Aug. 29, 2005
By Benton Strong
Players used words like confidence, discipline and attitude.
Then they talked about getting down to business.
The University of Washington football team officially kicked off "game week" Monday with a press conference in the Founders' Club at Bank of America Arena, before heading down to Dempsey Indoor for the annual Kickoff Luncheon.
After having spent the spring and summer answering questions about a disappointing 2004 season, the Huskies' players are excited to return to action Saturday vs. Air Firce at Qwest Field, and begin a new chapter in Husky football lore.
"[When] you come off a 1-10 season your confidence is going to be down," said senior offensive tackle Joe Toledo. "We have to learn how to win again."
Many players said that the team's fall camp, which included two-a-day practices on alternating days and hours of meetings and film study, has instilled confidence and helped the players focus on being successful right out of the gate in 2005.
"We had an incredible amount of meeting time and split practices," said sophomore quarterback Johnny Durocher. "It was almost like we were doing two-a-days everyday."
Senior linebacker Evan Benjamin agreed, stating that Washington's facilities -- including the state-of-the-art Dempsey Indoor, recently-remodeled locker rooms, and brand-new Conibear Shellhouse and Student Life Center -- played a huge role in helping the Huskies prepare for the 2005 season.
"Having top-class locker rooms, practice facilities, lunchrooms and academic centers right here certainly makes it easier for us to just focus on football," Benjamin said.
Later Monday, Benjamin and his UW teammates had their first opportunity to adjust to a new facility, Qwest Field, which will host Saturday's UW-Air Force matchup -- originally a home game on the Air Force schedule.
Most players are excited about the chance to play at Qwest Field, but recognize that it's the game that matters, not the arena.
"A football field is a football field," Toledo said. "Once the ball gets snapped, a lot of those things just kind of fly by you."
Benjamin agrees: "Qwest Field, that's great," he said. "But most of all, playing Air Force is the number one thing."
With most of the roster and position battles sorted out, Washington's players can focus now on starting the season off with a win, something that every player agrees is paramount to the team's success this season.
"We have to get the first one," Durocher said. "It's important that we come out and put a good foot forward.
No player seemed worried that this Husky team would have a problem doing just that. The camp has built confidence and restored the winning attitude of a proud program.
"We're a confident group," Toledo said. "We had a good spring, we had a good fall and all we can do is go out there and play hard."