Huskies To Host USC
Oct. 1, 2001
The Washington football team, 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Pac-10, takes on USC (1-3, 0-2) Saturday, Oct. 6, in a renewal of a rivalry that has taken the last two seasons off. Game time at Husky Stadium is set for 12:30 p.m. PDT. The Huskies, ranked No. 11 by the Associated Press and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, have won their last 11 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. Washington and USC haven't faced each other since the 1998 season as they 'missed' one another thanks to the Pac-10 scheduling system. Therefore, this game will mark UW coach Rick Neuheisel's first game against the Trojans as a head coach.
Washington's game at Miami, originally scheduled for September 15, was postponed due to the incidents in New York, Boston and Pennsylvania. The game has been rescheduled for November 24, though no game time has yet been determined.
Washington and USC have played one another 81 times since the series began in 1923, but have not met in either of the past two seasons. The Trojans hold a commanding 42-25-4 series advantage, although the Huskies have gone 5-3-1 over the last nine. Washington won its first-ever game against the Trojans, beating USC, 22-0, in Seattle in 1923. When the series re-started in 1927, USC handed the Huskies six straight defeats before Washington reeled off five in a row. The longest streak either way in the series began in 1965, when the Trojans beat Washington for the first time of 11 straight wins. Washington has faced USC four times when the Trojans have been ranked No. 1 (losing all four) while Washington has been the No. 1 team in the nation twice when playing USC (a 1984 UW loss and a 1992 UW win). Rick Neuheisel has never coached against USC as a head coach, either at Washington or at Colorado, but has stood on the opposite sideline a number of times as a player and assistant coach at UCLA. In his five years on the team (1979-83), the Bruins were 3-2 vs. USC, including a 27-17 win in '83 with Neuheisel at quarterback. In Neuheisel's seven seasons as an assistant for the Bruins (1986, 1988-93), UCLA went 4-2-1 against the Trojans. Trojan coach Pete Carroll has never faced Washington as a coach, but did come to Husky Stadium in 1972 as a player for Pacific as the No. 9 Huskies narrowly beat the Tigers, 13-6. Carroll, a starting safety, made eight tackles that day.
Washington, as noted earlier, enters the USC game riding an 11-game win streak, the third longest win streak in the nation. Entering this weekend's games, Oklahoma holds the longest streak with 17 straight wins while Miami (Fla.) has won 12 in a row since losing to Washington last season. Toledo, with four wins this season, has joined the Huskies with an 11-game streak. Washington's 11 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.
Fox Sports Net will broadcast Saturday's game to a live national audience, with Barry Tompkins (play-by-play), Husky Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon (color) and former USC receiver John Jackson (sidelines) providing the call. The game will also air Sunday on Fox Sports Northwest at 3:00 p.m. All Husky games are shown on tape delay the Sunday after the game, with all remaining replays scheduled to start at 3 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 21-6 overall mark and a 14-3 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 54-20 (.730). 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 26-1 with the Cal 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 36.7 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 26-1 record as coordinator at Washington includes a 14-0 record in home games and a 2-0 mark in Rose Bowls.
There's a fair amount of crossover between the Washington and USC teams. Husky head coach Rick Neuheisel, who earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA, graduated from USC law school in 1990. Husky athletic director Barbara Hedges was an administrator in the USC athletic department from 1974 to 1991. USC running backs coach Wayne Moses earned four letters as a corneback at Washington and was the Huskies' RB coach the last four seasons before taking a job on Pete Carroll's staff prior to this season. Kennedy Pola, the Trojans' special teams coach, was the running backs coach at Colorado under Neuheisel in 1997 and 1998. UW running backs coach Tony Alford, who coached the backs at Iowa State the last four seasons, replaced current USC receivers coach Kirby Wilson, who was the Cyclones' RB coach in 1995 and 1996. Husky wide receiver Matt DeBord is a first cousin of former USC receiver Benji DeBord (1995), though Husky cornerback Sam Cunningham is no relation to the former USC fullback of the same name. The Trojans' roster includes two players from the state of Washington -- tailback David Kirtman (Mercer Island HS) and punter Tommy Huff (Bellevue HS). Washington's roster includes 32 Californians, mostly from the southern part of the state. Included among those L.A.-area Huskies are many notable players, including starters NT Larry Tripplett (Los Angeles), DT Marcus Roberson (Compton), ILB Jamaun Willis (Compton), TB Willie Hurst (Compton), OLB Anthony Kelley (Altadena), and DE Jerome Stevens (Oxnard).
For the third straight season, Washington had to come back from a late, double-digit deficit to beat California, 31-28, extending the Huskies' streak over the Golden Bears to 19 consecutive wins. The Bears unveiled every trick in the book in the early-going, jumping on the Huskies in the first quarter. On the opening drive, Cal marched 80 yards on 14 plays before Kyle Boller his Sean Currin with a two-yard TD pass. After a Husky three-and-out, Cal drove 72 yards on 10 plays to move ahead, 14-0. Washington got on the board in the first when Greg Carothers recovered a Cal fumble. On the next play, Cody Pickett hit Paul Arnold with a 42-yard TD pass. Prior to that play, Cal had amassed 204 total yards to the Huskies' one. The Bears scored on their next drive, however, to extend the lead to 21-7. A John Anderson field goal made it a 21-10 halftime score. In the second half, however, the Huskies came back. After a 15-play drive resulted in a missed field goal, the Huskies got a 62-yard TD pass from Pickett to Arnold to close the scoring gap to 21-17. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Rich Alexis scored the first of his two TDs to put the Huskies in front for the first time, 24-21. After another Alexis score, the Bears put one more Boller TD on the board and made the Huskies punt with 2:41 on the clock. The Huskies, however, held the Bears on four downs and ran out the remainder of the clock. In the game, Husky freshman punter Derek McLaughlin, punting from the UW two-yard line, broke the school record with a 74-yard boot. Pickett finished 18-for-33 for 291 yards, two TDs and no picks.
Leading The Nation:
Washington leads all of Division I-A in two categories this week: kickoff returns (34.8 yards per return) and fewest turnovers lost (two). Washington is also fifth in punt returns (18.4), tied for fourth in fumbles lost (one), tied for sixth in passes intercepted (one) and 14th in turnover margin (+1.33 per game).
No Rush To Score:
Through three games this season, Washington has yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Michigan's only two touchdowns were passes from John Navarre to Marquise Walker, Idaho didn't score any TDs and all four Cal touchdowns came on Kyle Boller passes. The last time the Huskies gave up a rushing touchdown was to Sedrick Brown of Purdue (42 yards in the fourth quarter) in the Rose Bowl. The last time the UW gave up a rushing TD in the regular season was to DeShaun Foster (twice) in last years' UCLA game.
Turnovers No Problem:
Washington has only turned the ball over twice in three games this season. The Huskies had no turnovers against Michigan or California and had two in the Idaho game (a fumbled punt by Charles Frederick and a Cody Pickett interception). However, Idaho was unable to convert either of the two turnovers into scored, meaning that Washington has yet to allow a point after a turnover this season. On the flip side, Washington has six takeaways this year that have resulted in three touchdowns and a field goal for a total of 24 points.
Let Me Count The Ways:
Through only three games this season, Washington has already managed to find six different ways to score a touchdown. The only ways they haven't scored are a fumble recovery or return, a punt block return and a kickoff recovery in the endzone. Here's a look:
Aside from the Huskies' 11-game win streak, the Huskies also have a couple of other notable streaks going. With 11 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 (eight) 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 19-game winning streak vs. Cal, extended with a come-from-behind win last Saturday, 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), Nebraska over Oklahoma State (24), Nebraska over Missouri (23), and Ohio State over Northwestern (21).
Last Time vs. USC:
In the Huskies' last game vs. USC (Oct. 31, 1998 in L.A.), the Trojans picked off four Brock Huard passes, including two for touchdowns by Antuan Simmons, to roll to a 33-10 win. Huard threw a school-record 62 passes in the game and finished with 33 completions and 301 yards. USC's Carson Palmer went 18-for-31 for 279 yards while tailback Chad Morton ran for 110 yards and a score on 13 carries. The last time the Huskies played USC in Husky Stadium (Nov. 1, 1997), Washington handed the Trojans a 27-0 loss while holding USC to only 157 yards of total offense. The Huskies managed only 31 rushing yards, but got TD passes from Brock Huard to both Jerome Pathon and Fred Coleman. Pathon finished with 120 yards and a touchdown.
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.
The Shutout Streak:
Washington's win over Idaho marked the 231th consecutive game in which Washington has not been shut out. That's the best streak among Pac-10 schools. BYU has the nation's longest streak at 327 games (NCAA record), while Texas is second with 242 games. The last opponent to hold the Huskies scoreless was UCLA (31-0) on Nov. 7, 1981. Washington has played 153 Pac-10 games since then without a shutout -- the second best current streak among Pac-10 schools.
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.
Washington freshman punter Derek McLaughlin booted a 74-yard punt vs. California to break the UW school record of 73 (Ryan Fleming and Don Feleay). McLaughlin's 49.7-yard average against Cal was the sixth highest in Husky history and McLaughlin, with a 44.7-yard average for the season, ranks 15th in the NCAA in punt average.
Arnold Is Mr. Versatile:
Washington junior receiver Paul Arnold, who switched from tailback to receiver last spring, has shown amazing versatility not only through his career, but this season as well. Arnold, who has all three of the Huskies' TD receptions so far this season, has been a regular on the kickoff return team (he had a 100-yard kickoff return in 1999) and has been the starting tailback. He's scored touchdowns as a running back, a receiver and on special teams. Despite starting at receiver this year, Arnold took several snaps at tailback during the Huskies' win at California, helping to fill in for an injury-depleted tailbacks corps. Despite playing some at tailback, he nonetheless led the Huskies with five catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
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. Last week in the win over Cal, Carothers led the Huskies with 10 tackles, all solos.
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 is the starter 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 both Joe Collier and Marcus Roberson taking that honor in the Cal game.
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. Last week vs. Cal, he made another big-time play, tackling fullback Marcus Fields for a three-yard loss on a third-and-one play in the Bears' final drive of the game.
Like a Roc:
Sophomore cornerback/return man Roc Alexander has gotten his season off to a strong start, to say the least. Through three games, Alexander already has two interceptions and two special teams touchdowns. He picked off a pass in each of the first two games. 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.
(2001 starts/career starts) OFFENSE -- WR:
Todd Elstrom (2/18), Justin Robbins (0/9), Paul Arnold (3/9), Wilbur Hooks, Jr. (0/2), Reggie Williams (2/2), Patrick Reddick (0/1). QB: Cody Pickett (3/3). OL:
Kyle Benn (3/27), Todd Bachert (3/3), Khalif Barnes (3/3), Nick Newton (3/3), Elliott Zajac (3/3). TE:
Jerramy Stevens (1/22), Joe Collier (1/2), John Westra (0/2), Kevin Ware (1/1). TB:
Willie Hurst (2/16), Rich Alexis (1/5). FB:
Braxton Cleman (0/3), Ken Walker (1/3), Matthias Wilson (1/1). DEFENSE -- LB:
Jafar Williams (0/20), Ben Mahdavi (3/11), Anthony Kelley (3/6), Jamuan Willis (3/4), Kai Ellis (3/3). DL:
Larry Tripplett (3/26), Marcus Roberson (3/12), Jerome Stevens (3/4). S:
Greg Carothers (3/6), Wondame Davis (3/6), Owen Biddle (0/1). CB:
Omare Lowe (3/17), Chris Massey (0/4), Roc Alexander (3/3) Derrick Johnson (0/2).
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.