There were three big issues today when UW coach Tyrone Willingham held his regular Monday press conference: his decision to take the Cal game into overtime rather than go for two, his take on Carl Bonnell's QB performance, and the health issues regarding Bonnell and tailback Kenny James.
I write in detail about the two-point decision in the Tuesday paper. However, in general, I didn't have any problem with Willingham's decision at the time ... although it's hard to make a compelling argument in light of the way things turned out.
That also was pretty much Willingham's attitude on Monday. He believes he made a sound decision at the time, but since the Huskies lost he'd like to see how going for it might have worked out.
Regarding Bonnell, Willingham said he will start at quarterback again Saturday when Arizona State visits Husky Stadium.
Of Bonnell's up-and-down day at Cal, he said: "I loved a lot of balls that he threw," Willingham said. "I love the command that he had of our offensive system. … The disappointment is the interceptions, but all of those are not to be placed on Carl. Overall, I thought Carl did a great job."
(By the way, I mentioned to Bonnell about what some of us have said here on the blog: That he played about as well as anyone throwing five interceptions can. He noted that is a pretty significant exception, but he understood and kind of agreed.)
Willingham would not say whether true freshman Jake Locker or junior Johnny DuRocher would relieve Bonnell if necessary this week.
That might be less of a theoretical issue than usual, because Bonnell suffered a third-degree shoulder sprain late in the second quarter at Cal. However, he played the entire game and said Monday he will be ready to practice and play again this week.
"It sounds bad, but it's not too bad," Bonnell said. "I can move it fine."
There was less optimism about the ankle sprain suffered by tailback Kenny James, who ended the Cal game on crutches. His prognosis is expected today.
While James is out, Louis Rankin becomes the starting tailback, with senior Shelton Sampson of Lakewood in reserve.
Willingham said it is possible that a fullback or other position player will practice at tailback this week. He said that player will "probably not" be 270-pound tight end Johnie Kirton, "but that is a possibility."
Arizona State's speed "probably frightens me more than anything else about them," Willingham said. "If you're not careful, that kind of team speed can jump up and really surprise you."
The UW coaches' player-of-the-week selections were receiver Anthony Russo on offense, tackle Jordan Reffert on defense and kicker Michael Braunstein on special teams.