"I've been there before," Hill said Monday. "There are a lot of good football teams that are winless right now. I think the 49'ers are a pretty good football team. And I've been 0-5 before too. You just have to realize why you are in coaching and that everybody's got an opinion about you but that doesn't mean they are true. I know Coach (Gilbertson) will continue to improve. You can see it. We have a great challenge ahead of us. We have to play for a full sixty minutes and the records can go out the window."
The Spartans head up to Seattle this Saturday to face the Washington
Huskies in a game not picked up by television this week. That means
a start time of 12:30 PM at Husky Stadium. A Fox Sports Northwest
replay will be shown at 3PM Sunday
For Huskies' Head Coach Keith Gilbertson, this game marks a milestone:
his 100th game as a head coach. His career record stands at 54-45.
"Time sure flies when you're having a good time," Gilbertson said, joking
a little bit. "I'll have a little cupcake or something at the end of
Don't expect the Huskies to be looking at the 2-2 Spartans as their
cupcake, a game Gilbertson was hoping could have been played earlier
in the year.
"I don't think it's a good time to play a non-conference game," he said.
"We should be getting those out of the way sooner and then start our
conference play right around when school starts. But that's the hand we
were dealt, so that's how we play 'em."
With no national significance attached to this game, it becomes a matchup
of perspective. The Huskies are reeling after losing to Stanford on the
road 27-13. UW is currently 47-5 against Bay Area teams since 1977, a
stat that makes the loss to the Cardinal all the more discouraging.
"You can't do anything by thinking you can't do something," Gilbertson
said stoically. "Confidence may be an issue for us right now, but we
definitely are talking to our team about it. We do quite a few things,
behind-the-scenes stuff that's nobody else's business. It's not an exact
science. Everybody has a different outlook, so you hope you are appealing
to most of the players, the team core.
"I like what I do, but it's not like every day is a day at the Comedy Club
right now. But I can't get down on what's going on, because that kind of stuff
transcends to the staff and that can't happen. Unless you are Miami, who
seems to reload every five minutes, or Florida State or Texas, these things
run in cycles. You see it across the country. And with the numbers and
limitations and also the core course issues and qualifying, it's happening
Hill used some visual effects to show just how much appreciation the
Spartans should have for where they are at and what they do.
"I was able to get some pictures of what happened during Desert Storm
and Iraq, and I showed them to our team" said Hill. "Then I told them that
that's what they could be doing, so we've got to take advantage of all the
opportunities we're given. We have an opportunity to come to Husky
Stadium and play a football game in beautiful surroundings.
"We try to accentuate the positives. When we go out there we play,
and play hard. Whatever happens after that, happens."
Whatever 'happened' to San Jose State last weekend is now part of the official
NCAA record book. Down 34-7 in the second quarter to Rice, the Spartans
stormed back to eventually win 70-63, the most points ever scored in a regulation
"They have flat speed at receiver," Gilbertson said of SJSU. "They got behind
and started throwing it deep and had touchdowns from 74 and 64 yards. They can
hit big balls from long range."
Rice ran up 570 yards rushing against the Spartans, but Gilbertson doesn't think
he'll be able to steal anything from Owls' Head Coach Ken Hatfield this week.
"They run an offense like some of the academies do, more like a wishbone double wing,"
he said. "The kinds of option they run is much different than what we do."
"They are very similar," Hill said when asked about the team he's bringing in
Saturday compared to the one he had in 2002. That Spartan team led UW at halftime
before eventually losing 34-10. The Huskies have never lost to the Spartans, going
8-0 all-time in the series. "We are again starting a lot of new people, but
we are not as experienced on the offensive line. With four players now
in the NFL from that team, you could also say we aren't as talented as
that team was."
Those kinds of numbers appear to give Washington some solace, but they better not
be looking past anybody this year. "We went into halftime behind, so there will be
no mystery about what I'm going to say to the team," said Gilbertson. "They have
athletes with speed, but we've worked against them before. In that aspect, we know
the lay of the land."
But does he know his own? With two team captains - Charles Frederick and Khalif Barnes - out against Stanford, and another - Derrick Johnson - injured against the
Cardinal, things are looking younger and younger for the Huskies.
One thing is for sure - quarterback Carl Bonnell will make his second career start
against the Spartans. "I thought he did some real nice things," Gilbertson said
of the second-year QB from Kentwood. Bonnell went 9-25 for 118 yards and one
interception before being pulled for Casey Paus in the fourth quarter Saturday. "The
only throw he would want to take back was the one in the fourth quarter where he
threw back against the grain. That was inexperience. But he didn't do anything to
not be the starter. It was a pretty good grind for him. Stanford made him
run around and they got some hits on him.
Bonnell suffered some headaches through the middle of yesterday as well as some
general soreness, but he'll be one-hundred percent when the Spartans come to town.
Gilbertson took time out to praise his backup QB, Casey Paus. "He's very good at
that (coming off the bench)," he said of the junior from New Lenox, Illinois. "It's
just always one of those situations where he does a nice job."
And Isaiah Stanback? "He'll be full-speed today," Gilbertson said of the sophomore
from Seattle. "He'll be the third quarterback. We'll let him compete at quarterback.
At other positions, I don't see that happening."
The status of Johnson, suffering from a groin strain, is unknown for right now.
"He'll be limited in what he does and we'll wait for a decision to be made until
Wednesday," said Gilbertson. "We won't know on Charles (Frederick) until Tuesday or so."
If Johnson can't go, Matt Fountaine would get his first career start playing
opposite Sam Cunningham. Dre Simpson and Cody Ellis would be in the two-deeps.
The only other move in the depth chart is at rush end, where true frosh Greyson Gunheim
will compete with Brandon Ala for the start. "He's improving all the time," Gilbertson
said of Gunheim.
The biggest question mark coming out of the Stanford loss from the offensive side of the
ball was the play of the receivers and tight ends, who dropped at least half a dozen
passes that they got their hands on. "Well, you can beat them up about it, but we won't
do that," Gilbertson said. "We've had some of the same problems in practice too, but it's
not like they don't want to catch it. And I'll give Stanford some credit here too. They
made it hard for our guys to get open, we had a definite problem doing that."
Something Husky fans might see more of is the offense running exclusively out of the
shotgun, although Gilbertson doesn't expect them to completely scrap the rest of the
offense. "It's something that Carl runs well and it fits James'(Sims) style of play,"
Gilbertson said. "I suppose you could run a majority of your offense from it, but if
you look at Utah and Missouri, they have a lot more running plays for the quarterback
- like powers, counters and what we call 'wraps'. They also use a lot more receivers
and have a lot more open sets. We've been through so many receivers that I'm not sure
how much more we can do."
Defensively, the run defense had their lapses again, but they weren't UCLA-sized snafus.
While Stanford ran 31 times for 81 yards, it was the other three rushes for 150 yards
that spelled the difference. "We have guys that overrun plays, don't stay in their gaps,"
But Gilbertson was also quick to praise linebacker Scott White for his play on Saturday.
The third-year player from Lemon Grove, California had 15 tackles against the Cardinal.
"He's had two fine games back-to-back," Gilbertson said of White's play. "He had the flu
at Stanford, but he sure came to play."
Keith Gilbertson Press Conference - 10/4
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