Washington’s football team met as a group at 6 p.m. to learn about their Holiday Bowl date with Nebraska and what the future now holds.
UW will take off the next four days, then practice for three days over the weekend, then take much of the next week off as well, allowing time for the players to rest, heal and prepare for Finals. UW is allowed 15 practices between now and the game, and will use eight in Seattle and seven once it gets to San Diego on Dec. 23.
UW QB Jake Locker said the contrast of this meeting from others usually held this time of year was stark.
“It’s really cool just to be able to be in there and have them explain this kind of stuff and look up at a schedule that in the past has been ‘okay, this is when you guys can go home and this is when the quarter starts and we start winter workouts again.’ So to be able to look at it and go ‘we are going to have practices here, these days are going to be off, you’ll get money for this, we are going to visit these places while we are down there,’ it just puts a smile on my face. It feels good.”
So does getting another shot to play Nebraska.
UW’s four team captains spoke to the media after the meeting and all echoed the same theme, that it will be nice to have a chance to give Nebraska a better game than the Huskies did in a 56-21 loss in Seattle on Sept. 18.
“I think really the main thing for us is that it’s an opportunity to get revenge on them a little bit because they came in here and they whupped us pretty good,” said safety Nate Williams. “So I think we will definitely end up having a big chip on our shoulder and that will just naturally give us a little bit of motivation off the top, so we are really excited for it and it will be a great game.”
Said left tackle Senio Kelemete: “We get the opportunity to show the world how much we have changed since we played them, so it should be a great game. They are a great team and just to show how much we’ve changed and gotten better since the weeks progressed (will be a great opportunity).”
Locker was 4-20 passing in the first game and a big storyline in this one figures to be his chance to also get some personal redemption. He agreed that will be a motivating factor.
“I just think from anybody who plays sports and is competitive, anytime you have the opportunity to go out and improve on a performance or a game that you didn’t do your best in individually and as a group it’s always a good opportunity and it’s something that all competitors hope for, I think,”’ he said.
Here are a few other quotes from today’s session:
Williams on hearing about the bowl: “Just it’s really exciting that it’s actually here now and just all of the hard work that we have been working on kind of paid off for us a little bit. We are just going to enjoy it a little more while we can but when it’s really time to work we are going to lock in and hit it hard.”
Williams on Nebraska and what happened in the first game: “They are a real versatile team. Their quarterback obviously can run but when he has to drop back and pass he can do that as well. When you have a certain key you have to really just read that key and focus on that one job because myself included and a lot of the other guys we were trying to do a little too much because at the time they were ranked No. 8 in the nation and with all that hype I think guys were trying to do a little too much. We’ve just got to stay levelheaded and stay cool and take care of our one job and everything will work out like it has the past three weeks for us.”
Kelemete on playing Nebraska again: “Show the world that we have changed a lot since we played them.”
Kelemete on his injured ankle and getting some time off now: “It’s going to be a huge thing for me getting a lot of treatment, rehab, working on my ankle and getting the strength back into it again. That week off, those days off are going to help a lot of guys that are nicked up, bruised, injured, get them back on their feet and going again.”
Kelemete on how UW has changed since the first Nebraska game: “I think just coming together over adversity and just everything we went through this whole season, a lot of people, we had our ups and downs so it means a lot to us to go to a bowl game and also playing them and just getting this opportunity.”
Locker on hearing about the bowl: “It’s awesome and I think it’s a good opportunity for us. It’s not a game that we are going to go down and enjoy everything and don’t care if we win or lose. We’ve got one more game on our schedule now and we are going to do everything in our power to win that football game. But just everything that comes along with it makes for some special memories, definitely.”
Locker on having time to let his ribs heal now: “I think that’s one of the great parts about the time off is to get some of the bumps and bruises back to 100 percent and get your body feeling good going into this game.”
Locker on the feeling of going to a bowl: “It’s awesome. It’s really, really exciting. There are just so many cool things that come with it, being able to go down and enjoy the bowl atmosphere and that every time we come back here there is going to be a placard in that hallway (the tunnel of Husky Stadium) of a bowl game that you were a part of and I think that’s neat. It’s something I imagine is pretty cool to come back and see. So little things like that is what makes this opportunity and this game so important and create so many memories for you.”
Locker on the team attitude right now: “There is just a really big excitement, I think. A lot of fun. Guys are really, really enjoying it. It’s unfamiliar for all of us and it’s where we’ve always wanted to be and we’ve never been able to find a way to get there and now that we are it’s a bunch of guys really excited to be in this situation.”
Locker on if the team always kept a bowl game as a goal: “I think that was our goal, from the beginning of the season. We knew it was still possible these last three weeks, but more important than that was focusing on each game. … It’s something we thought was possible at the beginning of the year and throughout the course of the year.”
Locker on if winning the Apple Cup and getting to a bowl is what he envisioned when he came back: “Yeah, it was a great atmosphere, like it always is for that game. But there was something that we were playing for and that made it even that much more special and that much more crazy. But yeah it was a day that I’ll never forget and a game that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”