August 27, 2008

Willingham Pleased With Monday's Practice

Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham addressed the media Tuesday to discuss his team as the season opener against Oregon nears.

Willingham discussed Monday night's practice.

"I thought it went very well. I thought our guys had great energy, good focus. That doesn't always mean that everything is perfect or the game plan was perfectly executed, but I thought it was a very sound and very solid session for us. Injury wise, we were pretty healthy. The only one still in question, other than those that have already been ruled out, obviously is Michael Gottlieb. Michael is probably more in question right now than he was even yesterday. It may be unfortunate that he may not be able to make it as we get to the end of the week."

With Gottlieb out, Willingham will turn to Walt Winter and Kavario Middleton to carry the tight end's share of the load.

"We're going to use all of those tight ends, and that whole group will probably get some time. That means obviously Winter, Middleton, [Chris] Izbicki - all of that group will probably get some work in there."

Willingham touched on Gottlieb's injury.

"We had the setback the other week, that was just kind of minor. Right now, it doesn't look quite 100 percent yet, so we'll see as we go through the week. That's one [injury] that probably doesn't look as favorable."

Willingham discussed Mark Armelin[db]'s injury.

"His foot's in a boot. I think he has a fracture there somewhere. Oh yes, [he's been ruled out for the Oregon game]. Maybe one to two weeks if we're fortunate - could be longer."

[db]Charles Hawkins has been slowed by an ankle injury lately. Willingham touched up on the matter.

"He was [slowed by injury yesterday], which I'm not sure if it was all tape job or something else, but it really slowed him down yesterday. He didn't do much of anything yesterday, which will be closely monitored today to see exactly where he's at."

Scott Shugart has also been hampered by an injury recently, but Willingham expects him to be able to play in the Oregon game if needed.

"He practiced yesterday, so I don't think his physical limitations will keep him out of being in the lineup if he's capable."

Brandon Johnson has been injury riddled lately, but appears to nearing 100 percent. Willingham discussed his progression.

"Obviously I think the rest has served him well. He seems to be more at full speed and more doing the things that Brandon has been accustomed to doing."

With the release of the first official depth chart, comes some happy players and some unhappy players, naturally.

"It always is case-by-case. There's some people that are a little dejected when that thing comes out. They're not where they thought they should be. There's others that say 'you know what, it's time for me to step up my game'. Usually when you put your first one out, there's a lot of excitement about the first ball game period. Everyone, in most cases, kind of steps their game up. That's been more visible to me than the other cases."

True freshman defensive tackle Senio Kelemete not only earned a spot atop the depth chart, he did it after missing a substantial amount of time waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

"I think he's very excited about where he's at. I think his situation is a little bit different than almost anyone else's though, because it was a little less than two weeks ago, maybe even a week and a half, that he wasn't on campus. Now he's excited about having an opportunity to be a part of the team. To have an opportunity to contribute in our first ball game, is quite major for him. I think his excitement would be reflected regardless of depth chart. I think that has very little to do with where his mind is at."

It came as a surprise to many to see Kelemete's name listed with the first-teamers, but it was not such to Willingham.

"As we learn more about his personality, I would say no, we're not surprised. I think when he went away, some of the things that he had to work with during that stretch of time, gave us a real glimpse of his personality. He's come back and shown that he is just a worker, and that to me, is always a very special quality. So from that standpoint, I think that revelation of his real personality doesn't surprise us now that he's in that position."

When asked if he's been pleased with defensive line's grasp of the mental element of the game, Willingham responded.

"I've been very pleased with their physical approach to it. Obviously knowing where to line up, the adjustments and being a team member in the defense is important, but if you have defensive linemen that can't play physical, than you've got a problem. I've liked all of the things that we've seen from them and things that we've seen from the other guys too. I think some of the other guys have given us something, and we're just trying to find the right places for all of them to exhibit their talents. I think we're getting that from a lot of those guys, and I think our coaches have done a good job in figuring out exactly where their strengths are, and now trying to get them in the right place to help our defense."

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