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Ask Coach Willingham
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 10/02/2000

Oct. 2, 2000

Gordon Brown (Bedford, Nova Scotia)
Teyo Johnson is a tremendous athlete. If he is not able to get time in at QB over the next few seasons, does he fit into the plans at another position, such as tight end or wide receiver?

That is a question that in most cases I try to let the athlete themselves answer by their participation. Hopefully, he'll have success at quarterback and make us a better football team, and if not, then hopefully the athlete will come to Coach Willingham and say "Coach, what's most important to me is the success of the team." Then, what we'll try to do is work with the athlete to get him at the right position that gives him the best chance to have individual success and for the team to have success.

Robert Drake (Lawndale, CA)
After the UA loss, how do you plan to get the team up for the Notre Dame game?

Each loss, as you can imagine, is different and hopefully we don't have that many losses to reflect on, but you have to have a feel for the team and where they're at. You have to analyze what you believe are your problems very carefully and then, first of all, attack the problem. Was our result - the loss - just some turnovers and bad misfortunes or was there something in our play that was not in the manner that we needed it? (If so) then what you have to do is attack that problem. One of the great things that you must do at any point when you lose is make sure you're communicating with your team and make sure you can have everyone on the same page so they understand the goals and the objectives that you want. Because, if your team believes in your goals and believes in your objectives, then it will be motivated. Even though it may have lost its way one game here, one game there, that it'll come back if it's on page with your goals and your objectives, and you reemphasize those and correct the mistakes, and correct the attitudinal things that you have to correct to be a successful team.

Rustin McCullum (Stanford, CA)
When are we going to see more of redshirt freshman running back Justin Faust? He had an impressive showing in the spring game but hasn't seen much action thus far in the season. Though Kerry Carter and Brian Allen are sure to carry most of the workload this year, doesn't Faust have something extra to offer in the way of his pass catching abilities?

We are very pleased with the progress that Justin has shown to date. If one goes back and researches Justin's career, he came out of high school with a knee injury. We've felt like it would take one to two years for him to get back to speed and get back to where we felt like he should be. He is showing that progress today, but at the same time, he has not moved ahead of Kerry Carter and Brian Allen, therefore, that limits what he can do from the running back position. But, he has had one or two snaps within the structure of our special teams, and we'll see if he can gain more work in those areas and then gradually work his way into hopefully being a challenge to Kerry and Brian.

Ian McDonald (Batesville, IN)
How is Brett Pierce doing this year in Stanford football? I went to school with him and played baseball with him, and I am just wondering if he will contribute to your team when game time comes around this year or will he help in future years?

Brett Pierce is doing very well. We look at Brett as a very special tight end because one of his strong points is his athleticism, and his concentration and focus. He is a young man that really can focus, and go out and play a very hard-nosed physical aggressive football game. We need that element within our football team. So, he's coming along fine. We expect great things from him this year in terms of being a part-time starter and playing on our special teams, and in that his role will grow in future years.

Garret White (South San Francisco, CA)
Coach, what is the experience like playing at Notre Dame? If you were asked to list the top five places to play, in terms of tradition, atmosphere, etc., what would they be?

The experience of playing at Notre Dame for me is a lot different than it is for a lot of our young men or even potentially some coaches. I've always played at Notre Dame, so it is really nothing special. I went to Michigan State and we played with them every year home and away. I was at Rice University and we added them to our schedule. Now coaching at Stanford, I have coached against them over the years. It is a very historic and a very tradition-laden place, but at the same time what we have to understand as a football team is that the football dimensions of the field will never change regardless of where you play or regardless of what building you play in. Now, as for your question as to list the top five places to play, that's a very difficult one because it depends on what you're looking for. From the coach's perspective, you're looking for a place that gives you an advantage, that gives you a home field advantage. So, all the tradition and all the other things kind of go out the window. What you're talking about more are the impact and influences that the crowd can have on you as opposed to all the tradition, because on that particular Saturday in most cases, tradition doesn't play. But, the fans do have an active role in the game. I'll start with just a few of the Pac-10 places that I think have that kind of impact on a game - Washington, Oregon, Arizona. Then I think you could list quite a few schools in the Big Ten that have that kind of presence and also quite a few schools in the Southeast Conference that have a similar type presence.

Garry Newman (Hanford, CA)
How do you prepare the kids to not be intimidated by the Notre Dame mystique?

I think that you use whatever mystique they have as the challenge to your football team and not necessarily as something that you have to be fearful of. We teach our young men in our program that we respect every opponent that we play, but we never fear any opponent, and Notre Dame is the same way. It is a challenge to go in there and play a great game, because so many people will associate great things happening in that stadium. We have an outstanding tradition in that stadium. We're one of three teams in the decade of the '90's to defeat Notre Dame twice in their own stadium. So, we have some history there, and we will use that to our advantage.

Judge Morton Colvin (La Quinta, CA) Coach, do you think Chris Lewis has the speed and instincts to run the ball effectively?

What we desire from our quarterback is the athletic ability and skill to run when necessary. Hopefully, within our system the primary things that we will do within the structure of a passing-type offense - some have associated it with a West Coast passing style - (is to) rely on our quarterback to use his intelligence, to read and decipher defenses and be able to pick them apart, but yet have enough athletic skill that he can run when necessary to create something for us. Chris Lewis obviously has the skills and the talent to do that within the structure of our system.



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