Afternoon notes/Chat with the OC

Offensive coordinator (sorry to fans of the former FOX show The OC if that’s what you thought I meant when you read the headline, you can stop reading now) Tim Lappano had his usual meeting with the media, and as always, had plenty to say and was entertaining in the process.

Before we get to that, a few notes. There were only two gold jerseys at practice today: Jake Locker and Ryan Tolar. Defensive tackle Wilson Afoa practiced in red and was not wearing shoulder pads. We haven’t yet been told what his injury is.

Tyrone Willingham confirmed earlier today that three walk-on players were given scholarships recently: Offensive tackle Erik Berglund, linebacker Josh Gage, who played quite a bit against Arizona, and receiver Charles Hawkins.

Now, here’s some of what we heard from Lappano today.

Of Stanford’s defense, he said: “They are an odd front, a fire zone, 54 percent blitz defense, odd meaning three down and four backers and they are coming from everywhere. They can make you look ugly at times.” Lappano said he plans, for the first time in his career, to bring the scout defense in to study film of Stanford so they can better simulate Stanford’s blitzes in practice. Lappano also noted that the Cardinal are prone to giving up big plays because of their aggressiveness, and that the Huskies will need to take advantage of that.

Lappano was asked if the offensive growth was all because of Jake Locker’s improvement.

“I don’t think it’s fair just to say it’s Jake. I think our young linemen are getting better. You’re seeing Cody Habben improving, Frisbee improving, Ryan Tolar improving and seeing a much more consistent Marcel Reece and Anthony Russo, a much more confident Marcel Reece and Anthony Russo who are calling for the football, saying coach, I want the football. I love that. Those two guys are playing with much more confidence than they were a year ago and I think they’re playing pretty steady. It’s a combination of our young linemen getting better, obviously Jake is really improving every week and the growth of Marcel and Anthony, those two receivers are playing extremely well right now. And Rankin, he’s running pretty hard right now. It’s not always perfect form but he’s running hard and he’s being consistent and giving us some big play potential and doing some good things. There’s some growth in those areas. It just can’t be Jake. We all know he’s pretty scary but some other guys are really helping him, too. Somebody’s catching those balls.”

Lappano also filled us in on an interesting fact about Jake Locker.

“He holds his breath when he runs. He comes back just from one 40 or 50-yard run, he comes back in the huddle and it’s like he’s almost passed out, and he’s in great shape, and I’m going, ‘What is wrong?’

“‘Coach, I hold my breath when I run. That’s something I always done.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you try breathing, make it easier on yourself.’ That will be good coaching if I can get him to freakin’ breathe.”

Asked about recruiting, Lappano said this: “Bottom line is got to win. That’s the best recruiting tool, to win… It’s critical that we take care of our state and if we do that we could be a top 20 year. We’ve got to take care of our state. Just win, we’ve got to win. Winning cures a lot of things.”

Asked about the team’s mental state after losses: “We’re still the same team that was on top of the world after the Ohio State game even, and even after the UCLA game. It’s mental., It’s a mental game. We’ve got to ride through the storm. Got to ride through the storm during a football game. Something bad is going to happen in the football game. Tell those guys on offense all the time, down there on the field, we fumble the football, we are moving on to the next snap. It’s mental. They’re are still the same players, we’re still the same coaches doing all those good things early in the year, so we’ve got to fight through this mental funk right now and we’ve got to fight through it, battle through it. That’s all you can do. All you can do right now is battle through this thing, and you’ve got to be tough mentally as a staff and players and everybody, you’ve got to be tough.”

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