Keith Gilbertson Press Conference - 10/11

By far it wasn't the prettiest, but it's a win and the Washington Huskies are still in no position to be picky when it comes to W's. After their 21-6 win over San Jose State, the Huskies find themselves at 1-4 and still looking for their first conference win. On Saturday, one-third of the Northwest rivals in Oregon State (1-4 overall, 0-1 conference) will visit Husky Stadium also looking for their first conference win after a bye week.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley

Oregon State coach Mike Riley joined in from the conference line to give a few thoughts on his team and season. Like Washington, the Beavers have not found much success in the first half of the season and they are looking for a spark to turn their season around.

"We've had a rough first half of the season, I'm hoping that our bye week came at a good time for us to take a deep breath and go forward," said Riley. "Certainly looking forward to playing better football and improving and I think that we're going to have two teams involved here that both need a win badly."

The Beavers season started out very dramatically with a 22-21 loss at then-No.3 LSU. Since then, the Beavers lost three out of their next four with losses to Boise State 53-34, Arizona State 27-14, and California 49-7. Oregon State is ranked last in the Pac-10 in scoring defense, allowing 31.6 points per game.

"In defense of our defense, so to speak," said Riley, "We've been playing on a lot of short fields. We've given up more than our share of big plays which has probably been our biggest problem. We'll go in spurts and do a good job then give up a big play which has been our achilles heel for sure."

"We got waxed and Cal beat us in every phase of the game," said Riley when asked about the Bears' 49-7 romp over OSU in Corvallis. "That was a very disappointing game and to give them credit, they are a very good team. After the Cal game, we're obviously very down but we came back last week and practiced three days. As the week went on we had more and more enthusiasm and had some fun playing football without having a game on top of it. Our kids are excited about redeeming themselves."

On offense, the Beavers have quite a few weapons. Former walk-on Mike Haas leads the Pac-10 with 38 catches and 120 yards per game receiving. He is also in the top six nationally in those categories.

"Mike is a great story and he's an awfully good player," Riles said of the junior receiver. "He's got a lot of intangibles but he's also got some tangibles. He can catch the ball and he's a little quicker and stronger than people anticipate which allows him to make quite a few yards after the catch. He's been tremendously productive for us."

At quarterback, Derek Anderson will get his third shot at beating the Huskies. The talented but often erratic senior QB for the Beavers leads the Pac-10 with 287.4 yards per game. However he also leads the conference with interceptions (9). He will face a Washington pass defense that is tops in the conference and allows 157.8 yards per game.

"Derek has played some awfully good football and had his moments and he's kind of gone like our whole offense has gone," said Riley. "We're a mixed bag of young and old and at times some of our inexperience shows so he obviously suffers from that. He's hanging in there and looking forward to rebounding. Our biggest problem has been running the ball. That would help everything go better if we can run better." The Beavers rank last in conference with only 67.6 yards per game."

Assessing Oregon State

Washington coach Keith Gilbertson agreed to what Riley said in regards to needing wins "badly."

"We both have had our struggles," said Gilbertson. "We're both winless in conference and both teams would like to change that. He's absolutely correct."

Gilbertson talked about the game last season when the Huskies went down to Corvallis to play an Oregon State team that was on somewhat of a roll. They had just entered the rankings and were undefeated in conference. It was also the game where senior receiver Charles Frederick set the Huskies' record for all-purpose yards in a single game with 371, leading the Dawgs to a 38-17 win.

"It wasn't one of Steven Jackson's better games," said Gilbertson in regards to the former Beavers tailback. "So we were able to hold him down which I thought was essential because he is such a dominant player."

Gilbertson also knows that Derek Anderson can be a dangerous with his arm and that he is capable of lighting up the sky with major yardage.

"Anderson is more experienced and we've got to defend him and the receivers and find a way to get some rush to him, which is probably something we struggle with more than we like."

With the Huskies passing game on a major slump, things will not get any easier against an Oregon State secondary that allows opponents to complete passes at an anemic 44-percent clip.

"This week will be a real test in that Oregon State has really fine corners in Brandon Browner and Aric Williams," said Gilbertson. "They are a great tandem and they can really cover, they are big, and fast. Last year was the first time I saw Browner and he was nose-to-nose with Reggie (Williams). Their corners are excellent."

Team news

With Carl Bonnell out with a groin injury, that will bring Casey Paus off the bench again to start against the Beavers. Isaiah Stanback has also recovered well enough to be practicing full speed to back up Paus. Gilbertson also said that they will run the same offense for Paus that they ran for Bonnell.

"Casey Paus is number one, Isaiah Stanback is number two, and Carl Bonnell is on the injured list with a groin injury and it probably wouldn't be until at least Thursday until we see him," he said. "We have not had much success with rapid recoveries from groin injuries so (Carl) won't be doing much this week." However, Gilbertson did not completely rule out seeing Bonnell on Saturday.

Bonnell's groin injury adds to an already long list of players that have missed time. Derrick Johnson sat out the San Jose State game with the same injury he suffered at Stanford, but could be back for this Saturday.

"We got a few (injuries) at Stanford. That's where Derrick injured his and that's kind of when Carl started," said Gilbertson. "I don't know if it was the surface being different than ours but I don't know. All the injuries seem to come in bunches. Dashon (Goldson) has been slowed by a groin injury also so you've got two or three significant groin injuries.

"Derrick Johnson has had four days off. We'll go light with him today and get him more and more work as the week goes on."

Frederick may also be able to go full speed at practice this week. Frederick played a few snaps against San Jose State but was obviously very limited. His absence was not only felt by the receiving corps, but on special teams. The Huskies rank lasting Pac-10 with only four punt returns for a total of 10 yards. (2.5 yards per punt return)

"We have to wait and see what he's like," Gilbertson said of ET. "He was just barely there on Saturday. I have to wait and see probably until Tuesday or Wednesday to see where he's at. So we won't see Charles until then to see what he can do. But I would love to have him return punts because we have no punt returns so far. We really need to generate some yardage that way."

Gilbertson went on to praise his defense for their effort against San Jose State. Most noticeably, the Huskies kept the Spartans out of the end zone and made a huge stop on fourth-and-one at the goal line.

"The defense did a nice job keeping them out of the end zone, and they had a lot of red zone opportunities," said Gilbertson. "Special teams were probably not in some areas quite as good but I thought (Anthony) Russo hit some creases in a couple of kickoffs, which was good."

The youngsters on the defensive line continue to receive praise from their head coach as well. "I think he did fine," Gilbertson said of Greyson Gunheim. The true freshman had his first career start at defensive end. "Greyson is going to be a really fine player. He and Jordan White-Frisbee, and Erick Lobos have done some nice things on the defensive line."

The influx of young talent on the line is a blessing because Mike Mapuolesega is still not 100 percent. Mapuolesega has been out since the UCLA game and there was talk that he could be back by next week but Gilbertson did not see that happening.

"I don't know if he can do anything," he said. "He wasn't looking very good. I don't count on Mapuolesega yet. I haven't seen him do anything." Mapuolesega came out and warmed up on Saturday but did not look any better for Gilbertson to consider playing him in the near future. "He just felt his leg was too tight and wasn't ready to go."

On offense, the biggest woe has to be the amount of dropped passes. The young receivers have been dropping way too many passes that has severely hindered the Washington throwing attack. When asked what the Huskies can do better to improve their offense, Gilbertson was very frank.

"Catch the football," he said quickly. "We lead the world in drops. We've had some drops that ended up in someone else's hands and went the other way. The first order of business would be to catch the football. We've had guys that were open and had plenty of drops.

"They are catching the football from the time they go out (for practice) until the time they leave the field and if it wasn't for the 20 hour rule, some of them would still be out there."


Notes:
Huskeavers: There are two former Husky football players that will be wearing black and orange when the Beavers run out of the Husky Stadium tunnel on Saturday. Former safety Nigel Burton is the secondary coach and former QB Taylor Barton is a grad assistant for the Beavers.

Washington @ USC game time: The Washington @ USC game on October 23rd has been changed to a 3:30 kickoff and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

All three starting linebackers for Washington (Joe Lobendahn, Scott White, and Evan Benjamin) are in the top six in the Pac-10 for tackles. Lobendahn is No. 2 at 11.2 per game, Benjamin is No. 4 with 10.0, and White is No. 6 at 8.8.

Manase Hopoi leads the Pac-10 in tackles for loss with 12. He had five against San Jose State.


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