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Wednesday, August 9, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Another try at turnaround for Huskies

Seattle Times staff reporter

Among the many statements generally attributed to Vince Lombardi is that "fatigue makes cowards of us all."

On Montlake, they are hoping that fatigue may finally make them winners once again.

"At some point, you have to get tired of losing," said junior receiver Anthony Russo on Tuesday at Washington's annual Media Day press luncheon to kick off the start of practice.

Russo thinks that point may have been reached in earnest after last season, when Washington finished 2-9 overall a year after going 1-10. The Pac-10 media picked the Huskies to finish in last place, but Russo believes the Huskies are destined to beat that prediction.

"I see more and more guys willing to do the extra things to be a better team," he said. "I see more and more guys staying in the summer. More and more guys working hard and running on their own. We want to win bad."

You'd expect players to say nothing else on the first day of training camp. Yet the veterans say they mean it this time when they say things are different.

"Guys are a lot bigger, a lot stronger," said senior quarterback Isaiah Stanback. "Everyone has gone up in their bench press. So it's just a matter of going out there and trusting each other and putting it together."

That trust, Stanback said, also must extend to the players and coaches. And that, too, he feels is coming as the team enters Year 2 of the Tyrone Willingham era.

"The biggest change for me is guys have confidence," Stanback said. "Guys have always been confident with themselves and what they can do. But now they are confident in what we can do as a team. It's the first time we've had the same system [two years in a row], so that's huge."

Russo's feeling confident enough that when asked a question about the importance of beating San Jose State, he parlayed it into peek ahead to Game 2 against Oklahoma.

"It'll jump-start us for the rest of the season to come in there and beat San Jose State," Russo said. "We are not going to underestimate any opponent, but we are going in there to win. And then we go to Oklahoma and see what we can do there, and I feel real confident going into Oklahoma."

Willingham likes this team's attitude.

"I think our team is getting closer to having that mindset where they say 'I really don't care if I'm picked 11th in a conference of 10 teams,' " he said. "... We don't have to be the best. We just have to play the best that Saturday afternoon."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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