Keith Gilbertson Press Conference 09/15

Keith Gilbertson

After the weekend off to heal some nicks and bruises, the Huskies get set to get back to work for their upcoming clash with the Idaho Vandals this Saturday at Husky Stadium. Husky fans near and far are all wondering the same thing and that is if the Huskies will build off their strong second half showing against Indiana and turn in a strong showing this week.

Huskies Head Coach Keith Gilbertson will lead his team against the school where his head-coaching career began back in 1986 for the first time. On Monday, Gilberston met with the media to discuss his outlook for the week.

"We're coming back into this thing relatively fresh," said Gilbertson of the bye week. "We got a lot done last week and I thought the three or four days were good work. Like anytime you're coming off of a bye, the proof is in how you play. Byes have not always been good to us so I'm anxious to see us play and practice this week and how we do after a bye.

"But for the most part, I feel good about the health of our team and where we're at but we have some definite things that we want to get better at."

Gilbertson will become just the second Huskies head coach in history to lead Washington against his former team. Rick Neuheisel led Washington against Colorado in 1999 and 2000 and led the team to victory in both instances. Therefore, it is natural that Gilbertson feels a little sentimental value to this game.

"I've been here for the last four years and we played Idaho every year," said Gilbertson. "It's always strange. That was a pretty great place for me. A lot of great things happened there and I hope that a lot of people feel that I made a contribution there. I had a wonderful experience and made lifelong friends."

One of those friends is current Idaho Head Coach Tom Cable. Gilbertson recruited Cable while he was at Idaho and eventually coached under Gilbertson at both Idaho and during Gilbertson's stint at Cal.

Added Gilbertson with a smile: "I also met my wife while I was coaching at Idaho."

As the head coach at Idaho, Gilbertson amassed a record of 28-9 and a .757 winning percentage. According to which, Gilbertson is the winningest coach in Idaho history. That list includes the likes of Dennis Erickson, John L. Smith, and Chris Tormey.

Idaho comes to Seattle for the second time in less than a month. On August 30th, the Vandals played Washington State in Seahawks Stadium where they were defeated 25-0. With the game aside however, the Vandals suffered an even bigger loss in Keith Greer. The sophomore fullback remains in the ICU unit at Harborview Medical Center after developing complications after surgery on a broken leg he suffered against the Cougars.

"I think initially, it was difficult," Cable said of the situation from the conference line. "It remains on your mind because he is still in the condition that he is in. But you have to move forward and keep him in your prayers and keep pulling for him but you have some responsibilities that you've got to maintain some integrity with. But it was very tough at first, but I think we think about it a lot but we have to try and stay focused on the task at hand."

According to Cable, Greer remains in serious, but stable condition. Cable added however, "we're certainly not out of the woods yet."

Gilbertson took time out to pay a visit to Greer and his family last week at the hospital.

"Any football player that is injured, I feel bad about," said Gilbertson. "It just so happens that I'm a little more closer to this situation in one, having been the head coach at Idaho, I have strong feelings about that program and the kids in it; and two, he was injured in the same city that I'm in. So it was natural for me to go there and spend some time."

Any story regarding a football player suffering from life threatening injuries will stir up memories of the late Curtis Williams and this situation was no different.

"We're no stranger to that (tragedy)," added Gilbertson. "We know about this probably better than anybody in the country and we feel bad about it."

Last Saturday, Idaho fell to Boise State by a score of 24-10 to drop to 0-3 on the season. It was a game that saw the Vandals drop 10 passes and that is something that Cable sees as a fundamental that needs to be improved by his team.

"Obviously we have our own struggles over here right now in terms of trying to catch footballs," said Cable. "But we are continuing to improve and playing very hard and trying to get better every week."

Last season, Washington defeated Idaho by a score of 41-27 in Seattle. Cody Pickett threw for 438 yards and three touchdown passes. Idaho quarterback and Walla Walla native Brian Lindgren also turned in a solid performance as well while passing for 309 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.

Lindgren returns this year, but as a backup.

Lining up behind center for the Vandals will be sophomore Michael Harrington, who is more than just Joey Harrington's little brother. An accomplished signal-caller in his own right, Harrington beat out the incumbent Lindgren to take over the starting job. Cable however admitted that should Harrington struggle, he would not hesitate in putting Lindgren back in to the game.

"I thought Harrington was really accurate," said Gilbertson of Harrington's performance against Boise State. "I thought he threw the ball on the money a lot. They had some dropped balls that really hurt them."

Gilbertson said he hoped that the bye week allowed time for his team to not only heal, but to work more on the areas that he feels the Huskies are lagging.

"The first thing was our return teams," said Gilbertson. "I don't think we've been getting the play out of that like we should. I think we have more quality athletes returning the ball than what our numbers would indicate. So that was an emphasis and we worked on that for days.

"We just tried to create some yardage and some play from our return teams."

But according to Gilbertson, the team took the bye week to focus on what he called "spring football."

"It was putting your foot in the ground where you're supposed to, your base, where your eyes are supposed to be, and more like spring football."

The bye week saw some players taking it easy. Pickett was nursing a sore pectoral muscle and did not throw that much. Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick both had red shirts on at some point last week and had minimal contact. It was nothing serious, but just a way for some of the players to heal all of their bruises and take full advantage of the time off.

"We tried to stay sharp," said Gilbertson. "By going hard in pads but at the same time, get guys healed up."

Gilberston added that most of the players who had red jerseys on last week will be going full speed and be at 100 percent starting today with the exception of Dan Dicks, who's knee had been bothering him. He may be wearing red for a couple more days but is expected to be at full strength for Saturday's game.

Another personnel decision that will get a longer look this week is the addition of Ty Eriks to the defensive side of the ball.

"We gave him (Eriks) a look at defensive end and outside linebacker," said Gilberston. Eriks has been looking to get on the field more and with the overall performance of the fullback rotation, Gilbertson had been looking to get Eriks on the field more and utilize his power and speed more. However, Eriks has been penciled in on the depth charts of both fullback and defensive end.

In other moves, Dan Milsten may see some time on the interior side of the defensive line which would open up more time for Donny Mateaki to step in a get some experience.


Notes:
Justin Robbins Update: Justin Robbins remains on the sidelines awaiting clearance to practice at full speed with the team. Ever since re-injuring his knee during spring football, Robbins has been sidelined. Returning this week is out of the question but Gilbertson did not rule out any other games.

Said Gilbertson, "Stanford may be a possibility."

History Says…: Washington holds a commanding lead in the all-time record in games played between these two northwest schools. The Huskies are 32-2-2 against the Vandals and are 32-0-2 in games played in Seattle.

Vandal Huskies – Husky Vandals: Not only did Keith Gilbertson spend time on the Idaho coaching staff, but so did Tim Hundley and Dan Cozzetto. As a matter of fact, Cozzetto is an Idaho alum. Idaho receivers coach Tarn Sublett is a former Huskies quarterback who also served at UW as a graduate assistant in 2000. Idaho has approximately 21 players that are from the state of Washington, but the Huskies have only one player from Idaho – Cody Pickett from Chicken Dinner Road in Caldwell, Idaho.

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