Keith Gilbertson Press Conference - 11/15

Let the good times begin! It's the 'horizontal civil war' that will grip the state of Washington this week, the annual battle for the Apple Cup. However, with both teams staying home for the holidays, the game may have lost some spunk and zest this season. But if history is any indication, at least we'll be in for one heck of a game.

In his last Monday press conference as the Huskies coach, Keith Gilbertson met with the media to discuss the upcoming week.

Washington State Head Coach Bill Doba:

Doba joined in from the conference line to give an update to the Seattle media what the team east of the Cascades have been up to.

"We didn't play very well last week," Doba said of last Saturday's game against Arizona State. The Sun Devils dashed all bowl hopes for the Cougars with a 45-28 drubbing in Tempe. "Not only did we have something to do with that, but Arizona State had something to do with it. We played well at times, and then we would give up the big play."

Like Washington, the Cougars' depth chart has taken a few hits with key injuries that have affected the team's game plan.

"It's been a frustrating year and just like Washington we've had a lot of injuries," said Doba. "The unusual thing is we've had injuries at the same position. We lost both defensive tackles in the Colorado game, and we lost both tight ends in the Arizona game, and one of three running backs in the Stanford game and also lost our quarterback."

With the rivalry between Washington being one-sided and very purple the past six years, Doba finds that stat as an easy motivational factor for his team.

"We're going to emphasize that a lot. You don't want to make it sound as if we can't beat them. Jeremy Williams stopped by my office this morning and asked for all the guys who couldn't win one, could you please get this one for us."

He added, "This game is important for both teams. I know those seniors (at Washington) want to go out and win and do everything they can for coach Gilbertson. I think he is a player's coach. I'm sure they will be ready to play. We would like to send our seniors off with a win and an Apple Cup victory, which we haven't had in six years and it will be a good start for next season."

Doba mentioned that Martin Stadium has been sold out, but also said, "being sold out and having a full stadium are two different things."

"I think the interest will be high and the student body will be fired up. Our student section has been awesome all year. They packed the place and stayed with us even when we were getting clobbered by USC.

"But I also think the interest is probably not as good as when both teams are fighting for a bowl berth or having successful seasons."

The Cougars have been getting strong offensive output recently from their junior college transfer, Jerome Harrison.

"He's really come around the last few weeks," said Doba. "He has the ability to break laterally and he's got the patience to stay behind the big linemen and wait for a crease or seam to hurt them. He's what we thought we were going to get when we recruited him out of junior college."

With QB Josh Swogger out, RS freshman Alex Brink has been taking the snaps behind center. "Alex is continually improving," said Doba. "He is smart and he gets us out of bad plays and we can just give a formation and he can call a play based on what the defense gives us. He has sufficient arm strength to get the ball deep and pretty good accuracy."

Doba also took time to discuss some of the Washington players that have stood out to him. Among them were Craig Chambers and Casey Paus.

"I thought he had a really good game last week," he said of Chambers. "That one catch down the sideline where he caught it over the outside shoulder and was able to maintain his balance and speed and take it down the end zone was great. I think he's a kid we have to be aware of and (Sonny) Shackelford has done a nice job too.

"I think Casey Paus has improved a little bit each week. Once you name the guy and he knows the job is his, it enhances his confidence and he'll improve."

Doba was also the first person to call Gilbertson the day of his resignation. Both have talked positively about their relationship and maintain a great amount of respect for each other.

"I talked to him this morning briefly and we kind of kidded each other about how bad we were.'" Doba said with a laugh.

"I know he'll be cranked and ready to go and this is his final hurrah. I respect him a whole lot. He's an excellent football coach and I like Gilby a bunch. I'm sorry it didn't work out for him."

Washington Head Coach Keith Gilbertson:

With Gilbertson and his staff leaving in one week, he was asked if it was better knowing that it was coming to an end or to find out all of a sudden that it was over.

"I really don't think there was much mystery what was going to happen in the middle of the season," he said. "The only thing that didn't happen is officially the word hasn't been said, and I just felt at the time we were going to get some kind of commitment to stay, or it was time to move on."

With more veterans going down to injuries, one thing that Gilbertson will be happy about is the fact that there won't be any new players added to the inactive list after next week.

"This has been an abnormal, crazy year," he said. "We're going to have our team banquet in the training room. We probably lost nine or 10 starters off a team that is pretty young and doesn't have a great deal of depth yet, so that's a significant blow for us and it seems that week after week we lose somebody who is real crucial to us in having success.

"It's happened, but it's football, so I'm not going to sit around and complain about it. It's part of the deal I guess. You have those years in your career. This is my first, so it's too bad that it happened to us and hopefully in the future this won't happen to Washington teams."

As has Gilbertson given any thought to what he will be doing with his newfound time off?

"Well I haven't given any thought to it, but I am going to suck every last minute out of this place since this is my last week here. I want to enjoy this thing and then I will worry about next week next week. I haven't really thought about what I am going to do, but I have a couple of things that I know that I have to do.

"One of those is to get used to seeing my wife more," he said with a smile. "She has to see more of me too."

With the Apple Cup being his last game, Gilbertson was asked if it was important to at least win this week before making his final exit.

"It is always important to win every game," he said. "Since we have only been able to win one, it would be a huge thing for these guys to accomplish. I don't think the records will have any affect on this game. Once both teams step on the field, they will go after each other and play hard with good competition."

The Apple Cup is a unique game because so many of the players and coaches are familiar with each other from playing at the same high school or as prep opponents.

"Number one, there will be so many kids that our guys know on the other team and I don't think that you get that in any other game during the season," said Gilbertson. "I don't know if they get on the phone and give each other the business on their cell phones, but I would hope that our guys don't shoot their mouth off in any way. Just the fact that our guys know so many players on their team, I think makes it kind of a unique week and I think there are a lot of these kinds of media things that are going on."

Gilbertson added, "I think that this is the biggest game in the state of Washington every year."

He was then asked if he and Doba occasionally exchange one-liners about the UW vs. WSU rivalry. "Line? We were both crying," Gilbertson said with a laugh. "Nobody was exchanging one-liners, but we talk every week and he is a good friend and a fine man. He's a good coach."

How does the Apple Cup compare to the annual "Big Game" between Bay Area rivals Cal and Stanford?

"I think that there is a lot more chardonnay stocked up at the Big Game as opposed to this one," he joked. "They are both great rivalries and they are both good games. When I was at Idaho, the Boise State versus Idaho games were a wild horse ride. That was the one game in the Big Sky that made you feel like it was a big time deal. I got to coach in a lot of these Apple Cups and the Cal-Stanford game, a lot of games are intense and you remember them forever.

"This is special because I grew up in the state of Washington and I have family that were Huskies and some family that were Cougars. My wife is from Washington State, so those kinds of things have always added to it."

Gilbertson also recalled the drama that has unfolded in the recent Apple Cups and how the Huskies were still able to defeat WSU's string of solid 10-win teams.

"I think that in 1999 and 2000 we had the best football players at that time," he explained. "Since then I think that it has been pretty even. Obviously in the last two years we have just been lucky, I will be honest with you. We had the triple-overtime thing and the pass whether it was backwards or not... I don't know.

"John Anderson was kicking field goals from Colfax and we were very lucky to win that game. Last year it was the same thing, they turned the ball over and we got the throw to Corey Williams that was not far from Eric Coleman batting it then what do you do?

"I would just say for some of those years I think that we had a very good team and we were first or second in our conference. They were probably building for what became a great stretch for them and we had some incredible luck for a couple of years."

As for the game plan for his final game, Gilbertson pointed out his sophomore starting running back will be a key to the game.

"I would think that you are going to have to rely on Kenny James, as he is going to have to make some big plays for us and hold on to the ball," he said. "When we do throw it, I think that Casey (Paus) is going to have to be real careful that it is a ball that our guys can get to and that it is not turnover fest. Our punt team has been very disappointing here in the last couple of game and they are going to have to play better."

With Joe Lobendahn out, it leaves a new-look defense that will have to work hard in containing a potentially-explosive Cougar offense. "Well defensively, obviously we are struggling without Joe Lobendahn because he was the guy that was holding everything together. We would hope that Manase (Hopoi) and Jordan White-Frisbee would give Tim Galloway a chance to get to the ball. With their wide receivers, our corners are going to have to play well. They seem like with (Chris) Jordan, (Trandon) Harvey, and (Jason) Hill they can put a lot of receivers on the field and a lot of speed on the field, so we are going to have to cover them."

Paus will start his fourth consecutive game this week.

"I thought that he played pretty well on Saturday other then that one throw that he had down the middle that was low," Gilbertson said of Paus. "I thought that he had some good throws and it was the best that we had looked throwing the ball against a good defense. A lot of guys caught balls and we spread it around, so I thought that he had a pretty good day throwing the ball. He practiced the best last week so he was the one playing in the game. We felt like it was a throwing game that needed to set up whatever running we could get. He looked the best during the week doing that." Top Stories