Dawgbytes - 9/7

Typically when a college football coach goes through their perfunctory remarks about an opponent, it's done as a sign of respect for their abilities. During Wednesday's Montlake media session, Tyrone Willingham talked about California's defense in glowing terms, professing his 'love' for their style of play. But if you are an opposing coach trying to find ways to penetrate whatever the opposition throws at you, you can't really 'love' what the other team does. Can you?

It's clear that Run-DMC's world of 'bad meaning good' doesn't apply to Willingham. "Their style is obvious - they play hard," Willingham said Wednesday as the Huskies (0-0, 0-1) get to work in their first conference matchup of the year against the pesky Golden Bears (0-0, 1-0). "It leaps out at you. This defense understands. They play hard and they play fast, so we have to be prepared to match their speed of play. I love watching what I've seen so far. They play defense the way defense should be played."

Instead of the Air Force's unique 3-3-5 defensive look, Washington should expect more of a standard 4-3 attack. What will also be a little different about this weekend's game is that it's an early conference game, one that will put the victor on top of the Pac-10 standings for the following two weeks. For a team searching for ways to win, a 'W' over the Golden Bears would be a welcome sight to a program that hasn't won since October 9th of last year.

This is an important game," Willingham said. "And because of the place on the schedule, if you can win it you're sitting there alone for a little while and everyone else has to win two more than you do from that point on."

With his most recent head coaching experience at a program without a conference (Notre Dame), Willingham relishes the challenge put in front of Washington in terms of getting back to the top of the league. "That's why you're in the conference, to get to that pinnacle," he said. "And we would like to be one of those teams."

And while the Rose Bowl is this year's representative for the BCS championship game, Willingham said the Huskies would be more than happy to head down to Pasadena if called on. "We would go there if the invitation came," he said with a bit of a grin.

Meanwhile, the Golden Bears are in Washington's sights, and Willingham said the Huskies' collective pysche is in good shape despite last weekend's heartbreak against the Falcons. "It's always an adjustment day," he said. "You're trying to get into a new game plan. Our team will move forward. Yesterday was a solid return day for us."

Schedule Scramble: Some re-working of Washington's future schedules has been ongoing, with these changes expected to be finalized:
2006: AT Oklahoma, Fresno State, San Jose State and AT Hawaii (The NCAA allows teams to play Hawaii as an extra game.)
2007: AT Syracuse, Boise State, Ohio State
2008: Oklahoma, Notre Dame and BYU

Willingham said that he has consulted with Washington Athletic Director Todd Turner on the schedule changes. What does he think about the possibility of playing up to fourteen games in 2006? "I think it's a positive," he said. That helps your young guys grow. It gives them an opportunity to practice and get better."

Movement afoot: Willingham hinted that there could be some changes along the offensive line and in the secondary, but didn't elaborate. "There could be some movement there through the week to get the best five on the field," he said of the OL, and also said that Dashon Goldson is a player that can play at either safety or at cornerback. The secondary is a pressing issue, as both Roy Lewis and C.J. Wallace continue to nurse injuries sustained in the Air Force game. "Roy had light work," said Willingham. "C.J. did not practice." He did not speculate as to their readiness come game time on Saturday.

Willingham did say that Darrion Jones, the true frosh linebacker that had two fumbles on kickoffs against the Falcons, would most likely not play at that same position on the kickoff return team. "It's not because he did anything wrong, but as we look at things this week his skills might be better at another spot," Willingham said of Jones.

'Husky Weather': The current forecast for the California-Washington game this Saturday at Husky Stadium is for showers and a high of 65 degrees. "It should be Husky weather," said Willingham. "It happens up here all the time, so they tell me."

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