While the 4th quarter was a yawner in terms of excitment or big plays, I did have to mention this time, because Dashon Goldson got off a receiver's block and made a play on an Oregon running back by the line of scrimmage.
It's only noteworthy in the sense that it was one of the only times (<5) where that happened. Mostly it was the UW corners getting rolled onto a sideline somewhere.
Oregon 34-14. Even worse than I predicted. 280 yards on the ground given up. 26 first downs. Baer decided that he wasn't going to give up the big play to the Ducks' high-powered offense. Looks like he picked 'death by a thousand paper cuts' instead. Gary Crowton attacked the corners with their run game and it's exactly what I would have done. It's a shame Washington's front seven have not been able to do anything sideline-to-sideline, because the corners have been out on an island with UO's receivers, and their receivers have been able to move UW's corners anywhere they've wanted to.
End of 3rd Q:
Bonnell is getting zero help. Zilch. None. Nada. Who knows what Mike Gottlieb was thinking when he let a pass bounce off his pads and into the waiting hands of a Duck defender, but it certainly wasn't, 'Hey! I need to catch the ball with my hands outstretched so it doesn't hit and bounce off my pads!' The fundamentals apparently have gone out the window. Oregon has switched quarterbacks, in an attempt to make sure Brady Leaf gets enough playing time so he won't bolt for a starting gig next year. But who is Oregon's QB is the least of UW's concerns. They are getting creased by the UO front five.
Not too much to say about that UO drive, other than it was textbook and did exactly what you're supposed to do when you have a decided advantage - you take what the defense is giving you. Oregon is bound to make a few mistakes, but not on every drive. And that's what UW needs right now. On offense, Bonnell has to know that he has large expanses of real estate in which he can run on play-action passes. I know he's hurting, but if Lappano is going to run him on plays, he needs to know when to tuck it an run.
6:24/3: Oregon's run game is just making UW's front 7 look foolish. If I'm Bellotti, I don't throw another pass all game long. There's no need. Watching UW's corners get blocked all the way to the sideline has been an all-too-frequent occurance.
Are the replay officials from the Oklahoma-UO game on the scene again? Conclusive evidence? Regardless, unless Washington can find some corners that are going to be able to get off blocks and can play with some discipline, it's not going to matter too much.
And just like that, Washington comes out firing exactly like Willingham would have scripted. Big Chris Hemphill - all 6-foot-6 of him - picks off Dennis Dixon and Quintin Daniels takes a Carl Bonnell pass 11 yards for paydirt. The hero on the score? Louis Rankin, who did a great job picking up an Oregon blitzer, allowing Bonnell to sit in the pocket and find Daniels on a crossing route.
Well, before the untimed down to finish the half, Bob Simmons' special teams were called for another motion penalty on a punt. Whatever formation they are using, it's probably best to get out of it. Overall, it's amazing this team is only down ten considering just how bad their special teams have been.
On offense, don't expect Kenny James to play. He looks to be walking very carefully on his injured foot, and when UW has been on offense, Shelton Sampson has been the one that has been right on the sidelines, patiently waiting his turn.
UO 17-7. Can't say enough about Washington's defense...outside of the one 94-yard drive they've been very resilient. Washington's offense, on the other hand, has been extremely spotty at best, but it's usually been because they are hurting themselves with penalties from the start.
Mike Bellotti as Nostradamus. Turnovers were going to be the difference, he said this week - and based his reasoning on UO's play against Washington State and Cal...and just like that UW forces another fumble and Chris Hemphill recovers. But the OL is just not giving Bonnell any sort of pocket or time to find downfield receivers, so any of the defense's good play is going for naught.
As if the special woes couldn't get worse, UW shoots themselves in the foot with a motion penalty on punt cover where they actually recover an Oregon fumble. Instead of having the ball inside Oregon territory, Douglas rekicks from his own end zone and Oregon now has the ball inside UW territory. It all started with a Walt Winter personal foul on the kickoff after Oregon's touchdown, a needless penalty that buried the Huskies in their own end before they could even start.
Exactly the type of drive I expected Oregon to run as soon as they saw UW was in a base-nickel package...run, run, run the ball and then run some more. Except for a botched screen and one pass that ended up being a Dennis Dixon run, it was all done on the ground - 94 yards' worth. Unless Baer decides to try and play UO as straight-up as possible, they'll have all kinds of success running their option and assorted variations. UW just doesn't have the horses to keep up with the Ducks up front.
Sonny Shackelford quiets the UO crowd with a great catch in the back of the end zone right in front of the UW cheering section. That's just what UW needed - touchdowns, not field goals. The Huskies look to have a decent scheme against the Oregon offense, so we'll see if UW can continue to manufacture some first downs and touchdowns...needless to say, they'll have to be almost flawless in their execution.
End of 1st Q:
C.J. Wallace makes a great heads-up read AND play when he stonewalls a UO receiver and then picks off the pass by Dennis Dixon that was supposed to be where Wallace hit him...my first reaction was that it had to be a penalty, but forgot that contact like that is only illegal in the NFL. Lappano rolls the dice and goes deep downfield, as Bonnell connects with Cody Ellis. The Huskies are not playing great football right now, and the one glaring mistake they did make cost them a touchdown - but just like it's been all year long, they find ways to stay in games and stay competitive.
A nice three-and-out sequence for UW, but the most important thing is that they absolutely lit Jaison Williams up the first time he touched the ball. They have to continue to do that, whether he catches the ball or not...it's the only chance they have to rattle him.
Not sure the offense could have started out more sluggish, but dropped passes and missed blocks certainly isn't going to be a winning formula. Bonnell isn't getting a ton of help by his supporting cast.
Once the ball left Sean Douglas' right foot, I said, 'That's the makings of a touchdown right there'...Patrick Chung made me look clairvoyant about 10 seconds later as he waltzed into the endzone untouched after a long, but very low kick had no hope of having any sort of cover whatsoever...a big mistake from a senior and Ray Guy finalist.
Apparently Christmas has come early for the Huskies, as UO's Paul Martinez misses a chip shot to put the Ducks ahead. New life? Only if the receivers can hang onto the ball...
Kent Baer is definitely mixing things up from the get-go...Forrester and Hemphill deep, with Wallace up almost like another linebacker...I would expect Bellotti to try and run more with this scheme, as there are more DB's on the field than ever before for UW.
Ducks win toss and defer...61 degrees and not rainy...(again knocking on wood)...'it never rains in Autzen Stadium'?? Whatever you say, Mr. PA man...Marlon Wood is back there instead of Roy Lewis to take the opening kick.
2 minutes before gametime:
Spoke briefly with Dick Baird before gametime, and he definitely had his gameface on. He definitely had his gameface on. As far as this year's UO video 'production', I'd give it pretty high marks for the work, but having 'The Pick' at the end definitely seems stale at this point.
Also appears as if the goodwill has already started...one of UO's 'entourage' came running out of the tunnel and went straight towards UW's Mike Braunstein, stood right in front of him, waving a towel like Eugene's version of Ed Kezirian. I believe Braunstein kicked his next kick wide right.
25 minutes before gametime:
No rain so far...(knocking on wood)...Jordan Reffett, Mark Palaita, Sean Douglas and C.J. Wallace are today's UW captains...Oregon is in their 'all-blacks' with highlighter numbers.
(11/2/06 7:14:45 pm)
Donald Butler, Jason Wells and Luke Kravitz will not be making the trip.
The traveling roster is not released to the team until 7, so the media was asked to wait until then to release the information.
(11/2/06 3:36:05 pm):
Willingham afternoon notes
Asked about injuries and he said that there was 'nothing new' to report. 'I think we're in pretty good shape'.
Added that they limited Kenny James' reps to make sure that he didn't 'overdo it' and Carl Bonnell continues to look good and is not suffering from any after-effects brought on by a concussion he sustained against Arizona State. Bonnell will start on Saturday, backed up by Johnny DuRocher.
Johnie Kirton is 'not quite back, but getting there' in terms of coming back from an infection, and he is continuing to get reps in 'specialty situations' for running back - meaning short-yardage and red zone. He added that there are no other new players that are seeing time doing that same thing.
Asked about Morgan Rosborough, and why the big man has been moved inside to guard, and Willingham said that there was the one play against Oregon State where he was going to go in for Stanley Daniels, but Rosborough is 'smart enough to be able to play all the positions, except center'. 'He could come in at tackle too. And that's the flexibility we like to have with all our linemen.'
Said because of the rain, the team would practice Thursday under 'special circumstances', meaning they would be dealing with the wet and all the things that come along with it because they are anticipating that they'll have to deal with rain Saturday in Eugene.
Said that he felt Tuesday's practice was good, but Wednesday's 'didn't live up to the billing it was supposed to'.
(11/1/06 4:34:10 pm):
Afternoon practice notes
Not too much to report...
No one in red.
Butler, Kravitz and Wells were the main players sitting out today. There was a scout from the St. Louis Rams that was there before practice, he spoke quite a bit with DC Kent Baer.
Right when they were going into their 2-minute/1-minute sequence, my time ran out, so sorry. Nothing today on how that worked out.
(11/1/06 3:49:36 pm):
Willingham afternoon briefing
Said that Kenny James and Carl Bonnell both worked well Tuesday and 'I was pleased with what they gave us'.
Donald Butler did not work yesterday and Willingham said he probably won't work for the rest of the week. Asked if that meant that Trenton Tuiasosopo would move into his place, Willingham said that it's yet to be determined, based on the kind of defense they are going to run against Oregon.
Said that Johnie Kirton was back and fine, and that with James expected to play, it wouldn't take away from Kirton's new role as a short-yardage and goal-line running specialist.
Also asked about Jordan White-Frisbee, and Willingham said that he was back to work, but they are more interested right now in getting him educated to the offensive system so he's comfortable with the switch from defense to offense.
Asked about Ryan Perkins, and Willingham said that he did have a setback which required another surgery, so now it's unclear whether or not Perkins will be able to kick this spring. Willingham added that the development with Perkins hasn't changed UW's recruiting strategy, as they are looking for a kicker to replace Sean Douglas anyways.
Asked about Dennis Dixon and Willingham said that because he's a dual threat, it makes it 'very difficult' for UW to 'manage the (Oregon) offense'. He added that their receiving corps makes it even more difficult, especially with Jaison Williams who is being 'amazingly productive' this year.
He added that Jake Locker's running skills gives Washington a 'better chance' to prepare. 'He has comparable running skills'.
Said that while every game is 'huge', this game this weekend looms larger because it's at the end of the season, and 'every game at the end of the season always take on a larger presence' and that it's also a rivalry game...so 'this is an important game for the Husky family'.
Asked about the mood of the team this week, and he said that the team came out on Tuesday and 'did things pretty well'. 'They had a good day of practice'.
(11/1/06 2:10:28 pm):
Spoke with LB Dan Howell...
...and he said that the season has 'gone in waves' and we play well against good teams, but that's not good. 'We need to play that well against everybody'. 'I try to come and play with the same intensity every week. I'm planning on having a victorious week'.
He played special teams at Autzen last year, but even in a limited role, he didn't let the UO crowd get to him. 'I didn't really notice what the fans were saying. If you have great focus, there's a lot of things that go right past your ears. I went there to play a game, not to look in the stands'.
He said that because Oregon plays a spread, 'he had some hunches' about what his role was going to be this week. 'It's probably going to be like the second half of the San Jose State game, where they went spread and I didn't play at all. But I have to be ready no matter how much playing time I get. If I get 2 minutes or 40 minutes, it doesn't matter as long as we win.
Asked about the last play against Arizona State and he said that it was a 'lack of discipline' on his part. 'I anticipated a certain play and I slipped up. I didn't have good eye discipline'. He added that, because of what he saw on film, he expected the h-back to run an out, which he did. 'As soon as he turned to look for the ball, I looked for the ball. I shouldn't have done that. I should have just been closing on the man'. Said that it was that split second where the player turned upfield and got away from him. 'They caught me'.
He added that 'I'll only make that mistake once' and 'there will never be a situation when I'm not disciplined in that sense'. 'The problem I had was that I had not opened my mind to the possibility. But ultimately defense is all about reacting, and you can prepare all you want, but they are still called tendencies. They don't have to do that. They got me, but it's never going to happen again'.
(11/1/06 2:01:51 pm):
Spoke with LB Scott White...
...and he looked to be dealing with a little flu today, but it's not going to keep him out of the game on Saturday.
Asked about playing at Autzen and he said that it's been a 'house of horrors of late' and that the team has struggled against Oregon the last couple of years. 'I hope that we can match their intensity'.
Asked about the ups and downs so far this season, and he said that 'losing Isaiah (Stanback) was really hard on the team because he was having a 'smokin' season. 'It took a lot of steam out of our sails. It's been the year of near-misses. Five or six plays go differently, we're talking about about a totally different year, maybe even the Rose Bowl.'
Asked about the Oregon game being a notch above the other games they play, and White said that the northwest rivalry games are his favorite games because they are 'so competitive'. 'It seems like we're always playing down there (Autzen) and playing in a competitive environment like that is great'.
He added that Jake Locker has helped them a lot in preparations for Dennis Dixon because he's 'every bit as elusive, quick and instinctual' like Stanback is when running the ball. He added that UW does some of the shotgun read series, so that will also help them. 'We have got to be disciplined with our eyes. We have to play one play at a time and do your job.'
Asked about being able to bounce back after back-to-back OT losses and he said that the team is already over ASU and had a good practice on Tuesday. 'We need to dedicate all our energy toward the Ducks. It's going to be criticial if we are going to be on top of our game.'
Asked about this team, and how some people are waiting for the cracks to surface, but White said 'this team isn't about cracking. We are a resilient group. We come back strong every week.' He added that they've gone into hostile places this year and that 'those experiences have really helped us'.
Asked if he's thinking at all about this being his last Oregon game, or that he's coming to the end of his career, and he said that he 'hasn't had a lot of time to sit back and think about 'last games'. It'll probably hit me after the season.'
He added that he hopes that this senior class is known as the class that got things back on track. 'I hope everyone stays because that will just add more stability. I'm excited for E.J. (Savannah) and (Donald) Butler. I keep telling them to work hard because it's going to be their team next year.'
(11/1/06 1:35:18 pm):
Spoke with DC Kent Baer...
...and he was asked about trying to stop Dennis Dixon, and if it's similar to trying to stop Isaiah Stanback in practice, and he said that it's 'totally different' because of the different offenses that are being run. He said that preparing for Oregon's spread is much like trying to prepare for an offense you just don't see that much of, like the triple option, for instance. 'It's difficult to find that look.' 'But in terms of being athletes, they are very comparable. He (Dixon) has a good handle of their offense, and they are No. 1 in total offense, No. 1 in rush offense and No. 2 in pass, so they are doing something right'. Added that since Oregon's plays are all predicated off the shotgun and the read zone play, it can suck you in with the run, only to take advantage of you over the top.
He said that he would be taking a lot of what they saw on film last year, because the system is basically the same, but there are some different players playing, like Dixon for Kellen Clemens, for instance. 'They have one of the best running backs in the league (Jonathan Stewart) and 4 (Jaison Williams) is a tremendous player. There's also the basketball coach's son (Jordan Kent). They have tall guys that can run'.
He said that he's also looking a lot at the Oklahoma-Oregon game to see just how the Ducks were able to put up big offensive numbers against a solid Sooner defense. 'They moved it up and down on them'. Added that the two games they didn't play well against - Cal and Washington State - turnovers played a big part, as well as those teams jumping on the Ducks early.
Asked about trying to bring pressure against Oregon (who has only given up five sacks all season long), and Baer said that because everything they do is pretty much based on play-action, it's hard to be overly aggressive. He also said that when things do break down, Dixon is quick enough to scramble around and make plays. 'You've got to have patience and pick your spots'.
Asked about his assessment of ASU, and he said that he felt the defense played 'very well'. 'They had a little over 100 yards going into that last drive of the first half, and we went into nickel because we anticipated that Dirk (Koetter) would go into his 2-minute drill. We didn't play the run well at all that series. And then we came out in the second half and I think we only gave them 120-130 yards that half, with 60 of it coming on one play. My hat's off to them on that play. I had never seen it this year, and I watched all their games this year.'
(11/1/06 1:10:20 pm):
Spoke with DB Coach J.D. Williams...
...and he was asked about Dennis Dixon as a threat against his secondary, and Williams said that he's very similar to Isaiah Stanback. 'He's a great talent that I watched when he was at San Leandro High School'. He added that playing against a guy like Isaiah Stanback can help, but it's still going to be a 'big challenge' for the secondary.
Asked about Jaison Williams, and Williams said that they would have a 'couple good matchups for him', and that they've also seen some very good receivers at Oklahoma and against Fresno State and others, but it's the fact that Oregon can bring 'four or five guys like him' that creates the problem.
Asked about the spread offense and Williams said that the key to defeating the spread is that they can't get beat by the play-action and they 'need to be disciplined in our keys'. 'If you're disciplined and you do what you're supposed to do, we should be OK. We just have to be disciplined in our keys and reads'.
Asked about the secondary without Jason Wells this week, and he said that both Mesphin Forrester and Chris Hemphill can step in and handle the job. He added that Forrester 'is definitely a veteran now' because he's been asked to play safety, corner and the nickel. 'I'm glad we have Mesphin. He's smart and he's willing to do whatever it takes'.
(11/1/06 12:45:28 pm):
Spoke with DB Mesphin Forrester...
...and he said that he 'feels great' about the opportunity to maybe get his first career start this weekend in place of Jason Wells. 'It's a huge opportunity and I feel pretty good about it'. Added that he's just going through the gameplan and working hard in practice like he normally does.
Asked about a Southern California kid learning about the UW-UO rivalry, and he said that he's heard from some people that this game 'might even be a bigger game than the one we play against Washington State', but he added that he had an opportunity to travel last year to Oregon to get a feel for it and he looks 'at every game as a rivalry game'. 'Their fans are really involved in the game, it was a different experience for me.'
Asked about being thrown into the fire this year, especially at cornerback, and he said that he's learned so much this year that he really feels like a veteran now. 'It really doesn't matter where I play now, I feel confident at any position.' He added that he likes playing corner because of the 'man-on-man defense' he gets to play, while safety is the more natural position for him.
(10/31/06 4:33:27 pm):
Afternoon practice notes...
Victory Club - Mike Gottlieb and C.J. Wallace.
Donald Butler was really favoring his left leg because of the calf injury he sustained against ASU. He sat out of stretching, along with Luke Kravitz and Jason Wells. In fact it looked like Wells was walking better than Butler from my vantage point.
Isaiah Stanback was there, on crutches - and after stretching he went over to where the QB's were to throw with them.
Another guy on crutches that showed up was Ryan Perkins. He appeared to have a brace on that covered up his right leg almost completely.
Jordan White-Frisbee had a sling on for the last few practices, but not today. Instead, he had his right foot taped up completely, so that his shoe and foot were one.
(10/31/06 2:37:00 pm):
Spoke with QB Jake Locker...
...and when asked for his opinion on now redshirting the season, he said his opinion is no different than it was a couple of weeks ago. 'I knew the coaches would do the best thing for me and they feel like this is the best thing for me and the team and I support them 100 percent in that decision'.
Asked about what was going on right at the time when the coaches put Johnny in the ASU game, and he said that he knew that it was going to be either him or Johnny, so he got himself ready. 'I felt comfortable to go in and do my job'.
Coach Yarber told DuRocher to do get warmed up, so that's when he knew. 'Until he ran out on the field, I was still preparing myself. I've spent a lot of time with Johnny this year learning the offense, and I really became pretty good friends with him, so I was happy to see him get in there and have a chance to play and have the success that he did'.
The official travel roster hasn't been posted yet, but he's expecting to travel since they now only have 4 quarterbacks.
Asked if he can still prepare and go 100 percent despite knowing he probably won't play this year, and he said that he's not doing to do anything differently or stop watching film or any of the things you would normally do as a QB. 'I'm not going to take anything lightly. Some crazy things happen in the Pac-10, so you have to be ready at all times'.
(10/31/06 2:30:49 pm):
Spoke with QB Felix Sweetman...
...and he confirmed that Sean Douglas was the backup holder who wore 17 against Arizona State, not him. 'I got a lot of congratuations that night but it wasn't me. I told everyone I didn't take credit for it. It was Sean Douglas and he did a great job'.
Asked about his role in special teams, even though he's a quarterback, and he said that ever since Casey Paus went out there and showed the coaches, that 'gave them the idea'. 'They gave me a shot in the spring and I learned everything - I'm still learning. It's been a good opportunity. I got to hit someone in a jersey other than purple and gold; I haven't done that since November of 2001. It's been a good experience'.
He's the 'personal protector' for the punter. 'You call the fronts, you make the count and set the blocks. We have different formations so you have to know the motions and the schemes'.
As far as quarterbacking, did he realize he was just one snap away from going into the game? 'I didn't realize it until Sunday, that's when they made the announcement that Jake (Locker) was going to redshirt. I had no idea. I was up there when Johnny (DuRocher) got in and I was excited for him - he's one of my good friends. It didn't really hit me until the next day that I was probably a snap away'.
Now he has to go into meetings and really prepare like any normal backup would. 'Anytime you just get mental reps it's difficult, but you're supposed to be held accountable for your position. I don't want to let anyone in that locker room down. If I'm put in that situation, I'll need to perform.'
Asked about possibly playing QB in one of these final three games and Sweetman said that it would be a dream come true. 'I've always wanted to be a quarterback. It's always been my dream. I've never been the fastest guy or have had the strongest arm, I've just worked hard to be a QB. I've always been a Husky fan, my parents have been long-time season-ticket holders and I always wanted to go to the University of Washington. I knew how hard it was when I got here, they had Cody (Pickett) and Taylor (Barton) and Casey (Paus) and Isaiah (Stanback), but I was just happy to be here. But I've always worked hard - I learned that from Coach Dave Miller at Lakes.'
(10/31/06 2:16:38 pm):
Spoke with OL Coach Mike Denbrock...
...and he said that in general, the OL is not getting the push that they want to. 'I'm not down on them, but I know that in their hearts, they know they can play better. And the team needs them to play better'.
Asked about holding up physically so far this year, and he's never quite had a group hold up so well, but at the same time they knew they had depth concerns this year and they've been trying to build more depth as the season has progressed. 'I think they are in as good a shape as they could be right now'. He added that early on they would have loved to get some other guys some playing time, but tight games has played a part in not wanting to run guys in their cold.
Said that Erik Berglund, Casey Bulyca and Morgan Rosborough are all guys that could probably come in right now and contribute. Rosborough is at left guard now. 'Earlier, they would have been like deer in headlights'.
Said the key for their continued improvement is consistency. 'We have to play at a consistent level. In games, we were having a problem with short yardage, some push was needed - especially in the Cal game - but I thought last week we did a good job. We just have to be there in critical situations. And the good thing is, they understand it and are working their tails off'. He added that who you are playing, as well as scheme and other variables can put a dent into any line's efforts at consistent play.
Asked about his experienced guys stepping up as leaders, and he said that they talked about it after Isaiah Stanback got hurt. 'We talked about stepping up their play to offset things, but we really need to play at a high level all the time'.
(10/31/06 2:01:55 pm):
Spoke with OC Tim Lappano...
...and he was asked about using Johnie Kirton, and he said it was great. He added that he had no idea what happened to Johnie over the course of the game. 'I'm asking where Johnie Kirton is and the next thing I know, he's in the hospital!' He also added that the team didn't quite block the play the way they should have, and if they had, Kirton may have ended up one-on-one with a safety, something Lappano termed 'interesting'. 'We're going to keep working him and getting him reps in practice'.
Asked about possibly expanding Kirton's role nextc year, and Lappano said it could happen. He added that if Johnie had run behind his pads and with that kind of authority during the fall, they may not have taken him out of tailback. 'I liked what he did on that lone carry, and it's something I'm going to look at more'.
Asked about Louis Rankin and running harder and Lappano agreed, saying that he 'tried to be more physical'. 'He's a straight-up, make-you-miss style of runner who does well outside the tackles. When you're inside the tackles, you find that crease and you take it. We are always just making him aware of his pad level, as well as down and distance. 'When you are inside the tackle box, you have to get downhill. You have to just believe it and hit it'.
He added that he's expecting Kenny James to be available for the game on Saturday against Oregon.
Asked about the passing game, and he said that they took a step backward in all aspects this last Saturday. 'We have to make plays. We can try and put them in the best situation to make plays, but they have to be more consistent'. He added that he felt ASU's upfield penetration hurt Carl Bonnell.
Asked about snaps this week and Lappano said that Johnny DuRocher would definitely get reps this week. He added that DuRocher is a 'pretty cool customer' who 'can do some damage'. 'He's also played enough so that he wasn't too nervous going out there'. He also added that Bonnell is 'beat down a little bit, and Felix Sweetman is UW's No. 3. 'That's what we've got left'.
Asked about the receivers, specifically Marcel Reece, and Lappano said that they've moved him from the slot to out wide. 'We need to have him play faster and get separation, and he's getting better. We're asking him to step up this week. He's got to play fast and separate.'
Asked about Oregon, and he said that they have the No. 1 pass defense, but the No. 9 run defense and the strength of their defense is their front 4. 'Their ends are bigger than the ends we've faced the past few weeks. We will have to work to get the big play, they don't like to give them up. It's a team you're going to have to be patient with offensively. They will take chances against us. They got after us a lot last year. They fly around and they can run'.
Asked about the offensive line, and Lappano said that he feels they are doing a good job. 'They are averaging about a sack a game. They are battlers and fighters. You can always get better, but they've held their own and have stayed healthy.'
(10/31/06 1:03:18 pm):
Spoke with WR Coach Eric Yarber...
...and he said that in general, it's his philosophy that the 'open guy gets the ball'. He tries to teach all his guys to fight for being the 'go-to guy'. 'They can all make the regular plays now, now they need to make the spectacular play. They need to find a way to get it done'.
He added that he stresses that his receivers are 'complete' receivers. 'I don't want them to just be possession receivers, I want guys that can stretch the field with speed and technique, and if a running back gets in the clear, I want our guys to give great effort to try and help them'.
Talked about Anthony Russo being his 'stead eddie' of his group, and Yarber said that he has exceptional quickness and is their best guy right now against press coverage. 'He's faster than most people think'. They like to use him in their play-action on deep passes. 'He does the job on a consistent basis. He gives all-out effort'.
Said right now that, contrary to the official two-deeps that were posted, Marcel Reece and Corey Williams are both sharing the second spot behind Russo, while Cody Ellis is their No. 1 option at the slot. 'In our base offense there's only two receivers, and six guys that want to play the spot'.
(10/31/06 12:42:21 pm):
Spoke with TE Johnie Kirton...
...and said that his running debut against ASU 'came so quick and left so fast' because of an infection that left him with a 105-degree fever and blurry vision. 'I tried to hide from them (trainers), but once they took my temperature I was done. But I got to show Seattle I can run the ball, at least for one play'.
He worked with the running backs all week, splitting with the tight ends and making sure he got his work with them too.
He said that he talked to Tim Lappano yesterday and Lappano told him that they are going to keep him in their short-yardage and goal-line packages, but haven't talked to him yet about possibly expanding his running role. 'I just have to keep showing them that I'm versatile'.
(10/30/06 3:04:34 pm):
Spoke with S C.J. Wallace...
...and he said that he's not where he wants to be physically, but after that first day of practice in the fall you're never going to be 100 percent. 'The only thing I'm worried about is if it's right on Saturday', even if that means taking a week of mental reps.
Said he missed a day of practice last week. 'I set a goal this year to make every practice since this is my last year, so I'm trying to practice as much as I can'.
Asked about the Oregon rivalry game from the perspective of a northern California player, and he said that you don't ever really know what it means until you get on the field. 'These are two teams that, I don't want to say that they hate each other, but we always play like we do. This game is just one of those games. Oregon, being in the Northwest, you have to come and be ready for the battle of the Northwest - that's one of those things that you want to win'.
Said he's gotten used to going down to Eugene, this year being the third-straight that the Huskies have to play Oregon at home. 'I kind of look forward to it. This time, we need to go in and win'.
Asked about some of the more creative things said to him at Autzen Stadium, and he said that he had his gold teeth in during warmups and someone in the end zone said, 'I didn't know (Justin) Phinisee played for Washington'. There's just a lot of trash talking going on. There are little kids there...there was this little kid at the end of the seats yelling at me...'Number 1, number 1!', and I knew he was an Oregon fan, but he couldn't have been more than five, so I went over there and he flipped me off! This is a real rivalry! But I laughed it off. I hope that kid is there this year. I hope I see him again'. (laughs)
Asked how much that banter fuels him, and he said that he's one of those kinds of players that fueled up for anything, but at the same time, 'this is a rivalry that has grown on me'.
Asked whether or not, as a senior with only three games left, these games take on more importance than the others up to this point, and he said yes. 'I wouldn't say we dug ourselves a hole, but it makes it a must-win. It makes us step up to the challenge more. Are we going to make it to our goal of getting to a bowl game or not? This is reality. We want to get to our goal, so we have to win this game.'
Asked about being able to compete on the road, and whether or not that gives them confidence despite losing, and he said definitely. 'You take teams like USC and Cal to the wire, one play can change the whole thing. That's how I see it, we were one play away from winning. If we correct that one play, we can definitely win these last three games'.
Asked about the resiliency of this team, and he said that it's still there. 'We definitely know what we can do and we definitely know that we should have won all those games. That's the bright side of it all. We have to come out and win this game, that's how we look at it every week. We don't give up. We're relentless. That's the difference between this year's team and last year's team...we're hard-nosed football players looking for a win. The same thing everyone else is out for.'
(10/30/06 2:49:32 pm):
Spoke with QB Johnny DuRocher...
...and he said that when he went into the game he had to make sure he was ready, take some quick snaps. 'It just worked out'. Added that he really didn't see the hit on Carl Bonnell because he was focused on what was going on downfield.
He said that he had some talks with Tim Lappano about the various scenarios and what might happen. 'He did a good job of making sure that I would be ready throughout the week in case I had to play'.
Said the number of reps he got in practice was 'not that many'. 'As a backup, you normally don't get a lot of reps. I just tried to make the best of the ones I got'.
Added that you have to watch a lot of tape and really pay attention to what's going on. 'If you can't go out there and see what the defenses are doing first hand, you have to really make sure you have a grasp of it through film. There's a hightened attention to detail when you're watching film'.
Said it took him one play to get back into things. 'It (rust) wears off pretty quick'.
Said the touchdown with Shackelford was 'probably the most fun I've had in the last four years playing football. It was just jumping around and going crazy with your teammates. It was a good experience'.
Asked if that moment was worth all the toil he's gone through and he said that 'anytime you go out and play, and play welll, it feels like it was worth it'. 'Obviously we would have liked to play better in overtime, but we came back and we played hard'.
Asked about Oregon, and he said that it's always fun for him to play in Eugene. 'They have good fans, they are a good team and it's always a good atmosphere. We're looking forward to it'. He added that because he went there last year, it's not strange for him.
Asked if Oregon fans have gotten their fill of giving him a rough time, and he said that he doubts they'll ever get their fill. Asked about some of their more creative cheers, and he said that he couldn't repeat them in public, but they definitely caught his attention and caused him to laugh about it'.
Said ever since he left Oregon he thought about coming back and starting opposite the Ducks. 'I think Carl's starting this week, but if it happens, I'll really be looking forward to it'.
Said he still keeps in touch with other players on the UO team, namely Brady Leaf.
(10/30/06 2:32:36 pm):
Spoke with TE Mike Gottlieb...
...and he said that he's back to 100 percent after his hand injury, but the team has 'definitely taken some hits. But we don't have time to sit down and worry about the emotional effects. We're down, we have players that are down, but we have our task at hand and we'll fight like we would every game to get a win this week'.
Asked about the Oregon game, being a northwest kid, and he said that 'it's one of the reasons you come to a big-time school, these kinds of rivalries. There's going to be a lot of emotion flying around for this game. It's fun as a player to be in that kind of atmosphere'.
Asked about playing three years in a row in Eugene, and he said that the only thing he's tired of is going down there and not coming back with a win. 'If we can go down there and get a win, that would be big for our program and a lot of fun'.
Asked about playing so many close-but-no-cigar games in a row, and he said that they don't have a choice. 'All we can do is fight, we don't have a choice. And we have another chance to prove ourselves this week and we're going to take advantage of that opportunity'.
Asked about the rotation of quarterbacks that have gone in and out the past few weeks, and he said that they are comfortable with all the QB's. 'We try to take it in stride when one gets hurt because each quarterback has their own personal style, but we have to continue to make the offense functional no matter who is behind center'.
Asked about being a threat blocking in the run game, as opposed to being a pass-catching specialist, and he said that as the season has progressed, it's a role that he's accepted. 'I'm fully capable of going out and running routes and catching passes, but that's not what the gameplan has called out for me. But when they call my number, I'll be ready. I'll embrace whatever role they let me go out and do'.
(10/30/06 2:20:30 pm):
Spoke with WR Sonny Shackelford...
Said that the mood in the locker room is serious, but then again 'it's always serious. It's coming down to the nitty gritty, and with the seniors on this team, they are realizing that there's only three games left, so we have to put the foot on the gas pedal and win these last games'.
Asked about things coming together for an upset win, and he said that hopefully it'll come against Oregon this week. 'A lot of the young guys don't know it yet, but they are going to understand soon just how much they like us down there'.
Asked about the Autzen Stadium crowd, and he called them 'fun-loving'. 'We have a great history with them. They like to throw things, so we'll keep our heads on a swivel and be ready for anything. It's definitely a place where you don't turn around, because something might be flying at you'.
He added that it's an environment that they thrive on. 'It helps your team to play better. Their crowd really pumps their team up, so if we keep them quiet, that means that maybe they won't play as well'.
As far as the recent losing streak, he said that as long as the seniors and the leaders keep their heads up and keep pumping everybody up, play hard and take care of their own business, the rest of the team will follow.
Asked about the physical toll of the season taking an emotional toll, and Shackelford said that Willingham won't allow that because he's good about getting guys rest if they aren't running as fast as they're supposed to. 'He knows how we should be running and doing our things, he knows how we are.'
Asked about the recent troubles at home, and he said that the only thing is, they haven't won. 'We're losing regardless - on home and on the road. We just need to win, get the job done'.
(10/30/06 2:04:20 pm):
Spoke with QB Carl Bonnell...
...and he talked about the Oregon atmosphere and he said that there will be people from every age group that get after it in Autzen Stadium. 'There could be an 80-year woman screaming at you and doing all kind of stuff. They get pretty creative'. He added that once he's on the field, he can't hear any of it.
Said that scoring early and moving the ball 'at their pace' will be key for them. 'That will be our focus this week'.
Said that they've played 'pretty tough teams on the road' and they are going to have to step it up against this week. Said that 'we need to win and win now. Our backs are against the wall. Oregon is another tough team, so we have another opportunity to battle and play tough.'
Asked about the mood in the locker room, and he said that it was pretty quiet after ASU. 'We know that we're a good team. We can put points up on the board and our defense has played well at times. We just have to put it all together for one full game'.
Said he wasn't aware at all who was going in for him during the ASU game. 'The doctors had me surrounded. I was focused on if I could get back in there'. Added that the doctors took his helmet and wouldn't give it back, so he couldn't have gone back in even if he had wanted to'.
(10/30/06 1:53:13 pm):
Willingham noon briefing:
Started it off by saying he left the Saturday night briefing by saying the ASU game was a disappointing/exciting/disappointing-type of game, and as of Monday, the team is still disappointed with the outcome of that game. 'We're disappointed we didn't win the football game, and everything else pales in comparison'.
Asked about Carl Bonnell's health, and Willingham said that he should be fine. 'He should be ready to go on Tuesday, and he'll be our starting quarterback'. (Ed note: After seeing Carl during Monday's media luncheon, he looks fine to me and shouldn't have any trouble starting on Saturday. He did suffer a minor concussion against ASU, the first of his career). He also added that 'if there's any downside to Carl, it's that he's almost too aggressive. I like that'.
Asked about Kenny James, and Willingham said that he's 'much closer', and that all the MRI's and tests that they did on Kenny's ankle last week came back negative, so it's now just a matter of resting it and seeing how it responds to treatment. 'He wanted to play last week, but we felt that he should wait another week. We want to make sure he can go full-speed'. He added that he would possibly practice on Tuesday.
Other injury questions were about Jason Wells (knee), who will be out this week, but Willingham expects that he'll be back at some point before the season is over...Donald Butler, who left with a calf injury but appears to be fine...Johnie Kirton, who left the game with an undisclosed illness, but should be OK...and Luke Kravitz, who appears to be out at least another 1-2 weeks with a knee sprain. He added that because Wells is out, he's still looking at the battle between Mesphin Forrester and Chris Hemphill in terms of who starts this week. 'We will see during the week who should be in that spot'.
Asked about Jake Locker and their decision to hold onto his redshirt season, and Willingham said that's it's a 'very difficult situation' they've put Jake in. 'It's like he's hanging in limbo'. 'He would like to be involved in helping the team, but at the same time he wants to make sure that we're ensuring the best possible position for himself. And he's handled it well, which is another testament to his character.' Willingham added that they have had talks with Jake about what he wants to do and 'he's ready to go, but he's going to let us make the best decision for him and for the team'.
After saying that, he made it clear that there were two very different scenarios, one for an injury where Bonnell would be out for the rest of the season, and one where Bonnell was expected back to play. Under the first scenario, he said that Locker could still be a factor, but at this point it definitely seems unlikely that he would play.
Asked about Johnny DuRocher, and the decision to put him in the game on Saturday, and Willingham said that he looked at all the factors, and based on what he saw in Carl's injury, that's when he knew he wanted to use DuRocher. 'Sometimes it's a case where you just don't know what the best decision is going to be until you get there'. He added that he felt Johnny did a good job stepping into a 'difficult situation'.
Asked about the QB'ing reps for practice this week, and Willingham said that there will be a little change from who got how many reps last week, 'but you just can't get all of them the amount they need'. Because of their pro-style of practicing, it's predicated on 'quality over quantity', so that should help them in terms of trying to stay somewhat fresh over the course of a season with no byes, but because of that - it doesn't allow for players to get a lot of reps in general.
And even though Felix Sweetman is technically the No. 3 QB on the depth right now, his role and number of reps will not change this week, according to Willingham.
Asked about Louis Rankin and his improvement, and Willingham said that he felt Louis was 'more forceful' in his runs against Arizona State, 'but we needed to give him more help'. 'I think there were about four 'big play potential' plays where, if we give him what we should have, he makes those big plays'.
Asked about what he sees in Oregon, and he said that 'when you look at the statistics, they are one of the best offensive teams in the conference we've faced'. Added that Dennis Dixon has a high completion percentage, Jaison Williams is 'very explosive' and Jonathan Stewart is one of the top-6 backs in the conference in yards per game. 'They have a very productive and explosive offense and we need to slow that offense down. And when we are on offense, we need to execute and get touchdowns, not field goals'.
Asked about Autzen Stadium and Willingham said that he got his first Pac-10 win there while at Stanford, and he has 'had some positive experiences there'. 'If we have the right focus, we can have success, but it has to be complete. Because of the crowd there, you have to all of your game together'.
He also said that, because of the creative and spirited nature of the Autzen Stadium crowds, his hearing 'isn't very good down there'.
Asked if his team is playing better on the road, and Willingham said that there is a certain 'us versus the world' attitude that a team has on the road, and 'we've played some great teams on the road. It brings our group closer together and creates a tighter focus. We just have to work on that at home'.
Asked if he's fully caught up to speed on the nature of the UW-UO rivalry, and he said that when he first went around the state to talk to fans his first spring here, he saw that half the state saw Washington State as the No. 1 rival, and half the state saw Oregon as the No. 1 rival, so 'it's a very important rival game for us'.
Asked about the importance of the mythical 'Northwest Championship', and Willingham said that it's very important for the team to think in those terms. 'We want to give the team as many 'driving thoughts' as possible. It's an important one for us. If we win that one, we'll be able to carry more championship thoughts to the whole west coast'.
Asked about the attitude of the team right now, and he said that, while it's hard to say how it is right now because he won't really see the team again together until Tuesday, he felt he has had a 'resilient' team that has played hard all year long. 'We've battled and played some good games, and even when we've played poorly we've still found ourselves in a position to win.
'This week will be another test of our ability to fight'.
The Pepsi Players of the week were: Sonny Shackelford (offense), C.J. Wallace (defense) and Mike Braunstein (Special Teams)...for the service teams, they were Paul Homer (offense), Donald Butler (defense) and Joshua Gage (Special Teams)
(10/30/06 11:47:35 am):
Mike Bellotti Press Notes:
Missed his opening comment.
Asked about Jonathan Stewart, and he said he'll be fine. Probably won't practice, but should be available mid-week after hitting a bench and a wall during a game and also recovering from an assortment of nicks and bruises.
Asked about preparing for either Carl Bonnell or Johnny DuRocher, and Bellotti said that while Bonnell is more of a threat with his feet, he was impressed with DuRocher's escapability against ASU and feels that UW's system won't change much with either QB in there, so they are going to prepare for both. He was also asked about having more knowledge of DuRocher than normal because he started out at Oregon, and Bellotti said that because of natural development and because of time in general, his knowledge of DuRocher probably won't help UO all the much.
Asked about his QB's and he said that Dennis Dixon would definitely start, and 'has always been our starter'. Added that all three of their quarterbacks (Dixon, Brady Leaf and Nathan Costa) played against Portland State and he was very impressed with Costa's debut. 'He started his first drive in the shadow of our end zone and went 98 yards for a touchdown'.
Asked about bowl aspirations, and he said that the 'can only control what we do in each game', so they 'can only be optimistic and play one game at a time, so we're only looking at Washington'. 'Not only is it a rivalry game, but it's important for the bowl hopes of both teams'.
(10/30/06 10:12:00 am):
Oregon's two-deep depth chart, as announced by Oregon's Sports Information Department:
OFFENSE WR 4 Jaison Williams 6-5/240/SO 1 Garren Strong 6-3/200/JR LT 60 Max Unger 6-5/306/SO 71 Mark Lewis 6-4/300/SO LG 61 Josh Tschirgi 6-4/311/JR OR 63 Jon Teague 6-2/293/SO 66 Pat So'oalo 6-5/340/JR C 55 Enoka Lucas 6-4/299/SR 51 Jeff Kendall 6-3/280/SO RG 77 Palauni Ma Sun 6-6/320/SR 63 Jon Teague 6-2/293/SO OR 67 Sean Cullen 6-3/294/JR RT 75 Geoff Schwartz 6-7/340/JR 78 Jacob Hucko 6-7/307/SO TE 44 Dante Rosario 6-4/240/SR 81 Ryan Keeling 6-5/250/SO QB 10 Dennis Dixon 6-4/200/JR 16 Brady Leaf 6-5/231/JR TB 28 Jonathan Stewart 5-11/230/SO 24 Jeremiah Johnson 5-9/210/SO 23 Andre Crenshaw 5-10/191/FR WR 19 Brian Paysinger 6-2/208/JR 18 James Finley 6-2/204/SR WR 2 Jordan Kent 6-5/210/SR 86 Ryan Mattice 6-3/200/SO OR 3 Cameron Colvin 6-2/200/JR DEFENSE DE 95 Darius Sanders 6-5/270/SR 83 Ed Dickson 6-5/243/rFR DT 90 David Faaeteete 6-2/310/JR 99 Jeremy Gibbs 6-3/283/JR 91 Ra'Shon Harris 6-5/310/SO DT 45 Matt Toeaina 6-3/301/SR 43 Michael Speed 6-4/261/SO DE 49 Nick Reed 6-2/259/SO 93 Dexter Manley 6-2/266/JR WLB 34 A.J. Tuitele 5-11/213/JR 25 Kevin Garrett 5-11/221/rFR MLB 33 Blair Phillips 6-2/250/SR 40 John Bacon 6-3/235/SO SS 30 Kwame Agyeman 5-11/205/JR 48 Jon Pope 6-1/223/SR LC 32 Jairus Byrd 5-11/208/rFR 29 Parris Moore 6-0/190/SR OR 2 Terrell Ward 5-10/191/rFR OR 31 Jameel Dowling 6-2/190/JR ROV 15 Patrick Chung 5-11/205/SO 20 Matthew Harper 6-0/177/JR FS 28 J.D. Nelson 5-11/205/SR 9 Ryan DePalo 6-1/206/JR RC 6 Walter Thurmond 6-0/175/rFR 17 Willie Glasper 5-11/180/rFR SPECIALISTS KR 24 Jeremiah Johnson 5-9/210/SO 28 Jonathan Stewart 5-11/230/SO 15 Patrick Chung 5-11/205/SO 32 Jairus Byrd 5-11/208/rFR PR 24 Jeremiah Johnson 5-9/210/SO OR 6 Walter Thurmond 6-0/175/rFR OR 15 Patrick Chung 5-11/205/SO HLD 16 Brady Leaf 6-5/231/JR 10 Dennis Dixon 6-4/200/JR KO 85 Matt Evensen 6-1/191/SO 40 Luke Bellotti 5-9/182/JR PK 36 Paul Martinez 6-2/210/SR 85 Matt Evensen 6-1/191/SO P 98 Aaron Knowles 6-0/175/SR OR 14 Matt Dragich 6-1/213/SR LS 84 Eric Steimer 6-0/226/JR 51 Jeff Kendall 6-3/280/SO SS 84 Eric Steimer 6-0/226/JR 75 Geoff Schwartz 6-7/340/JR
(10/30/06 9:52:00 am):
Here are the official Washington Huskies two-deeps for the Oregon game, as released by UW Media Relations.
OFFENSE WR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11/185/JR 18 Corey Williams 6-2/195/JR 19 Quintin Daniels 6-0/195/SR LT 79 Ben Ossai 6-6/300/rFR 70 Morgan Rosborough 6-6/375/rFR LG 74 Stanley Daniels 6-4/320/SR 72 Casey Bulyca 6-6/320/SO C 58 Juan Garcia 6-3/315/JR 73 Ryan Bush 6-2/305/SO RG 63 Clay Walker 6-4/305/SR 65 Ryan Tolar 6-6/325/FR RT 75 Chad Macklin 6-8/300/JR 69 Erik Berglund 6-6/290/JR TE 86 Michael Gottlieb 6-5/245/SO 37 Johnie Kirton 6-3/270/SO 81 Robert Lewis 6-5/245/SO 92 Walter Winter 6-5/250/SO QB 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3/210/JR 12 Johnny DuRocher 6-4/225/JR 10 Jake Locker 6-3/210/FR TB 9 Louis Rankin 6-1/205/JR OR 8 Kenny James 5-10/215/SR 7 Shelton Sampson 5-11/210/SR FB 43 Mark Palaita 5-10/245/SR 30 Paul Homer 6-0/225/FR WR 21 Sonny Shackelford 6-2/180/SR 29 Cody Ellis 6-0/185/JR 83 Marlon Wood 5-10/185/JR 3 Marcel Reece 6-3/240/JR DEFENSE DE 66 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 6-4/245/rFR 41 Brandon Ala 6-3/260/SR DT 95 Jordan Reffett 6-6/295/JR 91 Donny Mateaki 6-5/285/SR DT 74 Wilson Afoa 6-3/290/JR 77 Erick Lobos 6-3/285/JR DE 41 Brandon Ala 6-3/260/SR 7 Greyson Gunheim 6-5/265/JR OLB 34 Dan Howell 6-1/225/JR 20 Kyle Trew 6-2/235/JR ILB 47 Tahj Bomar 6-2/225/SR 35 Donald Butler 6-1/240/FR OLB 4 Scott White 6-1/235/SR 29 Chris Stevens 6-0/215/SO 22 E.J. Savannah 6-2/222/rFR FS 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2/205/SO 3 Chris Hemphill 6-5/235/JR SS 1 C.J. Wallace 6-0/210/SR 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2/205/SO CB 8 Dashon Goldson 6-2/205/SR 6 Matt Fountaine 5-11/180/SR CB 28 Roy Lewis 5-11/187/JR 8 Dashon Goldson 6-2/205/SR SPECIALISTS P 17 Sean Douglas 6-2/230/SR PR 14 Michael Braunstein 5-8/185/JR 11 Michael Book 6-3/195/SR HLD 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3/210/JR SNP 49 Danny Morovick 6-3/230/rFR KOR 28 Roy Lewis 5-11/187/JR 6 Matt Fountaine 5-11/180/SR FR 83 Marlon Wood 5-10/185/JR 21 Sonny Shackelford 6-2/180/SR