Huskies get ready for Michigan

Washington went through a long evening practice tonight and put a great deal of effort into game preparations for the Michigan Wolverines, who come to Seattle on Saturday for the season opener for the Huskies. The sense of urgency was there in all of the coaches' voices.

Linebacker Tim Galloway started off the scrimmaging portion of practice by nabbing a quick interception. He read Cody Pickett's eyes and broke in front of Jerramy Stevens for the pick.

Strong safety Greg Carothers also made a nice interception against Pickett, cutting in front of Elstrom.

The offensive connection of the evening came when Pickett launched a rainbow that Paul Arnold hauled in right at the boundary. He concentrated enough to make the grab despite tight coverage. Coach Rick Neuheisel praised the junior flanker for his effort.

The punting competition is still ongoing and Neuheisel will wait until game day to make the decision on whom will get the nod. Both Jim Skurski and Derek McLaughlin boomed the ball today, and perhaps both will get to kick in the game. If Neuheisel has his way, of course, neither punter would see the field against Michigan.

Washington released their two-deeps for the game on Saturday but asked that they not be released until tomorrow. We'll post them in a later report.

Washington put a lot of offense specifically designed for Michigan. None that we can write about of course but there were some fun sets to watch. Leave it to Keith Gilbertson to come up with a game plan that will keep opponents on their toes. There's a reason he's 23-1 as the UW Offensive Coordinator.

Senior tailback Willie Hurst looks like he could have a monster senior season if he can avoid injury. He appears very fast and is one of the vocal leaders on this team. His teammates rewarded his hard work by voting him as one of the three captains for the 2001 season.

When talking about Cody Pickett's preparation for his first start, Coach Rick Neuheisel said that he will focus on making sure the sophomore from Caldwell, Idaho has fun. "Number one, he has to enjoy this. We have to take it from that vantage point. Number two, he has to remember that he doesn't have to win the game in the first quarter. The biggest issue for young quarterbacks is trying to force it," said Neuheisel.

"If he trusts his own natural instincts he'll be fine."

Neuheisel remembers how Pickett almost decommitted to Washington and was looking hard at Arizona State after the staff that recruited him under Jim Lambright had been fired. "We had to re-recruit a lot of those guys that the former staff were after. We expected it. With Cody, more important than a phone call I felt it was important to get over to his house to get the chance to meet me. A coach-player relationship from the start has to have some comfort to it from the start. We got off on the right foot and I'm excited that we did."

Neuheisel did not recruit Pickett to Colorado because he was not going to take a quarterback that year. Instead the Buffaloes were saving a spot for Craig Ochs, who was ready to commit to Colorado very early the following year. Ochs wound up sticking with his original plan but is now playing for Gary Barnett instead of Rick Neuheisel.

Michigan will feature linebacker Larry Stevens, a former Wilson High School standout. Neuheisel recruited him hard but was not able to get him to take a visit to the hometown team. "As I understand it, his mother was moving back east so this was no longer going to be home for him. I was disappointed that he didn't visit. He's a very talented kid and I enjoyed talking to him," said Neuheisel of Stevens.

The Husky coach remembers his first collegiate start, on the road in Athens, Georgia. The walk-on Bruin signal caller remembers the day with trepidation, as he threw four interceptions against the Bulldogs and UCLA lost . He immediately asked that no one compare his debut to Pickett's coming out party on Saturday. "Don't draw any comparisons, please. I threw four interceptions, it was a heck of a day for me," laughed Neuheisel.
Husky Notebook:

Captains named: The entire Husky team voted for team captains. Washington's seniors that will go out to midfield for the coin toss this season will be Willie Hurst, Kyle Benn, and Larry Tripplett. Neuheisel will name a fourth captain for each game as a reward for their work during that week.

Top in-state recruit in the house: Garfield's Isaiah Stanback showed up at practice today. The 6-3 200-pound quarterback was on hand to watch the team work out and speak quickly with friends and coaches. Stanback has an offer from Washington as well as a dozen other schools.

Pope John Paul back goes wild: Pope John Paul II high school in Boca Raton, Florida is the alma mater of John Anderson, Rich Alexis, and Charles Frederick. PJP's running back Jamaal Hunte ran for 329 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns on Friday night.

Awesome to see Ossim: Former defensive end Ossim Hatem was also at practice today in street clothes. He came over to Derrick Johnson and Bill Gillespie and gave each a hug. He looks very healthy and appeared to be in good spirits. He is sitting out the season while on medication to tread a clotting disorder.

The game: Michigan has a 6-4 lead in the series, but the Huskies have won four of the last six meetings. Saturday's game will be nationally televised on ABC and will feature Keith Jackson, Tim Brant, and Todd Harris for the broadcast.

Fund raising on Saturday: Student athletes from the other 22 Washington athletic teams will be on-hand at each of the stadium tunnels accepting donations for the Curtis Williams fund.

Michigan man: Washington recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach Chuck Heater played running back for Bo Schembeckler at Michigan. He ran for over 100 yards against Wisconsin, and had over 1500 career rushing yards for Big Blue, ranking him #19 on the all-time school rushing yards list.

Dawg day: Former UW offensive lineman Chad Ward and former UW QB Billy Joe Hobert were released today.

Dawgman.com Top Stories