Freshman defensive tackle Craig Noble practiced with the team for the first time yesterday and is eligible to play per NCAA rules. The five-day acclimation period no longer applies once school has started. He was in full during today's practice.
Freshman running back Chris Polk had surgery to repair a torn labrum yesterday and should be released today from the hospital. Willingham noted the goal is to have him ready for spring football.
Linebackers Matt Houston and Josh Gage are listed at co starters but Willingham thinks Houston will get the nod and both will see the field often.
Chancellor Young was seen on crutches during yesterday's practice. Coach Willingham spoke about his status.
"Chancellor had a bruise last week to his knee which means he could be out for a couple of weeks – maybe more – we are not sure. Once we get to that point we will have a better idea of how long it will be."
Freshman defensive tackle Craig Noble arrived on campus this week and participated in his first practice as a Husky. Noble was expected to play early before being deemed academically ineligible. What did Willingham see from Noble in his first practice and is their any chance he will see the field this week?
"He did arrive on Monday and we haven't done a whole lot with him. We are slowly bringing him along and getting him into some drills because experience says that when a guys doesn't have camp to built up things can happen to him early. We are going to take our time with him let him get back into it. This afternoon he might be in full pads and then we will go from there. Willingham continued about Noble playing this Saturday, "I would – say probably right now – no."
With the fourth game of the season approaching, decisions need to be made on freshman playing or redshirting. The three freshmen most likely to see the field that have not yet are; WR Anthony Boyles WR Cody Bruns and RB Terrance Dailey
"Those three are doing well but right now I don't anticipate they will get any playing time. They could – but right now we don't anticipate it."
Safety Victor Aiyewa has been hampered by a leg injury all season and is still not ready to see the field.
"It has moved all over the groin area. It is one that has moved – they pinpoint it then it moves again. He is working on it and we have tried to get other consultants on it to do an even better to pinpoint the problem. We will see where he is at but obviously he is not ready at this time and he hasn't done any full work with us."
There is no hiding the importance of this game for Tyrone Willingham and the Husky program. Has Willingham tried to instil a sense of urgency into his players?
"We have tried to do that with our players and I have made it very clear that we have a good conference and it has been good for a long time but in a lot of those years the champion has had one loss. We have ours and there is no room error so we have to understand that if we are going to be a team that can get back into this thing – and everyone is saying around the country that it is clear USC is the leader – but maybe anyone could emerge in the other sports."
The Huskies did a lot of live tackling during the bye week – is Willingham seeing the benefit of that now?
"You won't see that until we get into the game."
Stanford's defensive coordinator Ron Lynn and Washington's offensive coordinator Tim Lappano worked together for several seasons on the San Francisco 49ers. Does their familiarity with one another add to the dynamic of the game?
"At some point it could. But the difference is that a few years has passed and Tim and our offense have made some transitions. Some years ago we were probably a true two back offense and now we are a spread team that will use two backs. That has changed them in a sense of who they are and how they call [a game]. Will there be some familiarity – I imagine there will be. There might be some flashbacks to when he did this before and you might see some of that both ways."
Will playing a team like Oklahoma make everything slow down when they play a perceived lesser opponent in Oklahoma?
"I'm not going to let you disrespect Stanford – just to let you know that – and make sure that is on record," Willingham said with a laugh. "But what I think it does – is when you play people that are good you get a chance to see yourself. I think our guys got a chance to see themselves and say we have played a heck of a football team and we did some things well at times – now lets get more consistent and do these things well all of the time. It won't be any easier against Stanford and when they play their best football they have shown they can play with anybody and we need to be prepared for their best football."
Stanford will blitz often much like Oklahoma. Did the receivers gain added confidence in their ability to beat man coverage against Oklahoma and get open for Jake Locker?
"Absolutely and it should strengthen our whole football team in a lot of areas. We went against a good football team and no it didn't go our way and yes it was lopsided. But there were some things that we did in there and there were some stretches that we had that was good football. If we can expand upon those, feel good about those and eliminate the mistakes we can be a good football team."