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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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July 24, 2008 9:23 PM

A few more media day notes

Posted by Bob Condotta

As the title says. ...

--- The Riverside Press-Enterprise used the occasion of Pac-10 media day to name the conference's top five playmakers and led off with Jake Locker. If only he hadn't spent every single minute of the summer playing baseball!

--- This report on the festivities from the LA Times includes a quote from Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen that the conference is "still involved'' in investigating the Reggie Bush case, and that the NCAA is "still involved'' as well.

--- ESPN's Ted Miller notes that Locker really got into it singing "That's Amore'' when the players were taken to a local Italian restaurant on Wednesday night, a dinner that is something of a conference tradition (I'm already regretting I couldn't eat those little warm bread things this year). This is now the second confirmed report of Locker singing in public this summer after he also helped lead the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday'' to his grandmother at a Bellingham Bells game. Hopefully all that singing didn't detract from his football responsibilities this summer, either.

--- Brian Dohn of the LA Daily News notes that among UCLA's walk-ons is quarterback Tyler Tuiasosopo of Mariner High, brother of current Husky Trenton and a cousin of Marques and Zach Tuiasosopo.

--- Mike Tokito of the Oregonian has a nice wrapup of the day's events leading off with more Locker-baseball talk (oh no!).

All for now.

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July 24, 2008 1:04 PM

Huard working for ESPN, more Locker comments

Posted by Bob Condotta

A few more notes from KJR's coverage of media day:

--- Dave Mahler interviewed Brock Huard as Huard was in LA per his new duties working with ESPN/ABC as an analyst for Pac-10 broadcasts this season. This is a good move for Huard, who has steadily been working his way into this business the last few years. I think he turned down a chance to work for ESPN doing games in other conferences last year because of the travel.

Asked about the Huskies, Huard said he has talked often with his brother, Luke, a graduate assistant for the team, and been told that the new assistant coaches have "said we have enough talent to win eight games. Now we are young, that's the challenge. Can it happen? Yes. Is it more difficult (because of the youth)? Absolutely.'' Huard said he thought the assessment of the talent from the new coaches particularly revealing because "they bring an unbiased opinion'' having not really been involved in the recruitment of the players.

--- Mahler concluded his day there with an interview with Jake Locker.

Locker said he hasn't changed anything mechanically with his passing this summer instead focusing on his knowledge of the offense, saying getting more confident in what he is doing will improve his accuracy. "I said in the spring I felt more confident in the offense and that that made a big difference for me,'' he said.

Asked about the new receivers, Locker said "they were able to play fast and very athletic'' during summer workout sessions saying they "will cause some problems for some defenses. It's been fun seeing them try to grow and mature in their positions.''

Asked about the expectations for the team, he said: "We believe nobody is going to expect more out of us than we are, so that's what we are focused on right now.''

And asked about opening with Oregon, a team that has won four in a row against UW, he said: "It's time that we put our foot down and make a stand for ourselves.''

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July 24, 2008 12:14 PM

Wrapping up media day

Posted by Bob Condotta

As mentioned in the other post, I couldn't access the sound to the Pac-10 media day live streaming early on into Rick Neuheisel's comments (conspiracy theories abound in my head).

So I don't have anything else to throw your way that I gathered.

Instead, I'll pass along a few links that should give you about all you really need to know, and if anything else comes my way later, I'll pass that on, as well:

--- ESPN's Ted Miller hits the highlights of every coach (though I imagine right now he's hitting the buffet line --- that's what I'd be doing if I were there).

--- Here are some USC notes.

--- Here's UCLA from the Orange County Register and from the LA Times.

--- Here's more USC, including a lively debate sparked by coach Pete Carroll over some new rules at the coaches meeting with officials this morning.

--- Here's an Oregon State view.

--- Jon Wilner wonders who is the one person who voted Cal No. 1.

--- This has nothing to do with media day, but the creatively named "WSU Football Blog'' has some interesting takes on the Huskies contained herein.

All for now.

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July 24, 2008 11:50 AM

Neuheisel talks about UW program

Posted by Bob Condotta

I'm moving this item from where I first had it to give it some more play.

Not sure if this happened to anyone else, but the sound on my streaming of media day went out about halfway through Rick Neuheisel's comments, so I may not have much more from media day --- I'll try to look for any links with news and pass those along.

But I turned to KJR just in time to catch the end of Dave Mahler's interview with Neuheisel.

Mahler concluded by asking Neuheisel his thoughts on the current state of the Husky program.

Neuheisel dodged the part about whether he feels like the downturn started with his tenure but said: "I feel badly that the University of Washington isn't as excited about its program as they were in that time that I was there because it's a great city, a great program. I have high confidence in Tyrone in terms of bringing back that stuff. I don't think any players I recruited (are still there) other than Juan (Garcia). He's a gutty kid and I wish him nothing but the best. But the University of Washington is a special place and I will always be thankful for my opportunity there and I hope and wish them nothing but the best, I really do.''

He then added that "the Huskies have one of the best players in the country in Jake Locker so they are going to line up every week with a chance.''

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July 24, 2008 11:18 AM

A bit more from the Pac-10

Posted by Bob Condotta

Here are a few more interesting things I've heard from Pac-10 media day:

--- Rick Neuheisel began his session by thanking the UCLA administration for hiring him and saying "there's been a lot said about me the last five years. It is what it is. I'm just looking forward to the opportunity.''

--- Asked about his team's QB situation, Neuheisel joked to the questioner "do you have any eligibility?'' He said Pat Cowan is out for the year with a knee injury but that Ben Olson, recovering from a foot injury, should be ready by mid-August. The backup could be JC transfer Kevin Craft.

--- Cal coach Jeff Tedford left open the possibility that the Bears will play both QBs --- Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley --- this season, saying "it may take both of them for us to achieve our goals this season.''

--- He also said he thinks the team's chemistry will be better this season, something the coaches worked on during the spring, and noted that some staff shakeups could make a difference. Tedford said he will no longer be the team's sole play caller, a role he held last year, so he can spend more time overseeing the defense.

--- Tedford said RB Jahvid Best is healthy and that he thinks the combo of Best and Shane Vereen will "give us the most explosive backfield we've had.''

--- Tedford also said he is "very, very happy'' about the recent developments in the progress of a new stadium for Cal, something that may help mute the rumors that he might be looking to head elsewhere after this season.

--- WSU coach Paul Wulff said troubled DL Andy Roof remains on the team pending a decision by the school's administration. If he is not allowed to play, Wulff said he will recommend Roof transfer so he doesn't lose his final season of eligibility.

--- Wulff also said RB Dwight Tardy has been cleared academically and is full-go for the start of camp.

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July 24, 2008 10:58 AM

Oregon Pac-10 notes

Posted by Bob Condotta

Here's a bit more from Pac-10 media day focusing first on UW's first opponent of the season, the Oregon Ducks:

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said that all of his team's injured players --- QB Nate Costa, RB Jeremiah Johnson, and LBs John Bacon and Jerome Boyd --- are completely healthy and cleared for all football activity.

Bellotti said Costa goes into the fall as the No. 1 QB but that Justin Roper is closed behind based on his play in the Sun Bowl.

Bellotti said he likes playing Washington in the opening game because it's a Pac-10 game that has the attention of his players, it's on TV, "and we get three weeks to prepare for Jake Locker, who is one of the most difficult athletes in college football to defend.''

Bellotti also said he envisions using both Johnson and LeGarrette Blount failry interchangeably in the backfield.

Bellotti led off his comments with a tribute to recently deceased safety Todd Doxey and was accompanied to the podium by safety Patrick Chung who said that Doxey's death "is hard to talk about, but it's made our team stronger.''

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July 24, 2008 9:29 AM

UW notes from media day

Posted by Bob Condotta

Nothing really earth-shattering from the Husky contingent at Pac-10 media day (and one thing to remember is that these guys are available away from the podium so people who are there may have additional notes and quotes).

UW coach Tyrone Willingham was asked about the health of center Juan Garcia and really didn't say anything specific, saying "we are cautiously optimistic'' and that he could be back at some point this season, "sooner rather than later'' if things go well. He said again if the recovery does not go as planned, he may have to have surgery that could knock him out for the year. As detailed here about two weeks ago, Garcia said the recovery is going better than expected and he thinks he could be back by the Oklahoma game if all goes well. But there's still a ways to go with that.

Here are some other comments from Willingham:

On the team: "We have a blend and mixture of youth and experience and hopefully experience at the right spots and hopefully inexperience at some spots we have concerns about but that we think with good coaching, proper preparation and luck at the right spots we can hit this thing just right.''

On the schedule: "I look at it as our team has accepted it as a challenge. Obviously we have one of the most difficult starts because we open with our rival and also a conference game on the road. If we can do well down there, then you think you can do well against other teams we will play at home.''

On Jake Locker, who was with Willingham: "I value the person more than the athlete because it’s the person that creates the athlete. He's as solid a young man as I have had the pleasure to coach. ... No one on our team works harder or prepares better.''

Willingham was also asked about the team's close losses last season and what UW can do to prevent them. He said the coaches looked at three things --- the team's conditioning, coaching, and the team's mentality in those situations. He said the Huskies "beefed up our conditioning a little bit'' to make sure that isn't a factor; will make sure that the coaches "clearly understand those situations, making sure that our guys understand how to handle those situations''; and will work on making sure the players look at those situations with a "glass half-full'' mentality and "that they are looking for great things to happen in those situations.''

He was asked about playing close against USC and said "just the fact that it's USC'' has helped get the team hyped to play the Trojans the last few years but that the Huskies "need to not just make it close.''

Asked if Locker will run less this season he said: "We will let the game dictate what happens there. The preference, obviously, is to not have him run at all but that would take away a very valuable threat that the opponent has to prepare for. ... we'll try to figure out the right balance for that and let the game dictate that.''

Asked if the youth at RB, WR and TE will change the emphasis of the offense any, he said he hopes the "emphasis is winning'' then added that he thinks the talent level is good in those areas and that "if we can bridge the experience gap than those positions can be strengths for us.'' He noted the presence of Brandon Johnson at RB and his 100-yard game last season against Cal but said it's "still not sufficient'' to say he is replacing Louis Rankin, who had a lot more production last season.

LOCKER NOTES

Locker was also there, and predictably enough, given that the media day is held in LA, the first question that came his way was to compare the linebackers for USC and Ohio State, who play early this season.

He was later asked about his summer playing baseball and said he liked simply doing something that was competitive but that "it didn't take away from what I did football-wise.''

After Locker concluded his answer about baseball, Willingham said he liked that Locker was able to be competitive this summer and that "honing the competitive edge, that's what competitors really love.''

He also spoke of his leadership role with the team and said "I feel like I really improved myself as a football player this summer from a leadership standpoint. We are young at receiver and in the backfield, so being able to be around those guys and work with them and making sure they understand what they are doing has helped me to take a bigger leadership role this year because of our necessity to have them understand what they are doing. ... One of the best ways to learn is to teach. I've been able to kind of improve myself through helping those guys out.''

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July 24, 2008 8:45 AM

Huskies eighth in official poll

Posted by Bob Condotta

The official Pac-10 media poll is out, and Washington is eighth while USC is again picked to win the conference.

Here's the poll.

1, USC (38 first-place votes), 389 total points
2, Arizona State, 330
3, Oregon, 295
4, Cal (1), 274
5, UCLA, 204
6, Oregon State, 192
7, Arizona, 185
8, Washintgton, 139
9, Stanford, 76
10, Washington State, 61

There were obviously 39 voters, and all but one picked USC to win it. The other picked USC second, hence USC getting 389 total points on a system awarding 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for second place, etc.

No real surprises, though some of you might wonder about UCLA being that high with a team facing as many questions as the Bruins. Otherwise, it's pretty much in line with a lot of the other pre-season polls out there.

Tyrone Willingham will be the first Pac-10 coach to hit the podium at 9:35 a.m. The Pac-10 is offering live streaming of the official sessions with the coaches and players. Details here.

I'm planning to monitor it and will pass along a report here.


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