Pickett Makes It Go For Huskies

Pac-10 record setter coming into Ohio Stadium Saturday night.

Washington quarterback Cody Pickett spoke with the media on Monday and discussed the challenge his team faces Saturday as it opens the season at defending national champion Ohio State.

"We have looked forward to this game since January, since we played our last game," Pickett said. "Everybody worked hard in the off-season.

"We know we're going to play a great team. We have been practicing hard to get ready for that challenge."

Pickett threw for a Pac-10 record 4,458 yards a year ago. But UW's inability to run the ball or stop its opponents left the Huskies staring at a 7-6 record after a Sun Bowl loss to Purdue.

The off-season proved just as turbulent as head coach Rick Neuheisel, who recruited all of the Huskies to UW, was suspended then fired in connection with his participation in a high stakes NCAA men's basketball tournament pool.

But Pickett said he and his teammates just kept the focus on what they had to do this summer.

"We had no control of what was going on off the field," he said. "We just had to keep working hard to get ready.

"We knew we had a great challenge ahead of us by playing Ohio State. We had to get ready to play this game. Whatever happened to Coach was out of our control."

Pickett has the luxury of throwing to wide receiver Reggie Williams, a 6-4, 220-pounder who made 94 catches and scored 11 touchdowns a year ago. Both Pickett and Williams are considered Heisman Trophy candidates this season.

"He is just bigger, stronger and faster," Pickett said of Williams. "He's a better overall player."

Pickett said it is obvious that Ohio State will try and erase Williams by putting cornerback Chris Gamble, an All-American candidate in his own right, on Williams.

"He is a great player, very talented," Pickett said of Gamble. "He will be a great challenge for us. But we have some good receivers on our side. If we execute our game plan, we will have a chance."

UW coach Keith Gilbertson, the team's former offensive coordinator who was promoted to the head job after Neuheisel's ouster, said Pickett has worked hard to bring the Huskies' young receivers along.

"Other than throwing the ball through their chest, he's pretty good with them," Gilbertson said. "They all have respect for him. If they're not where he thinks they should be, they know they better get there.

"He was voted a captain. Our kids have a lot of respect for him."

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