Washington Preseason Football Notes
Aug. 6, 2003
The Upcoming Schedule: Washington's newcomers and veterans will hold their first practices at Husky Stadium on Aug. 6. The veterans will workout at 10 a.m. and the freshmen will hold their first practice at 4:30 p.m. The Huskies will practice in Seattle from Aug. 6-9 and then relocated to Evergreen State College in Olympia for a week of practices from Aug. 10-16. The team will then return to campus for its final preparations before traveling to Ohio State for the Aug. 30 season opener. NCAA rules regarding preseason practices have eliminated the two-day freshman/newcomer workouts.
Picture Day: Washington's annual Picture Day will be held at Husky Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 9 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Schedule posters, schedule cards and other promotional items will be distributed to fans in attendance. Free food and drinks will also be available to fans in attendance. Husky players and coaches will be available during the two-hour period for autographs and photos. Following the event the team will bus to Olympia for its practices at Evergreen State College.
Kickoff Luncheon: Washington's annual kickoff luncheon will take place Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. in Dempsey Indoor. Tickets for the event are $40. Tickets may be reserved by calling 206-543-2210.
Squad Breakdown: Washington returns a total of 46 lettermen, including seven starters on offense and defense from last season's 7-6 squad. There are 24 lettermen back on offense and 22 on defense. The Huskies do not have any returning kickers who have participated in a game. The Huskies signed both a freshman punter and place kicker to national letters of intent. Two significant non-seniors are no longer on the Husky roster. Cornerback Nate Robinson has elected to only play basketball this season after leading the Husky hoopsters as a true freshman last season with a 13.0 scoring average. Husky offensive guard led the team after spring practice for personal reasons.
Tough Opener: Washington will open its 110th season of college football at defending national champion Ohio State. The primetime game (5 p.m. PT) will be televised by ABC Sports to 80 percent of the nation. Facing a tough opponent in the opener is nothing new to the Huskies. In fact, including this year's matchup with the Buckeyes, Washington will have faced a nationally-ranked team in its opener in eight of 11 seasons. In 1993 the Huskies dumped 15th-ranked Stanford 31-14 in the opener. The following season UW lost at 17th-ranked USC 24-17. In 1996 Washington fell 45-42 to 20th-ranked Arizona State. The following season saw the Huskies hand 19th-ranked BYU a 42-20 loss in Provo. In 1998 the Huskies upset eighth-ranked ASU 42-38 in Tempe. Last season saw the Huskies drop a heartbreaking, 31-29, decision at No. 11 Michigan in the opener. The Huskies also faced an 11th-ranked Wolverine team in the 2001 opener, winning 23-18 at Husky Stadium.
Playing the National Champs: Though it's sometimes hard to identify a true 'national champion', especially in the year's before the AP poll began in 1936, it's fair to say that Washington has played at least 21 games against defending national champions the year after that team was crowned with the title. Most of those meetings have come against conference foe USC, which has won at least nine widely-recognized championships. In fact, USC is the only defending champ that Washington has ever beaten, as the UW defeated the 1975 Trojans, 8-7 at Husky Stadium, and the 1963 Troy squad, 22-7, also in Seattle. The Huskies' most recent meeting vs. a defending champ was in 1998 against Nebraska, when the Huskies handed the UW a 55-7 defeat in Lincoln. NU had won the coaches' poll the previous season.
Pickett Returns With Record: Last season, then-junior Cody Pickett smashed the Pac-10's single-season passing yards record with 4,458. The last time that a reigning Pac-10 record-holder in season passing yards returned for an additional season with the record in hand was 1994, when USC's Rob Johnson came back for a senior season after throwing for 3,630 yards in 1993, breaking a record held at that time by Drew Bledsoe (WSU, 1992). Cougar QB Ryan Leaf, whose record Pickett broke, also set the record as a junior, but didn't return for his senior season. Incidentally, No Pac-10 QB has led the league in passing in back-to-back seasons (by yards per game) since Stanford's Steve Stenstrom did it in 1993 and 1994.
The QB Factor: There is a significant relationship between winning a Pac-10 Championship and having a veteran in the quarterback role. This year, Husky quarterback Cody Pickett will try to join that list. Over the last 11 seasons, dating back to 1992, eight of 11 Pac-10 champions have been quarterbacked by a senior. Two of the three exceptions to that string -- WSU's Ryan Leaf in 1997 and USC's Brad Otton in 1995 -- were actually fourth-year players, and Leaf didn't return for his senior year anyway. Here's a list of the last 11 Pac-10 champs and their starting quarterbacks:
Season School Quarterback
2002 Washington State Jason Gesser
2001 Oregon Joey Harrington
2000 Washington Marques Tuiasosopo
1999 Stanford Todd Husak
1998 UCLA Cade McNown
1997 Washington State Ryan Leaf (fourth-year junior)
1996 Arizona State Jake Plummer
1995 USC Brad Otton (fourth-year junior)
1994 Oregon Danny O'Neil
1993 UCLA Wayne Cook (junior)
1992 Washington Mark Brunell
Five-Letter Man?: Senior quarterback Cody Pickett will, barring incident, join a rare club this year when he earns his fifth varsity letter. How is that possible? In 1999, his true freshman season, Pickett appeared in one game, leading the Huskies through three series in a blowout win at Oregon State. That appearance helped to earn him a varsity letter that season. However, due to a back injury, Pickett was granted a medical redshirt year for that season and then returned to earn letters in 2000 (backup quarterback and FG/PAT holder), 2001 (starting QB) and 2002 (starting QB).
Reggie On the Prowl: In only two seasons of college ball, junior receiver Reggie Williams has already compiled 2,489 career receiving yards (according to the Pac-10's official total, which counts bowl games both seasons), easily surpassing the school's career mark. Though an unscientific predictor, William's pace would mean he should go for 1,245 more yards this season, which would give him 3,734 over a three-year career. That would be the No. 2 career mark in Pac-10 history, ahead of Bobby Wade's 3,351 (Arizona, 1999-2002) and only 314 yards short of the Pac-10 record of 4,047 yards, set by Stanford's Troy Walters (1996-99). Williams needs only 379 yards to move past Shaun McDonald (Arizona State, 2000-03), who totaled 2,867 yards, most ever in the Pac-10 over a three-year career. With 154 career pass receptions, Williams enters the season ranked No. 27 on the Pac-10 career list. He'd need to catch 95 balls to break Walter's Pac-10 record of 248. Last year, Williams made 94 receptions.
On the Tube: Several of Washington's games have been selected for television during the upcoming 2003 season. The Huskies' season opener at Ohio State will be telecast to a national audience by ABC Sports. Washington's home opener against Indiana has been moved to a 1 p.m. PT kickoff and will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net. Washington's Oct. 25 homecoming matchup with USC will be broadcast by ABC Sports and will kickoff at 12:30 p.m. PT. The Huskies' Nov. 1 home game with Oregon will be shown on national cable by TBS. Kickoff for that game has been moved back to 7 p.m. PT.
Academic Honors: This past summer The American Football Coaches Association recognized Washington as one of 31 programs to post a graduation rate of better than 70 percent for the freshman class of 1997-98. Duke received the AFCA's 2003 Academic Achievement Award, which is presented annually by the Touchdown Club of Memphis. The Blue Devils' program recorded a 100 percent graduation rate for members of its football squad. Duke's win is the 11th for the school, and it earned a perfect graduation rate for the fourth time. Thirty-one other institutions are being recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of their football players. Six of those institutions achieved a rate of 90 percent or better: Boston College, Connecticut, Northwestern, Rice, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. Others receiving honorable mention with a rate of 70 percent or better: Ball State, Baylor, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Marshall, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Southern Methodist, Southern Mississippi, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, Tulane, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Western Michigan.
Keeping the Streak Alive: The Huskies enter the 2003 season hoping to extend one of the most impressive active streaks in college football. Washington's 7-6 record in 2002 marked the program's 26th consecutive non-losing season. The last time that Washington finished below .500 was 1976, when the Dawgs went 5-6. Since then, the Huskies are 214-87-3 (.709) overall. The Huskies' 26-season streak of non-losing seasons is the 14th longest in NCAA history (tied with Florida State's current streak) and the third longest current streak. BYU's 27-season streak was broken in 2002 with the Cougars finishing the year 5-7. Here are the longest streaks currently running:
41 seasons Nebraska 1962-2002
35 seasons Michigan 1968-2002
26 seasons Washington 1977-2002
26 seasons Florida State 1977-2002
Streaking in the Pac-10: While Washington's string of 26 straight non-losing seasons is easily the best in the Pac-10, their stretch of .500-or-better marks in Pac-10 play is even more dominant compared to the rest of the league. The Huskies last finished under .500 in Pac-10 play in 1988 (3-5), a streak of 14 straight non-losing league seasons. By contrast, every other team in the Pac-10 has had a losing league season at least once in the last three seasons (2000-2002). Only WSU, USC and UCLA have two-year streaks.
Finishing First or Second: Despite a fourth-place finish in 2002, Washington has still finished either first or second in the Pacific-10 Conference (including ties) in 18 of the last 26 seasons, dating back to a fourth-place finish in 1976. Over that span, Washington has won the championship (outright or shared) eight times - 1977, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 2000 - while finishing second 10 other times.
Pickett Named to O'Brien List: Washington senior quarterback Cody Pickett has been named the to Davey O'Brien Foundation's watch list for the 2003 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, given annually to the nation's top college quarterback. Semifinalists will be announced in early November and narrowed to three finalists later in that month by the O'Brien National Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of nationally known sportswriters, commentators and other members of the media. The winner of the 2003 O'Brien Award will be announced Dec. 11 on the ESPN College Football Awards Show from Orlando, Fla. The winner will be honored at the 27th annual O'Brien Awards Dinner in February 2004, at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The O'Brien Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in the country for college quarterbacks and is named in honor of the late Davey O'Brien, the All-American and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for Texas Christian University who led the Horned Frogs to the 1938 national championship.
Not Giving the Devils Their Due: Washington will not face Arizona State according to the Pac-10 scheduling system during the 2003 season. Stanford returns to Washington's schedule after a two-year absence.