No big news today, but a few interesting bits to pass on.
A bunch of reporters caught up with Chris Polk today and talked to the freshman about making his college debut as a starting tailback. Polk admitted he’ll be nervous, saying he was even nervous in front of the relatively small crowd at April’s spring game.
He said he’s quite certain he’ll throw up before the game, something he has done since he was six years old (he explains that he was nervous back then because he was playing against 10-year-olds).
Despite running with the first team most of the fall, Polk said he was surprised to win the starting job, saying he figured Brandon Johnson would take it back when he returned from a calf injury.
“It was a real surprise to me,” he said. “I was really happy to see my name [on the depth chart]. I feel like all that work has paid off. I was just ecstatic when I saw my name on the top of the depth chart.”
Juan Garcia, as always, was also popular with reporters today. He continues to be as amazed by his recovery as the rest of us are, and still seems to have a hard time believing that he’s going to start against Oregon.
“Every day that goes by, it feels like I shouldn’t be here, but I’m glad I’m here,” he said.
Garcia said he hopes to play every snap, but also said he respects offensive line coach Mike Denbrock enough to play whatever role the team asks.
Denbrock wouldn’t speculate on what limitations, if any, will be on Garcia.
“We’ll just have to see how it goes,” he said.
Denbrock was also asked about guard Ryan Tolar, a starter last year who is listed as a backup this season at both guard spots and center. Denbrock said that, while Tolar won’t start, he is very much in the Huskies’ plans, calling Tolar a “sixth starter.”
“He’s going to play a very significant role in what we do,” Denbrock said.
Today was also the Pac-10 coaches conference call. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti was the first on this morning, and had a few interesting things to say.
Asked about going for a fifth straight win against Washington, Bellotti downplayed the streak, saying, “I don’t really pay much attention to that to tell you the truth. Every year is a new year, and you’ve got to prepare your team. I think if you look at what happened in the past, that’s really wasting a lot of time. To me it’s right now, it’s about this Oregon Duck football team and the Washington team we’re going to play on Saturday.”
Bellotti said he doesn’t have a problem opening with a Pac-10 rival.
“It wasn’t my idea to be honest with you,” he said. “Generally those things happen because of TV and or an adjustment of the schedule that both teams seem to favor. But basically I do think in some respects it’s good. Sometimes starting off with, let’s say a lesser opponent, you don’t learn as much about your team. This is an equal opponent, this is a Pac-10 team, this is a rivalry game, so I think that the juices are flowing. It’s great, it got our players’ attention six months ago when we announced this game.”
Of course Bellotti was asked about Jake Locker, and had nothing but good things to say about the Huskies’ quarterback
“I’m glad that we’ve had the entire fall camp to do it,” he said when asked about preparing for Locker. “Jake Locker is a tremendous athlete and a tremendous quarterback, and he’s going to be that much better this year with a year of experience under his belt. He had a good day last against us last year because he’s capable of doing that. He threw the ball very well, he ran the ball well. He’s probably, in my opinion, the biggest, fastest and most dangerous weapon in the Division I football. I’m sure that this year they’re going to put some things around him in terms of plays and schemes that highlight that ability. We just have to try to slow him down and keep him in the pocket, force him into obvious passing situations, the same thing we would do with any great quarterback, but the reality too is that he can beat you with his feet. And he’s not going to run just to get out of bounds or get down. He’s going run and move the pile and run for touchdowns, so we’ve got to be very alert, very vigilant, and play with great intensity.”
After talking about second-team All-American rover Patrick Chung, Bellotti was asked if Chung would be in charge of keeping an eye on Locker.
“Everybody has the responsibility to keep an eye on Jake Locker,” he said. “Jake Locker is a very competitive young man, he’s a great competitor, and so is Patrick Chung. I think Patrick will take it personally, but because of what we do and how we do it, every single person on our defense has to be aware of Jake Locker in every situation, and that means cancelling him as a threat in the option package, making sure that we keep him in the pocket, and that if he gets out we take proper pursuit angles. It’s 11 guys making sure about that one guy.”