August 25, 2008
Monday Player Quotes
Game week is here as the Huskies held their first player and coaches press conference of the season. Many players were on hand to give their opinions of Fall Camp and what they expect for the upcoming season. There was a common theme based around a newfound confidence, a positive attitude and a dislike for their first opponents the Oregon Ducks.
With Fall Camp over game preperation has begun for the Oregon Ducks. Donald Butler talked about preparing for rival in week one.
"Were just getting into that film room and mentally getting right so come Saturday there are no problems. It's that rivalry with the Huskies vs. Ducks and everyone hates each other. It's also a conference game and we always want to start off in conference on the right foot with a "W" and that is the plan."
The Huskies had the worst defense in school history last season, but Butler thinks only small changes are needed to turn things around quickly.
"We know what we have to do in order to improve and become one of the best defenses in the Pac-10. That's my goal. The biggest thing is being accountable, stay in your gap and know your responsibilities. We need to wrap up and make tackles; simple fundamental things that I think slipped a bit last year."
Autzen stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the country and Butler talked about overcoming the hostile crowd.
"You better have thick skin because those fans are going to get after you. You just have to block out that crowd and like I said you just need to stay fundamentally sound. They are going to give you the fakes, and you just need to stay sound and stay in your gaps." Butler continued when asked if Autzen Stadium is the most intimidating place he has played, "Yeah I would have to say so. Like I said those fans get after you pretty bad."
After last season's struggles new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was brought in to clean things up. Butler talked about some of the things he has improved.
"When we go out there we have fun together and there is a unity between us like you get my back and I got your back. It's that accountability of knowing that I will be in my gap and I will get my man. Knowing that I will be in the backfield so the secondary doesn't have to cover for 10 or 15 seconds. Coach Ed Donatell tells us to go out there and have fun because you play your best when you have fun."
Player have talked about this being one of the hardest Fall Camps since they have been on campus. Conditioning was a huge focus and senior offensive lineman Casey Bulyca agrees.
"Camp was good and we got a lot of good work done. Every worked hard and camp is supposed to be hard, break you down, then at the end build you back up and get you ready for game week. I feel like this was probably the best camp we have had in years. Everyone worked so hard and fought through all of the adversity that's involved with any camp. I'm very happy with how everything is going right now. "
Perhaps because of the extra work there were quit a few nagging injuries during the camp. But nearly everyone is healthy and ready to go and Bulyca feels the team grew because of it.
"We did have a lot of guys go down for a while, myself included. I tweaked my knee a little bit but that is the way camp goes. It's either going to make you tougher or you're not going to make it and that is sort of the point and I think we had a lot of guys do a good job getting through it."
Washington will have one of the most experienced and best offensive lines in the Pac-10 and perhaps the country. Bulyca isn't surprised because of their close relationship.
"We are all more or less brothers. I have known Frizz [Jordan White-Frisbee since my sophomore year of high school when we played against each other and Juan Garcia from when I was being recruited. We have all spent tons of time together and I don't think anyone of us gets too full of ourselves. Coach Denbrock does a good job of pushing us and not letting us rest on our laurels." He continued about the close relationship with his lineman, "It is probably one of the most important things that we all get along so well. We can argue with each other then just laugh about it later. I think it helps us tremendously to get things done. No one is afraid to tell each other when someone might not be doing things right and they need to get their stuff together."
Sixth year senior and team leader Juan Garcia injured his foot during spring practices and many though his college career was over. He opted to not have surgery and has made an improbably comeback and will be ready to start the Oregon game. Bulyca isn't surprised at all by the quick recovery.
"It's obviously a miracle and amazing, but I never thought Juan wouldn't come back. Just knowing the kid he's tough and has never shown one ounce of quit. He worked so hard and was in treatment every day and now look at him - he's about the start the Oregon game. It's just amazing but it doesn't surprise me because Juan is the type of guy that will do anything to play and he worked so hard and did it and is ready to go."
Jordan White-Frisbee has battled injury ever since coming to Montlake as a highly regarded defensive lineman. Finally healthy he has worked his way up the depth chart and will start at left guard against Oregon.
"It has been a while to be honest. It feels like I actually have purpose instead of being given a scholarship to ride a bike on the sidelines." He continued about the importance of his last season and the idea of making it into the NFL, "It feels like my feet are on the edge of cliff right now and I need to fight. With the group of guys I line up with we all have a shot [at the NFL]. It's important for all us because Juan [Garcia], Bull [Casey Bulyca] and myself are all seniors and it's our last shot."
White-Frisbee agrees with Bulyca that the Huskies worked harder in this years fall camp then before. It did not go unnoticed by coach Willingham either.
"The camp has been a lot harder this year in my opinion. We came out and conditioned so much - but it's been good for us because we are a much stronger team. Especially for us on the offensive line - we got bigger, stronger and more physical. It actually surprised me at the end of camp because coach [Tyrone Willingham] actually said we had a great camp. Usually he will pat you on the head and say good job, but this time he said we did great and I think he actually meant it."
The offensive line will be called on to lead this team back to glory.
"We anticipated it from day one because coach Denbrock told us that we are going to put the team on our back. We have so many veterans on the line and if we do well the team will do well."
The skill positions as a whole could be one of the youngest groups in the nation. But White-Frisbee sees a lot to be excited about.
"We have some good young guys and the things that stands out to me is how hard they all work. I can tell you this, even if they play this year or not, there is going to be a ton of talent at the skill positions for years to come."
Sophomore Nate Williams did not learn until today that he was officially slated to start the game vs. Oregon
"I didn't even know that the depth chart was out today. We had an idea of who would play because of how practice is going and who is getting the most reps with ones." He continued when asked how important it is that he got to start, "It doesn't matter because if I wasn't playing Tripper [Johnson] could come in and do just as good of a job. I'm excited because it's my first start, but I'm going to just keep on doing everything I have been taught."
A local product out of Kennedy High School, Williams expects a nice cheering section for his start at Oregon.
"My Mom, Dad, Brother and Grandpa are all coming to watch me play. Also a few of my high school friends will be making the trip."
Playing a rival in the first game of the season has everyone extra excited for the opportunity.
"It doesn't change the preparation but it does add another level of excitement. It is Oregon, it is a rivalry and we really don't like Oregon at all. We will defiantly be more fired up and we will come out with a little more intensity and try to get the win."
New defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has brought a positive attitude to the team and Williams thinks it has helped his progression.
"With the coaching this year - I don't know if it was because I was a freshman - but it seemed like last year there was more yelling and driving it into you and this year it was more about teaching. If I messed up last year I would get yelled out but this year coach would stop practice and ask me what I did wrong and have me explain it to him. I think that approach really helped me and the other players."
There has been a lot of losing the past few seasons for the Huskies, but to a man the 2008 Dawgs have a positive outlook and want to move forward and forge their own way while taking some positives from the previous successful teams at Montlake. Sophomore Mason Foster is one of the young players that expects to turn things around this season, starting with Oregon on August 30th.
"Everything is new and it's a fresh start. Everyone starts out undefeated and we just need to come out and show everyone what we are all about. We need to be like the old Huskies and it's time to win. It's really exciting with a bunch of new guys on the defense and everyone is ready to go. It is going to be a lot of fun playing down in Autzen Stadium."
It appears that Washington has lost last season's leading tackler E.J. Savannah for the season. With his loss, former walk on Josh Gage will be the starter. Foster likes what Gage brings to the unit and thinks they are all ready to step up.
"We are going to bring a lot of intensity and leadership to the defense. It's hard to lose a guy like E.J. [Savannah] but our group is deep enough and talented enough to compensate for the loss. Gage is a really smart guy and really funny. He's really calm on the field and keeps everyone calm. I'm a very energetic guy and he stays calm and is always thinking."
Foster talked about some of the things needed to be more successful this season.
"We need to stop the run and get more takeaways. If we can get the ball back to Jake [Locker] and our high powered offense we have a good chance for success."
Foster started as just a true freshman and knows what it is like to go into hostile environments with little experience
"Don't believe the hype and don't listen to the crowd. Just have fun and don't get tight and play within yourself. Even the older guys will be wide eyed the first few plays, but once you get that first hit - then your into it and good to go at that point."
There will be ten freshman or sophomores starting the first game of the season and Fosters sees this as a positive.
"They came in as a talented group and really worked hard during the summer. They may be young but they are really good and exciting to watch. They are really hungry to prove how good they are and I'm excited for them."
Everyone is excited to start the season, especially against the much hated Oregon Ducks.
"We're excited because it's a Pac-10 game. It's Oregon our rival and we are just ready to go to Autzen Stadium and put a beating to the Ducks. It's the Pac-10 and everyone is fighting to be number one. That is our goal, to be the number one team in the Pac-10 and I think strongly of out team and that we are improved from last year."
Forrester has experience playing at Autzen stadium and knows how tough of a place it can be.
"Playing at Autzen stadium is really rough. I have played there twice and the fans are really close to our sideline and you will hear some trash talking from their fans. It's a tough stadium to play in and you just have to tell the young guys to block it out and play their game."
Forrester is confident that the struggles that plagued the secondary last season are gone and they will greatly improve their play.
"We have made a lot of improvements. That was last year and this year we have a great secondary. I moved to corner and we have a much bigger presence now with Quinton [Richardson] and myself. We can run with the fast receivers and hit like safeties. We have Nate Williams and Darin Harris back at safety and you will see on Saturday."
So what is different about this years secondary?
"The mindset is just to make plays. The past couple of years since I have been here the secondary haven't been a dominant force and this year we will be. We can support on the run like safeties and guard like corners. Our secondary is going to be great this year."
The defense especially struggled in the fourth quarter last season. Forrester thinks that problem will be solved in 2008.
"People were saying that maybe it was our conditioning last season and I don't think it was. It was just our focus. We went into half time ahead, close or even tied and we just need to come out and play the second and third [quarter] like we played the first and second."
New defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has made a huge impression on the entire defense.
"He brought a lot of positives to our defense and a lot of smiles to our faces. People have been down after the couple of bad years we have had. We have been stressed out from losing and coach Donatell has brought the love back to the game. People are positive now. The guy has been in the NFL for 17 years and he's the cream of the crop. Donatell is a cool guy and is really relaxed but will still coach you hard. Off the field he's a calm guy but on the field he will coach you hard."
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