Dawgbytes - 9/8

Washington's defense will certainly have their work cut out for them on Saturday. For a team that never sees that type of offense in their own conference, the Huskies were like the mechanic who normally does oil changes being asked if he knows anything about replacing engines. He might know a little, but it's not exactly his line of expertise.

"We should be aggressive regardless,"Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said Thursday when asked about the differences in defensing the triple-option, which UW did Saturday against Air Force, and the more modern multiple-style offense run by Jeff Tedford and the California Golden Bears. The Huskies and Bears clash Saturday at Husky Stadium in Seattle. "But if you are familiar with something it should allow you to cut loose and play with a little more recklessness than when you're kind of restricted with something you don't know and not sure about."

The Huskies catch a bit of good luck, as the Bears will be breaking in a new quarterback. City College of San Francisco grad Joe Ayoob will be making his first D1 start in Seattle after going 0-10 in Cal's opener against Sacramento State. Willingham hasn't watched any of Ayoob's film while at CCSF, and isn't really too concerned about who starts at QB for Cal.

"It's more the system and the things that they do," said Willingham. "I don't believe they will change their plan. They will still want to get their quarterback involved in the ball game early and then they'll get their running back involved early and then do the other things they do to be a good offensive team."

With an offensive line littered with big, strong, acclaimed players, Willingham understands the Huskies' defensive task is a daunting one. "When you have a big offensive line, the first question you might have is with their mobility," he said when asked how a team might attack a line similar to the one Washington will face Saturday. Has he seen any limited mobility with their line? "No, they are pretty good," added Willingham. "I think most people think they are one of the better lines in the west and certainly one of the better lines in the country."

Most conventional wisdom has Tedford protecting Ayoob by giving the ball to his workorse running back - Marshawn Lynch. If Lynch is successful, that would soften up Washington's defense so that Tedford could give Ayoob high-percentage reads. "We have to get great play up front," said Willingham when asked how the Huskies plan on stopping the sophomore sensation from Oakland. "If our line gets pushed back into the laps of our linebackers, it makes it difficult to play. We have to get great play up front first, and then our linebackers have to execute. You can't let him out of the box, because he then gets even more dangerous."

And if the Huskies can find success in shutting down the Golden Bears' potent offensive attack, they might just be able to give Willingham - who will be making his home debut as the Huskies' head coach - a nice memory from his first game on home turf.

"Let's get a win," said Willingham. "It's a pretty basic thought, but it's nice and important. That would round out everything for me."


Notes:
Positions sorting themselves out: Willingham mentioned a few different positions that might see a bit of a different look come Saturday. C.J. Wallace and Roy Lewis, both injured on the same play against Air Force, are expected back for Cal. "C.J. has still been limited in what he can get in," said Willingham. "Roy has worked pretty good. He worked almost all of yesterday's practice. It has not been a bad recovery week for them."

The biggest note Thursday was that Kenny James, the junior running back from Dos Palos, California, would be backing up Louis Rankin on Saturday. James injured a shoulder during Washington's first practice of the fall. "He should get time this week," said Willingham of James. "We'll figure it out as we go. But we'll probably work with him and Louis Rankin as our first two runners and then go from there." Last week James Sims, Jr. was the Huskies' second-string running back, scoring his first career touchdown.

More time?: Because of some injuries and depth concerns, Willingham noted that Darin Harris and Erick Lobos would continue to see more time than initially expected. Harris and Lobos, at safety and defensive tackle respectively, did play some against Air Force, and it appears that their roles will continue to expand.

No go for Cal: Willingham also confirmed that Brandon Ala, Joe Toledo, Carl Bonnell and Quintin Daniels would not be available for Saturday's game.

Line switch: The Huskies will again switch up their offensive line starts, as Chad Macklin and Tui Alailefaleula will get their first OL career starts Saturday. Willingham announced that Macklin will take over the left tackle spot for the injured Joe Toledo, while Alailefaleula - who actually made his other career start as a true frosh defensive tackle against UCLA in 2001 - will play alongside him at left guard. Brad Vanneman (center), Stanley Daniels (guard) and Rob Meadow (tackle) will also start. Willingham added that Clay Walker will be rotated in for either guard spot.

Another career effort for Chambers?: Sophomore receiver Craig Chambers had a career day against the Golden Bears last year, catching 8 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown - a 77-yarder that was also Washington's longest play of 2004. Will Chambers get a chance to reprise his efforts? "We hope that he has a great game against them this year. It would be exciting for him to do that," said Willingham, although Chambers is still not listed in the depth. "The guys are playing better than Craig is playing, so he's not the first to go," added Willingham. "When we go to our sets that involved more receivers, he saw more action. And if those sets are called more because of our game plan, then he'll see more time."


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