August 18, 2008

Coach Quotes and Practice Notes - 08/18/2008


The big news of the day was the return of sophomore quarterback Jake Locker, who practiced for the first time in 10 days after suffering a hamstring injury.

"I guess I could say 100 percent," replied Willingham when asked how much more involved Locker was today. "But that would be referencing where he's been at, which was zero, so that's pretty good."

When asked what the staff saw in Locker to declare him ready to practice, Willingham responded:

"Jake. Jake. That's what we saw - Jake," said Willingham. "Jake's eager, anxious and ready to get involved."

Locker is a gamer, plain and simple - someone who only goes full speed. However, with his injury, Willingham addressed the concern of limiting that mentality to a degree.

"There's no question what we have to do is definitely put limits on him, because he wants to be back and he wants to be going. We have to be very careful because he's what I call an instinctive player," explained Willingham. "So his instincts take over and he just goes. It's just something that's going to happen. The best way to do that, is if we can put him in situations that we protect him from using his instincts. Than we can kind of limit what will take place with him."

Willingham touched on sophomore safety Victor Aiyewa's injury.

"Victor is doing well - did some limited stuff today," Willingham explained.

Willingham also touched on sophomore safety Nate Williams' injury, which he referred to as an "owie" last week.

"I don't think he's missed a beat," said Willingham. "I think he came back and did everything Saturday."

The prestigious gold jersey has not be given out yet, and it sounds like one may not be given out.

"We haven't [awarded a gold jersey] so far," said Willingham. "I think we've seen a lot of good things, but I don't think anyone has clearly distinguished themselves right now. I don't know if that's totally been a focus of us as coaches also."

The running back position is one where a number of players have the opportunity to step up and grab a spot in the rotation. Willingham had this to say when asked if the coaching staff is comfortable enough to set a rotation.

"We could," replied Willingham. "If we played today, it would probably include possibly two freshman, and that's not all bad."

Willingham offered up this witty response when asked if the holder position is such an interchangeable position that you can find anyone to do it well.

"No, I don't think you can," said Willingham. "But I haven't seen it perfected to the point yet where we go out and give a scholarship for the holder."

Tyrone Willingham Quotes:

Willingham responded when someone eluded to there being more bodies out on the practice field.

"It was true - just about what we anticipated. We've said that our injuries would be day-to-day for the most part, and that's exactly what it was. We had some come back today and there were some that are still very limited with what they do. But we'll keep bouncing back - nothing serious and keep moving forward."

When asked if Locker is 100 percent, Willingham responded:

"No, and he's not expected to be probably for some time. Again, it's going to be day-to-day when he reaches that point, but no concerns there."

The weather in Seattle has been very hot in recent days, but cooler temperatures and rain have entered the Northwest, bringing a different aspect to the Huskies' practice.

"The weather was probably more beneficial today than anything else. Simply because one, from a coach's standpoint, it's another hurdle, another obstacle that they have to kind of look at. It's a little cooler - did get a little moist at some point. It's beneficial from that standpoint, from the mental standpoint. From the player's standpoint it's beneficial because it's much easier to practice when it's cooler than when it's warmer. So I imagine they enjoyed that a lot more."

Willingham replied when asked if the rain causes him to be cautious with his players.

"No, they're fine. They've got the right things on their feet. Iif they didn't have the right shoes for the surface, than you'd be a little bit more concerned. But they've got the right shoes and they've been in these kind of conditions before. I don't really worry about those and I don't think we had as much precipitation as we've seen in the past. We've not had any hamstrings come out of it, so it's not been a worry."

The Huskies experienced difficulties last season with trying to close out games - something that certainly lost games that could have been won. Willingham addressed the issue.

"You have to pinpoint that problem. Is it conditioning? If it's conditioning, you attack it from the standpoint of just doing things at the end. Really in one sense, you do things from the beginning to put them in that state, so that they have to work through at the end. That's one phase of it. Another phase is just the confidence of being able to make plays and feeling good about yourself - the individual kind of brings that to the table. Then I've always said the third one is to make sure that we as coaches are putting them into the right place. So you work on those three areas. But understand it's not anything out of the ordinary that you have to do to be ready to get that done."

When asked if he's taken an involvement with the special teams, since first year coach Brian White has never coached special teams, Willingham responded:

"No. I think Coach White has got a pretty good handle on it. Where needed be, I'll assist, but he's got a good handle on it."

Willingham discussed the progression of senior wide receiver Chancellor Young.

"He's making waves, but he's still going through that period of getting readjusted to the system and just catching up. But it is nice to kind of have some of the base that he had coming in, because otherwise, he would truly be just like a freshman."

Willingham added this when asked if Young senses an urgency since it's his last year to prove himself.

"I think just the mere fact that he fought to get back to here points to that. He understands clearly that this is it."

Willingham gave his impressions of Saturday's scrimmage, which lasted just under two hours.

"I enjoyed Saturday. I thought Saturday was a lot of fun for me, I thought it was a lot of fun for our young men. I probably thought that if there was a highlight group, and I thought we had some good groups all across the field, I would probably say our running backs were the highlight group. I think they showed pretty deep that they can run the football. They all showed that they can run the football - had a lot of broken tackles, and that's what you look for - how can you gain the extra yardage? They did a wonderful job of that, the entire group did - I was very impressed."

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