Dawgbytes - 11/1

The camera never lies. Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham learned that lesson up close and personal Monday, as he was taking part in his own radio show on KJR - a show that has recently been picked up by Comcast cable for use with their 'on demand' feature. Everything was going fine until someone asked Willingham about what they could expect from next year's team.

Willingham rattled off a group of names, including Jake Locker and James Montgomery. Well, he actually just said 'James' before he realized his mistake - college coaches can't talk about recruits. Locker and Montgomery are currently committed to Washington, but are still in high school.

Whoops.

"There was a slip-up. And you can't afford to have those," Willingham said of his on-air gaffe, one that is actually a minor violation as far as the NCAA is concerned. Willingham told John Morris, Washington's compliance director, Tuesday of his on-air misstep. Morris is in the process of reporting the violation to the Pac-10. Their compliance and enforcement committee meets three times a year - the next meeting taking place in December - so the Huskies have until mid-November to submit their report to the conference. The conference, after reviewing the case, will send it along to the NCAA.

On the scale of secondary violations, inadvertantly mentioning a prospect by name is considered on the 'less serious' end of the spectrum, according to Morris. Morris added that 10-12 similar cases have been brought to the NCAA's attention in the past six to nine months. Typically the corrective action taken by the school would be rules education with the coach in question and a letter from the school's athletic director to the coach summarizing the issue and stressing the importance of not breaking the rule again.

Making mistakes - it's been the bane of Washington's season so far in 2005, both on and off the field. And according to Willingham, it's that fear of making a mistake that's not allowing the Huskies to play the game of football the way it was meant to be played - with controlled aggression. "You want to do everything right," he said. "You get cautious. That's what we've been talking about all year. This team is in that mindset. At some point we're going to break out of it and play fast and play carefree, and yet at the same time still do the fundamental things we know are right."

And Willingham believes that this mindset isn't something that just came about this year. "I think it's past circumstance," he said. "When you're down, you don't want to be that guy that made the mistake. And when you have negative thoughts, they never produce positive actions."

Isaiah Stanback may be playing cautious and having some negative thoughts after arguably his worst performance of the year against Arizona State, but it's not showing to Willingham. "There are certain things that don't happen because of inexperience, but I think most of the time he's playing pretty fast," he said of his starting quarterback.

But that's not stopping Willingham from re-revaluating the most prominent position on the team, and other positions too. "You always are evaluating every position," he said. "When the performance is less than what the player expects and what I expect, it opens up that window just a little bit more."

Enter Johnny DuRocher, eager to take over the reins, but unable to break through because of the lack of live snaps. In Willingham's system, the only way number-two becomes number-one happens one of two ways; either number-one gets hurt or their performance goes south. Way south.

Because of Stanback's inconsistency, Willingham said DuRocher would get "probably a few more (snaps)" this week. But he hasn't supplanted Stanback from the starting spot. According to Willingham, Stanback would still get the majority of reps on Tuesday.

"He knows that he has to be prepared to go in and play without the benefit of physical snaps," Willingham said of DuRocher. "In our system, you have to do a great job with your mental reps. It's hard. It takes discipline." Even Carl Bonnell, who played in four games in 2004"He's fairly healthy, but at this stage he hasn't had an opportunity to make up any ground."

Has Willingham sensed a loss of confidence from Stanback? "When you have a bad game, it's hard to be just as confident, but I don't think he's lost any measureable sense that he can go out and perform," said Willingham.

But just because he's evaluating, don't expect Willingham to throw in the towel this year by substituting others that may not be as good as some seniors, but could use the experience as a valuable springboard into the off-season. "Maybe I'm all screwed up, but if you win today, it gives you the best chance to win tomorrow," he said. "Whatever gives us the best opportunity to win now, that's what I'm going to do."

And despite the constant pounding a losing streak can throw at the psyche, Willingham insists he's got players that refuse to give up, and, in fact, need to be restrained sometimes from going after it too hard. "We've got guys that work so much that you've got to get them to slow down to let their bodies catch up with what they're doing," he said.

But when it comes to the occasional slip-up that happens when you are human, Willingham's team can alway check 'on demand' for proof that their commander-in-chief isn't immune from the occasional miscue.

"You can't allow that to be on there, or else I'll be a repeat violator," quipped Willingham.

And he would be right.
Notes:
Ten Years After: Willingham was asked if he had any comment about Charlie Weis' recent ten-year contract extension after coaching only seven games at Notre Dame, Willingham's old job. "I'm not surprised," said Willingham. "He's doing a great job. Having ten years, that's a nice luxury to have. It affords you a level of confidence that not many coaches have."

A Sort of Homecoming: The upcoming Oregon State game is Washington's Homecoming game. According to Willingham, the game has special meaning to the team. "I think it does," he said. "I thought it meant something when we invited our former players back in the spring. I thought our guys connected with that and understood their value in that relationship. So I think it means something."


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