March 30, 2004
On Nate Robinson: "I've known Nate a long time and I think if he was going to play he'd come by and say something. But at the same time I'm not sure it's feasible for a guy to come right off basketball season and into spring football. Whoever would play basketball all the way through that long of a season and then go into spring football would need some time off to get readjusted. If he had an interest I'd be happy to talk to him about it. It would certainly be fun to have him back. He was a valuable member of the football team two years ago when he played. I think the guy made some great contributions and obviously he's a remarkable athlete, but we've got some other guys that are there all the time and so we're gonna proceed until I hear different."
On position changes (offensive line): "Stanley (Daniels) went to offensive line last spring and he's gonna stay there. With only having eight scholarship linemen for spring football it is important that he stay there. We really have no depth. Tui Alailefaleula, I thought when he first got on campus I thought that it was a position (offensive line) that was best suited for him. He's a natural, big moving athlete, 330-some pounds. I see him as an offensive lineman and I'm hoping that this move is a really positive one for him. He's been here for three years and you really haven't heard much of his name - other than that it fills up the entire back of his jersey.
On position changes (tight end): "I recruited Graham (Lasee) and saw him as a tight end. We also have a little bit of a problem at tight end. We don't know the prognosis of Joe Toledo. Ben Bandel has some knee problems, injured his shoulder against Washington State and is probably about 80-85 percent this spring. Jon Lyon is our healthy tight end. Jason Benn had shoulder surgery at the end of football season. We really don't have anybody there. So I felt like tight end is a place for him to go. I really have no idea who long or if Joe Toledo will come back. This is a move that we feel that was necessitated by that."
On position changes (skill): "James Sims was moved to fullback where we really only have one scholarship fullback in the program (Zach Tuiasosopo). And number two, we brought in three or four safeties in the recruiting class, including a junior college safety (Dashon Goldson) we think will be a really fine player in the fall. I remember watching James on film in high school and thinking that he really looked like an offensive athlete to me. He probably has as impressive numbers in the winter programs with his size, speed, vertical, bench and 40-time as anybody in our program. He ran in the 4.4's and had a vertical around 40-inches, so he's got some athletic ability."
On position changes (defense): "Andy (Heater) was a youngster fighting the weight thing all the time. I think he can be a 260-pound player easily and at defensive line, he doesn't have to worry about it. Manase (Hopoi) will play both spots, defensive end and defensive tackle. I think Manase is really an inside player defensively, but that does not mean he will not play outside."
On how he'll look at the quarterbacks during spring: "We'll start with Casey (Paus) as the No. 1 and Isaiah (Stanback) as the No. 2 and Carl (Bonnell) as the No. 3 and let them go. They'll get equal reps and equal opportunities with the first offensive group and see who moves us the best."
On a quarterback earning the job based on spring play: "Sure, someone could. But I don't want guys to feel like they don't have to compete for the job anymore. Even if someone left spring practice as the starter, that doesn't mean that [someone else] can't come in here in fall camp and win the job."
On the possibility of playing two QBs: "I like doing that. We've done that in the past, and I could see that very much being the case."
On the QBs' different styles of play: "I think the system is adapted to what this guy can do. But I see those guys as all kind of having the same skills in terms that they can all run -- not equally as well -- and they can all throw -- not equally as well -- and they can all run the option. I see the competition for that spot making us better. We'd love to go in there with a guy who has been a two year starter where he knows everything and he can do it all, but this competition will be good for them and it's going to be fun. It'll come down to who moves the ball, and doesn't give it to the other team. They don't look all alike, but we're going to ask them to do similar things."
On being excited going into spring: "In a lot of ways this is like a start right now. Putting the staff together, making position moves, having a winter program, having a year with guys in the weight room and now starting spring football really seems like the beginning more than in August. August didn't particularly feel like that, but it felt like something else. This will be a fun team to coach. If you look at our roster, this is not a big-name Husky football team, and that's fine. I don't think that matters. This will be a close-knit team, and it will be a fun team to coach. I'm excited about these kids and their offseason. Any time you recruit well, it's because the people in your program went out and did a great job of selling you, your staff and the University. And your kids, your players, are the people recruits spend the most time around. They clearly believe in what's going on, so that's good."
On the running game: "We ran the ball fine last year. We have four quality backs, with Chris Singleton, Kenny James, Shelton Sampson and Louis Rankin. Zach [Tuiasosopo] is a very good fullback, and James Sims behind him will give us some good depth. Our running game is OK."
On offensive issues that need to be fixed: "We were very high in illegal procedures, false starts, illegal formations and holdings. We had 24 holding penalties last year, the most in the league. You combine that with the fact that we were a poor kickoff return team, and your offense has long fields to deal with. We had to overcome lots of things to score points, and we still found a way to average 30 points a game, which is remarkable. We were finding ways to stop ourselves a lot."
On defensive issues that need to be fixed: "We did not get a lot of turnovers last year, which contributed to the long fields for our offense. We need to tackle better. We need to become a faster team, we need to tackle better, and we need to get better outside pressure from our pass rush."
On Evan Benjamin's move to LB: "If you look at our league, there's a lot of one-back offense. To really go out and cover that inside receiver, you're often left trying to substitute. By putting Evan at that spot, now you've got a natural cover guy -- a safety with linebacker size -- cutting down on a guy and it's not unusual for him. Second thing is, if you watched Evan and the games he played last year, we've got him by design up around the line of scrimmage. He was very active, and looked like he really felt comfortable playing up there. And three, he speeds us up defensively. Moving that kind of speed from safety to outside linebacker makes us a faster defense."
On Charles Frederick: "Charles has come a long way. Charles is a really good player. Charles needs to have 11 healthy games, though. He really hasn't been healthy since he's been here. But you combine his ability to return punts and make plays on offense, and he really brings a lot."
On Corey Williams being helped by his big play in the Apple Cup: "It was a big play. You hope that making a play like that will give him a lot of confidence, that he can go out there and make big plays."
On the defensive coaches: "Chris Tormey and I coached together for a long time at Idaho and Washington, so I felt really good about that addition to our staff. He's a guy who really understands the Washington thing, our culture here. Chris also brings a lot to the table in his ability to give a different perspective. As for Jimmy Lake -- I kept interviewing other people, and everyone, college people, NFL people, kept saying, 'There's this guy, Jimmy Lake ..." So he really jumped out at us. He's a dynamic teacher, and great presence about him. He's well beyond his years in terms of his preparation. He's worked hard to be a technician with corners. I think that group should fit well together."
On the new offensive coaches: "Charlie Dickey was going to be the first guy I talked to about the offensive line job, and it came to pass that he was able to come. Steve Axman comes back knowing our offense and what we're doing, plus he brings some ideas about being in a different system."
On the coaching turnover: If you're Justin Robbins, you're going into your fourth or fifth receivers coach. If you're an offensive lineman here, you're on your third or fourth position coach. There have been an awful lot of staff changes. We would hope that we can get together and stay together for awhile. Some change is good, but a lot of change is not good, and we've had a lot of change. I'd like a chance to keep these guys together for a couple of years, because I think it's an awfully good bunch of teachers and coaches."
On Casey Paus' offseason: "He's had a nice offseason in terms of speed gains, body fat, those kinds of things. We haven't had a chance to see him throw, because we can't watch him, so I'm anxious to see his progression. But I think you saw last year that every time Casey got in the game, he moved the club. He's going to be more mature than Isaiah and Carl, and he's been in the system a long time, so he's going to have an early lead in terms of familiarity. But the other two are good athletes, and they'll catch on. The competition's going to be great. He's far and away the best right now, but the other guys will make improvements and I expect a great competition."
On Isaiah Stanback playing receiver: "No. Isaiah's going to quarterback. I'd like to see him pick up the little nuances of playing the position -- in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage, the ability to look at the defense and change the plays, and then make plays."
On differences between this year and last year: "It's very different. It's the normal progression of things, finally. From recruiting, to hiring a coaching staff, to recruiting, to starting a spring. This is what it's supposed to feel like. What happened in the fall was just crazy. There's a huge period of adjustment when that kind of change is made, at least there was for me. The transition last fall was not easy. It was hard for a lot of people, probably harder than it was for me. By saying that, I mean that people had to get used to me -- I didn't have to get used to them. Now, everyone knows I'm a day at the beach, so that wasn't very hard."
On the young receivers: "The youngsters who played a lot -- Corey Williams, Quentin Daniels and Sonny Shackelford -- are going to have an edge over the youngsters like Anthony Russo, Charles Smith, Bobby Whithorne ands Craig Chambers. Bobby Whithorne has jumped out at us with his speed, and Craig Chambers has really matured a lot. The redshirt year was really good for him. The other thing all those guys go through is an adjustment to college; there's a lot on their plate."
On the kicking game: "The kicking job is wide open. I think Sean Douglas did a great job with kickoffs last year, and I'm excited to see him at punter, because he's got a big leg -- as long as it's going straight. Every once in a while, he hits the Don James Center. But he's got a big leg, and could be a great punter. He has a lot of talent."
On freshmen who might play: "You'd like to get to the point where most redshirt, and get a year in your program. You look at the freshmen from a few years ago who all had to play and they all got hurt, and it interrupted their careers -- Rich Alexis, Greg Carothers, Roc Alexander, Derrick Johnson, Jimmy Newell. All the surgeries really interrupted their careers and interrupted their development. So you'd like to redshirt as many as possible."