington is 82-24-5 all time in their home openers. Keith Gilbertson is 5-2 in home openers as a head coach. Top Stories