Keith Gilbertson Press Conference 11/08

The home stretch for this football season to forget will wrap up with 14 Washington seniors wearing their purple home jerseys for the last time this Saturday against No. 5 California. The Golden Bears will look to put on a repeat performance of the past two years and roll to a BCS Bowl berth to close out the season. Washington coach Keith Gilbertson met with the media to discuss the upcoming week.

Asked if he noticed anything different after reviewing film from last Saturday's game, Gilbertson said that he found some positives despite another loss.

"Not much different than what I said after the game," he said. "I thought we did some good things on defense, made some plays on special teams. Offensively, it's a real struggle right now. Everything is hard right now offensively."

Washington has never been 1-8 in the history of the program. The worst season in history was a 1-9 season in 1969, but with two more games, this year's team can very well be the first 1-10 team in history.

"Like I said a week ago, sometimes you really don't know what to say or how to act," said Gilbertson when asked if he's ever experienced anything like this season. "If you have too many seasons like this, you don't get to coach very long. I've got nothing to compare it to."

Assessing No. 5 Cal (7-1 overall, 5-1 Pac-10)

For over 20 years, a Washington victory over Cal was a given, not a major upset. Since the Huskies beat Cal 50-31 in 1977, the Huskies won 19 consecutive games against the Golden Bears.

Enter Jeff Tedford.

Tedford's 2002 team beat Washington 34-27 at Husky Stadium to snap that streak. In a game Washington fans would love to erase, Tedford's 2003 team ran up an "I-can't-believe-it-isn't-a-typo" 729 yards of total offense in a 54-7 rout in Berkeley. Nearly the same cast will come to Seattle trying to write a sequel to the 2003 whitewashing.

"It's a better team than a year ago by a long way," said Gilbertson. "The quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) is a year older and better, so is the offensive line. (J.J.) Arrington is a year older and better, they've got good skill, and they've got good players at every position. The tight end (Garrett Cross) is excellent, and of course (Geoff) McArthur opened the game against us last year with an 80-yard touchdown reception.

"The other thing is I thought they were a really good defensive team at the end of last year. I think this is a much better defensive football team. They've got a great front, the ‘backers are active, and great safeties and corners.

"Cal is a really excellent football team. They are a really fine team and they are good at a lot of things. Offensively, Rodgers can throw as well as anyone in the country and he's accurate and has a really live arm. He has good people to throw it to, and he also has a fine offensive line and the backs are terrific. They've got an awful lot of quality people in their program now and a lot of depth."

Upon further review, the Cal of three years ago and the Washington of today are very similar. The Golden Bears went 1-10 under former coach Tom Holmoe in 2001. Today they are in competition for the National Championship.

"Well the first thing you can say is that they have been coached very well," said Gilbertson when asked of the turnaround. "I think the second thing you can say is that they got out and evaluated and projected players that fit what they were doing, so they recruited the right people. I think the third thing you can say is they brought in some quality junior college players into the program. (Rodgers, Cross, and Arrington are all from JCs.) They have done a great job of bringing JC players in along with the high school recruiting. I think they just built things piece-by-piece and now they are as good of a team as anyone in the country."

Gilbertson spoke highly of Tedford and his staff and the job that he has done in his career. Tedford is widely known as one of the best QB tutors in the nation.

"Well I think one, is the variety of the things they do and how well they do it," he said. "If you look at every one of their games, they execute offensively so well. The second thing is - something I've always been a big fan of - is the technical aspect of the quarterback; how he carries the ball, how high he holds it, and how he can get it out.

"Everybody he (Tedford) touches, he's improved and made them better and I think he has a unique way of doing it. I've always thought his offenses and teams execute offensively at a pace that is really, really tough to play (against)."

Team News

Regarding his own quarterbacks, Gilbertson has decided stick with Casey Paus as his starter for this week unless something changes throughout the course of this week's practices.

"Casey got the reps with the ones, and Carl (Bonnell) and Isaiah (Stanback) will split with the twos," he said.

Asked what he wants to see out of his three QBs, Gilbertson said, "I think the one thing that would be really good for them is to be detail-oriented. But I don't want to get into it here."

There have been a lot of questions being asked as to why fans haven't seen much of Bonnell. The freshman quarterback, who had been named the starter before the Stanford game, left the San Jose State game because of a groin injury and hasn't been seen since. Gilbertson has repeatedly said that Bonnell never 'lost the job'.

"Well he's young and I don't expect him to be as mature as he will be in three years," Gilbertson said. "But some things he struggled with. One, the injury was hard for him and missing time and falling behind with an injury that didn't heal. I think he fell off with the timing."

Gilbertson also said that out of his three main guards of Tusi Sa'au and Clay Walker will be the starting and Stanley Daniels will assume a backup role this week. He also said he wouldn't hesitate mixing them around and using different combinations at different times.

There is also a question as to whether the team is still motivated after all the hardship that has come through this season. Is the team still playing hard for their soon-to-be former coach?

"I think every team and every individual decides whether they are all the way in and totally committed or not," said Gilbertson. "I think the question you have to ask is, am I someone my teammates can always depend on? I think those are fair questions."

As to the motivation to beat Cal, Gilbertson said a history lesson is what the team needs.

"I'm going to bring up how badly they beat us last year and how poorly we played in that game. It was very embarrassing."

Recruiting and other tidbits

Just minutes after Gilbertson praised Cal's recruiting efforts, a question was brought forth of whether or not the Huskies recruited the right players for the program. Are the questions coaches ask recruits enough to determine whether or not they will fit the plan and the system?

Gilbertson defended the recruiting efforts by stating that the player isn't the only person coaches speak to. Coaches ask teachers, coaches, teammates, and oppositions what kind of person and player a recruit is.

"I think you sort it all out and you get pretty much the truth when you ask a lot of people. The process is asking more than one person," said Gilbertson.

He later added, "But I don't have to worry about that."

With the amount of injuries to hit the team, some might question the conditioning the players go through and if the problem may come from a lack of coaching from the weight room. Gilbertson defended the strength and conditioning team, namely Pete Kaligis and Steve Emtman.

"I think the strength and conditioning team has done a marvelous job," he said. "It wasn't that long ago when we had an incredible amount of shoulder surgeries and now, knock on wood, the only shoulder problems we've had are those that come with the guy.

"A broken leg, a fractured wrist, an injury like Dan Milsten's, you see Donny Mateaki's foot twist under a pile, and those things don't have anything to do with strength and conditioning. I think the strength and conditioning people are marvelous and of course I've coached them both when I was coaching here before. They do a great job and they are committed to do a great job. These things are just such freak injuries. It's just been one of those years. I give those guys high marks and I would recommend them to anyone in the country." Top Stories