September 18, 2008

Huskies Working Hard in Bye Week

Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham addressed the media via teleconference Thursday.

"Our goal this week is to try to become a better football team, and I think we're one day away from doing that with our practice this afternoon. I think we've gotten some good work. Our work has been concentrated on trying to get all levels of our team better. A lot of times you think of the bye week as just being something to improve your health, which we wanted to do that at the right places. But at same time, we need to get our starters better, our backups betters, our young kids - keep developing them, and I think so far we've been able to do that through scrimmaging and through our practice and preparation work for Stanford, which has been our area of focus."

Willingham discussed any possible change in the starting rotation.

"I still say right now, based on two-a-days of practice that we've had, that a lot of the starters will be as they were going into the week. Where we'll change things, will be the help of some of the guys, but I think for the most part, we should be pretty healthy there. Obviously the guy of note is Darin Harris - he's not worked yet, but we kind of anticipated that."

Willingham responded when asked if there have been any position changes.

"I can't think of any that we've done this week other than just sliding a few guys in the secondary to work different spots. We haven't really changed any positions, especially across the ball from offense to defense."

It appears that 2008 Washington commit Craig Noble is close to being cleared to join the Huskies. Willingham touched on the situation when asked if there have been any additions or subtractions to the team.

"Obviously the one that I think is probably gathering the most attention, would be that of Craig Noble, the young man that is and will be a part of our recruiting class. Obviously there's some things that have to go through the admissions part, some things that have been taken care of in terms of his work in California, and now the admissions process has to complete itself. If that is done in a timely manner, then there could be an addition later. And if not, then it will move to January."

Willingham discussed the Huskies' injury situation.

"Kavario [Middleton] worked the other day, and obviously I don't think he's back to 100 percent yet. Alameda [Ta'amu] had some wisdom tooth taken out, and it was a little more extensive than just the actual pulling of the tooth, so we've kept him out for all of this week - he will not work even today. Other than that, [Donald] Butler's recuperating and doing well. [Tony] Chidiac has missed a little time with a hamstring. [Josh] Gage has been in and out. [Michael] Gottlieb is doing fine. [Cody] Habben is doing well. Tripper Johnson missed a couple of days and some of the practice periods, but I think he's recovering well. Johnie Kirton didn't see any time the last two days, and that's just been with what he's been carrying the first three weeks of the season. But I think he looks very good for coming back next week and probably being near 100 percent. Chancellor Young was one that happened during practice the other day, and [he] has not practiced. We'll see what the full extent of his injury is. He just had a bruise to the knee."

Willingham touched on the situation of sophomore safety Victor Aiyewa.

"We've sent Victor away for another opinion on what's exactly going wrong with him. Hopefully we'll get that other opinion and he'll be back for us next week."

When asked if it's getting to the point where Washington will ask for a sixth year of eligibility for cornerback Byron Davenport, Willingham responded.

"Gosh, I don't think so."

Scott Woodward was named Washington's Athletic Director yesterday after serving as the interim Athletic Director for several months following the departure of former Athletic Director Todd Turner. Willingham discussed the matter.

"I think Scott has been very active and has been in tune with what's been going on in the athletic department. Scott has not been just a visitor over the last six or eight months. He's been here, been visible and been very active. Our relationship is a little bit deeper than just the last six or eight months. Obviously the last six or eight months has been more intensive than any other time, because he's the acting athletic director. He's taken a more hands on approach and has been very aware of the needs of the day-to-day operations of all of our athletic programs, as well as our football program."

Willingham discussed how bye weeks can sometimes hinder a team rather than help it. However, he also discussed how Washington's bye weeks will help the Huskies in his opinion.

"I think sometimes it [bye week] can [hinder a team], because sometimes you can be on that roll where everything is going [well], and you lose just a little bit of that timing. But I think with what we have this year, I think it's going to play very well. I think they will come at pretty good breaks for us, which will allow us to get healthy and then get ourselves mentally refreshed so we can make the last push that we need to make."

Washington's out of conference schedule has been extremely daunting lately. However, Woodward has stated the he favors scheduling an easier out of conference schedule with one premier team, one middle of the road team, and one team that the Huskies should beat. Willingham responded when asked if he likes this approach.

"I'd be careful with that last one, but I like the philosophy."

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