Dawg Blog - Apple Cup

SEATTLE - The 100th Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State is usually played with mroe than just in-state bragging rights at stake. This Saturday, however, that's all there is. The Huskies are hoping to finish their season by bowling a turkey, and by the way WSU's season is finishing, it looks like basketball season has already started in the Palouse.

Quick Halftime Stats:
First Downs - WSU 10 UW 10
Rushes-Yards - WSU 14-42 UW 21-113
Passing Yards - WSU 222 UW 110
Total Offense-Plays - 33-264 UW 43-223
Penalties-Yards - WSU 2-15 UW 6-45
Possession - WSU 13:11 UW 16:49
Rushing: Rankin 11-48, Locker 6-41, Reece 2-16, Kravitz 2-8
Passing: Locker 7-22 for 110 yards
Receiving: Russo 4-81, C. Williams 1-17, Gottlieb 1-8, Rankin 1-4

20 minutes to gametime
Louis Rankin, Juan Garcia, Jordan Reffett and Greyson Gunheim are today's UW captains. From the way they are lining up, it looks like Byron Davenport will start opposite Roy Lewis at the corners for the Huskies. They will be missing Jordan Murchison, who injured his ankle late this week.

Just based on looking from the press box, it appears that there's roughly 50 or so recruits watching the warm up for both teams. UW commits Vince Taylor, Justin Glenn, Luther Leonard, Senio Kelemete and Drew Schaefer are down there, from our vantage point. Alamed Ta'amu, Le'Roi Edwards, Vincente Cordova, Johnny Jackson, Corey Laufasa, Skylar Stormom, A'lo'ofa Ta'a and Luke Schindele are all there as well. Everette Thompson, Jermaine Kearse and Kavario Middleton are all supposed to be at the game as well - but we either couldn't positively see them on the sidelines, or they haven't shown up yet.

Afternoon Practice Notes:
There were at least six gold jerseys worn Tuesday; Cody Ellis, Louis Rankin, Brandon Johnson, Jordan Reffett, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Darin Harris. Anthony Russo joined the six in leading the team in Husky Jacks, so I would venture to say that Russo also was awarded a gold jersey - he just didn't happen to be wearing it at the time we were out at practice.

Byron Davenport Notes:
Davenport was asked Tuesday about the injury that kept him out of the Cal win. "I banged my knee on Thursday. It was huge the day of the game and I tried to run around, backpedal and plant, but I just couldn't do a lot on it. But it feels a lot better now."

So will he play in the Apple Cup? "Yeah, I gotta play Saturday. This past Saturday was just too much. My knee was too fat, couldn't move it around. Now we're good."

So how did the injury happen? "We were going team and I tried to re-route Curtis (Shaw) and he ran right into me and we banged knees. I got the bad end of it. He apologized and he's good about it.

"When it happened, I couldn't really bend it. I started freaking out. It's the first time I hurt my knee. The trainers had to calm me down. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was. It was crazy."

Asked about the recruiting battle for his services between UW and WSU. "Kelly Skipper and Coach (Ken) Greene, they were the ones that recruited me, and Coach Doba as well. But once JD (Williams) came around, it was a wrap."

Davenport was committed to WSU for about a week before switching sides. "I talked to Skip pretty much about it. He was the one that was doing most of the recruiting. They brought in a couple of good corners, so I don't think they sweated too much about it."

Since Davenport went to a couple of bowls with UCLA, he understands the dynamic that's going to take place Friday between the two teams during their joint luncheon at the Qwest Events Center.

"You sit back and you see some 'mean mugging' and talking some smack when you can. It's cool. You eat with them, and based on the scouting reports you try to see who the competition is, try to size them up. It's going to be cool. When they told us about it, everyone was like, 'Whoa'. But I think it's going to be fun."

Matt Mosley Notes:
Talked to the RSFrosh corner about starting the Cal game for Byron Davenport. "Coach (JD Williams) just said to step in there and go. As a number-two guy, that's what you have to do.

"I started two games earlier in the year, so it was easy for me to step in there. The game slowed down more for me, I think it came to me a lot easier. I did OK. I missed a few tackles. You can always improve. Coach Willingham and Coach JD (Williams) always want you to be the best you can be."

"That was the most time I've seen in two years since high school."

Mosley isn't sure if he's going to start Saturday.

Asked about the Apple Cup, and he said that WSU running back Marcus Richmond played against Mosley for a rival school back in Arizona. "I expect we'll jaw a little bit."

Went to last year's AC on his own, so he got to see just how intense the rivalry can be.

Asked about the Friday luncheon, which will include both teams. "It's unusual. I can't imagine doing that with my rivals high school back home. It's going to be interesting."

Denbrock Notes:
Asked about the jump up in production from the line, especially in the past few weeks - "They are improving. They are playing hard, listening and are a pretty focused group. I've been pretty pleased with them over the past five or six weeks, really. I think they've started to come into their own and have gotten used to being around each other and playing with each other. They've done some good things.

"Some it is also having some depth there that we didn't have a year ago - keeping guys more fresh than they were a year ago. I think we've been able to build momentum as the year has gone along as a unit. And we need to make sure that continues."

Aske about the future of center Juan Garcia, who has a sixth year available if he wants to use it, but is entertaining the idea of maybe jumping for the NFL Draft this coming April - "We talk all the time, and not necessarily about football. It's going to come down to Juan making his own decision based on what's best for him and his family. There's two sides to the story - and clearly we'd love to have him back and want him back. I'd love to keep as much continuity with this group as we possibly can. I think we've got a chance to grow together as a unit. Obviously, from my perspective - selfishly - I'd love to have the guy be here for another three or four years. But we understand the situation he's in and everybody knows what his story is all about. I'm not sure what the outcome is going to be, but I sure hope he stays.

"Consistency-wise, he's really picked it up - especially in the last little bit. He's continuing to grow and get better and better every week - so we'll see how it goes."

Does Denbrock think Juan is ready for the NFL? "I don't think there's any question about it. We know one thing for sure; playing center in the NFL you have to have a great knowledge of the game of football. You have to understand defensive philosophies and schemes, and Juan knows that. You have to also be tough and you have to be competitive, and Juan has all those things. All that points in the direction of him having a successful career when that happens a year from now...hopefully."

Just how important is the center position, relative to it maybe being the most important along the line? "People talk about a baseball team being strong up the middle. A football team has to be strong up the middle too, with a good center, good quarterback and you can build from there. It's vital that the the guy in the middle not only has a good understanding of the game of football, but can provide the push and kind of physical play that you want to have up front. And Juan gives that to us."

And if Garcia does decide to jump for the pros? "We try to work a number of guys at center, so that if catastrophe strikes, we've got somebody who can snap it and play there. It's something we'll have to address when and if it happens. There's some pretty talented kids that are versatile enough that we can do what we have to do to get our best five guys out there."

How is the rotation at guard and tackle working out? "I'd say that all three of the guys that are playing guard right now (JWF, Tolar and Bulyca), there's no real dropoff or difference. They are all playing very well, so there's no real dip in their performance. That's the good news, and I think the same is true at tackle. There's three guys that we can rotate in there and they are doing their share of good things."

Baer Notes:
The Washington Defensive Coordinator was asked about what he sees offensively from Washington State, and whether or not they might show some similarities to other teams the Huskies have faced this year and he said that the first thing is that each team is so different that it's really hard to look at specific similarities, but he went on to add that really the WSU base offense hasn't been any different than when Mike Price was there - meaning that OC Mike Levenseller hasn't really changed whole philosophies since he became the head of the Cougars' offense, and Baer isn't expecting wholesale changes like what the WSU defense did after the ASU game.

"They seem to always have a different back who is good, and they usually always have really good tight ends. If you look at (Jed) Collins, he's a big part of their attack. And they almost always have three or four good receivers."

He was asked about Alex Brink. First Baer said that it was nearly impossible to truly assess his last game because of the weather conditions. But he understands the offense so well, and he's thrown for more touchdowns than anyone else at that school that when he's on - like he was against UCLA - he's capable of being really good.

Asked about the second-half changes against Cal, and Baer said that Cal - maybe moreso than any team they've played - looks totally different at the beginning of every game they play - so it take a little bit to adjust to what they are doing. That, coupled with the fact that it's difficult to duplicate the speed they see on Saturdays with the scout receivers they have - it takes some time to find the flow. "Matt Mosley did a great job of adjusting to the speed, and that's part of the learning process," he said.

He went on to say that just like running backs should get better in the second half because they are into the flow of the game and understand what's going on better, the linebackers should have a better second half too, simply because they now understand what they are looking at, what schemes are in place, and also how to attack them.

Baer was asked about the play of safety Darin Harris, and Baer said that he thinks Harris is probably their most consistent player back there right now. "He plays so hard," Baer said of Harris. "And he's a great example of when coaches tell kids to be ready. He got a chance and he took advantage of it."

He also said that Harris was moved back to strong safety for the Cal game, and wasn't sure if anyone in the media had noticed the shift. "He loves to hit, and you don't want to coach that out of him."

Because of the scheme he likes to run, Baer said he was surprised that Daniel Te'o-Nesheim was third in tackles last week with eight. "90 percent of that is effort. He chases down backs as good as anybody."

Lappano Notes:
Asked about the game - "There's a lot to be playing for. You can throw out the records. I've been in a lot of rivalry games, and that's just the way it is. These are very emotional games, and you have to be careful of that because sometimes if you're too emotional it can take you out of your gameplan."

Asked about Jake Locker being on the sidelines - "He had the headset on, so he heard me erupt a couple of times - he got a good laugh out of that."

Lappano added that he expects Locker to start on Saturday.

So will the gameplan be a mix of the two different types of systems - the one with Jake and the one the Huskies utilized to great effectiveness Saturday against Cal? - "I don't want to give it away, but it'll be a little different."

UW used some jet sweeps over the top of the backfield on some of their running plays to keep Cal honest. "With Jake gone we needed a little something. I just didn't want to get into two-backs and smash-mouth it with nothing to look at. I wanted them to see something different, and I think it messed them up a little bit. You have to respect it. It wasn't just window dressing."

He was asked about the one reverse by Curtis Shaw that looked to be wide-open, but was negated due to the UW sidelines calling timeout before the snap. "It was gone. I had to try and find Curtis to begin with. By the time I found him, there was about 17-18 seconds when I called it. Man, I was frustrated."

Lappano said that the wrinkles he used against Cal were definitely based on things he's seen from other teams. "When somebody does something good - I watch everyone in this league. Football is give and take. I've seen people do what we've been doing, and we steal and take too. That's football. That's just studying and what you do in the winter time. You can't stay the same all the time. We're always trying to find ways to get better."

Asked about Locker and running the ball - "He's always felt good about the number of runs we've given him. We only gave him one run against Oregon State, and he went for 32 yards."

How about getting out of bounds? "Unless the game is on the line, he needs to get out of bounds. When we're running him inside the tackle box, he's not getting down. That is who he is and you can't take that away from him, but you can be smarter when you get forced out of the pocket. You have to know when to get down."

He was asked about the offensive line - which as a group has really come on of late. "I think you're seeing a lot more consistency each week - and not just with the younger guys either. You aren't seeing the huge ups and downs that you saw last year. And we're still not playing our best up front. When you watch the film, there's still room for guys to play even better than we're playing."

Lappano was asked about the breakthrough game of Brandon Johnson - who had 125 yards in relief of Louis Rankin. "He was into it. I love his attitude. He really likes football, it's important to him. He wants to be a good player. He's very confident in himself, which is good - because you worry when you put a freshman out there with the game on the line, totin' that ball and it gets knocked out, but he's really confident. You can see it down on the field by looking in his eyes. He was giving out all the right vibes.

"He runs physical. He's got to get his eyes up and his knees up, but as far as hittin' that thing downhill and running hard - he can do that. And he's a good receiver out of the backfield."

He was asked about Washington State, and what he expects to see from them. After the ASU game they went to 3-4 with linebackers 'crawling around all over the place." They also blitz over 50 percent of the time. "They are going to pick and choose their times to come, and when they do we have to make them pay - just like we did last year."

They are not like Stanford in the sense that WSU will mix things up on all sides, but Stanford and WSU are the only two teams the Huskies will play that blitz more than half the time. The normal percentage is less than 25 percent of the time for any team the Huskies have faced this year. "You live and die with all that pressure. They are going to win some and it's going to be ugly a couple of times - but when we win hopefully it's six points.

"They play hard, and they'll play hard on Saturday."

So does that mean what Washington will see from the Cougars defensively is a lot different than last year? "It's a little bit different. They were playing an odd-man front and during the Apple Cup they went back to a little bit of four-man. Whatever they do we're going to have to adjust to it - three-man or four-man - it might be both. And they've got to worry about some of the things that we're going to do too."

With the amount of blitzing expected, what about the sacks against Cal, where they seem to be getting pressure? Lappano called those 'total assignment busts'. "We had that stuff stopped, we just missed a couple in the backfield."

Locker Notes:
Jake came in with his neck noticeably stiff, but after a few minutes couldn't contain the ruse, as he moved his head from side to side and said that he was thinking about wearing his neck brace for the media. That sent everyone in the room laughing. He added that he feels good and even though it was hard to stand on the sidelines to watch, he trusts the coaches to do the best thing for him - and if the best thing is to get in the game Saturday, he'll do that.

Said he was able to take a lot from watching the game Saturday. He mentioned how it helped his vocal leadership and how he was able to be a positive influence. "I think it's something that's going to carry over to the field."

Said he didn't really grow up a fan of either team growing up when asked about the Apple Cup, but also admitted that as he grew up he leaned more toward Washington. He's been to at least two or three Apple Cups before last year, and was at the Apple Cup when Corey Williams made his big catch as a freshman in 2003. "I always liked Cody (Pickett)," Locker said. "Just the way he played. He was a tough guy."

Said that the Lynden Lions are Ferndale's biggest rivalry, and he was 2-2 against them in his career. Said his sophomore year, the game was at Lynden and his Dad went to go get tickets at the stadium early that morning. When he got there, there were at least a thousand people in line, also waiting to get tickets. "I was 15 years old and didn't understand the full extent of the rivalry, and that put it in perspective. Next year it was at our place, and the same thing happened."

Asked about playing in a game with that kind of rivalry pressure, and Locker said that it's always enjoyable playing on a big stage. They lost his junior year, and he struggled. "I took a lot from that," he said. "I tried to play beyond my means."

Asked about the legacy of the Apple Cup, and Locker said that every time you step out on the field you are always playing for your team, as well as those that have represented the program up to now.

Willingham Notes:
Said that a rivalry week such as this one creates energy that you just don't normally get in any other week. "We're excited to put our best foot forward."

Because of Thanksgiving, this game will be the first time the Apple Cup has been played after the holiday since 1983. The Huskies lost that game, 17-6.

Willingham said that for the kids that are away from home, they will have a Thanksgiving lunch on campus. For the local players, they will have the opportunity to go home and have Thanksgiving with their families.

Asked about Jake Locker's availability for Saturday's game, and he said that if he appears to be 100 percent healthy, he's leaning towards starting him, but still wants to see how Locker progresses through the week before making that final pronouncement. He added that he's definitely seen day-to-day improvement in his redshirt frosh QB.

He was asked about Louis Rankin winning Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for his 224-yard rushing effort against Cal, and Willingham said that the award was not only a tribute to Louis, but also to the offensive line for their dominant play and the rest of the offensive team for their help in blocking.

"When you put the team first, good things happen," he added.

Asked about Rankin's health, and Willingham seemed to intimate that Louis could have come back into the Cal game if needed, and he is expected to play Saturday. Asked about Byron Davenport, and Willingham said that he is more of a wait-and-see situation, but he is listed as the starter in the depth chart that was sent out Monday morning.

Asked if the Cal win could somehow be a catalyst or springboard for bigger and better things, and Willingham said that consistently great teams do what UW did to Cal week-in and week-out, and it's a positive step, but they need to back it up with two more wins for it to mean something.

He added that he's seen signs of that kind of dominance all year long during different stretches of different games, so you don't want to discount all that's happened up to this point.

Asked about what a win in the AC would do for the senior class, and he said that the team is hopeful they can finish out these last two games. Added that this group has been 'awful close' to winning a lot of football games since he's been here and that they have been 'steadfast' in their desire to work hard and give it their full effort. "This senior class has been a good group for Washington football," he said.

Asked about Bill Doba's comment earlier Monday that in watching film of UW, he seems to think that the Huskies offensively resemble a lot of what WSU saw in Oregon State this past weekend, and Willingham said that they pick up things on all the teams they play, and that the offense has been an evolution that is still continuing to grow and develop as they add things in and take things out to fit the personnel they are using at the time.

Asked about Washington State, and Willingham said that Alex Brink is a quality quarterback that must be respected. He added that their two main receivers - Michael Bumpus and Brandon Gibson - are very good and that their running back has had some 'big days'. "With the way they throw and run the ball, you know the explosiveness is there," he said.

Defensively, Willingham likes their linebackers and safties, calling them a 'strong group'.

Asked about WSU coming in with the same role the Huskies occupied last year - being a pretty major underdog coming into the Apple Cup, and Willingham said that in games like this, records definitely never mean anything. "You better come ready to play or it's going to get it handed to you," he said.

Some Notes from Monday's Press Conference:
UW announced that 21 seniors will be playing their final home game Saturday against Washington State. They are Wilson Afoa, Erik Berglund, Carl Bonnell, Linus Chou, Quintin Daniels, Cody Ellis, Greyson Gunheim, Tim Harris, Dan Howell, Robert Lewis, Roy Lewis, Erick Lobos, Chad Macklin, Louis Rankin, Caesar Rayford, Marcel Reece, Jordan Reffett, Anthony Russo, Kyle Trew, Corey Williams and Sho Yoshinaga.

Louis Rankin was the Pepsi Offensive Player of the Game for his 224-yard effort in last Saturday's win over Cal. He was also named the Pac-10 Player of the Week. The Pepsi Defensive Players of the Game was Darin Harris. Mason Foster and Ryan Perkins shared the Pepsi Special Teams Players of the Game. The Scout Team Players of the Game were Brandon Yakaboski (Offense), T.J. Poe (Defense) and Desmond Davis (Special Teams).

Washington Offense
WR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 ^Sr. 18 Corey Williams 6-2 195 ^Sr. LT 79 Ben Ossai 6-6 300 Jr. OR 71 Cody Habben 6-6 300 So. LG 65 Ryan Tolar 6-5 310 So. 76 Jordan White-Frisbee 6-6 320 Sr. C 58 Juan Garcia 6-3 315 ^Sr. 64 Matt Sedillo 6-3 300 So. RG 72 Casey Bulyca 6-6 340 Sr. 64 Matt Sedillo 6-3 300 So. 70 Morgan Rosborough 6-6 365 Jr. RT 75 Chad Macklin 6-8 300 ^Sr. 69 Erik Berglund 6-6 310 ^Sr. TE 86 Michael Gottlieb 6-5 245 Sr. OR 37 Johnie Kirton 6-4 270 Sr. OR 81 Robert Lewis 6-5 250 ^Sr. QB 10 Jake Locker 6-3 225 So. OR 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 215 ^Sr. 8 Ronnie Fouch 6-1 195 Fr. TB 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 ^Sr. 6 Brandon Johnson 5-11 195 Fr. 24 J.R. Hasty 5-11 200 Jr. FB 30 Paul Homer 6-0 222 So. 32 Luke Kravitz 6-1 245 Sr. WR 3 Marcel Reece 6-3 240 Sr. 14 Curtis Shaw 5-11 190 Fr. WR 16 D'Andre Goodwin 6-0 170 So. 29 Cody Ellis 6-0 185 ^Sr.
Washington Defense
DE 66 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 6-4 245 Jr. 59 Darrion Jones 6-3 255 Jr. 96 De'Shon Matthews 6-4 255 So. DT 95 Jordan Reffett 6-6 295 ^Sr. 77 Erick Lobos 6-3 285 Sr. DT 74 Wilson Afoa 6-3 290 ^Sr. 99 Cameron Elisara 6-2 275 So. DE 7 Greyson Gunheim 6-5 265 Sr. 85 Caesar Rayford 6-7 250 Sr. OLB 34 Dan Howell 6-1 225 Sr. 20 Kyle Trew 6-2 235 ^Sr. ILB 57 Trenton Tuiasosopo 6-2 240 Sr. 40 Mason Foster 6-1 218 Fr. OLB 22 E.J. Savannah 6-2 228 Jr. 40 Mason Foster 6-1 218 Fr. 29 Chris Stevens 6-0 215 Jr. FS 15 Darin Harris 5-11 200 Sr. 39 Nate Williams 6-1 205 Fr. SS 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2 205 Sr. 27 Jay Angotti 5-10 180 So. CB 18 Byron Davenport 5-11 195 Jr. 6 Vonzell McDowell Jr. 5-9 176 Fr. 19 Matt Mosley 5-11 190 So. CB 28 Roy Lewis 5-11 187 ^Sr. 17 Jordan Murchison 6-0 184 Sr.
Washington Special Teams
P 12 Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr. 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr. FG/PAT 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr. 12 Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr. KO 12 Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr. 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr. HLD 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 215 ^Sr. SNP 49 Danny Morovick 6-3 230 Jr. KOR 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 Sr. 6 Brandon Johnson 5-11 195 Fr. PR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 ^Sr. 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 Sr.
^ indicates fifth-year senior

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