UW Footballers Head For Date In The Desert

Oct. 23, 2001

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The Game: The Washington football team (5-1 overall, 3-1 in the Pac-10) can become bowl-eligible and ensure its 25th consecutive .500 or better season this Saturday, Oct. 27, as the Huskies head to Tempe, Ariz., to take on Arizona State (4-2, 1-2). Kickoff is slated for 7:15 p.m. (PDT and MST). Washington is ranked No. 13 in the latest Associated Press poll and is the No. 11 team in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. Washington, fresh from a thrilling, 31-28 win over Arizona last Saturday, will be looking to sweep the two Arizona schools for only the ninth time since those two teams joined the Pac-10 Conference prior to the 1978 season.

Rescheduling: Washington's game at Miami, originally scheduled for September 15, was postponed due Sept. 11 incidents. The game has been rescheduled for November 24 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (5:00 p.m. Pacific). Also, this week's game at Arizona State has been picked up by Fox Sports Net and will kick off at 7:15 p.m. (MST and PDT).

The Series: The Huskies hold a 14-8 record all-time against Arizona State in a series that only dates back to 1975. That game marked the only time that the two teams ever played one another prior to the Sun Devils joining the Pac-10 Conference for the 1978 season. Since then, the two have played one another every year between 1978 and now except for the 1983 and 1984 seasons. The Huskies lost that first-ever meeting at Tempe in 1975, 35-12, but routed the 12th-ranked Devils in the next meeting, winning 41-7 at Husky Stadium in 1978. One of the two teams (or both) has been ranked in 10 of the last 11 meetings, the only exception the 1999 game when the Devils came to Husky Stadium and beat Washington, 28-7, still the Huskies' most recent home loss. Some of the Huskies' most memorable games in recent history have come vs. ASU. In the 1995 season-opener, tailback Rashaan Shehee hit receiver Fred Coleman with a 30-yard TD pass late in the fourth quarter to give Washington a 23-20 win. The following year at Tempe, Washington trailed 42-21 before backup QB Brock Huard came on to lead the Huskies to three four-quarter TDs, but Robert Nycz kicked a 38-yard field goal with 0:02 left to win, 45-42. In 1998 at Sun Devil Stadium, the Huskies pulled off the 'Miracle in the Desert' as Huard hit tight end Reggie Davis with a 63-yard pass on fourth-and-17 with 0:28 left in the game to pull out a 42-38 Washington win. UW coach Rick Neuheisel is 1-1 against Arizona State while Dirk Koetter, ASU's first-year head man, is facing Washington for the first time as a head coach. As offensive coordinator at Oregon in 1996 and 1997, Koetter helped the Ducks to a win over the UW in 1996 and a loss the next year.

Pickett's Records: Husky sophomore quarterback Cody Pickett, playing vs. Arizona with a separated right shoulder that kept him out of the UCLA game, had the most prolific passing day in Husky history in the win over the Wildcats. Pickett threw for 455 yards on 29-of-49 passing. His 455 yards broke the UW record of 428 set by Cary Conklin vs. Arizona State in 1989. His 473 yards of total offense were second-most in Washington history and his 57 offensive attempts tied for third. Additionally, he became the first Husky to throw two 75-yard-plus passes in a game and, adding a 74-yarder earlier this year, the only UW QB to complete three 70-plus-yard passes in a career. Pickett's 49 attempts, 29 completions and 455 yards were the most by a Pac-10 quarterback this season, and the 455 yards were 13th most in Pac-10 history. His 478 yards of total offense ranked 10th in Pac-10 lore.

Television: The Washington-Arizona State game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net. Steve Physioc (play-by-play), Tom Ramsey (color) and Lewis Johnson (sidelines) will call the action. The game will also be replayed 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.

Radio: 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.

The Coach: 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 23-7 overall mark and a 16-4 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 56-21 (.727). 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.

UW-Arizona State Ties: Last season, Husky graduate assistant and receivers coach John Pettas was the Sun Devils' offensive coordinator under Bruce Snyder. Pettas had served as an assistant at ASU since 1993. Husky offensive line coach Brent Myers was offensive coordinator under current Devils coach Dirk Koetter at Boise State in Koetter's first two seasons with the Broncos, 1998 and 1999. Myers served alongside a number of Koetter's current assistant coaches. Washington's roster includes five players from the state of Arizona: tight end John Westra (Mesa), linebacker Marquis Cooper (Gilbert), defensive lineman John Schmidt (Tucson), defensive lineman Terry Johnson (Tempe) and punter Derek McLaughlin (Mesa). Arizona State has two Washingtonians on its roster: wide receiver Skyler Fulton (Olympia) and fullback Mike Karney (Kent). Fulton's older brother, Josh, played one season of baseball at Washington in 2000.

UW-Arizona Redux: Despite playing with a separated right shoulder that had kept him from playing the UCLA game in the week prior, Husky quarterback Cody Pickett broke the school passing yards record and scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard run with 13 seconds left in the game as Washington pulled out yet another fourth-quarter comeback, beating Arizona, 31-28. The two teams scored on the first five possessions of the game, all in the first quarter. Pickett threw three first-quarter TDs -- 21 yards to Todd Elstrom, 78 yards to Paul Arnold and 75 yards to Patrick Reddick. Arizona got a four-yard pass from Jason Johnson to Bobby Wade and a 12-yarder from Johnson to Andrae Thurman as the 21-14 score remained until the third quarter. Arizona's backup QB John Rattay, in for an injured Johnson, ran in from 15 yards out to tie the game in the third quarter and the Wildcats took the lead at 28-21 on Clarence Farmer's fourth-quarter, 16-yard run. But Washington, after a 74-yard kickoff return from Roc Alexander, got a 39-yard field goal from John Anderson and then got a three-and-out from its defense. Pickett drove Washington 55 yards in six plays, capping the drive with his rollout run to the corner. Pickett finished the day 29-for-49 for 455 yards, snapping the 12-year old school record of 428 yards, set by Cary Conklin vs. Arizona State in 1989.

Turnovers No Problem: Washington has turned the ball over 12 times in six games this season. However, opponents have managed to convert only four of those 12 turnovers into points, scoring four touchdowns and no field goals for a total of 28 points off of turnovers. Thanks to going 0-for-3 converting turnovers at UCLA and then 0-for-2 against Arizona, the Huskies have done only slightly better than their opposition, converting 12 turnovers into four TDs and one field goal, good for 31 points.

Against First-Year Coaches: Since 1990, the Huskies have faced a Pac-10 team with a first-year coach on 14 occassions. In those 14 games against league coaches in their first season, Washington has posted a 11-3 record, losing to USC's John Robinson in 1993, Oregon's Mike Bellotti in 1995 and USC's Paul Hackett in 1998. The Huskies beat Arizona's first-year coach John Mackovic last week and face ASU's Dirk Koetter this week. Earlier this year, the Huskies handed Pete Carroll and USC a 27-24 loss. The Dawgs' 11 such wins also include victories over ASU's Bruce Snyder (1992), Cal's Keith Gilbertson (1992) and Tom Holmoe (1997), OSU's Jerry Pettibone (1991), Mike Riley (1997) and Dennis Erickson (1998), Stanford's Bill Walsh (1993) and Tyrone Willingham (1995), and UCLA's Bob Toledo (1996).

One Remaining Streak: Washington had its 12-game winning streak broken in its loss at UCLA. That streak was, going into that game, the third longest in the nation. Coach Rick Neuheisel's 12-game win streak was also the second-longest among Division I-A coaches and the Huskies' nine straight wins in conference had marked the longest in the conference. The Huskies still have one winning streak alive: the Huskies have won 12 consecutive home games, dating back to a loss to Arizona State in 1999. With Oregon's loss to Stanford last Saturday, the Huskies' home win streak is the Pac-10 longest.

Fumble Free: Husky running backs have yet to lose a fumble so far this season, a stat that may very well have to be attributed (at least in part) to first-year running backs coach Tony Alford. Last year at Iowa State, where Alford coached the running backs, the Cyclones did not have a running back lose a fumble all season.

Ranked-Wins Streak Grows: Washington's upset of 11th-ranked Michigan in the season opener 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.

Last Year vs. Arizona State: A rather ugly game for both sides ended in a 21-15 Washington win last Oct. 14 at Sun Devil Stadium. The two teams combined for 12 turnovers and 18 penalties, but the Huskies emerged in the fourth quarter to pull out a win. Entering the final period ahead 7-6, Husky freshman tailback Rich Alexis increased the lead to 14-6 on a one-yard touchdown score. On the UW's next possession, Alexis broke free for an 86-yard scoring run to make it 21-6. An Arizona State safety and a four-yard pass from Jeff Krohn to Todd Heap closed the gap to the final score of 21-15. Alexis finished the day with 127 rushing yards on 16 carries while quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo was only 13-for-30 for 110 yards. Krohn, who split time with Griffin Goodman at quarterback for ASU, went 12-for-33 for 170 yards and two interceptions.

Winning the Close Ones: In 30 games under coach Rick Neuheisel, the winning margin (for either side) has been seven points or fewer 18 times. In those 18 games decided by a touchdown or less, Washington is 14-4 and has won 10 straight. Here's a list of games since 1999 decided by seven or fewer points:

1999      Opponent        Result        MarginSept. 9   at BYU          L, 28-35      7 ptsSept. 25  Colorado        W, 31-24      7 ptsOct. 23   California      W, 31-27      4 ptsOct. 30   Stanford        W, 35-30      5 ptsNov. 13   at UCLA         L, 20-23 (OT) 3 ptsDec. 29   Kansas State    L, 20-24      4 pts

2000 Opponent Result MarginSept. 9 Miami W, 34-29 5 ptsSept. 16 at Colorado W, 17-10 7 ptsSept. 30 at Oregon L, 16-23 7 ptsOct. 7 Oregon St. W, 33-30 3 ptsOct. 14 at ASU W, 21-15 6 ptsOct. 28 at Stanford W, 31-28 3 ptsNov. 4 Arizona W, 35-32 3 ptsNov. 11 UCLA W, 35-38 7 pts

2001 Opponent Result MarginSept. 8 Michigan W, 23-18 5 ptsSept. 29 at Cal W, 31-28 3 ptsOct. 6 USC W, 27-24 3 ptsOct. 13 Arizona W, 31-28 3 pts

.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 204-78-3 (.721) 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 (Nebraska and BYU already qualify for 2001):

 40 seasons   Nebraska        1962-2001 33 seasons   Michigan        1968-2000 27 seasons   Brigham Young   1974-2001 24 seasons   Washington      1977-2000 24 seasons   Florida State   1977-2000

Fourth-Quarter Comebacks: Under Rick Neuheisel, Washington has had to come from behind in 17 of its 23 wins. That total includes eight such wins last year (all but Miami, WSU and Purdue). Of those 17 come-from-behind wins, Washington has trailed in the fourth quarter and won 12 times. In last year's Arizona win, the Huskies took the lead in the fourth, then gave it up again before taking it back for good on their last drive. Here's a breakdown of the Huskies' fourth-quarter comebacks in the last three seasons:

Date     Opponent      Score in 4th Quarter    Final Score9/25/99  Colorado          21-17, Buffaloes      31-24, UW10/23/99 at California     24-17, Bears          31-27, UW10/30/99 Stanford          23-22, Cardinal       35-30, UW9/16/00  at Colorado         7-3, Buffaloes      17-14, UW10/7/00  Oregon State      21-20, Beavers        33-30, UW10/21/00 California        24-13, Bears          36-24, UW10/28/00 at Stanford       28-24, Cardinal       31-28, UW11/4/00  Arizona   25-13 & 32-28, Wildcats       35-32, UW9/8/01   Michigan           12-6, Wolverines     23-18, UW9/29/01  at California     21-17, Bears          31-28, UW10/6/01  USC               17-14, Trojans        27-24, UW10/20/01 Arizona           28-21, Wildcats       31-28, UW

'Special' Indeed: Washington's special teams appear in the NCAA Division I-A rankings in a number of places. The Huskies are ninth in the nation in punt returns with their 14.38-yard average and are 16th in kickoff returns (25.14). Individually, the Huskies have the No. 5 punt return man (Charles Frederick) and the No. 9 kick returner (Roc Alexander). Also, Husky placekicker John Anderson rates No. 17 (tied) in Division I-A with 1.5 field goals per game.

Top 15 Streak: The Huskies, who opened the 2000 season ranked No. 14 in the nation, haven't been ranked out of the Associated Press' top 15 since the end of the 1999 season. This week's game at Arizona State will mark the 18th straight game that the Huskies have entered ranked in the top 15. Washington has been ranked in the top 10 heading into nine of those games, including eight during the 2000 season.

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 325-133-21.

Dialing Long Distance: Washington has shown a penchant for big plays in 2001, with 13 pass completions of 30 yards or more through the first six games of the season. By comparison, the Huskies only had 11 such plays in all of the 2000 season in a total of 12 games. Six of the Huskies' long passes have come on the arm of quarterback Taylor Barton while seven have been from Cody Pickett. Freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams has been on the receiving end of five such passes, including a 74-yarder against Michigan. Paul Arnold has caught four long passes, while Patrick Reddick has two and Willie Hurst and Todd Elstrom one each. Ironically, only five of Washington's 11 30-plus-yard completions this season have gone for touchdowns, including three long scores by Arnold.

Cody's Courage: After sitting out the previous game and a half with a separated shoulder, sophomore quarterback Cody Pickett had the most prolific passing day in UW history in the Huskies' 31-28 win over Arizona. But, not only did Pickett break the school passing yards record with 455, he also broke tackles on a three-yard run to score the game's winning touchdown with 13 seconds left. His 455 yards broke the school record of 428, set by Cary Conklin vs. Arizona State in 1989. His 49 attempts and 29 completions marked the highest such totals in the Pac-10 this season and the 29 completions were fifth-most in Husky history.

Pickett Shines: One of the Huskies' biggest concerns heading into the 2001 season was inexperience at quarterback as Cody Pickett had thrown only six regular-season passes in his career. Those fears seem to have been unfounded as Pickett has performed like a veteran so far. Through five games, Pickett has completed 83-of-138 (.601) of his passes for 1172 yards. He has six TD passes and six interceptions. Against California, Pickett threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Against USC, Pickett suffered a separated shoulder and missed most of the second half. He sat out the UCLA game due to the injury but returned to lead the Huskies to a 31-28 win over Arizona.

Cody's Bombs: With three passes of over 70 yards this season (78 to Paul Arnold, 75 to Patrick Reddick, 74 to Reggie Williams), Cody Pickett is the only Husky QB ever to throw three 70-plus-yard passes in a career. Only Damon Huard, Tom Porras and Billy Joe Hobert had ever thrown two 70-yard passes.

Strong-Legged Frosh: 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 42.5-yard average for the season, ranks 33rd in the NCAA in punt average. He had ranked 29th in the country, but his two punts against Arizona averaged only 36.5 yards, though one was downed at the 11-yard line and the other at the one.

Big-Play Paul: 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 caught the Huskies' first three passing TDs this year, has previously 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. Arnold as a receiver is specializing in big plays. He has three catches of over 40 yards, all for touchdowns. His 78-yard reception vs. Arizona was eighth (tied) in UW history. He has also scored on passes of 42 and 62 yards.

Williams Moving Up: True freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams, who has played only five games, is already the No. 1 freshman receiver in UW history in terms of yards. With 516 yards (86.0 per game), Williams currently ranks 25th in the nation in receiving yards per game. With 61 receiving yards at UCLA, Williams moved ahead of Chris Juergens as the No. 1 freshman receiver in school history. With a team-high 28 receptions, he is three catches shy of Paul Skansi's freshman record of 31, set in 1979. Here are the top-five true freshman receivers in Washington history, based on total receiving yards:

Rank  Player (Year)            Yards   1. Reggie Williams (2001)     516   2. Chris Juergens (1998)      414   3. Jason Shelley (1992)       382   4. Paul Skansi (1979)         378   5. Scott Phillips (1973)      369

Nationally Ranked Freshmen: Two UW freshmen enter the week ranked in the top 30 in the nation in a statistical ranking. Reggie Williams ranks 25th in receiving yards per game with 86.0 and return man Charles Frederick is fifth in Division I-A with 16.4 yards per punt return.

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