Keith Gilbertson Press Conference - 10/6

"I've been around long enough coaching that if I don't feel good about something I have to call it off and I didn't do it." Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson was only talking about the first offensive play of the second-half of last Saturday's 46-16 debacle against UCLA. He could have been talking about the whole half, in which UW was outscored 39-0.

One could argue things 'flipped' in UCLA's direction as soon as the Bruins kicked the ball off the mark the start of the second-half. Gilbertson didn't see it that way.

"It was only 22-16 when we went the length of the field in 4 plays, then had a penalty and a turnover," he said. "That's when I would say we hit the wall. When we moved the ball in the fashion we did, it was like, 'we're alright. It's going to be 23-22 and we're pretty much back to where we were.'. That's when I thought the thing really tipped.

"We had vertical routes in the end zone. We were trying to put the ball in the end zone, and that's all he (Pickett) had left. He couldn't find anybody."

The next morning Gilbertson woke up to something he wasn't sure he was going to see.

"The darndest thing happened," he said. "The sun came up. I didn't think it would, but it did. And we get to play another game this week. We are sick about how that thing flipped on us, but we'll learn from it and we've got to go on. We've got other games to play."

Three themes were at the heart of the discussion Monday - Washington's lack of points based on production, turnovers and also their red-zone woes.

"We put up 288 yards against Stanford (in the first half) and get 14 points," Gilbertson said, addressing the first theme. "Then we put up 271 yards and 17 first downs against UCLA, the best defense statistically in the Pac-10, and have 16 points to show for it. And the one touchdown we scored was on a busted play."

In the locker room at halftime, Gilbertson wasn't telling them to keep doing the same thing. "If anything, we felt we had to get more out of these possessions," he said. "We didn't have much to show for it."

That goes hand in hand with Washington's red-zone anemia. Right now the Huskies are 8th in the Pac-10 offensively in the red zone and dead-last defensively. He talked about using the option more. "The option gives you so many more weapons because it's hard to defend, but we haven't been running a lot of it and we've also had players put the ball on the ground a couple of times in the last couple of games," Gilbertson said. "We've got to address it and find ways to fix it. Our kicker (Evan Knudson) has done a nice job for us, but it's not enough."

But what hurt the most was when the Huskies gave the ball away. The Bruins put 25 points on the scoreboard off of 4 turnovers, Washington zero points off of one, a Derrick Johnson interception. "If you take those away, you have a game like we anticipated," Gilbertson.

"We relived history (against UCLA). It's the third time in five years. 1999, 2002 and now 2003. We left another game out there. And I'm not taking anything away from Karl's team. But we just feel like we left one laying there."

Gilbertson admitted he felt star receiver Reggie Williams was taken out of the game in the second-half, but more by his own team than UCLA's adjustments. "I don't think they did a great job of covering him," he said of the Bruins' secondary. "They are basically a cover-2 team and he still was able to get 10 catches for 105 yards. There were some times where we could have gotten him the ball, but every quarterback has their progressions they have to go through and live with.

"But Reggie's in a lot of those progressions."

As it was last week, Gilbertson continued to stress just how much work the passing game needs. "Probably the place where we're not getting enough touches or catches would be the slot," he said. "It hasn't factored in like we thought it would. And fullback too. Zach (Tuiasosopo) doesn't have as many catches as we hoped he would. He really does have nice hands and is a good receiver out of the backfield."

And the assessment of his quarterback? "OK," he said of Cody Pickett's play, nonplussed. "Unbelievable first half. Took what they gave him, didn't try to force things. In the second-half, a lot of things didn't go right. It wasn't just the pass offense. He was on the money on that drive that would have given us a chance to be up 23-22. After that, we didn't do anything very well."

As a result of the second-half collapse, a lot of Dawgs were hot under the collar on the sidelines. "We didn't have any problems, just upset guys about what was going on and how it flipped on 'em," Gilbertson said. "I thought, from an emotional standpoint, we were as ready as we had ever been. We were crisp early, felt good about what was going on, and then it just flipped.

"You also see the NFL guys go off and the kids see those guys get away with it, but there won't be any more hysterics on our sidelines any more."

But even Gilbertson wasn't immune to feeling a little queezy afterward. "I was mad as hell, I was hurt by it," he said. "And I know that our players were sick and hurt about it. But I'm as excited to get with them today as I was last Monday.

He went even further, in regard to Saturday's game against Nevada. "After Saturday night, we're not overlooking anybody. We need to play a game, prepare for a game, practice and coach. You're never going to totally get your mind off it or forget it, but you need to work and get on the field again. The best part of the day is still the 2.5 hours you're out there (practicing)."

Now, to the current opponent at hand, the Wolf Pack. There are a lot of coaching ties between Gilbertson and Nevada's coaching staff, starting at the top.

Head coach Chris Tormey has two coaching stints with the Huskies under his coaching belt, one from 1980-82 as a graduate assistant and also from 1984-94 as a tight end coach, linebackers coach, secondary coach and eventually defensive coordinator.

"I was a coach when he played at Idaho under Dennis Erickson," Gilbertson said. "We've been good friends and had a lot of good times together."

Gilbertson is closest to another Nevada coach, Safeties/Rovers coach Denny Schuler. "He grew up on the same street I did. He was always the second-best athlete in the neighborhood," he said with a chuckle. "We're lifelong friends. I consider him one of my dearest friends."

The Wolf Pack have two former Husky players coaching for them currently - Receivers coach D.J. McCarthy and Offensive Line coach Dave Stromswold. "I coached him," Gilbertson said of McCarthy. "He also caught a pass against me when I was Cal that sealed a win, so I'm going to knock D.J. out in the tunnel when I see him," he added, with a bit of a grin.

Stromswold was at UW when Gilbertson was a graduate assistant.

Once again, Gilbertson is going up against old friends and coaching associates. "I've had to play against Tom Cable, Dennis Erickson and Mike Price - people that are great friends of mine," he said. "So you put that aside, you go like hell at each other, and then when it's over you still remain close friends."

What has Gilbertson seen so far of the Wolf Pack in film study? "You know they have a system and scheme where they can score points," he said of their offense. "They've been prolific when Chris has been there and Idaho was prolific when he was there.

"I've been studying them (Nevada defense) early in the week and they have a good defensive package. I've thought that for a long time. They have a lot of speed and quickness."


Notes:
Oregon State time change: TBS has picked up the Washington-Oregon State game, moving the start time back to 7:00 PM.

Two for one: Dick's drive-ins are promoting a 'two-for-one' ticket sale for this Saturday's game against Nevada as part of their 50th anniversary promotion. You can get more information by going to any one of their 5 Seattle-area locations, or go to www.ddir.com, Dick's online webpage. The first 25,000 fans to the game will receive a free antenna ball.

Ty takes on the beast: Gilbertson had this to say about recently moved DE/REB Ty Eriks - "He's a battler, a scrapper. He plays hard and throws his body around. Their left tackle (Ed Blanton) was 6-9, 354 pounds and Ty might be 240 soaking wet in his pads. But I'll take a battler and a scrapper any time. We're not very mature at those end spots right now. Manase is just in his second year of playing and Ty is in his first month of playing it."

Return change?: After a couple of ill-advised kick returns, Scott Ballew, Isaiah Stanback and Sonny Shackelford were rotated in to return kicks. "Roc and Derrick are playing a lot of snaps and need a rest from that," Gilbertson said.

Injury update: Gilbertson said that Dan Dicks, who has been hampered with some knee problems is 'full-go' for the week. "He won't do much today," Gilbertson said. Guard Tusi Sa'au will be held for today with a back strain. "He went 84, 85 snaps in the game, so it wasn't like he came out. He was sore yesterday and this morning so it will be looked at." Charles Frederick is still suffering from flu-like symptoms. "This is going into it's second week. A lot of ache, lot of leg problems. We thought it was from the flu when he was dehydrated. They will take some tests with him to see where he's at." Joe Toledo will be held today, and of the players currently down might be the only one that is held out against the Wolf Pack. "There's a chance he might play this week."

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