March 31, 2005
SEATTLE - The Tyrone Willingham era at the University of Washington officially begins today when the Huskies' new head football coach leads his team in their first of 15 spring practices.
The practice will be a new experience for players and coaches alike.
"The first thing will be attitude, the second thing will be intelligence," said Willingham about his expectations for his new players. "Good teams play the game smart. Hopefully we can start to do that from day one, but it all starts with the attitude, the approach and the effort."
The Huskies are coming off one of the worst seasons in their 116-year history, finishing the season with a 1-10 record. It was the first losing season for UW since 1976, a span of 27 years.
"I think when you have competitive people, they like to go period," explained Willingham when asked if the players had extra incentive to get started this spring because of the disappointing 2004 campaign. "I would hope that if we were 10-0, 11-0, 12-0, that they'd come back and they'd be really excited about getting after the game of football."
Heading into Thursday's practice, Willingham held no bias for any player over another although he has looked over some of Washington's game film from a season ago.
"You have to have some knowledge, some information about your young men, but at the same time you want them to have a clean slate," said Willingham.
"It doesn't matter how good they've been at the past, it's what we do today," continued UW's head coach. "It's not what was happening last year, it's what we do today. Whether it's the quarterbacks, the linebackers, running backs, it doesn't matter, it's all the same."
The practice is scheduled to last two hours. The Huskies will participate in one more non-contact workout on Friday before strapping their pads on for the first time of the year on Saturday.