Huskies Hit The Road To Face California
Sept. 24, 2001
The Washington football team, 2-0 after home wins over Michigan and Idaho, takes to the road for the first time in 2001 when it travels to play California (0-3 overall, 0-1 Pac-10) Saturday, Sept. 29, in a conference game at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. PDT. The Huskies, ranked No. 13 by the Associated Press and No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, have won their last 10 games, the third-longest current winning streak in Division I-A. The Huskies' streak is their longest since a 22-game streak was broken in week nine of the 1992 season. California is struggling, having lost its first three of the year to Illinois, Brigham Young and Washington State. The Bears' game at Rutgers scheduled for Sept. 15, was postponed along with the rest of the Division I-A schedule that day.
Note that this Saturday's game at California is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. despite most Husky schedules listing the game at 12:30 p.m. Also, Washington's postponed game at Miami, scheduled for Sept. 15, has been moved to Nov. 24, though a game time has yet to be determined.
Washington and California are the only two teams that have played in what is now the Pacific-10 Conference in every season since the league was founded in 1916. As that would indicate, they've played one another quite often. The Huskies hold a 45-32-4 record in the all-time series, which began in 1904. The Huskies have won the last 18 games in the series, a streak that began with a 50-31 win in 1977. The last Cal win came in 1976. Over the 18-game streak, the Huskies have been ranked at the time of the Cal game 11 times, including playing as the No. 1 team in the country three times vs. the Golden Bears. The Bears have been ranked on three occasions. Cal and UW first met in 1904, battling to a 6-6 tie in a game played in Seattle. In both 1915 and 1916, they played one another twice each year, with Gil Dobie's Washington team sweeping the four games. In 1917, Cal broke the UW's 63-game unbeaten streak (still an NCAA record) with a 27-0 win in Berkeley. Other big games in the series include the 1937 game, when the unranked Huskies held No. 1 Cal to a 0-0 tie in Seattle. In 1991, the Bears probably came as close as anyone to beating Washington that season, as their last-gasp pass into the endzone was batted down in a 24-17 UW win. Washington has also posted four of its nine biggest comebacks in history against California. The biggest ever was in 1988, when the Dawgs trailed 27-3 before rallying to win, 28-27. In 1981, Washington was down 21-0 in the third quarter before coiming back for a 27-26 victory. A 20-point comeback in 1993 (24-23) and a 14-point rally in 1999 (31-27) also rank on the list.
Washington, as noted earlier, enters the Cal game riding a 10-game win streak, the third longest win streak in the nation. Entering this weekend's games, Oklahoma holds the longest streak with 16 straight wins while Miami (Fla.) has won 11 in a row since losing to Washington last season. Toledo, with three wins this season, has joined the Huskies with a 10-game streak. Washington's 10 wins in a row are the most since the 1990-91-92 Huskies won 22 straight before falling at Arizona in week nine of the 1992 season. The 1984 Huskies won nine straight and the 1981-82 Dawgs won 10 in a row. In 1960, Jim Owens' Huskies won their last eight in a row before opening the '61 season with a loss. Coach Enoch Bagshaw put together two eight-game streaks (1923 and 1926-27) in his tenure. Washington's longest-ever winning streak was under Gilmore Dobie, who never lost in nine seasons as head coach. Dobie (who went 58-0-3 as the UW head man) accounted for 61 of the Sundodgers' games in what is still the NCAA's longest ever unbeaten streak, 63 games. During that stretch, Washington had winning streaks (no ties) of 39 and 12 games.
There will be no live television coverage of the Washington-Cal game. The game will be shown on tape delay Sunday, beginning at 5:30 p.m., on Fox Sports Net Northwest with Tod Pickett (play-by-play) and former UW quarterback Sonny Sixkiller (color) calling the action. All 11 Husky games this season will air the following Sunday, the rest of them at 3:00 p.m.
KOMO AM-1000 broadcasts all of the Husky games, serving as the flagship of the 21-station Husky Football Radio Network, which covers nearly all of Washington and parts of Alaska, Oregon and Nevada. Bob Rondeau (play-by-play), Chuck Nelson (color) and Bill Swartz (sidelines) provide the call.
Husky head coach Rick Neuheisel is in his third year at the helm of the Washington program. In two-plus seasons, Neuheisel has led the Huskies to an 20-6 overall mark and a 13-3 record in Pac-10 play. Last season, Washington posted an 11-1 overall record, a 7-1 conference mark and shared the Pac-10 Championship. After beating Purdue, 34-24, in the Rose Bowl, the Huskies finished with a No. 3 ranking in the final national polls. In his first season at Washington (1999), Neuheisel led the Huskies to a 7-5 overall mark, a second-place tie (6-2) in the Pac-10 and a trip to the Culligan Holiday Bowl. Neuheisel became the first Husky coach in history to lead the UW to a bowl game in his first season as head coach. Prior to coming to Washington, Neuheisel served four seasons as the head coach at Colorado, posting a 33-14 (.702) overall mark with the Buffaloes. His career record, in six-plus seasons, is 53-20 (.726). Neuheisel worked for six seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, UCLA, before joining Bill McCartney's Colorado staff in 1994 as the quarterbacks coach. Originally a walkon at UCLA, Neuheisel won the starting quarterback position as a senior and led the Bruins to the 1983 Pac-10 championship. He was named the MVP of the 1984 Rose Bowl that saw UCLA defeat Illinois, 45-9. Washington fans remember Neuheisel's tremendous performance when he completed 25 of 27 passes to set an NCAA record that was only recently broken by Tennessee's Tee Martin. Neuheisel, a member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, still holds the Bruins' single-season (69.3) and career (68.3) completion percentage records.
Eight of the nine members of Washington's 2000 coaching staff return for 2001. Seven of the nine have been on the UW staff since Neuheisel's arrival prior to the 1999 season. The only change from last year was the departure of former running backs coach Wayne Moses, who left the UW to join the USC staff. Tony Alford, who spent the last four seasons as running backs coach at Iowa State, was hired to replace Moses. Another loss to the staff was that of graduate assistant coach Tarn Sublett, who largely oversaw the wide receivers last season. Sublett moved to take a full-time job at Idaho. The UW coaching staff includes eight coaches that have served as coordinators and two (Keith Gilbertson and Steve Axman) that have been head coaches. Gilbertson served as the head man at Idaho (1986-88) and California (1992-95) while Axman was the coach at Northern Arizona from 1990 to 1997. Axman also once served as offensive coordinator at UCLA. Defensive coordinator Tim Hundley has been a coordinator at Oregon State and Idaho while defensive line coach Randy Hart was the defensive coordinator at UW from 1995-98. Special teams and safeties coach Bobby Hauck headed up the special teams at Colorado before coming to Seattle while Chuck Heater (cornerbacks/recruiting) was the defensive coordinator at Colorado State (1991-92). Myers was offensive coordinator at Northern Arizona under Axman and spent two seasons as offensive coordinator at Boise State. Tom Williams, who oversees the outside linebackers at Washington, was the defensive coordinator at Hawai'i for one season.
John Pettas has been named the Huskies' offensive graduate assistant coach and will coach the wide receivers. Pettas replaces Tarn Sublett, who took a full-time job to coach the receivers at Idaho during the offseason. Pettas, a 1974 graduate of Cal Poly-SLO, was the offensive coordinator at Arizona State last year. Prior to the 2000 season, he spent three years as ASU's quarterbacks coach. He has also been an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers (1992-93) and has over 25 years of coaching experience. He also provides the Huskies' coaching staff with yet another coach with coordinator experience. The defensive graduate assistant, in his second season at Washington, is Steve Fex. Fex most recently worked as an assistant at Houston's North Shore High School. In his five and a half years at North Shore, 52 players earned college scholarships, including 30 to Division I schools.
An Educated Staff:
The Washington coaching staff has an impressive list of post-graduate degrees, led by head man Rick Neuheisel, who earned a law degree from USC. Here's a look:
An Impressive Record:
Keith Gilbertson ran his impressive record as Washington's offensive coordinator to 25-1 with the Idaho win. Prior to last year, when the UW posted an 11-1 record, Gilbertson served as the Huskies' offensive coordinator during the 12-0 1992 season. Under Gilbertson, Washington has averaged 36.8 points per game, including nine games in both 1991 and 2000 with at least 30 points, a feat accomplished only one other time in Husky history (1997). Gilbertson's UW teams have been two of the most prolific in school history, eaching ranking among Washington's top 10 in scoring and total offense per game. The 1991 team tallied 461 points and 471.0 yards per game to rank first in school history in both categories while the 2000 team amassed 353 points and 407.9 yards per game, the seventh and sixth-highest totals, respectively. Gilbertson's 25-1 record as coordinator at Washington includes a 14-0 record in home games and a 2-0 mark in Rose Bowls.
UW vs. Bay Area Teams:
Washington has a combined record of 91-65-8 vs. opponents from the San Francisco Bay Area. Washington is 45-32-4 against California, 37-32-4 vs. Stanford, 7-0 vs. San Jose State, 1-1 vs. St. Mary's and 1-0 vs. Santa Clara. The Huskies haven't played Santa Clara since 1935 and haven't faced St. Mary's since 1947. Since 1977, Washington is 43-2-0 vs. Bay Area teams: 18-0 vs. Cal, 19-2 vs. Stanford and 6-0 vs. San Jose State.
For a pair of Pac-10 teams, there are surprisingly few connections between the UW coaches and players and the Cal team. However, Husky offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson served as the Bears' head coach from 1992 to 1995, and remains the last coach to guide Cal to a bowl game ('93 Alamo Bowl). Husky linebackers coach Tom Williams (who, incidentally, went 4-0 vs. Cal in his four varsity seasons at Stanford), played his senior season at Stanford (1992), when current Cal head coach Tom Holmoe was the Cardinal's secondary coach. Williams also served as a Stanford graduate assistant alongside Holmoe in 1993. There are no players from the state of Washington on the Bears' roster. Washington's roster includes only four players from the Bay Area: Jafar Williams (Oakland/St. Mary's), Domynic Shaw (Oakland/Skyline), Marty Dorcich (San Jose/Archbishop Mitty) and Robin Meadow (San Francisco/De La Salle). Additionally, Manase Hopoi is from Sacramento. Meadow played at De La Salle along with two Cal players: sophomore Atari Callen and redshirt freshman Tosh Lupoi. Shaw played on the same team (Skyline High) as Cal's Baron Ma and Harrison Smith while Husky guard Elliott Zajac was a high school teammate of Bears linebacker Calvin Hosey at Bakersfield High School in southern California.
Special teams were indeed special for Washington in a 53-3 win over Idaho last Saturday. With the score tied at 3-3 in the first quarter, Washington scored three straight TDs on special teams to take a 24-3 lead. First up, Roc Alexander returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score. Then, after Larry Tripplett blocked an Idaho field goal attempt, Chris Massey scooped up the ball and ran 69 yards into the endzone. Charles Frederick, who fumbled his first attempt at a punt return, redeemed himself in fine fashion by returning his second 87 yards for a TD. Without the offense having the ball for more than 12 minutes, Washington had taken a commanding lead. The Huskies scored their first offensive TD of the year in the second quarter when quarterback Cody Pickett ran for a 25-yard score. Braxton Cleman, who eventually left the game with a broken collarbone, closed out the first half with a seven-yard scoring run. Washington's offense would post two more TDs as Paul Arnold caught a 14-yard TD pass from Taylor Barton and Rich Alexis ran one in from a yard out. The Huskies took several injury blows as, aside from Cleman, All-America tight end Jerramy Stevens broke his foot and will be out 6-8 weeks. Willie Hurst, the UW starting tailback, also left the game with a hamstring strain.
In only two games so far this season, Washington's special teams have already accounted for four touchdowns and five field goals, or 43 of the Huskies' 76 points. In only two games, Washington has already returned a punt (Charles Frederick), a kickoff return (Roc Alexander) and two blocked field goals (Alexander and Chris Massey) for touchdowns. Frederick, a true freshman, currently leads the nation in punt returns with a 34-yard average while senior Willie Hurst ranks eight in the country with 16.0 yards per return. Washington is second in the NCAA in kickoff returns (42.0) and third in punt returns (25.0). Additionally, junior placekicker John Anderson rates 18th in the country with his 2.5 field goals made per game.
Let Me Count The Ways:
Through only two games this season, Washington has already managed to find six different ways to score a touchdown. Here's a look:
Interception return (Lowe vs. Michigan)
Blocked FG return (Alexander vs. Michigan, Massey vs. Idaho)
Kickoff return (Alexander vs. Idaho)
Punt return (Frederick vs. Idaho)
Rush (Cleman, Pickett and Alexis vs. Idaho)
Pass (Barton to Arnold vs. Idaho)
Aside from the Huskies' 10-game win streak, the Huskies also have a couple of other notable streaks going. With 10 straight wins, Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel has the second-longest acting winning streak by a Division I-A head coach right now. The Huskies also have the longest current win streak in conference games (seven) in the conference and have won 10 consecutive home games dating back to a loss to Arizona State in 1999.
Win Streak vs. California:
Washington's 18-game winning streak vs. California, extended with a come-from-behind win last season, is the sixth longest current active streak in NCAA Division I.The only longer current streaks by one team over another : Notre Dame over Navy (37 games -- NCAA record), Nebraska over Kansas (32 games), Nebraska over Oklahoma State (24 games), Nebraska over Missouri (22 games), and Ohio State over Northwestern (21 games).
Last Year vs. California:
In one of the Huskies' many exciting games in the 2000 season, Washington out-scored the Bears, 23-0, in the fourth quarter to post a come-from-behind, 36-24 win. Down 24-13 entering the final period, the Huskies got a field goal from John Anderson to start the scoring after Anthony Kelley's sack of Kyle Boller forced a fumble that was recovered by Derrell Daniels. On the next Cal drive, Omare Lowe picked off a Boller pass to set up Marques Tuiasosopo's 10-yard TD pass to Jerramy Stevens, closing the Bear's edge to 24-22. On the Bears' next play from scrimmage, Larry Tripplett stripped Cal tailback Joe Igber of the ball, setting up Rich Alexis' 16-yard touchdown run on the very next play. Washington capped the furious comeback when Owen Biddle blocked a punt on Cal's next drive. Two plays later, Tuiasosopo hit Todd Elstrom with a seven-yard scoring pass to seal the win.
Ranked-Wins Streak Grows:
Washington's upset of 11th-ranked Michigan last week, marked the 13th straight year the Huskies have defeated an opponent ranked in the Associated Press poll. In fact, Washington has defeated an AP-ranked team in 24 of its last 25 seasons. The only break in the streak came in 1988 when the Huskies played only two games against nationally-ranked foes -- UCLA (No. 2) and USC (No. 3), losing both of those games.
Decade After Decade:
Washington has won a conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl in each of the last nine decades, dating back to the 1920s when Washington won the berth in 1923 and 1925. In the 1930s, the Dawgs won the '36 title. In the '40s, Washington earned the trip in 1943 and then barely slipped in under the wire in the 1950s, winning the 1959 crown. The Huskies won two Rose Bowl berths in the 1960s -- 1960 and 1963 -- and one in the 1970s (1977). Titles in 1980 and 1982 did it for that decade and three straight trips to Pasadena to begin the 1990s covered that 10-year span. Now in the 2000s, UW has become the first and only team to earn Rose Bowl berths in nine straight decades. USC has the chance, over the next nine years, to equal the Huskies if it wins the title sometime this decade.
Ducks Not in Season:
For the first time since 1944, the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks will not meet on the football field this year, breaking a string of 56 annual meetings. Only World Wars I and II have kept the two Northwest rivals from playing one another each season since the 1903 season. The Huskies and Ducks first met in 1900, then picked up the annual series in 1903. Due to the wars, the UW-UO game did not take place in 1917, 1943 or 1944. In 1945, they played twice, once in Seattle and once in Portland. This year, the two foes won't meet due to the Pac-10's scheduling system, which calls for each Pac-10 team to play eight league games, thus 'missing' one of the nine possible opponents. The only games exempt from this are the natural rivalry games played on the last weekend of the season (e.g., UW-Washington State, Oregon-Oregon State, etc.). In 2002, the Huskies will miss Stanford. The past two seasons, it was USC.
.500 or Better Seasons:
Last season's 11-1 overall record marked the Huskies' 24th consecutive season with at least a .500 record. The last time that Washington finished below .500 was 1976, when the Dawgs went 5-6. Since then, the Huskies are 202-77-3 (.722) overall. The Huskies' 24-season streak of non-losing seasons is the 14th longest in NCAA history (tied with Florida State's current streak) and the fourth longest current streak. Here are the longest streaks current running:
The 100-Yard Factor:
Since the 1947 season, Washington is 150-34-3 (.810) when a Husky player rushes for 100 yards in a game. Last year, the Huskies have had four games with a 100-yard rusher. The UW had its first 100-yard rusher (two of them, actually) against Oregon State as Rich Alexis (107 yards) and Paul Arnold (102) each eclipsed the century mark. Against Arizona State, Alexis went for 127 in another UW victory. Willie Hurst posted his first 100-yard game of the season in the win over Arizona, going for 116 yards. Alexis had 127 again against UCLA. In the season finale at Washington State, Braxton Cleman joined in, passing the century mark for the first time that season with 105 yards. Alexis also went over 100 yards in that game with 134.
Successfully rushing the football and winning go hand-in-hand for the Huskies. Since 1990, Washington has rushed for 200 yards in a game 56 times. The Huskies' record stands at 51-4-1 (.920) in those contests. Since the 1995 season, Washington is 26-1-1 (.946) when rushing for 200 yards.
Having won a share of the Pac-10 Conference championship last season (splitting the crown with Oregon and Oregon State with 7-1 conference records), the Huskies (and the Beavers and Ducks, for that matter) have a chance to become the first team in nearly a decade to repeat as conference champion. Not since 1992, when the Huskies shared the title with Stanford, has a team repeated, even by tying for the top spot. In 1992, the Huskies' championship was their third in a row after having earned sole possession of the title in both 1990 and 1991. USC, incidentally, won outright championships in both 1988 and 1989 after having shared it with UCLA in 1987. In terms of going to the Rose Bowl (or this year, perhaps the Fiesta Bowl) two seasons in a row, no Pac-10 team has accomplished that since Washington went to three straight from 1991-93. USC went to the Rose Bowl the three consecutive years prior. Washington has also repeated as conference champion in 1980-81 and 1959-60. In Pac-10 history (including the Pacific Coast Conference, Athletic Association of Western Universities and the Pacific-8), California, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington have won back-to-back championships during their history, while Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington State have not.
Playing at Home:
The Huskies finished the home slate with a spotless 6-0 record in 2000, marking the12th time ever and the fifth time in the last 10 seasons that the Dawgs have played perfect at home (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000). Washington has won 58 of its last 70 (.836) games at Husky Stadium with one tie (58-11-1). Since 1980, the Huskies stand 106-23-2 (.817) at home. Since 1990, the Huskies are 37-7-1 (.833) at Husky Stadium vs. Pac-10 opponents.
Historic Husky Stadium:
The 2001 season marks the 82nd season of play in Husky Stadium. Original construction on the facility was completed in 1920 when Washington played one game in the new campus facility. Thanks to several major renovations, Husky Stadium's seating capacity has increased to its current total of 72,500. That makes Husky Stadium the 24th-largest college football venue in the nation. It is the 20th-largest on-campus facility in the country. UW's all-time record in Husky Stadium currently stands at 323-133-21.
Playing the True Freshmen:
During Washington's first six seasons of the decade of the '90s, the Huskies had only six freshmen see playing time. Last Saturday vs. Michigan, five true freshman played in the season opener -- Reggie Williams, Sam Cunningham, Joseph Lobendahn, Derek McLaughlin and Charles Frederick. One more (Chris Singleton) played in the Idaho game. Since the 1996 season a total of 39 freshmen have played, including 10 in 1997, eight in 1998 and six in 1999. Last year, UW played a total of nine true freshmen, including cornerbacks Derrick Johnson and Roc Alexander, wide receiver Justin Robbins, safeties Jimmy Newell and Greg Carothers, defensive end Jerome Stevens, tailbacks Rich Alexis and Sean Sweat and outside linebacker Marquis Cooper. In the win over California, the Huskies started three true freshmen (Johnson, Alexis and Robbins), only the second time since freshman eligibility was restored in 1972 that the Huskies have had three true freshmen start a game. Against Arizona, three true freshmen started again (Alexis, Robbins, Carothers). The only previous time that happened was in the 1998 WSU game, when Chris Juergens, Hakim Akbar and Willie Hurst all started.
In the annual preseason media poll conducted by the Pacific-10 Conference office, Washington was tabbed as the fourth-place finisher in this year's Pac-10 race. Oregon took the top honor with 20 of 33 first-place votes while Oregon State and UCLA finished second and third, respectively. The preseason poll has successfully predicted the eventual league champion 18 of 40 times and three times in the last eight years. Here's the entire poll, with first-place votes in parentheses:
Team of the 1990s:
By almost any gauge, Washington was the Pac-10's team of the last decade. Washington's 82-35-1 (.700) during the decade was easily the best among the 10 conference schools, 11 wins and .094 ahead of second-place Arizona. With a 58-21-1 Pac-10 (.731) mark, the Huskies also had 11 more league victories than the next nearest conference opponent, UCLA. Washington's overall record in the decade was the 12th-best in Division I. Washington made eight bowl game appearances in the 1990s and won four Pac-10 titles. With an average home attendance of 71,790 during the decade, the UW easily out-distances every other conference school in that category. Husky players earned first-team All-America honors 17 times in the last decade and 43 Huskies were first-team all-conference. In addition, Washington linemen won the Pac-10's prestigious Morris Trophy (for top offensive and defensive linemen) seven of a possible 20 times.
This season marked the first time since 1996 that the Huskies' opening-day quarterback starter had never started previously. Here's a look at Cody Pickett's starting debut vs. Michigan, the previous nine Husky QBs in that same circumstance, as well as the first career start of several other notable UW signal-callers:
Washington entered the 2001 season with less experience at the quarterback position (in terms of total career pass attempts) than any season since 1958. Sophomore Cody Pickett had attempted a grand total of six career passes entering the season and no other quarterback on the UW squad has ever thrown a pass for the Huskies. In 1958, the Huskies entered the season with no quarterback on the roster ever having thrown a pass. That year, Phil Borders (115 attempts), Bob Hivner (30 attempts) and Bob Schloredt (18 attempts) would share the job. In 1993, the Huskies entered the year with a total of six pass attempts among their quarterbacks, same as this season. As a redshirt freshman in 1992, Damon Huard had thrown five passes (5-for-5, 108 yards) while classmate Eric Bjornson didn't complete his only career try. Pickett, who has served as the No. 2 quarterback for the better part of the last two seasons, played in only one game in 1999 (0-for-4, one interception at Oregon State) before missing the second half of the year with a back injury. After getting a medical redshirt season for 1999, Pickett backed up Marques Tuiasosopo last season, but thanks to the fact that so many of Washington's games last year went down to the wire, only played in two games -- Idaho and WSU, totaling one completion on two attempts for 12 yards.
When Cody Pickett started at quarterback against Michigan, it marked a relatively rare occurrence in recent Husky history. The last time a quarterback that didn't go to high school in the state of Washington started for the Huskies was 1993, when Eric Bjornson, from Oakland, Calif., started three games. Since then, all four Husky starting QBs (Marques Tuiasosopo, Brock Huard, Damon Huard, Shane Fortney) have been from in-state high schools. Pickett went to high school in Caldwell, Idaho. From 1980 through 2000 (21 seasons), quarterbacks from Washington high schools have started all but 30 of the Huskies' 249 games. Mark Brunell (Santa Maria, Calif., 18 starts), Tim Cowan (Cerritos, Calif., six starts), Eric Bjornson (Oakland, Calif., three starts) and Paul Sicuro (Ashland, Ore., three starts) account for those 30 starts.
Reggie's Big Debut:
True freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams put on a show in the first game of his college career. The former Lakes High star started the game and finished with 134 yards on four receptions, including a 74-yard catch that probably would have resulted in an 80-yard TD had he not lost a shoe. Williams set a UW freshman record for receiving yardage in a game with his 134 and had more receiving yards than any Husky since Andre DeSaussure had 167 yards in the 1998 Oregon State game. The 74-yard catch was the second-longest non-scoring reception in Husky history, the longest-ever reception by a freshman and the 13th longest reception in UW lore. In the win over Idaho, Williams led the Huskies in receiving once again with five catches for 77 yards. Here's a look at what the top five Husky receivers of all-time (in terms of career catches) did in their first game for the UW, along with Williams' numbers:
Experience Abounds at WR:
Last season, 13 different Huskies caught at least one pass during the season. Of those 13, only fullback Pat Conniff and receiver Terry Tharps did not return for the 2001 season. Combined, Husky returners recorded a total of 153 of the 171 total receptions (89.5 percent) made last season for 2,110 of the 2,158 total receiving yards (a stunning 97.8 percent). All 14 touchdown receptions in 2000 were made by receivers that are once again on the squad in 2001. Last year, the Husky receiving corps included eight players that had ever caught a pass during their career, but two of those eight were tight ends and four of them were running backs. Of last year's active wide receivers, only Todd Elstrom and Patrick Reddick had ever caught a pass in a game prior to last season, and all four of Reddick's previous receptions had come in 1997. The 2001 receiving squad is also bolstered by the conversion of speedy tailback Paul Arnold to receiver.
RB Talent Pool Is Deep:
Last season, the Huskies ended up with a running-back-by-committee as four players -- Paul Arnold, Willie Hurst, Braxton Cleman and Rich Alexis -- all saw significant time at tailback. Though none of them rushed for 1,000 yards and none were widely considered for all-conference, they were a force as a foursome. Combined, those four tailbacks rushed for 1,682 yards on 290 carries, good for an outstanding 5.8 yards per carry. That foursome also accounted for 18 touchdowns and even caught 38 passes for 316 yards. All four are back for the 2001 season, though Arnold has moved to receiver.
Benn and the Boys:
While Washington's receiving and running backs corps are awash with experience, the offensive line is another story. Last season, Washington used a rotation of seven linemen through most of its games, with five starters (Elliot Silvers, Chad Ward, Matt Fraize, Wes Call and Kyle Benn) and two reserves (Dominic Daste and Matt Rogers) seeing almost all of the action. Of those seven players, only senior center Kyle Benn returns for the 2001 season. Benn has started every game of the last two seasons at center, giving him plenty of experience, but his burden will be higher than usual as he'll lead a very young group. Only three other players (Todd Bachert, Nick Newton and Elliott Zajac) have seen any action at all in a Husky uniform (with Zajac having earned two letters, largely thanks to his special teams play). The two-deep is also likely to include five redshirt freshmen (Khalif Barnes, Ryan Brooks, Aaron Butler, Dan Dicks and Andre Reeves).
Watch Lists and Whatnot:
Several Huskies have already been named to official 'watch lists' for some of college football's major postseason awards. Senior defensive lineman Larry Tripplett is only of only 12 players on the Nagurski Award watch list. The Nagurski Award is given to the nation's top all-around defensive player. Tripplett is also one of 52 players on the Lombardi Award's list of preliminary candidates. Also on the Lombardi list is junior tight end Jerramy Stevens. Stevens is also expected to be a top candidate for the John Mackey Award, given to the top tight end in the country. Junior kicker John Anderson is one of 30 players that has been selected as a preliminary candidate for the Lou Groza Award. In addition, Tripplett was also listed by all of the preseason magazines as a top candidate for the Outland Trophy. Last week, it was announced that Todd Elstrom is one of 29 preseason candidates for the Biletnikoff Award (top receiver) and that Kyle Benn was one of 21 players on the watch list for the Rimington Award, given to the nation's top center.
A number of Husky newcomers, who reported to the UW campus on Tuesday, Aug. 14, have ties to either the Husky football program or football in general. All of the 30 newcomers were freshmen except for walkon offensive lineman Jeremy Adams, who played two years ago at Southern University. Adams in is the younger brother of former Texas A&M star Sam Adams, who started his NFL career with the Seahawks before moving on to win a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. Freshman safety Evan Benjamin has two connections -- he is the son of former Seahawk Tony Benjamin and the younger brother of Paige Benjamin, a junior on the UW volleyball team. Freshman Will Conwell is the nephew of former UW tight end Ernie Conwell, now with the St. Louis Rams, while quarterback Casey Paus is the younger brother of UCLA QB Cory Paus. Frosh tight end Andy Heater's father is Husky recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach Chuck Heater while freshman tailback John Gardenhire is the son of former Husky offensive lineman John Gardenhire, Sr., who lettered at the UW in 1980 and 1981.
Only a freshman in 2000, free safety Greg Carothers, now a sophomore, earned quite a reputation as a hard hitter. Carothers, from Helena, Mont., appeared in every game as a true freshman, starting the last three plus the Rose Bowl. In the Rose Bowl, Carothers dislodged Purdue running back Montrell Lowe from the ball and then recovered the fumble to set up the game's decisive touchdown in the fourth quarter. He also forced a fumble on special teams against Oregon State, when he also recorded his first-ever sack. After leading all the Husky freshmen with 27 tackles, Carothers was named honorable mention Freshman All-America by Rivals.com.
Back and Forth:
Senior safety Wondame Davis has made a career of moving back and forth from offense to defense. Originally signed as a cornerback out of Denver's Manual High, Davis red-shirted the 1997 season as a cornerback. He then played corner and strong safety in 1998 and 1999 before moving over to offense for the 2000 season. As a member of the Huskies' largely inexperienced receiver corps last year, Davis caught six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, playing in 10 of the 11 regular season games at receiver. This year, however, Davis is back on the defense and started the Michigan game at free safety.
After earning junior college defensive player of the year honors last year, it's not that big of a surprise that junior outside linebacker Kai Ellis has impressed since arriving on campus last spring. Ellis, along with City College of San Francisco teammate Taylor Barton, a quarterback, enrolled at the UW in the winter quarter, allowing both to participate in spring football. Ellis was rated the nation's top JUCO player by SuperPrep and was the MVP of the 2000 JC Grid-Wire National Championship game. Ellis, from Kent, Wash., originally signed to attend Washington State out of high school, but went to CC of San Francisco instead. In his first college game vs. Michigan, Ellis led the Huskies with seven solo tackles and six assists, for a total of 13 tackles.
A week after the Rose Bowl victory over Purdue, outside linebacker Anthony Kelley embarked on a trip to South Africa. Kelley, a regular on the defense the last two years and expected to start in 2001, earned a fellowship to study in South Africa during the winter quarter. A former partial academic qualifier, Kelley earned the team's Inspirational Academic Award at last year's postseason banquet and is on track to graduate in the spring. By graduating, Kelley, listed as a senior, would be granted an additional year of eligibility for the 2002 season.
All but one of the five primary preseason magazines picked junior tight end Jerramy Stevens as a first-team preseason All-American. Unfortunately, Stevens broke a foot on the second play of the Idaho game and will miss six to eight weeks. Only a junior, Stevens, who initially came to Washington as a quarterback, was considered the top player in the nation at his position and is ranked the No. 27 overall player in the country by Mel Kiper (ESPN.com). Stevens, who made second-team All-America on several lists after last season, posted the best season by a tight end in Husky history, in terms of his receiving. Stevens, 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, hauled in 43 catches for 600 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the UW tight end mark of 38 catches, set in 1965 by Dave Williams. Stevens has more career receptions (66) through his first 24 games than NFLers Mark Bruener, Ernie Conwell, Aaron Pierce and Cameron Cleeland had, combined, through their first 24 games. Stevens, who has started 21 of a possible 24 career games at the UW, is tied for third on the all-time Husky tight ends list with his 67 catches.
Hurst So Good:
Senior tailback Willie Hurst didn't start a game in 2000. However, that didn't stop him from turning in several star performances, including carrying for 53 yards and a touchdown in the Rose Bowl. Against Arizona, Hurst carried the ball only eight times, but tallied 116 yards, two TDs and scored the Huskies' only two-point conversion of the year. He had scoring runs of 23 and 65 yards, both in the fourth quarter. His 23-yard run was named the college play of the week by CNNSI.com. Hurst also posted a strong day in the comeback win over Stanford, rushing for 96 yards and two TDs on 14 carries. Against UCLA, Hurst ran for 99 yards on only 11 carries, but broke his collarbone at the end of his 62-yard run on the first play of the second half. With 1,507 career rushing yards, Hurst needs 235 yards to break on to the UW career rushing yardage list. Beno Bryant (1989-93) is currently 10th with 1,741 career yards.
According to the preseason magazines and on-line previews, senior nose tackle Larry Tripplett is not only one of the best defensive linemen in the country entering the 2001 season, he's one of the best football players at any position. Tripplett is a unanimous preseason All-America first-teamer and has been rated as high as overall No. 8 player in the nation (Mel Kiper, ESPN.com). Tripplett capped his strong junior season in 2000 by earning first-team All-America from ESPNmag.com, second-team selection by The Sporting News and third-team status from Football News and the Associated Press. He was an All-Pac-10 first-team pick and served as one of three captains. After the season, Tripplett considered leaving Washington early to play in the NFL, but decided to remain in school. Tripplett has started the last 24 straight regular-season games (plus two bowl games) and is a top candidate for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy as he enters his senior year. Last season, Tripplett was the Husky defense's star performer several times, earning Pac-10 and national Defensive Player of the Week honors after the Colorado game. Last week against Idaho, Tripplett led the Huskies with six tackles, including five for a loss and a sack. He also batted down a pass attempt and blocked a field goal in the win over the Vandals.
In a vote of teammates, NT Larry Tripplett, C Kyle Benn and TB Willie Hurst were named captains of the 2001 team. In what is becoming decreasingly rare, Tripplett will serve as captain for the second straight season, joining seven other Husky players. The others: Marques Tuiasosopo (1999-2000), Lester Towns (1998-99), Ray Pinney (1974-75), Frank Griffiths (1889-90), Jack Lindsay (1896-97), Ray Eckmann (1921-22) and Sonny Sixkiller (1971-72). UW also names a captain each week with Wondame Davis taking the honor vs. Michigan.
During 2000, it could have been argued that, over the course of the season, Larry Tripplett made four game-saving or game-turning plays in crucial situations:
1) at Colorado, he recovered a fumble on the Buff's last drive of the game, thwarting their comeback attempt, 2) against Oregon State, he tackled tailback Ken Simonton for a loss on a second-and-one play late in the fourth, causing the Beavers to have to spike the ball to stop the clock on third down, and pushing back Ryan Cesca's 46-yard field goal attempt that fell just short and would have sent the game into overtime, 3) vs. California, forced a fumble from tailback Joe Igber that led, on the very next play, to Huskies' go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown, 4) blocked Sean Keel's game-ending field goal attempt at the end of the Arizona game that would have sent that game into overtime had it been made.
Like a Roc:
Sophomore cornerback/return man Roc Alexander has gotten his season off to a strong start, to say the least. In two games, Alexander already has two interceptions and two special teams touchdowns. He's picked off a pass in each of the first two games and is tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions per game (1.0). In the win over Michigan, Alexander scored Washington's first touchdown, scooping up a blocked field goal and running it back 87 yards for a score. Against Idaho, Alexander scored the first TD of the game on a 95-yard kickoff return.
Despite having played only one full year of high school football, Husky sophomore tailback Rich Alexis made an immediate impact in college as a freshman in 2000. The Coral Springs, Fla., native travelled cross-country to play college football, following fellow Pope John Paul II graduate John Anderson, the Husky kicker. Alexis was the Huskies' leading rusher and set a new UW record for rushing yards by a freshman with 738 (the old mark was 538 by current senior Willie Hurst), also setting a Husky bowl record for longest non-scoring rush with a tone-setting 50-yard carry to start the second half of the Rose Bowl. Despite starting only four times, Alexis led the Huskies in rushing seven times, finishing with team-highs in rushing yards (738) and touchdowns (9). He averaged a very strong 6.3 yards per carry and had four of the Huskies' six longest runs in 2000. In the Miami game, Alexis helped the Huskies past his hometown team with a 50-yard TD run. Against Oregon State, he broke the 100-yard barrier for the first time, rushing for 107 yards and two TDs. In the win at ASU, Alexis busted out for 127 yards and two touchdowns on only 16 carries. His second scoring run vs. ASU was 86 yards, the sixth-longest in Washington history. Alexis got his first start in the win over Cal, rushing for 79 yards on 22 carries and scoring two touchdowns, including the go-ahead TD on a 16-yard run. Alexis tied his career high for yardage in the UCLA game when he rushed for 127 once again, much of that yardage coming after a shoulder sprain suffered in the first quarter. At WSU, he set a new career high with 134 yards on only 12 carries, including a 50-yard run. At season's end, Alexis was named a first-team Freshman All-America by rivals.com and a second-teamer by the Sporting News.
Hey Biddle Biddle:
Junior strong safety Owen Biddle joined Ben Mahdavi as a scholarship player at the first meeting of the 2001 season, when it was annouced that the former walkon had earned a scholarship. Biddle, from Bellevue, Wash., played primarily as a special teams man last year, but started the Rose Bowl at safety. Biddle saw considerable time in the secondary in the opener vs. Michigan.
Mahdavi Proves Worthy:
At the first team meeting of the 2000 season, Husky coach Rick Neuheisel announced that walkon linebacker Ben Mahdavi had been awarded a scholarship. Mahdavi was the only walkon player last season to receive a scholarship. Mahdavi made his head coach look good in the season opener against Idaho when he came up with two of the Huskies' biggest plays. Midway through the second quarter he scooped up a fumble and raced 35 yards for a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter he blocked a Vandal punt that UW recovered on the one-yard line and converted into a touchdown. A backup inside linebacker, Mahdavi also recorded seven tackles, then a career high, in that game. Mahdavi also has the distinction of having scored the first touchdown of the 1999 season as well when he fell on a fumbled punt in the endzone for a TD at Brigham Young in Neuheisel's UW coaching debut. Early in 2000, Mahdavi moved into a starting spot, compiling eight starts in 2000. He's a virtual shoo-in to return to his starting role in 2001. Mahdavi had originally signed a letter of intent at Utah, but transferred before the 1998 season.
Anderson For Groza:
Washington junior placekicker John Anderson is listed by many of the preseason magazines this fall as one of the nation's top kickers. The Sporting News listed his leg as the most feared in the Pac-10 and he's on all of the lists of the top candidates for the Lou Groza Award, which he also won as a high school. Anderson's resume began to build quickly in his freshman season of 1999. He converted 13 of 18 field goals and 34 of 35 PATs that year and led Washington in scoring with 73 points. Anderson began to make his mark when he booted a 50-yard field goal against Oregon State. That kick ended a 16-year stretch in which the Huskies had not recorded a 50-yard field goal. Anderson's boot was the longest by a UW kicker since Jeff Jaeger converted a 52-yard field goal in 1983 vs. Oregon. Jaeger was also a freshman that season. Since Jaeger's kick, the Huskies had made 224 field goals over the previous 17 seasons without making one from at least 50 yards. Anderson was two years old when Jaeger made the last 50-yard field goal. Anderson went on to prove that long boot was no fluke. He ended the season with three 50-yard field goals to his credit, including a 56-yarder at UCLA to tie the UW school record. That field goal was the longest by a Pac-10 kicker in 1999. It tied as the 14th longest in league history and it was the longest by a true freshman in conference history. His kick was the seventh longest in Pac-10 history since 1989, when use of a kicking tee was eliminated. Anderson has now accounted for three of the nine 50-yard field goals in UW history. When Anderson booted three FGs vs. Stanford in 1999, it marked the first time a Husky kicker has done that since John Wales vs. California in 1994. It was the first time a Husky kicker had converted three 40-yard field goals since Brandy Brownlee made four vs. Texas A&M in 1987. Additionally, as a freshman in 1999, Anderson became only the second true freshman in NCAA history (joining Texas A&M's Tony Franklin) to boot three 50-yard field goals in a single season.
Pope John Paul II Pipeline:
In 2001, the Washington roster includes three players from Pope John Paul II High School, which is located about 3,000 miles from Seattle in Boca Raton, Fla. So far, the remote high school has been very kind to the Huskies. In 1999, kicker John Anderson arrived in Seattle and became a first-team freshman All-American, booting three field goals of 50 or more yards in his first season and establishing himself as probably the best Husky placekicker in a decade or more. Last season, tailback Rich Alexis first gained noteriety by rushing for a 50-yard touchdown against hometown foe Miami on the seventh carry of his career. Alexis would eventually become the starter and earned first-team freshman All-America after leading the Huskies with 738 yards on 118 carries, an average of 6.3 yards per carry, as well as with nine TDs. This season, WR Charles Frederick will get his chance. Frederick comes to Washington after earning prep first-team All-America status from several sources and seems likely to get a shot at returning punts and kicks early in his UW career.
'E.T.' Takes It To the House:
True freshman receiver/return man Charles 'E.T.' Frederick only got on the field for one play in the season opener vs. Michigan. That was a kick return that went to the other deep man and resulted in a touchback. Against Idaho, Frederick's first play was a punt return, which he fumbled over to the Vandals after a six-yard return. But, after appearing on the kickoff team a second time (but not getting the ball once again), Frederick made his presence felt on the fourth play and second touch of his career. Early in the second quarter, Frederick fielded a punt at the 13-yard line and ran it back 87 yards for a touchdown. Frederick currently leads the NCAA with his 34.0-yard punt return average.
Senior Todd Elstrom was easily the Huskies' most consistent and prolific wide receiver last year and enters his final year as, far and away, the UW's most experienced wideout. Elstrom caught a pass in every game last year and led the Huskies with 47 catches for 683 yards. His 47 catches were tied for eight-most in UW single-season history. With 61 career catches, Elstrom needs to compile 32 more to crack the UW career top 10 list. Darryl Franklin (1984-87) currently ranks 10th with 92 career receptions. Last year, Elstrom started all 12 games, including the Rose Bowl. That Rose Bowl start was no small feat as he tore the medial colateral ligament in one of his knees only a couple of days before the game. He went on to make four catches, including a fourth-quarter touchdown reception, in the win over Purdue. Elstrom was the Huskies' top receiver, in terms of receptions, in six of 12 games last season.
As a true freshman last season, receiver Justin Robbins turned into a regular in the Huskies' starting lineup, and made a case to be one of the best true freshman receivers in UW history. He finished the year ranked third in Husky lore in receptions by a true freshman wideout, trailing only Paul Skansi (1979) and Chris Juergens (1998). Here's a look at the top five freshman wide receivers in Washington history (by receptions):
Husky junior wide receiver Chris Juergens, expected to return to playing this season after sitting out last year with a knee injury, left the team during fall training camp after coming to the realization that the chronic knee condition was too much to overcome. Juergens burst onto the UW football scene in 1998 when he caught 27 passes for 414 yards. In 1999, he was the Huskies' top receiver, with 42 receptions for 516 yards.
On September 8 at 9:30 a.m., prior to the season opener vs. Michigan, the UW will officially open the new Dempsey Indoor, a massive indoor practice facility located at the northeast corner of Husky Stadium. The Dempsey Indoor will provide the UW football team, as well as all of the other Husky teams (primarily track, baseball and softball) with an large, state-of-the-art practice site. The facility includes a full-size, FieldTurf football field and a four-lane track. Over the summer, the East Practice Field, located just to the south of Dempsey Indoor and east of Husky Stadium, was completed, giving the Husky team three full football fields' worth of practice space. Last year, FieldTurf was installed in Husky Stadium prior to the season and received rave reviews from players and coaches alike.
Sharing With the Seahawks:
For the second straight year, the Seattle Seahawks will play at Husky Stadium for the 2001 season. The Seahawks are using the UW facility while their new downtown stadium is being completed. The Seahawks open their home exhibition season Sat., Aug. 18, at 6:30 p.m. against the Arizona Cardinals. In 1996, the Seahawks played two exhibition games and four regular-season games at Husky Stadium while repairs were made to the ceiling of the Kingdome. The Seahawks will play two preseason games and eight regular season games (plus any home playoff action) on the UW campus this year.
The Dawg House is Packed:
Last year's average of 71,638 fans per home game last year was the 10th highest average in Pac-10 history. The all-time Pac-10 record for average home attendance was set by USC in 1988 (76,063). Washington, however, has seven of the top 10 and 11 of the top 14 highest averages in history and have led the league in average attendance in 11 of the last 12 years despite playing the sixth-largest stadium in the conference. Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA and USC all play in stadiums with larger capacities than Husky Stadium, which holds 72,500 spectators. Washington also holds the Pac-10 record for total attendance in a season with 504,770 total fans in 1992 (7 games) and has averaged more fans (66,043) per game than any team in the Pac-10 since 1978, when the league expanded to 10 teams. That's despite having a capacity of 59,800 from the 1978 through 1986 seasons. Husky Stadium, incidentally, is the fifth-oldest stadium in Division I-A, trailing Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium (1913), Mississippi State's Scott Field (1915), Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium (1916), and Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium (1917). Husky Stadium originally opened in 1920.
'The Glory of Washington,' a new book detailing the 110-year history of Washington athletics, was released over the summer. The book, written by UW media relations director Jim Daves and W. Thomas Porter, is available by phone (877-424-BOOK), on-line at www.SportsPublishingInc.com and in local bookstores.
Husky Tickets Online:
For the first time ever, Washington football tickets may now be purchased online at the UW's official athletics web site:
www.gohuskies.com. Remaining tickets for all six Husky home games were released for individual sale this past Wednesday, Aug. 15, and seats remain available for all games. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Husky Ticket Office weekdays 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and at any TicketMaster location.
The 2001 football season marks the beginning of Husky Huddles, pre-game tailgates sponsored by the Athletic Department. The Huddles, held in the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility prior to every game except September 8, feature food and beverages, big screen TVs, special Husky Legend appearances and the Husky Marching Band. Admission is free, food and beverages are available for purchase. A Husky buffet is $20 per person for food and beverages, $15 per person for food and $10 for children under 12. Prices are $25/$20/$15 at the door. For reservations call the Athletic Department at (206) 543-2210. Doors open 3 hours prior to kickoff.
The usual UW schedule calls for two non-conference home games and one non-league road game, this year that road game is at Miami ... during the last 11 seasons, Washington has gone only 5-5 in such games (there was no non-conference road game in '92), but the list of opponents is a strong one:
Purdue (1990 win), Nebraska (1991 win and 1998 loss), Ohio State (1993 loss and 1995 loss), Miami (1994 win), Notre Dame (1996 loss), Brigham Young (1997 win and 1999 loss) and Colorado (2000 win) ... Washington has lost only six games under coach Rick Neuheisel, with four of those losses coming by a touchdown or less:
BYU (35-28), UCLA (23-20), Kansas State (24-20) and Oregon (23-16) ... lest you think that the Huskies don't win the close ones, 11 of the UW's 19 wins (including seven of 11 last season) under Neuheisel have been by seven points or less ... the UW's six losses under Neuheisel have been by an average of eight points while their 19 wins have came by an average of 10.6 points ... redshirt-freshman outside linebacker Zach Tuiasosopo's family ties continue ... Zach is the younger brother of former UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, but after losing him to the Oakland Raiders, the Huskies got another Tuiasosopo back as former UW volleyball star Leslie Tuiasosopo was hired as an assistant volleyball coach under new head man Jim McLaughlin ... Jamaun Willis, despite starting only one game in all of 2000, was the Huskies' seventh-leading tackler last year with 32 total tackles ... The Sporting News ranked the nation's top 'Saturday Cathedrals' and listed Husky Stadium as the No. 5 stadium in the country, behind those at Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida and Texas A&M ... Husky Stadium was also No. 1 in the Pac-10.