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Willingham Press Conference Quotes
Release: 09/26/2005
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Sept. 26, 2005

On 1-3 Start: "This kind of start is not in key with what I anticipated that we would be or who we would be. It is always difficult to not have success, but at the same time I knew that having success would not be easy. We are just going to continue to work each day and become better, and find a way to win football games."

On Washington's Talent Level: "How I will comment is very simply, that there is no question that every football team around is looking to get the best talent that they can get. We need to continually improve our talent. In terms of our coaching staff, we can only worry about what we have. We have got to make them the best players that they can be. I don't want to get into a discussion about whether we have talent or whether we don't. You simply can make the best of what you have. There have been programs supposedly have been laden with talent, and have done nothing with it. And there have been programs that don't have talent, supposedly, that win championships. Our goal is very simple, focus on making the men that we have absolutely the best they can be, and win football games."

On Possibly Making a Bowl Game: "Obviously, with our start, we have got to play a lot better to get there, but it is very much realistic. We can get hot and get on a streak, and beat some teams, and we have got some great teams on our schedule in front of us, then I think we will be bowl worthy. But, if we don't win those games, then obviously it won't happen."

On UCLA: "UCLA, honestly could be the best team we have played so far. That is saying a lot, we have already played California, we have already played Notre Dame, two teams that I mention that are ranked. But they honestly could be the best team we will have played so far. They are very strong with there offensive skill positions. Defensively, they are doing a very good job, I think they have played some teams and held them down. They are a good football team."

On Maurice Drew: "He is amazing, you read so much stuff about the other guy across town from him. He almost becomes kind of a forgotten back. But, I think anyone that plays him, walks away clearly impressed with his toughness, with his speed, with just his all-around running ability. I watched him the other night, watching some of his video, I watched him do a move that you don't see a lot of people do. He took a punt return back 60 or 70 yards."

On Stopping Maurice Drew: "That is a good question, we have about five more days to figure it out. We will probably need all of those five days to figure it out."

On Improvement in Washington: "I think that we are playing spurts of football very well, but as you know that doesn't get you a victory. You can't walk away delighted or pleased, that there were some spurts in there that were generally good football. What we have got to be able to do is play 60 minutes of those spurts. Some games it could even be more than 60 minutes, if we have overtime. We have got to be prepared to go the length, and do whatever it takes to get the victory. We are playing some good football, and doing some good things."

On Players Needing to Learn to Finish Games: "I haven't known many things in life that you don't have to do and experience before you feel good about it. You know, at least that is the way I think it goes. Until you actually have success, it is hard to have success. Until you do something well, until you write a great story, it is hard to get the feeling of how you write a great story. That is just the way life is, it applies to everything."

On Improvement Over Last Year: "I have very little compassion for last year, the only thing that concerns Coach Willingham is the win and loss columns. Right now, by most standards, we are even. We are hoping to move ahead in that column."

On Giving the Players Pep Talks: "Do I give the kids pep talks? I think I have to give everybody pep talks. When you go through tough times, you need someone to encourage you. That is the only way to keep yourself going, is to have someone encourage you. I don't call them necessarily pep talks, in a sense. I think it suggests that the matter with which I do business with this team, the way I go about it, is very positive. If you call it a pep talk, then that is what it is. I believe if you work and have a great attitude, then success will come and that is what we have to continue to do."

On Whether Success is Right Around the Corner: "I think that is very true, I have an experience that at some point I would share with our football team. One of my childhood responsibilities was to pump water for my grandmother. We had an old fashioned pump, and sometimes that water was readily available with one or two pumps, and sometimes it was not. As a kid it was so easy sometimes, after ten or twenty pumps, to kind of give up. But you never know, the water could come on the next one. That is what you have to do, you have to keep working, you have to keep pumping. So there are some experiences I have that I can relay to our young men, so that they will understand that sometimes you are very close and you don't even know it."

On Playing on the Road: "It is probably more difficulties involved, especially with the travel restrictions you have to be aware of today. It is a little more pressure, a little more scrutiny, in terms of your packing, your handling, your movement. But the actual mechanics of it will be pretty similar to what we do at home."

On Matt Fountaine's Injury: "We don't know about Matt yet, Matt had kind of a sternum and shoulder injury during the ball game. I think he would probably be day-to-day at best."

On Position Changes in the Secondary: "I think we have kind of been doing that, not so much position changes, but I guess more of a movement internally in terms of the defensive secondary. Maybe there was some jostling that you do with players already in the lineup. But as far as moving players from offense to defense, we are just sticking with moving players around the secondary."

On Whether He Has Kept Stanback From Scrambling: "No, I haven't. That is a mixed bag of blessings, we talked about that probably earlier. It is a really fine line, because if you go too fast, too quick, then you don't involve the other guys in the offense, you go to late then, you miss a valuable option. I think it is something that he has to get a feel for, and it is something that we encourage him to do. But the key is for him to make the decision at the right time. I think he is getting better and better each day."

On Coaching Staff Experience: "We have got a couple of those, you have Chris Tormey, and you have Bob Simmons who have been former head coaches. Steven Wilks has also had experience as a head coach. That is extremely valuable, there is no substitute for experience. So hopefully that helps all of our young men and not just their particular coaching areas. Bob has our special teams, and that takes a lot of experience, just to deal with special teams period. You have people coming and going from all angles of your football team. So, you have got to be able to settle them down and give them some good words at the right time."

On Whether Washington Could Have Won the Notre Dame Game: "That is always a hard thing to say, because there are some things that we didn't do well in that ball game. We gave up 262 yards rushing, it is hard to say you can win a football game when you do that. I also think that it is very obvious, that yes, if we had made some of the plays that we are capable of making, then the game does change. To what degree it changes, I don't know entirely. That is when you have to make them, and see what takes place. But, we should give respect to our opponent, they did some good things."

On Defense Against Notre Dame: "Some of that is decided by the team we play. If our defensive front can dominate every ball game and have seven sacks, and five or ten tackles for loss, and three interceptions, and two or three fumble recoveries. Against good teams, that doesn't always happen, against the particular team that we played, they changed a little bit of their plan, or maybe they didn't change their plan. They had a lot of three-step drops, you don't get a lot of pressure on the quarterback on the three-step drop. You can hope that you will have a couple of balls batted down, or something to that effect. But you don't get to most quarterbacks with that kind of drop. So, some of that is done by the opponent. We get some good defensive line play in terms of maintaining some of our gaps. Our defensive line, our defensive secondary, and certainly C.J.(Wallace), made some big plays and made some things happen in the ball game. But we were not where we want to be with our offensive line and our run game."

On Play of Craig Chambers: "I'm excited about that, Craig continues to get better, we will do more things in his direction. We also have some other guys who are doing good things, and playing some pretty good football too, and making some big plays."

On Striving for Balance: "I thought early in the year that we could do some good things, but what we want to have is balance. When you see teams that do have the ability to run the football, it is amazing how much it accelerates the passing game, and makes it more efficient and effective."

On Whether it is Offense or Defense that Keeps the Team in the Game: "It is usually all of the above, it is never just one thing. Because if it is just one thing you don't, then you don't get a spurt. You probably get a continuation of someone dominating you the whole time. But, we have got to be able to balance all of those things and become physical, so that we can have the kind of execution that we need to be successful for the full 60 minutes."

On Whether Durocher Will See Playing Time: "I couldn't tell you, it depends on how things go, and what we think is best for Johnny, the team and Isaiah."

On Running Game: "We do have respect for California's defense, but I also think we have contributed some things. We have done things inconsistently up front, we have done things inconsistently on the back end. We have just got to get better with our blocking, we have got to get better with our reading, we have to get better with our overall consistency. We have got to find ways to put our offense in a better position, so we can run the football. That is something we have to do."

On Rankin Missing Seams: "As a runner, it is always easy for someone else to see what you don't see. But that is the way it is, it easy for coaches to say that. There could have been a flash out there, something that caught the corner of his eye, that made him see something that wasn't there. It is not exactly that easy, that he didn't hit this seam or he didn't hit that seam. Do we need to better at hitting our seams? I think that is the first thing that Louis would say. That we have got to get better, so would Kenny, and so would James, and so would everyone else that is running the ball for us. But, I never would say it is quite that easy."

On Whether J.R. Hasty Will Play: "J.R. Hasty is working hard, and doing a good job for us. His year is undetermined for us, the same with all of our freshmen. We don't want to make that decision until we have to."

On Special Teams Issues: "It was just those individual breakdowns that we get so far. There is nothing consistent from one game to another. It is just those individual breakdowns. I think we have potential with our special teams, Sean Douglas has a great leg, and the ability to execute punting the ball. But we have to get everything going."

On Trick Play: "We had a couple of them in there, I think the one you were speaking of was the pass to the pass. It was something we put in based on their secondary, and how we thought they would react. It was actually set up on the first drive, when we threw that screen out to Russo. It was set up early in the ball game, you just have to figure out the right time to get it to them."

On Passing the Ball: "What you have is our overall philosophy, Jim and I are on the same page, we believe that running the football is important, but at the same time we want to pass it. We have to be able to protect our quarterback, and make sure we give him every opportunity to get the ball to all of our receivers. So that you can keep a lot of pressure on the defense."

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