Huskies Playing For Rivalry, Bowl Hopes
Nov. 3, 2006
SEATTLE -- This game is one of the big ones,said Washington football coach TyroneWillingham. When the Huskies and theDucks square off for the 99th time over thecourse of their respective histories, it will befor more than just bragging rights: the UWwill be playing for its postseason dreams.With just three games remaining, awin in Eugene, Ore. tomorrow is almost anecessity.
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'We need to win and win now,' saidquarterback Carl Bonnell. 'We let it slip thelast two weeks. Now our backs are againstthe wall and we have to go out and win somegames.'
The task will be a tall one, as the Ducksboast one of the most potent offenses in thecountry. Coach Mike Bellotti relies heavilyon the spread offense, which puts the ball inthe hands of quarterback Dennis Dixon themajority of the time, evident in his passingfor 211.8 yards per game.
'He's a weapon just like Isaiah [Stanback],'said defensive backs coach J.D. Williams. 'Healways wants the ball in crunch time.'
Dixon will have a full complement ofreceivers at his disposal, led by JaisonWilliams.
'We've played some big-time receivers,'Williams said. 'What Oregon brings to thetable is not just one receiver, but four or fi vereceivers that are big-time receivers.'
That will be a true test for a Husky defensethat has played better recently, but still issusceptible to the big play. Most recently,the Huskies gave up a game-winning, 25-yard touchdown pass to Arizona State a weekago. The defense will also have to contend withthe likes of Jonathan Stewart, one of the Pac-10's most physical backs.
'They are a productive and explosiveoffense,' Willingham said. 'We have to slowtheir offense down. And when we have theball, we have to execute and get points.'
Offensively, the Huskies will be goingwith Bonnell at quarterback. Despite hisstruggles against the Sun Devils, when hethrew for just 67 yards and two interceptions,Willingham feels that Bonnell gives his teamthe best chance to succeed.
Washington also will have the services ofsenior Kenny James, who missed the gameagainst ASU due to an ankle injury.
This week in practice, James lookedhealthy and ran the offense well, saidWillingham. He will give the team his abilityto pick up short yardage, a dimension of therunning game that was lacking for most ofthe California game and the entire ArizonaState game.
In the end, the ability to move the ballagainst Oregon will determine the Huskies'success in a hostile environment.
'We need to go down there and wina football game,' wide receiver SonnyShackelford said. 'Rivalries are just rivalries;we have to go down and play regardless ofthe circumstances.'