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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 24, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Willingham press conference notes

What is now the second-to-last Monday press luncheon with Tyrone Willingham has ended.
He said again that he thought the defense on the key pass play late in the game Saturday’s 16-13 Apple Cup loss to Washington State was the correct one but simply wasn’t executed well enough.
“To put it very simply, it was a football game that if we made our plays down the end we have a chance to win it,” he said. “I feel like we should have won it and we didn’t make those play, so it’s unfortunate we did not win it.”
Willingham said the defense had been reminded of the situation during the time out preceding the last drive.
“You just remind them of the situation — what you have to do and what you need to do,” he said. “And obviously we lacked in that area of executing and they made a play that I felt like should have been an easy interception for us and really shouldn’t have even been a threat.”
Willingham said the team practices two-minute drill situations twice a week most weeks.
“It’s something we reviewed and something we felt like we should have been able to make the right plays to win the football game and we didn’t do that,” he said.
That led to a discussion of what is the disconnect if the team is getting the right information but then not producing on the field.
“That’s the difference in playing the game and talking about the game,” he said. “It’s easy to talk about the game. The hard part about it is playing it and it’s not easy when you are in those situations. There is not one player we had in that football team that wanted come up short in any of those plays but that’s the difference is playing it, handling the pressure, handlng the stress. That makes all the difference.”
Willingham, however, defended the message, saying it’s no different than a parent trying to teach their kid how to grow up right and then seeing the kid make a wrong decision.
“I think they know the message is right,” he said. “But it’s what you do. You mean to tell me a parent that says to a kid you should not steal or should not take something that is someone else’s that they have a problem with that message?
“It’s not the message. It’s about them at that particular moment and them having their own desire. The message doesn’t change. The message is still right. The message to do things in a two-minute drill or any other situation, yeah, the message is correct.”
Asked what the message is now, with Cal in two weeks, he said: “The first one is what we need to do is just maintain our rhythm and not get out of form so we’ve got to do that and also know that Thanksgiving is around the corrner and want them to have a chance to celebrate and enjoy Thaksgiving with their families and then come back and get back on track to win the next one. That’s something that we’ve always preached, to win the next one.”
In fact, the team will practice today and tomorrow and then take off until the following Monday.
Willingham said he also plans to take off most, if not all, of that time.
“I’m going to give myself a few more days than that off, yes,” he said. “I am going to enjoy my holidays.”
Asked what he was thinking at the end of the game, he said: “All of my emotions were spent on that long pass play. That was the one that all of the sudden you see everything almost drop right out of your control at that point. But you still had the ability to win the game at that point, still needed to make a couple of plays to win the ball game, and they didn’t. We go in the overtime and now you’ve got a chance again to win the football game and we just came up short.”
Asked if he thinks the players may be doubting his message now, he said: “When you don’t have success I question what I do. If I made the right decision. That’s part of it. But you can’t eliminate that. When you don’t have success that still does not mean that the things you are talking about are not right.”
He continued to say that “I could second guess the decision to go for it on that last series, fourth and three I think it was. You could second guess that one all day, punt or not, and it may still have been the right decision to do that.”
Asked if he thinks the players are still hearing his message, he said: “You have to ask the individual that because that’s the part that is the mo\st difficult about anything is getting inside their head and figuring out what the perception is.”
ON A FEW OTHER MATTERS:
— Willingham said that PK Ryan Perkins, who missed two late kicks, “will struggle because he is an intense competitor who wants to win and be successful and I think he saw himself making his kicks and being successful andn winning the game.” However, he said he didn’t think Perkins lost any confidence when coaches decided to have Jared Ballman try a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter. “No, because we have done it all year and have worked those distances out with him.”
— Willingham said the only significant injury was a high ankle sprain to Mesphin Forrester on the same leg as his earlier knee injury. “But we think he will be all right by the time we get to California,” he said.
— He said Jordan White-Frisbee was simply struggling with chronic foot pain that has bothered him all season. “He has really been a warrior, someone who has stepped up every week and kept himself in the lineup and probably there are some other guys who have had what he has had and wouldn’t have played the last seven weeks. But he has really been though, strong, not said a word and battled every week.”
— Finally, the press conference ended a little contentiously when Willingham was asked about his statement that the program is better now than when he took it over. “Only time tells that, that’s the only thing you measure by is time and hopefully there are some things in place that in time will show themselves better than written.” Asked why he made comparisions to 2004 the last two weeks, Willingham said he did so only last week and not after the ASU game when he quoted seniors as telling him that the seniors in 2004 had quit. When the question was asked again about his comparisons to 2004 and that the program was struggling then, he said “isn’t that not a fact? Is that not a fact?” When the questioner said yes, Willingham quickly interruped “okay. Thank you. That’s all.”
All for now.

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