Oct. 11, 2005
Husky senior defensive tackle Manase Hopoi is creeping up the UW career list for all-time tackles for loss. He heads into the Oregon game with 56.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 behind career leader Jason Chorak. He also is four sacks behind career leader Ron Holmes. Hopoi recently sat down with gohuskies.com to talk about the season.
GoHuskies.com: Do you feel that last week was a good week to have a bye?
Manase Hopoi: I think it was a great week to have a bye. Some of our injured guys are in rehab, getting better and trying to get on the practice field and playing field. I think it came at a good time to correct some of the little things we were doing wrong. I liked it.
GH: What did you do on your weekend off?
MH: We're working on Oregon the whole week, on their schemes, some of the things they're trying to bring at us. Also, we worked on correcting the little things we were doing wrong like the fourth quarter and finishing strong.
GH: Last game against UCLA, you were up most of the game, what do you believe happened towards the end?
MH: Mentally we thought we had the game in the bag, we thought they were just going to lay down and let us finish the game, but UCLA is a great team and they came out and finished. We learned form that and know that if we have the last drive our offense can come in and win the game. We know how to finish now in the fourth quarter, it's something we'll be focused on a lot the next few games.
GH: It seems like you guys play as hard as you can and I know it's frustrating to not come out with a win, but does the hard work say something about the team's character?
MH: I think each one of our player's tries their best, and sometimes it doesn't go the right way. You play against great teams that capitalize on your mistakes. We've got to be able to do some tremendous things from the first quarter to the fourth.
GH: Did you think this team would be able to do a complete turnaround in one season?
MH: I didn't think we'd have a season like last year's. We're 1-4 and we have 6 games left, we have a lot more in our tank, to show how much fight we have left in us. We'll take it one game at a time and we're going to go out to Oregon and try to get a victory.
GH: Tell me about going into a big rival game against Oregon?
MH: It's right up there with WSU. We have to go out there with our best everything. We have to be both mentally and physically prepared. We can't let the crowd or anybody get us out of our game.
GH: Is it tougher playing away from home?
MH: It's a little uncomfortable. Playing at home you have your fans and the homefield. Coming away with a victory in an away game is just as good because you traveled all that way and earned yourself a victory. It's a little different, but not that big.
GH: What are you doing to try and keep a positive attitude this season?
MH: I'm just encouraging my teammates. Helping them to correct the little things, telling them to keep fighting, and just try 100% every play.
GH: What is Coach Willingham doing to help keep the spirit of the team up?
MH: He's correcting some of the little things, things we're doing wrong. He's keeping us mentally and physically prepared. He's got us running a little bit at the beginning and end of practice. We're also working on a bunch of different schemes.
GH: What are some special things the team needs to work on to prepare for Oregon?
MH: We need to work on their read. What the quarterback, running back, and the defensive ends are doing. Also finishing good gang tackling and tackling both the running back and quarterback.
GH: Now that school has started, are football and this season somewhat a distraction?
MH: Oh no way! I've been balancing the two for about five years. I think the underclassmen are starting to realize how to manage their time. They are starting to put their priorities in order.
GH: Have you noticed if students on campus are still supportive of football players?
MH: Yeah. I think a lot of the teachers are supporting the players and being encouraging.