Keith Gilbertson Press Conference - 10/13

Whether it's getting back to the drawing board, re-evaluating the situation, or even the time to "right the ship," the Washington Huskies have heard all the clichés and find themselves coming off of a disappointing loss for the second weekend in a row. To make things harder, next up is the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. The Beavers find themselves sitting at the top of the Pac-10 standings and ranked No. 21 in the nation.

Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson met with the media for his weekly press conference and reflected on the past 48 hours and gave the heads up as to what to expect this week against the Beavers.

The Beavers are coming off of a bye week and have the momentum in their favor. Oregon State has the Pac-10's top-ranked offense (473.2 yds/game) and top-ranked defense (308.0 yds/game). On top of that, Heisman Trophy candidate tailback Steven Jackson has been an absolute terror to opposing defenses, averaging 146.2 yards a game with 10 touchdowns on the season. Quarterback Derek Anderson seems to have finally found his stride this season, which makes the Beavers' running game even more of a threat.

On the other side of the ball, Richard Seigler, who Gilbertson referred to as the "best defensive player in the conference" and Bill Swancutt will give Washington their money's worth.

But the first thing that must be addressed are the areas that led to Washington's downfall the past two weeks.

When asked what kind of message he gave to his team after the loss to Nevada, Gilbertson replied, "The message is you have to get up and keep going. It's been a real tough 48 hours but you have to go on and look at it, fix what you can fix and go like hell."

For the Huskies, it has been the second consecutive weekend where they left the stadium on Saturday with a bad taste in their mouths. The loss to UCLA the previous week was bad enough, but the loss to Nevada at home only worsened the wounds that were there and Gilbertson offered some explanation as to what he noticed after reviewing the game film.

"Well I think the thing that just jumps out at you when you watch the film overall is that we really were just not out there flying around the field," he said. "We weren't flying out and attacking people. We seemed to be on our heels quite a bit.

"The things that kill us are number one, the red zone offense and defense," said Gilbertson. "When we get in, we don't score touchdowns, and when the other team gets in there, they score. Red Zone offense and defense is a huge, huge factor." Washington ranks last in the Pac-10 in both red zone offense and defense. The Huskies have only scored in 68% of their opportunities from 20 yards and out and allowed their opponents a whopping 94% scoring percentage on their opportunities.

"Secondly would be turnovers," said Gilbertson. "Thirteen turnovers in the last three games and obviously 10 in the last two games, plus you count the (blocked) field goals...that's 16 turnovers. No one is going to survive that. I don't care how talented you are. Tampa Bay (Buccaneers) could not survive that. It's killing us." With only 10 takeaways and 17 turnovers thus far in the season, their -7 differential happens to rank last in the conference in the turnover margin.

Gilbertson also pointed out that whenever the Huskies seemed to have found a spark with a big play or a big return, things get "nullified" with a penalty or a turnover which kills the drives and makes the team take a giant step back. "We are just shooting ourselves in the foot and beating ourselves," he said. "And that's cost us two football games."

Another area of frustration was the blocked field goals. Nevada blocked three field goals in a row and whether it was because Nevada just had a superior rush or Even Knudson's kicks were not getting the height, it remains a mystery. "We didn't have an answer for it obviously," said Gilbertson regarding the blocked field goals. "We even tried to change up personnel and it still didn't happen. It was BS. I'm not blaming it on the players. Any time it happens three times in a row, that's our fault. They just ran guys up the field and we couldn't stop them. We just couldn't stop them.

"He (Knudson) has hit me in the head a couple times during practice," said Gilbertson with a laugh. "I think that may be a contributing factor, He does not kick a high ball but he's got a good leg. I think the guy has done a marvelous job. And when they're not blocked, they go through." However Gilbertson did mention that Michael Braunstein may get another chance and that he will travel with the team to Corvallis as insurance.

Gilbertson added that it was more of the protection rather than Knudson's low ball style that led to the miscues. "I thought the protection was horrible. That was my fault. That's our coaches' fault. We couldn't get it solved, and it's an embarrassment and I'm embarrassed as hell about it."

The pass protection also has to step up for the Huskies. Washington allowed too many white jerseys in the backfield. Nevada sacked Cody Pickett eight times last Saturday and contributed to another poor outing by the senior quarterback. Rest assured, Oregon State's defense will try everything possible to disrupt the Huskies line this week to produce more of the same results.

"Somebody has to block these guys," said Gilbertson. "That's the only way you're going to improve and move the ball steady. We've got to block these people better than we have done. You get sacked eight times in a game and get pressured all game and everybody wants to raise hell about the quarterback. That guy has been under duress. That pocket is collapsing and it's not as good as it should be and that guy has not been going through his progressions.

"We have not been able to protect the passer the last two weeks."


Notes:
Injury Updates: According to Gilbertson, several Huskies will be held out for precautionary reasons for the early part of this week. Reggie Williams, Roc Alexander, Tim Galloway, and Ben Bandel are all resting minor injuries. Tusi Sa'au and Joe Toledo's back injuries are still being examined while Justin Robbins on the other hand, will have an MRI for his swollen knee this afternoon. Gilbertson added that he was "not very optimistic" at this point on Robbins' knee.

TV: Saturday's game against Oregon State will be broadcast live on TBS as their game of the week at 7pm.

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