Sept. 18, 2006
"Coming out of the ball game, having had a chance to review what really took place, I thought our young men really gave an excellent effort. Not everything was always right, but we put forth an excellent effort. What we hope to see from our program is that they stay to the end. We found a way to make a play at the end, and we got a W. I think that is an important thing for our program, that we found a way to do that. It was an exciting win, and we have another week until we start the Pac-10."
On UCLA's Improved Defense:
"The thing that has jumped out at me is overall team effort. How well they are getting a lot of players around the football is making a big difference."
On Ben Olson:
"I haven't had a chance to look at his play yet, but his numbers are quite impressive. I think somewhere around a 70% completion or somewhere along those lines. He is doing a smart job with the football, as I start to look at the film, maybe something will show up that will give us a chance."
On Start to the Season:
"Well, I think we are fortunate to be where we are. It is all a process of starting to learn how to win and get each better each day, and I think that is what our guys are doing. It is nice to be 2-1 it would be even better to be 3-0, but we can't do anything about that right now but look forward."
On the Crowd:
"I think I said something about that post-game. It had kind of a different feeling when the team entered the stadium. It was much more into it, and much louder, much more involved and impressive. That is what I remember about Husky Stadium when I brought other teams in here. It was one of the more passionate places about football, especially on the west coast. I have said this many times, when Husky Stadium is rocking, it is not like west coast, it is more like the Southeast and the Mid-west, as far as football appreciation."
On Attitude of Team:
"I would say that I do believe there is a difference in our attitude. There is a better understanding in the process. When you mention process, it means it is unfinished. We are still learning, we are still growing. As I like to say, the story is not written yet, there is a lot of ink that has to be placed somewhere before this story is written. So, I am not jumping to any conclusions about where we are right now. But, do I like the way our young men are working within the process? Yes, I do."
On Win Being Stepping Stone for Program:
"I hope it will be. I think it was a quality opponent. They have proven over the years that they play good football. They have proved this year that they play good football. So, anytime you can notch a quality win it should propel you and give you the opportunity to step forward. We have got some work to do."
On Whether Coach Willingham Celebrated:
"I celebrate all of our wins. And what I did at home, is a secret."
"Well, it was a focus before we started the season, because good teams tackle well. So, that is always been something that we will work on everyday. Coming out of our first ball game, we felt that we need to improve that. Knowing we would be going against a quality back in Adrian Peterson, that you really have to do a good job not just on individual tackling but team tackling, as well. That is something that we will continue to emphasize all year. I imagine there are teams all over the country that have the same need. If you watch young people tackle today, it is a little different, you don't see many run through tackles anymore. You see more lunges, and more stoppage of the legs, and that is something that you have to emphasize in greater detail."
On Bye-week Giving UCLA an Advantage:
"I hope it doesn't, but I think it is an advantage to have one. Because, normally, that gives you a couple of days to get injuries back, that you might not have had if you were playing that week. It gives you an opportunity to have an extra day or two in preparation, which should allow your young men to know the game plan just a little better, with more detail. It is an advantage, but we can't let it be an advantage, we have to come out and find a way to make things happen."
On Moving a Non-Conference Game to Later in the Season:
"We looked at it, and we just didn't feel comfortable this year. But, that is something that you might look at."
"I think it is more, just the fundamentals and the technique, the ability to do it over and over. Because, I think every player out there, at some point Saturday made a great fundamental tackle. At the same time, at some positions, not make the fundamental tackle. So you just have to emphasize over and over, and that is something that we do all the time."
On Home Field Advantage:
"Well, if you are going to be a good football team you have got to win at home. You have got to have an amazingly high percentage at home. To be a championship team, you have got to go on the road and do the same thing. So, it is nice to have a place where you feel like you have home field advantage. Whether it is the stadium, whether it is the crowd, whatever. There are many things that go to having the advantage, and hopefully, more than anything else it is the team."
On UCLA Game Serving as a Motivator:
"I hope it does, I hope our young men remember some of the mistakes that we made and make a conscious effort to not put ourselves in that situation and eliminate those mistakes. Some of those were fundamental to the way we played last year."
On E.J. Savannah:
"Right now, E.J. will probably miss this ball game. I have not got the final opinion yet from our doctors. But, I think he is at the doctor's today, so we haven't heard the final word yet."
On Moving Coach Baer to the Box:
"The whole key, and this is something we have tried to do in a number of places, is to create a more clinical environment. One thing that the box does, is it kind of removes you from some of the excess noise and clutter that sometimes takes place on the sideline. You have a chance to hear your thoughts, see your thoughts, go through your thoughts a little bit better. So, hopefully, it was a situation where he enjoys where he thought our team was defensively. I felt like we needed another voice, a voice that our defensive backs hear all the time, down there with them and provide him with a more clinical environment."
On Having D.J. Williams on the Sideline:
"Well, it is better for motivation, you are able to talk with them and really know and understand the teaching that has been given to them all week. So, I think it is a better decision to communicate more than anything else."
On C.J. Wallace:
"First thing is, Congratulations. But, that is a heck of an honor. It was exciting to watch C.J. play. I think he geared things up and kind of picked our team up a little bit. He had some hits on a very good back, and I was surprised the guy got up a couple of times." "We'll see as we go through the week. We are trying to get him 100%. Or as close to that as possible. That was the best way to try and do that. If it works, then we will have him back this week. If not, we will have to do the best we can. It is still improving, I don't think there is any question, but as we said all along sometimes a high ankle sprain is worse than a break."
On Positives of the Game:
"The biggest positive to me was winning a close ball game against a good team. I think that is the thing that excites me the most. I don't actually think that was our best football game. But, I thought we did enough things right to put ourselves in a position to win. It is exciting for the young men that they can have that kind of perseverance in going about picking up a W."
On Looking Back on Fresno State:
"We need to get ready for UCLA, there was already enough time spent on Fresno State, so we need to get on to UCLA."
On Motivation For Saturday:
"I hope it does, but I hope more inspiring will be that he have got our Pac-10 opener against another top-ranked, good football team."
On Struggles of Run-Game Against Fresno:
"Their big guys, I thought, did a good job in terms of giving them some substance in the middle and making it very difficult for us to get our inside game going."
On Punting and Kicking Coverage:
"Well, we have had a couple of punt returns, even down in Oklahoma when Sean had one of those wonderful long ones, you are always concerned about out kicking your coverage. That has been one of the areas where we let a couple slip through. We haven't been able, from our standpoint, to match with a big return, we have been close but we haven't been able to pull it off. I was pleased with our punt coverage this week, because Fresno State is one of those teams that has had a knack for blocking the punt or blocking the kick or whatever."
On Past Games Versus UCLA:
"There can be a correlation, but I hope our football team realizes that what happened in the past really doesn't have anything to do with what happens on Saturday. What we will do Saturday will determine the outcome of this ball game."
On Changes in Team:
"Well, the thing that probably leaps out at me the most is attitude. I think they went from a team a year ago not expecting to do very much, to being a very surprised team. Okay, we had a lead against them and they came back to win, that happened four or five times last year. When you can win, it becomes somewhat contagious, and they have that. So, no matter where they are in the ball game, they have that confidence, what some people like to call a swagger, about playing the game, and believing that they can win."
On Whether Stanback has that Swagger:
"Isaiah is still working on getting all of that. There are certain moments that he feels very good about what he is doing. He is a young man that has a high expectation for himself. If he doesn't do things just right sometimes, he will sometimes become his worst enemy. But, I am excited about what he brings, and I think he will be getting better and better."
On When the Huskies Will be Where He Wants them to be:
"You can't call yourself a good program if you are not at the top of this conference. We have got to fight and claw our way back to the top. This is one of those Saturdays, UCLA has been probably one of the top three or four teams in this conference if you look over a long period of time. So, they are a team that you have got to take down."
On Individual vs. Team Performances:
"I wouldn't say there is a difference in individual and team performance, I would say that they mirror each other. You start to believe, and you get great individual level performances. Then your team starts to gravitate to that level."
On Whether They Elevate Each Other:
"I would say yes, when you start to have that kind of success, they do elevate each other. The team elevates the individual, the team elevates the individual."
On Containing UCLA Quarterback Ben Olson:
"It depends on what compliments him, and what else you feel like they do. We haven't quite finished that plan yet. But, I do remember Ben from high school. He was a very talented quarterback, and I think we had him in our camp at Stanford."
Thoughts on dropped passes after looking at the tape:
"Yes, they looked the same. I think we have some guys that want to advance the football, and unfortunately it is so easy to take your eyes off the ball the split second before you make the catch. I didn't see any of the ball games on Sunday, but I bet there was somebody who did the same thing. But we can't afford them, because we have to convert a lot of those on third downs. That makes a difference because you are talking about 9 to 12 plays that you would get to execute. That can swing the football game, especially with the clock being the way it is. I think we only had about sixty on Saturday."
On Dan Howell:
"Yes, Dan is back. We anticipate that when we start tomorrow, we will be in full swing."
Pepsi Players of the Week:
"On the defensive side of the game is C.J. Wallace, our Special Teams player from Pepsi is Caesar Rayford for his blocked extra point at the end of the contest, and our Offensive Player of the Game is Isaiah Stanback."