A Nearly Perfect First Month for Washington
Oct. 4, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) -- A three-game winning streak -- unseen for threeseasons.
Sitting at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10 Conference for thefirst time since 2001.
Taking advantage of a friendly schedule, September couldn't havegone much better for Tyrone Willingham and Washington.
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'It's nice to be where we are. I'd like to be better, but thisdoesn't give us anything yet,' Willingham said. 'We have to go towork now.'
The Huskies' stated goal all along has been to become bowleligible and play after the third weekend of November for the firsttime since 2002, when they lost to Purdue in the Sun Bowl.
To get the six wins need to be bowl eligible, the Huskies neededa strong September, especially with a daunting five weeks inOctober and early November with games at Southern California, atCalifornia and at Oregon.
Five weeks in, the Huskies are two-thirds of the way to the sixneeded victories after Saturday's 21-10 win at Arizona. AndWashington has games remaining at home against winless Stanford andstruggling Oregon State.
It's the first time Washington has won four games in Septembersince 1984, and the Huskies are 3-0 at home.
'Of course, we're going to enjoy what we're doing, but we'vegot to keep our focus,' cornerback Dashon Goldson said. 'We'vegot a lot of football left to play.'
The capper to that almost flawless first month -- for wins -- cameSaturday, when the Huskies' defense stymied Arizona. The Washingtonoffense was explosive in the second quarter, rolling up 241 yardsof offense, finished off by quarterback Isaiah Stanback's 55-yardtouchdown pass to Quintin Daniels with 22 seconds left in the half.It was the second consecutive year that Washington struck with along score late in the half against the Wildcats. Last season,Stanback completed a 69-yard 'Hail Mary' to Craig Chambers on thelast play of the half that propelled the Huskies to a 38-14 win.
Otherwise, it was the defense that held Arizona's offense -- lastin the Pac-10 -- to minus-7 rushing yards, sacked Wildcats'quarterback Willie Tuitama six times and forced nine Arizona punts.
Still, issues remain with both the offense and defense,frustrating the players and giving the coaches fuel to keep theirplayers humble.
'I feel like if both sides put four quarters together, I thinkwe'll be unstoppable,' defensive end Greyson Gunheim said. 'Forme, it's frustrating. We know we haven't gotten there yet and westill have a lot to do and a lot to work on.'
Washington's pass defense continues to rank last in the Pac-10and gave up 308 yards passing to the Wildcats. The Huskies' runninggame improved against Arizona with 154 yards rushing, but has comenowhere close to the output in the first two weeks when Washingtonran for 300 and 204 yards respectively.
And, aside from the second quarter, Washington's offense managedjust 206 yards the rest of the night. Those deficiencies are makingthe Huskies even more excited about their start.
'The positive thing is we've got wins and we're not playing toour full capability. We have something to look forward to,'Stanback said. 'This past game, we played offensively one goodquarter and our defense held us in the game.'