Husky Football Blog
Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.
August 25, 2008 5:30 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
Here is a partial transcript of Tyrone Willingham's meeting with the media today:
Thoughts on training camp: Our camp has been a good camp. It's been a very consistent camp. We've not had the ups and downs that I've had in most camps. It's been pretty consistent. The effort, the enthusiasm, the intensity, have been pretty consistent throughout all of camp. That's been a very strong positive for me.
On the health of the team: As we start this week we believe we're pretty healthy for the most part. That most of our guys will be in position to play, quarterback especially. Tight end, probably a question mark right now. We're eager to get started with what we think is a real challenge, not just in the location but the caliber of the team and the coaching staff that we'll face. It should be an exciting week for us.
On Juan Garcia: Juan obviously has had an amazing recovery. I think it's a testament to him and a testament to our medical and training staff that they have done just an excellent job with him. So far everything has gone extremely well with that. There was one minor setback in there, but really that was more scar tissue than anything else. He's done very well, and we're eager to have him back in the lineup.
Will he start? We anticipate that he will start.
Thoughts on opening with Oregon, is that something you're exciting about? I think it goes back, and I think both teams would probably say this, it goes back farther than just fall camp. I think it went back to your winter conditioning when you knew you had a conference opponent to open the season. It kind of changes the entire focus, there's no margin for error. We've got to get out of the box pretty quick.
How do you prepare young guys to Autzen right off the bat? Obviously, anytime you play an important ballgame you do have some butterflies, and the backdrop for this one is kind of special. It is one of our major rivals, and their stadium does come with a lot of noise, it is extremely close player-fan contact, and there really is no real way to prepare those guys for that kind of environment. But hopefully these guys are young men that expect to exceed in any and everything do. So therefore, their mentality will be a little different than maybe a guy with some lesser skills. I think they will be primed and eager to play and play well in this environment.
On that young enthusiasm, were there any moments that stood out during camp? We had one of our kickoff drills, and one of the young men performing in the drill, Jordan Polk, he has a very neat ability to make people miss. Our team kind of cornered him, then our whole team applauded because they'd seen him escape enough times that they recognized the energy and the skill sets that he brings. That kind of pulling together of the team from an enthusiasm standpoint kind of helps everything grow.
Thoughts on Senio Kelemete's rise to the top of the depth chart: The nice thing about Senio is, when we looked at him coming out of high school, we thought that of all of our defensive players, this young man might have shown himself as one of the better ones in terms of his overall play, ability to hold the point, get to the football. His late arrival has made things quite interesting and quite exciting the last week or so, but he's come in, and we've given a fair opportunity to all, and he has shown himself to be able to do some things just a little bit different than some of the other guys. We'll involve all of the guys in what we think are their roles and their strengths.
What does Garcia's return mean to team? First of all to the football team, it tells them how important Juan thinks the team is and the game is. I think in this day and age that's something that's always in question is how important and how much value does something really carry to the individual next to you. And when you can really see a graphic example of that, it just has to impress you. And it's not just the players, it also works on coaches too. For a young man to make that kind of sacrifice and put himself back in a position to play is what the game is all about. It is a game of courage, it is a game of commitment, and a game of sacrifice. When you see that it is truly enriching to everyone.
How much did Jordan White-Frisbee come on during camp, and did Ryan Tolar hurt himself by taking one for the team by playing center? I think that's an interesting way to put it. I think first you can look at Ryan Tolar and say in our offensive line, that could be our most valuable player. Even though we speak very highly of Juan and what he’s doing and the sacrifice and commitment that he's made, but for Ryan to play all three positions and do it very well and be a contender to start at all three positions speaks well for him. Not just that he took one for the team, but I think he's also developing himself in the long run to be a very strong player in our system. Jordan has done a wonderful job. This has been an opportunity for White-Frisbee to really step forward in his career and I think he's taken full advantage of it and really worked himself to be hopefully a very powerful component of our offensive line.
Thoughts on defending Oregon's spread offense: Their offense is working very well. You look over the years that they've been in that offense, and it has been amazingly productive. When it's at its height, it's very difficult to put a handle on. You have all phases of the option running with the ability to throw the football, and when you've got everything going, that's a very difficult task to handle. So what we've got to do from a fundamental position is first of all, identify what are their key plays. We believe that they like to run the sweep as they did last year with Stewart, then we've got to be able to defend the option, and that means you've got to have somebody for a dive, somebody for the quarterback, and somebody for the pitch, and doing that and trying to master the passing game is especially difficult. From a fundamental standpoint, those are the kinds of things that you have to start with, but they don't allow you to rest just on the fundamental things. All of a sudden you see what looks like the option, but yet it's one of those bubble pass screen type plays where now the receiver is isolated one-on-one out there and it makes it very difficult.