Sept. 22, 2003
On the difference between Justin Robbins playing as a Freshman and playing against Idaho: "Well it was a bit different because he was an outside receiver that whole season and he had a different kind of route in our offense, so it was a little bit of a different scene inside there. He has such great quickness and great hands that it's a really natural place for him, particularly with the speed of Reggie and Charles on the outside. No I was not surprised, I just had a sense that when he felt good enough about his rehabilitation that he was going to contribute and he's always been a real fearless competitor. It was very pleasing to have him contribute the way he did and it's great to have him back. In a lot of ways now, and for Cody's sake, we can settle down our receiving group. We've played a lot of young guys and played a lot of different rotations, it's non-conference and we need to do some of that, particularly when you have only two returning receivers in your program. Now that he's back and we've got some of our freshman reps, our first three receiver group will be Charles, J.R. and Reggie and we'll back them up with the younger kids. We are out of that rotation business and we have a pretty set group."
On different receivers in the rotation: "I think that will help Cody. I don't think we're throwing the ball as well as we're capable of throwing, I'm not going to kid you about that. We have also had a lot of different rotations and a lot of different people for Cody to throw to and it just takes time to get a sense of where a guy, or how a guy is going to break a route, or read a route. People come out of all their routes differently, and if you have a sense of where a guy is going it helps. The timing will improve and we will be a little bit more efficient in the passing game, and we will continue to give Isaiah reps as the inside receiver. In my mind the inside receiver group will be Justin and Isaiah."
On any signs of loss from Justin Robbins in the game: "Probably the first play, but I think if he would have had more reps he would have slid right back outside and Cody would have put it on him and he would have had his first completion. I was also good to get him to get that first shot, I didn't even care if he dropped it. I was thrilled to have him out there."
On Coach Gilbertson Showing emotion: "I'm always sentimental about my kids, my players, that's why I do this. Being around the young people and the great young people that we have, that's why I do this job."
On Washington's improved running game: "Our fronts blocking better and we've settled down in the front. We have a group who has now been healthy for a week and that's been a problem and I think Rich Alexis is running hard and he's seeing lanes. I think Rich is a much improved football player and a much improved back from a year ago. He is healthy; he's trim and knock on wood he stays that way. He works at practice and his tempo is really good. I think that he's having fun and having fun carrying it. A year ago we go back and watch a game and watched the Idaho game from 2000, 20001, and 2002. In 2002 when Rich would run it seemed like it was a struggle getting back up off the ground, coming back in bounds, trying to finish a run. It looked like he was laboring and it doesn't look like that anymore. He looks fresh, quick, he attacks the defense and he's seeing things. It's real fun to watch him run now. I think our front blocked very well and is blocking better. We have to stay with that and the option has to be a part of what we do and we really sold them on that. We will continue to blend that in and that will always be a part of the attack.
On Joe Toledo's absence and tights ends play against Idaho: "Joe is feeling a little better, but will not do anything until Wednesday. He is going to get two more days of rehabilitation and see where he's at on Wednesday. I won't know for sure until Wednesday, but I thought that Ben Bandel did some really good things in that football game. The opening kick-off, he went face-to-face with a guy who had just ran a forty yard sprint and it was an unbelievable hit that he put on this kid. He got up and his eyes were watering and they should it was terrific. I think that he really did some nice things and he made a real nice body up move on a throw from Casey to get a first down, he blocked well and he's a talented guy and he's a big guy. The more he plays and the more comfortable he is going to get on offense. You have to give him some credit, he had no idea that he was going to start the game. When we went out to warm up Jeff said 'I can't go', 'Okay Ben good luck. Go get um' buddy. That's why you came to Washington to become the starting tight end at a moment's notice.' He played well and I was pleased with him. He is a big man and it think that he will be a really good player, he has excellent hands. It's just the learning process for a guy that young. I thought John Lyon did some good things. We have some depth there and those guys are all going to have to play. They're good players."
On Zach Tuiasosopo's improving play: "I think his whole game has improved, his blocking, catching and running. He's just a lot better player than he was a year ago and that's playing the position for the second year in a row and playing basically with the same people, Rich and Cody and there's no adjustment there. You have to give him a lot of credit, he's in shape, he's trim, he's quick, he's blocking very well. He is really a complete player. Another thing that the option does for our offense is that it gets our fullback really involved. I you look at a lot of other high formation or two back formation offensives it's difficult to get two backs involved all the time. The option for us gets Zach, who we think is a really good ball carrier and a very physical player involved in the offense on running. We are really pleased with how he has developed and we hope it continues, because he is a real essential part of what we're doing."
On Tusi Sa'au's performance against Idaho: "I think he played very well. He was much improved from his first game and he's improved a little bit every week and I thought he played well last week. He really played very well against Indiana when he had to go in during the first half. He has had six really good quarters of football for us, almost seven really good quarters. From the first start being against Ohio State that was a wild environment, but he's done well. He is a very bright guy and very athletic for a guy that big, he's very quick."
On Washington's improvement against non-conference teams: "Well in some things I think we've improved. I was really pleased with how we tackled, I was pleased with how we ran the ball, and I was really pleased with our hitting. Overall I think there were a number of really big hits in the game and big collisions from start to finish. I think that is an improvement. I thought our corners covered better than we have in previous years play against Idaho, so yes I think that we've improved, but on other things we have not. I don't think that we've really made the progress in two years with the return teams. We just haven't gotten off the first stage with those things, but I think that we have pretty good athletes there. Our net punting is down. I think our punter is doing a nice job and our kids are covering, but if you look at SC they are averaging forty-eight yards net punt, which is insane. We need to improve in our kicking areas. We will continue to play who's next."
On first half and second half scoring against Idaho: "We were really inefficient in the first half, in term of our penalty's and our freshman receivers lined up wrong, didn't come out of the huddle, so we had two penalty's that were drive killers. At the end of the half when we had excellent field position we had a chance to go down and make it twenty four to seven at half time, we ended up having to punt. We had two personal fouls, we gave up a sack, two personal fouls and blew protection on something that we work on every week, all the time. We had chances to score more than seventeen. We had a fourth down and one and jumped off sides, we had a substitution problem, we had twelve guys in the huddle. It's the little things that we work on all the time, that happen that stop scoring drives and I thought that we should have had more than seventeen at halftime. To not get any points out of that great field position was upsetting."
On being prepared for Stanford and conference play: "I think it was good to play Ohio State when we played them. I would have loved to play somebody first and then play Ohio State to get your feet on the ground, but at the same time we learned an awful lot from that Ohio State experience. We had a lot of young guys who got a taste of what prime time looks like and feels like. Even though we did not win the game, we got a lot out of it. I think the last two weeks we seemed to have improved. I thought we looked like a team who had just come off a bye some of the times in the first half. We weren't efficient, we weren't sharp, but we came out of it. I think running the option in the second half and continuing to run gave them a lot to defend maybe slowed some of their defense down and I think we wore them down with it. Are we ready for conference play? I hope so. We have to be, we weren't a year ago and we are going to go out there and try not to make that same mistake. We did not play Stanford the last two years and I haven't seen them since Tyrone left, but their two and zero. They must be playing some good run defense. I know a lot of their defensive backs and their good athletes. I think they are more athletic defensively than they were two years ago. Offensively their young quarterback Edwards is going to be terrific and they have a fine tailback. They have some talented people. They obviously play well on the road. They went to BYU to win and to hold BYU down like they did that's a real tribute to their team to win on the road in that type of environment and hold BYU to three points like they did."
On Stanford's defense: "Well I know Tom and A.J. Christ is coaching in there also, who we've known for a long time. They have really up their tempo. Their blitz oriented, pressure oriented defense. There's more man coverage than probably what we've seen in the first three weeks. They also give you more personnel groups defensively, there are similar to Ohio State with the three four and the nickels and those types of fronts and they pressure a lot. They'll bring both safety's and crash the corner. It's a real pressure oriented defense and that gives you lots of things to concern yourself with particularly with protections."
On running back rotations: "We will stay with the same rotation. We want to get a lot of guys involved and I don't want to play Rich seventy-five, eighty plays like we did at Ohio State. I would like to keep his numbers down a bit, all though he had the hot hand the other day. It was somebody else's turn to go into the rotation and I asked him how he felt and he said I think I'm hot and so I said go get um' and I put him in another series. We would like to stay with that rotation, it keeps a lot of people involved."