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Ask Coach Willingham
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 09/18/2000

Sept. 18, 2000

John Furbock (Landsham, Germany)
Congratulations on defeating Texas and making your statement by beating the No. 5 team in the nation. You guys should be truly proud of yourselves, your fans are! How could you and your coaching staff motivate your team to play such an outstanding game, especially after last week's loss?

We are blessed to have young men that - a little bit different than a lot of teenagers or young men their age - they occasionally listen to their elders. In this case, we were able to get our young men to listen and understand that they do have the ability to be an outstanding football team. When they apply all of their energy and all of their focus, and come together, we become a good football team. That was the case Saturday against Texas. We did all of those things mentioned and we played an outstanding football game.

Dan Payton (Provo, UT)
What characteristics and attributes are you looking for when you recruit athletes for your program?

All of the qualities or the requirements for Stanford are the first things that have to be met in terms of being admitted to Stanford. There is an admission board that does that. In terms of the football characteristics, contrary to what a lot of people think would be first, would be toughness. It is my belief that when you have a tough person, both mind and body, then you have an athlete that has the ability to win under pressure, win during stress and win during crisis. That (toughness) is number one what we look for. Second of all comes all the physical characteristics - speed, size, athletic ability, etc.

Joe Idone (Windsor, Ontario)
What is the outlook and your impressions of Canadian O.J. Atogwe? How has he adjusted to the American style of ball?

O.J. has done an outstanding job in terms of his adjustment to American football. I think probably the most difficult thing for a young man to adjust to - and it's not just a Canadian football player, but it is any high school player - is to adjust to the discipline and the regimentation of collegiate football along with the information overload that they go through in learning how to play the game and understanding all the schemes that they have to learn. Those would be the things that I think would be most difficult for a young man to adjust to. We're pleased with the transition that O.J. is making to American football.

Dave Fairchild (San Francisco, CA)
Coach, what was the seriousness of (Randy) Fasani's injury and do you expect him to be back by Arizona? Congrats on the huge win!

I must first of all apologize because I will answer this question with basically no answer. It is really not our policy to speak about the specific details of any injury. What we will do is really confine ourselves when we have some information on Randy. Basically, he will be questionable, probable, doubtful or etc., as related to his injury. If the possibility is that Randy will not be with us, then we're very pleased with the progress that Chris Lewis has given us and hope that he will still be able to lead our team to victories.

Aron Bradshaw (Dallas, TX)
Congratulations on the big win! I am enjoying the sorrow of my co-workers today! What a testament to your system to enable a freshman QB (Chris Lewis) to come in and lead the team to victory over a strong opponent. I know he is talented, but were you at all surprised at how he handled himself and what do you do as a coach to make sure a backup is always prepared?

The first thing is that you have to focus on the young person involved. That person has to assume responsibility for his position as a backup and realize that much of his learning has to go through the vicarious process of the first-teamer. We will never be able to give him enough snaps to get him ready as a second-teamer. Therefore, half of his learning is vicarious. The second portion of it will be that in his active snaps he has to really prepare himself and make use of the limited opportunities that he gets. He then has to do a great job in the film study, in the learning of the notebook and all the other things we require from a mental standpoint. So much of it falls on that individual and we as coaches just try to make sure that we have limited situations, but also that the situations are more game-like, to enhance his learning.

Brendan Jamieson (Daly City, CA)
During the non-conference season, I've always been of the feeling that you root for your conference, even for your main rival because it makes the conference look better. If you have three Pac-10 teams in the Top 10 (as you do now), it makes the conference look great, but wouldn't it be harder to draw people away from USC, UCLA and Washington?

It would be very difficult if our program were consistently at the bottom of the conference because at the bottom of the conference, you do not present a challenge to those teams, therefore, the likelihood of trying to invite young people on football alone to your university would be very difficult with the success of the other programs. But, being that we have had success at Stanford, and not just last year with our Rose Bowl appearance but in other years the program has done some awful fine things, I think we have a tradition that lends itself toward a young person really liking Stanford and believing that Stanford can have success not only on a football field, but as well as success that Stanford alums have had out in the professional world. We always root for the other teams (in the Pac-10) to do well because then the goal is to beat them. If you beat them and they're doing well, that means that you're having an awfully great season. That is the design of the program - not to look at things from a negative perspective but always to look at things from a positive perspective.

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