Dawgbytes - 10/19

What's the most important thing when trying to tackle Reggie Bush one-on-one? I know, it seems like a joke where you could come up with a myriad of quips for the fleet-footed one, but when it comes to actually trying to find a way to shackle USC's phenomenal running back, coaches - like their players - have literally come up empty.

When Tyrone Willingham was asked the question on Wednesday, he looked up at the media assembled with a bit of a smile on his face. And then he uttered just one word.


As in, "Don't find yourself in the position where you have to tackle Reggie Bush by yourself, because you won't."

He then added three more words; "Get some help."

Good thinking coach, but gang-tackling and mass pursuit haven't been big in the Huskies' defensive repertoire. It's something Willingham and his defensive coaches are working on in preparation for a meeting with the number-one Trojans Saturday in Husky Stadium.

"That's all in the consistency," said Willingham. "We have to have more recklessness in the way we play defense. We are always stressing to our team that it has to be a physical game where we pound guys, fly to the football and then make something happen."

'Consistency' was the watch-word on Wednesday. "It's an accurate blanket statement for our football team," said Willingham. "We have not been able to manufacture four complete quarters. We have had a couple of good stretches, but not the kind of consistent play we've got to have."

But he continues to assert that his team is working hard and hasn't given up. "They are working and trying - not always to their satisfaction or mine - but it is encouraging," said Willingham.

The physical aspect of the game aside, the larger issue of playing number-one can create some psychological obstacles, ones that can be exacerbated when the other team is currently on a league-worst 11-game losing streak. Just the idea of playing the best team in the country could be a paralyzing thought; Willingham points to the Huskies' schedule - top-heavy with ranked opponents - as proof his team won't flinch.

"There's always that danger when you play a very good and talented team," said Willingham. "This is a team one should respect. But this group has played good teams before and they have played USC before. We just have to put it all together. You always have a healthy respect for your opponent, that's something we always teach."

Maybe Washington should call in a rush shipment on foot-long field turf, just in case respect doesn't do the trick?

"That didn't work last weekend," said Willingham.

Injury Report: Joe Toledo and Chad Macklin are practicing normally, and should see playing time Saturday. "We're going to look at all our combinations and see where the right place is to play him," said Willingham when asked about the chances Toledo could start. The Huskies lost redshirt frosh fullback Luke Kravitz for the season to a fracture in his hand and walk on receiver Wade Gurnett to a clavicle injury. The only other player mentioned by Willingham was Brandon Ala, who is limited in practice this week.

More from Wood: Marlon Wood's involvement in Washington's offense is increasing, and this Saturday he'll be playing his father's alma mater. Does that mean Wood might be set for a breakout game against USC? "The more he has been in the lineup and is involved, the more confident he gets," said Willingham when asked about the sophomore JC transfer from Pasadena, California. "It's another bonus for us." Expect Wood to also be getting more tries returning kicks, as he works alongside Roy Lewis and Louis Rankin. Wood recently became the Huskies' number-one punt returner.

"We haven't done a lot with our kickoff return, so it's a work in progress," said Willingham when asked about getting Wood more work as a kick returner. "I hope he does some brilliant things."

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