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Coach Willingham Monday Press Conference Quotes
Release: 08/28/2006
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Aug. 28, 2006

General Comments:
"The start of the season is always something that seems to regenerate life into everyone - coaches, players, etc. - so our guys are excited about beginning the season. We enter the season, for the most part fairly healthy, which is always a concern. You want to see if you can go through your camp, be healthy, and be ready to play. I think that we are coming into the season - on Tuesday when we start our official work - that we will have most of our team members that are ready to practice and prepare for the game. Obviously, with the first game, there are always some surprises, some things that you don't know about your opponent. You try and get as much background work done as possible so that you have a pretty strong idea about what they'll do and they're tendencies. The start of any year is a surprise, so we don't know exactly what to expect except that Dick Tomey has done a wonderful job with the teams he has had in the past. He knows how to mold them into a team that plays very physical, plays very hard, and plays with the intent to win. We anticipate that that is the type of ballgame that it is going to be when we open up in Husky Stadium."

On Scott White's Role as Starting Linebacker:
"We are always looking to place our best players on the field. Scott has continued to work hard and do the things expected of him and he has played better than the other guys. We believe that with Dan Howell, Scott White, and Taj Bomar, that we have the best combination to start the ballgame on Saturday."

On Dashon Goldson's Status:
"I'm anticipating that Dashon will play. He still is just a little gimpy in his recovery, but anticipate that he will be in a position to play come the weekend."

On the Team's Attitude:
"It's never completely where you want it to be because I don't know that we could ever be perfect. I do believe that this has been a more willing camp compared to last year's camp. It seems like the work effort load, the guys have accepted it and seem to be doing very well across the board. If that is a reflection of attitude, which I hope it is, then we are on pace to do some good things."

"It's buying into a philosophy of how we do things, what is the real purpose of what we are trying to do. Everybody wants to win, but there are some intangible things that fit in there also. Do they believe in those? Is this the model that they'd like to follow? I think these are the things that we are asking our young men in this program. I've said to them, at least a few times during the last year and a half or so, `We are interested in championship football, championship students, championship people, and guys that like to have fun the right way.' That should really be the core of our program. Do our young men in our program believe in that? If they do then they believe in giving one hundred percent in those areas."

"Until you win, you don't have that feeling, that understanding of winning. I think that we have winners on our squad and I think that the work and the attitude that we are bringing forward will put us in the winner's circle."

On Erik Lobos' Health:
"Erik Lobos should be fully healed from the foot injury. He is still not one hundred percent but he is working and should be able to participate."

On Positive Surprises in Camp:
"No, there really aren't. I expect us to come out and prepare to win. Player wise, I don't think that there has been a guy that I didn't have a fair assessment on his ability and then he just rises out of nowhere and shocks you. I think it has been pretty much what I expected and I really don't place a ceiling on any individual on our team."

On Significance Of The San Jose State Game:
"For me, the significance is the fact that, at a university that has a great football tradition, and I think you can say that about the Huskies, the last time we won an opener was 2001. To me, that says a lot, and we want to get this one. Does not winning the first ballgame mean you are not going to have a great year? No, but as I said before, it is very difficult to win them all if you don't win the first one."

On CJ Wallace's Response since the Collision:
"He was fine. The evening of, he probably could have practiced then, but the wise thing to do medically was to hold him back so they did that. He was ready to go. He was laughing, joking, back to himself, ready to hit anything that walked down the hallway of the dorm that night."

On Defensive Leaders:
"I think we've got a couple of them. One of the things that I like in, I guess I will call it, `my leadership model' is that I like to have as much depth as possible. That sounds typical of a football coach, that you want as much depth as possible, but the same thing holds true for leadership. I want to develop as much leadership as possible. That is one of the reasons that I use game captains as opposed to season captains, because I think it allows you to do that. So, yes, I think I am expecting CJ Wallace, Dashon Goldson, Roy Lewis - all of those guys to be strong leaders for us. Taj Bomar, as a senior at our linebacker position, I am expecting him to be a leader. Dan Howell, with his energy and enthusiasm, I expect him to be a leader. Scott White I expect to be a leader. There are a lot of guys I am expecting to see leadership from, and so it won't hopefully be a small group. Offensively it will be the same thing. We are hoping that we are very deep on offense with our leadership."

On Roy Lewis Playing His Former Team:
"I hope his approach will be similar to my approach, because I have done this a few times coaching against my alma mater. I treat it in this manner, and I hope Roy has the same understanding or outlook, is that it is kind of like playing your brother. When the two of you are on the playground playing, you want to kick the crap out of him, but as soon as the contest is over you are hugging and you love each other and you go back and you share the same room that evening. I hope he'll have the same approach. It's nice, all the pleasantries before the ballgame and all the memories from having gone there, but when it is kickoff time, it's time to get it on."

On Memories of Playing Dick Tomey Teams:
"When I played against him earlier, I remember him as having such a very strong defensive team. His teams used to dominate from the defensive standpoint. They would just literally win games with defense. So you anticipate that he is going to have a very active defensive team that flies around and they want to create big plays with the defense. That is why we have to be very precise with our offense, not create turnovers, not create big plays for them. If we can do that, as always, you have that model that I like: if you don't beat yourselves, it is very difficult for someone else to beat you."

On Junior College Transfers:
"I will start in the secondary, because I think that is where we had the majority of the new guys join us. You had Jordan Richardson come in as a corner and we have used him as a corner and as a safety some lately as we prepare for this game. His acclimation has been good. He hasn't moved himself into a starting rotation yet, but he is making some progress. The other one would be Jason Wells, and I just think so much of Jason because from the day he arrived on campus, I think he hurt his ankle within the first week, and he has yet to miss a snap. If it weren't for him being involved in the collision and us keeping him out, he probably would not have missed a session. I think that is something you want to have said about you as a football player, that you are unbelievably tough, and I think that is always the badge of courage that most football players would be proudest of. Jason has done that, so anticipate that he will do some great things. At some point he probably will struggle, but once he gets into the games I think he will adapt and do well for us."

On the Tight End Position:
"The tight end position was a concern for me because there was such a great tradition of tight ends that were Huskies. They have really had some big, powerful, dominant style tight ends over the course of time and we wanted to get back to that level where we could not only use them as receivers but also solidify our run game with their presence. Michael Gottlieb has worked himself into a position as a starter for us. But the other guys, I think sensing his work and their own abilities, have really closed that gap to where right now we could probably start any one of our tight ends. Robert Lewis, Jonny Kirton, or Michael Gottlieb as a starter for us and be happy with the production that we would get from those guys."

On Freshman Lineman Ryan Tolar:
"I go back to Ryan Tolar from high school. What Ryan brought was an attitude, kind of a nastiness to him about the way he plays football. If he could get his hands on you, not to say that he was holding, but if he could get his hands on you, he would just try and bury you right through the ground. To me, that is what an offensive lineman does. If he could he would just try and bury you, and I love that and that is the way we want our offensive line to become."

On Entering the Game as Favorites:
"Honestly, I am hoping it doesn't matter. It sounds so simplistic of me to describe it in this manner, but I'm hoping that the attitude and approach of our football team is that we just ask that they have another color jersey on. That's all, just don't wear the same one we're wearing and we'll be happy. That's the approach of a football player, we don't care who we play, it's an opportunity to go out and play your best. If it's San Jose State, if it's Idaho, if it's USC, it doesn't matter, let's go play. I talk to them along the lines that, if we could, we'd play it in the parking lot. It doesn't make any difference, let's play. If we bring that approach it doesn't matter whether you're an underdog, whether you're a favorite, you're coming out to play great football every time you step out on that field because you have that type of pride. We talk about that, this is a great university that has a great tradition. You look up and down the conference, we are in the top three, maybe the top two teams in terms of historical success. It should matter whether you are a favorite or whether you are an underdog. If you want to get technical about it, I think those odds are usually not set necessarily by winning, but to make money for someone."

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