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Willingham Monday Press Conference Quotes
Release: 10/24/2005
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Oct. 24, 2005

On who will start at Running Back:
Right now, we'll probably have, as we start the week tomorrow with James Sims as our starter. We will see what the condition of both Louis Rankin and Kenny James will be. But we don't get an official bill for them until tomorrow."

On James Sims:
"I thought that James came in and gave us solid play."

General comments on USC game:
"I think our football team, number one, gave a good effort. I think that is what you start with, you start with the fight of the team, and our team is still fighting. I thought that one of the things that have been nagging us all year is our third down inefficiency. We improved our third down play, we were eight for fourteen or something along those lines. So, I think our guys continue to fight and do a lot things that you have to do. But, again, individual plays you have keep you from being successful."

On Durell Moss:
"We'll see how that works out as we go through the week, but I thought Durell came in and played well in the situation. He is another young man who has crossed over from offense to defense at the beginning of the season. I thought he has worked and adjusted, and he did an admirable job."

On motivating team for rest of the season:
"I didn't think I really had to do that, I think our team recognized that. They recognized that there are still four great opportunities out there. They all will be very difficult, and I don't think there is anyone saying that they will be easy. But, I think our football team recognizes that and they believe in themselves to a certain degree, and we have a chance."

On motivation:
"I think, first of all, the motivation should be just to play well. That is what you start every season, that is what you start every game with. I think as a competitor that is the first feeling that you have. I want to go out and play well. Team members say I want my team to play well, I want to go out and be successful. Then we want to accomplish all of the other things that you put on top of that."

On return of Joe Toledo:
"I thought, first of all, his presence adds a great deal to our football team. He is a young man that we have counted on, that our players have respect for in terms of the way he works at being a good football player. He is a quality person, and I think when you add him back into your lineup it is just a bonus for you. And, on top of that, he plays football pretty well. I think he did a very nice job, still not being, in my opinion, one hundred percent. But, I thought he stepped in and did a good job for us."

On Joe Toledo switching positions with Robin Meadow:
"I think that it was a smart move on our coaches part, to put Joe in the best position, based on his injury. And what Robin has given us all year is the flexibility to switch from one side to the other. And he plays well and keeps us very consistent out there."

On tight end play:
"Anytime you can add a tight end to your offense, that is one of those areas that is sometimes neglected by the defense. So, Robert stepped in and had some good catches for us. We don't expect tight ends just to make catches, we expect them to be a real positive force in our run game. To be able to give us that edge in our wide plays or our off-tackle plays, to really make us a strong offense."

On Johnnie Kirton:
"I think his number has not been called an excessive amount, but I think he had a darn good catch in that ball game, that was a big catch and a very difficult catch to make. Right down the middle as we were going in to score on one of those drives."

On holding USC's running game:
"I think we do, I think we can take some success from that. This is as high-powered an offense and productive offense as anybody has seen in quite some time. They have a back that many believe is a shoe-in, I guess, if I can say that for the Heisman. And we held both he, and a guy that I have great respect for Lendale White, to minimal yardage. So, I think that is something to be very positive about."

On other good things in USC game:
"Well, again, I don't want to go far on those things, because we still didn't accomplish the goal that we set out to accomplish, which is winning the football game. We are not into moral victories or yardage victories, those things are nice, yes, but we want to win the football game, and I think that is the focus for our coaches and our players, and that won't change."

On Arizona State's passing game:
"All you have to do is look at their numbers. This is probably as good a passing football team as there is right now in the country. I think they are ranked in almost all of the passing categories at or near the top. They do it very well, and I don't think that will make a difference as to who their quarterback is. I think the replacement that stepped in threw for 300 yards or so, I believe. That is a pretty good system."

On how USC and Arizona State's offensively compare:
"I'd say that right now, the USC offense has a little bit more balance. They can run, and they have explosiveness there. But, I can still see some very quick backs in the Sun Devils system. If you don't get a hand on them, they can get away from you pretty quick."

On Isaiah Stanback:
"I thought Isaiah's play was pretty good. I think, if you take five or six plays out of there, then you have got maybe almost a near-perfect day in some regards. I think he was 14 of 18, I don't think he threw an interception. But, there were a couple of plays that I know he and I would both like to have back. I thought he was playing pretty well."

On pass coverage:
"That area has been probably our area of weakness. That is our weakest area, so we have got do some excellent coaching to help out our weakness so we can be stronger."

On injuries limiting team:
"It has to a degree. I think anytime you have injuries, it puts some limitations on what you can do, and how you do things. There is usually a reason that someone is a starter. So, therefore, it has restricted us to some degree."

On return coverage:
"I think they are clearly things that we could have done much better. But, I think great players sometimes put you in a position where you don't do those things. On the punt return, I think we did have him wrapped up, and did have a couple good shots at him. But maybe his greatness allowed those extra shots to not take him down, he spins out and takes it back. On the kickoff return we just needed to maintain our lanes across a couple of places and we would be in better position."

On injured players:
"I don't think there is anyone outstanding. We talked about the running backs. The receivers have been pretty good I think, obviously Marlon won't be back for some time. Offensive line, I think there are more additions there. Tight end is pretty solid. Defensive backfield, Okoebor will probably not be back. Of course, again, I have not seen him yet, so I am not sure how well he will do if we get him out here and test him a little bit. So, I think we are pretty solid."

On Casey Paus:
"There are some things, that we think he can add to the system. So we'll see how he can handle those in the future."

On Arizona State WR Derek Hagan:
"I think Hagan, I don't want to say quickly, because he has done it all of his career. But clearly he has put himself as one of the better receivers that has come through the Pac-10. I think in almost all of the conference statistics, career statistics, he is right up there in the top five, maybe the top three, in certain categories. That is why I don't have as much a concern about who the quarterback is. Because, when you have a receiver like that, you just put the ball near him and he has the ability to make plays."

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