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Willingham Previews Fresno State
Release: 09/12/2006
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Monday, Sept. 11, 2006

General Comments:
"Looking back at last week, obviously when you go on the road and play a top 10 or top 25 team that is a challenging task. I felt like our football team was prepared for the challenge. We played with a great effort, even though we were not successful. From the encounter, there are lessons that we possibly could learn. How to do things better. When you play a top 10 team they do things well. They perform and execute at a level that is equal to them being a top 10 or top 20 team. Hopefully, we took some great strides from the ball game and can be ready to play a very difficult and talented opponent in Fresno State."

On Positives from Playing Fresno State:
"The first thing is, we a are playing a good football team. A team that is well coached, Coach Pat Hill over the years has been very successful. We have a bowl opportunity that we are looking forward to. This is one of our twelve regular season games and if we don't take advantage of it, it limits what we get for postseason."

On Kenny James:
"Kenny James has been doing very well for us. I think his average per carry is very high, maybe the highest since he has been here. He is our starter, he has given us leadership and stability, and has so far performed very well. I like his toughness, I like the way he slashes, I like his involvement in the passing game, especially from a protection standpoint. That is important, because with today's zone blitzes and blitz schemes if you don't have someone that truly understands that, you put yourself at a deficit."

On Blitzing:
"There is always a give and take anytime you blitz. You can use zone blitz schemes, you can use man pressure schemes. Right now, we are trying to find out which one best suits our defense. Because the one thing you don't want to do, is expose your self unnecessarily."

On Defensive Surprises:
"I don't know if I have got any real surprises. For the most part we had hoped that we would be solid in our run defense, we let Peterson get away but I think he has gotten away from a lot of people. But, I think we have been fairly substantial in doing that so far. We will have a real test this weekend, because Fresno State will line up in their two back scheme, and really come downhill at you. I don't really have any surprises, most of our guys are performing where I thought they would, and hopefully they will exceed my expectations as the season goes on."

On the Defensive Secondary:
"Well, I think number one we are getting far better play from Matt Fountaine, than in past years. Please understand, that is not saying we are where we need to be. From a numbers sake, we are not there, but we are getting better play from him. I think Roy Lewis is playing better than he played a year ago. I like what Jason Wells has given us, and I think through the year he will get stronger and better for us. I think C.J. Wallace is one of our leaders, and we expect him to step up even more, because he is one of the experienced guys back there, and we should be able to count on him down the road."

On Problems with Pass Coverage:
"It is always a combination of both, it is never just one. Obviously, we are going against some pretty good receivers, that group we faced Saturday was not a slouch by any stretch of the imagination. They are a pretty good group. We had some angles and some drops that made a difference. We had some physical imbalances that make a difference. But, I do like the effort that our guys are giving, and hopefully we will get better."

On Quarterbacks:
"Well you always say something to them. To not say something to our Quarterbacks would be a sad day. We expect a lot from our quarterbacks, and Isaiah expects a lot from himself. One of the keys to being successful, is you never beat yourself up. Obviously, there are a lot of people out there who want to beat you up. He will come back and he will be solid."

On Injuries:
"The injury report has not changed, we came out of the ball game in pretty good shape. Those who came out of the ball game for momentary breaks, went back in. We are pretty solid there. None of the young men who were previously hurt will get back in."

On Oklahoma's Adjustments:
"The things that we saw were not vastly different from the things that we saw in the first half of that ball game. Where we fell down, was that we didn't execute in the second half the way we needed to against a top 10 team."

On Whether Coach Stoops Challenged the Fumble:
"I believe that he did. When you are not successful with the challenge, you are charged with a timeout, and you are awarded that timeout. That is standard with the rules."

On Tight Ends:

"The play of our tight ends, and not having our guys, affected some of the sets we used in the ball game. The play we got from Johnnie Kirton and Tim Williams, was okay, but not everyone in the second half performed their best."

On Fresno State:
"Fresno State offers different challenges than Oklahoma. What we will see is, if you can say this, a more physical style of play than we saw at Oklahoma. You saw a back at Oklahoma who is talented in a lot of areas, and he does just a fantastic job on the perimeter. The back we will see this week will be one of those guys who can pound it in, even though his stature is not 225 lbs. I'm really impressed with their offensive line, this is a real north and south offensive line. They don't spend much time turning people east and west, they want to take you north and south. That is impressive, because that is one of the hardest things to teach an offensive line play. It is going to be a different type of challenge, and I would characterize it with the word physical. That is going to be the challenge here."

On Some Coaches Philosophy of Allowing the Second String QB to Play a Series Early:
"I understand their logic. But I am very comfortable with giving our starting quarterback most of our reps."

On 9/11:
"It was an amazing day for all of us, because I think I was upstairs that morning, and coming down for a bowl of oatmeal to start my day. You could start to see the events unfolding on the east coast, and you were not exactly sure what was taking place, and what the impact would have been across the country. As the day unfolded, I think we may have started practice and outlined the course of events that would take place over the rest of the week."

On the Offensive Line:
"We aren't where we want to be. I think there are some positive and strong signs. We are running the ball effectively. The thing that we knew we would face this year, and it doesn't matter if you have an experienced offensive line or an inexperienced offensive line, is handling blitzes and blitz pressure. That is always difficult, that is difficult every day in practice. That is one thing that we need to shore up."

On Coach J.D. Williams:
"J.D. is intense, he is demanding, he is precise, he is confident, he is skilled, and I guess he is experienced. I guess those are pretty good qualities to bring into the coaching arena. His experience of having done it at the highest level is a real plus to our young men. The fact that he has done it, and that he doesn't just leave it there. He has the coaching techniques to be able to communicate with the players. Because some that have done it, can't teach it."

Players of the Game:
"Our Pepsi Offensive Player of the Game was Louis Rankin, our Pepsi Defensive Player of the Game was Scott White, and our Pepsi Special Teams Player of the Game was Sean Douglas."

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