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October 29, 2008
Coaches talk transition, progress and USC
How was the first practice since the news came down?
"It was a subdued practice but a solid practice. It was far from people jumping up and down and that was to be expected. There are a lot of emotions probably going through our young men but I thought we got don what we needed to get done yesterday."
"The goal now is to be much more aggressive and assertive in who we have to be to be the team we have to play,'' he said. "This (USC) is not a football team you can play or defeat being passive. You've got to be ultra aggressve against this team. That means coaches, players, even our equipment guys have got to be ready to be aggressive in this ball game and if you don't, then you don't have a prayer.''
When asked if that meant the team wasn't aggressive enough before he responded by saying.
"This is a different team we are playing. This is not like some of the other teams we have played. This team is talented at every spot. They play very aggressive and the opportunity to play is in jeopardy on every snap and that's what makes them good."
On USC's defense.
Obviously over the years you have seen some defenses that can shut you down and make it a very miserable afternoon. This one is very consistent with what they have been. They are big, fast and a physical team. They make mistakes, but they are so fast and physical that another guy is there to cover it up and you barely see it."
The last few games against USC have been competitive, does that give the players confidence going into this game?
"You hope it does and you hope our veteran players are passing that on to our younger guys that we have played some good ball games. But, that has nothing to do with this one - you still have to go out there and play well. If we do that then we have a chance to be successful and if you don't do that then it's no good."
When asked about how he is taking the news of head coach Tyrone Willingham stepping down at the end of the season coach Hart said this.
"Lets talk football. There is plenty of ink being used around here and we have USC coming up so lets focus on football. I would have nothing to contribute.
On the defensive line playing better.
"Kids are getting older. They are learning some things and still figuring it all out. They are giving a good effort and as a result they are getting better."
Freshman defensive tackle Senio Kelemete was hurt during the Notre Dame pre game warmups. Hart had this to say about it.
"It was absolutely fluky. I was standing right there and he was pass rushing a guy, I turn around and he's still laying there. I said what's the problem, you can't lie down before a game - get up. It was no contact and it just twisted and locked up. Form what I understand it was piece of cartilage. It could have already been lose because it happened right away and puffed right up. When they looked at it they said exactly what it was and when they got the MRI back that is what it was. They took it out and he should be ready to go. For a change it was exactly what they though it was."
On the job Johnie Kirton has done in his place.
"He's getting better. He's worked hard and he's getting better but I wish Senio was there to spell him because sometimes he gets tired. But we will just keep working guys in."
Who moves up the depth chart with Senio out?
"Deshon Matthews is everybody's guy. He knows the whole front, both inside and outside.
What has happened to Tyrone Duncan and Nick Wood?
"Nick is on goalline and Tyrone has been slowed because of his hand. He now has his fingers out of the cast but he still cant grab well. I would think [he could play this season] but he needs to pass someone up in front of him. There is some good competition at that spot.
"It's a real nice football team, no question about it. They are very deep - but I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. They put three guys back at running back that are very good and there line is solid. They get guys who can run and have size. When we were putting our secondary together and people asked whey we so many big guys out there - it was because of these types of games."
Donatell has a history with USC head coach Pete Carroll.
"Pete's a guy I coached with for six years. He's been a good mentor for a long while. Anytime you go against a guy that you consider a teacher and a friend it's special. He's been good to me over the years." He added "I talk to him, but not this week."
Do things feel the same at practice after the news on monday?
"There is a declaration that was made when Ty made the announcement that there will be a change. The uncertainly is taken away from both the coaches and the players. I think we are moving on now. The thing that hasn't changed is that as a coaching staff we still want to help these players get better. People ask what keeps me upbeat and I say that I want to help these players and help Husky football - that is important to us. That's what our intensions are.
What was the mood at Tuesdays practice?
"At times like this guys are hurting and guys are down, and that's our job to pick them up. These guys really feel Tyrone and there is a sadness. But then he explains to them we need to get to work. They see that champion attitude from their leader and they are going to work."
Does he see a team that could rally around Willingham being let go and actually play better?
"Yes, I just think that to a man they respect Tyrone Willingham and there is not way they couldn't. This is a man that spends hours every night with them and is interested in what is best for them. I know that about the relationship they have with him. The cool thing is they get to keep having it with them."
With one year left on a two-year contract, does Donatell approach this like he will be back next season?
"I look at it as unknown. Because in any of these situations it always is dictated by who comes in here and what direction they are going to do and what our knowledge would be of each other, so I don't think there is anything of any substance we can say at this time.''
Is the defense Improving?
"I think the arrow is going up, but by no means are we comfortable. There is a lot of separation between [where we are and] where we want to go. When you envision great Husky defenses, they were ones that won ball games for you. They shut it down against other great defenses. There is no great satisfaction or anything yet."