Notes and Quotes: UW vs. Michigan

Coach Rick Neuheisel addressed the media with a little relief and a lot of cheer this afternoon after his Washington Huskies failed to score an offensive touchdown yet some how found a way to defeat Michigan 23-18. "We found a little lightning in the bottle," said Neuheisel in the locker room.

"Michigan made us play a very consistent, non-flashy error free game. I was extremely excited given all of the young faces on the field on offense that we didn't turn the ball over. We hardly had any penalties on offense. It was a great, if not flashy, way of playing to keep us in the ball game and hopefully have a chance in the fourth quarter. Lo and behold, it looks like our formula worked again," said Neuheisel.

"We found a little lightning in the bottle. It was a great effort for Omare Lowe to block that field goal and when Roc Alexander got that hop, we knew it was over. It's obviously thrilling because it looks like you're going to go down by two scores. Instead you have a one-point lead. The crowd got into it and we turned another big play into seven more points."

"For a first time out against that caliber of opponent and have as few errors as I thought we had, I'm proud of the way our coaches coached and the way that our players played," added Neuheisel. "I'm just elated with the victory and looking forward to getting our team a little healthier this week. The opponent waiting for us is a quality one," said Neuheisel.

Once again Washington came from behind in the final quarter to win. Is it luck or is this team that good? Neuheisel didn't care and laughed out loud when asked that. "It doesn't matter if you are lucky or good, as long as one of them happens."

Neuheisel is hoping to make significant improvements in three areas. "Number one is the red zone offense. A year ago we had a great identity in the red zone and it was uncanny how many plays we ran in the red zone. But we were more experienced and had a more experienced quarterback. Number two, we have to do a better job of tackling. We did not tackle well. I don't know if it was fatigue or not, but it was our first game. Number three is our punting. The punting team must to a better job, we gave up too many yards in returns, not to mention a safety," said Neuheisel.

When asked about Reggie Williams' debut, Neuheisel told a funny story. "Last night I had some of the seniors get up and talk about their first play. It was uncanny how many remembered it vividly. It was also uncanny how few of them had that first play go well. Reggie dropped the first two passes thrown to him, but I thought he was dynamic in the second half," said Neuheisel. "He's a special kid. He's unfazed by all this. When he returned to the sideline after his two drops, I told him, ‘OK, now you've broken your maiden', as they say at the races. I told him, ‘Now it's time to go play,' and he shook his head."

Neuheisel went on to laud his quarterback. "Cody's first start was outstanding. We ran an option early in the game where one of their linebackers kicked him in the teeth and he was able to shake that off and get right back. I really think we have a good player there that is going to get better and better."

Neuheisel hugged his tight end Jerramy Stevens after the game and had a talk with him. "I told him it was now behind us," said Neuheisel of Stevens' punishment for a traffic violation in the off season. "There has certainly been a lot said about it. Publicly there is a lot of question about his character from those that don't know him. I feel very comfortable that Jerramy has realized that he is accountable for his actions and has to make some great decisions now. We have some things internally in place for behavioral issues and I think that given all that he has put into making restoration for his transgression, it was a worthy punishment to miss the first half and to be a part of the second half."

REB Kai Ellis was his calm self after the game despite having made 13 tackles, seven solo stops. "I was very satisfied with our effort," said Ellis. "I am still not all the way there yet. Something is not quite right, but I think I'll get there after a couple more games." Ellis played inside linebacker for City College of San Francisco and is still adjusting to playing on the edge. If 13 tackles is not quite right, it will be fun to see what Mr. Ellis does when he feels like he's got it.

TE Jerramy Stevens paced back and forth during the first half, watching his teammates struggle through a 9-6 deficit. "I just tried to stay focused and into the game," said Stevens. "It was really hard to go through. Next week will be easier to prepare for because I'll be in there from the first snap." Stevens said that both he and Neuheisel had discussed it and knew that he would not be playing in the first half before the game. It was kept a secret.

Omare Lowe experienced perhaps the best moment of his life when he blocked a punt and then 49 seconds later was in the endzone after intercepting a tipped pass and returning it for a touchdown. "On the punt, I knew I was going to get it. I called for a ‘block right' and Bobby Hauck kind of winked at me. It was fourth and one so I wasn't sure if I should do it but when the ball was snapped I crashed and no one touched me. I had to bend in to avoid the kicker and got it. When I saw it roll to Roc, I was very pleased," said Lowe. After the interception Lowe was in a different world. "I felt chills all over my body. It was just like high school again. I hope I can do that again next week," added Lowe with a big grin.

Defensive Coordinator Tim Hundley was happy with his defense's performance this afternoon. "We never want to give up points at the end of the game like that, but for the most part I really liked what we did. I thought our young guys really stepped up well and did what they were supposed to do," said Hundley.

"I thought we got a little tired and didn't tackle as well in the third quarter as we did initially, but over all this was a good performance."

Will Washington need to alter their defensive strategy for Miami? "We do what we do, Dawgman. We are who we are and you know what we do best. We'll have a few wrinkles in but we are who we are and we're going to do what we're going to do."

Super frosh: With 134 yards receiving today, Reggie Williams set a new UW freshman record for receiving yards in a game. The old record was 117 by Jason Shelley against Stanford in 1992.

Debuts galore: Several Huskies made their first career starts today – two on defense and seven on offense. The two defenders were REB Kai Ellis and CB Roc Alexander. The seven offensive newcomers were WT Khalif Barnes, ST Todd Bachert, SG Nick Newton, WG Elliott Zajac, QB Cody Pickett, WR Reggie Williams, and TE Kevin Ware. Additionally, WR Paul Arnold made his first start as a wide receiver.

The last time…. Washington was held to under 100 yards rushing for a game was against Kansas State in the Holiday Bowl when they only ran for 75 yards. Michigan held them to a paltry 69 yards on the ground today.

Frontrunners? No way: Under Rick Neuheisel's tenure Washington has come from behind in 14 of 19 wins. Of those 14 wins, Washington has trailed in the fourth quarter and won nine times.

Thunder Foot: John Anderson was three of four this afternoon on field goals and had five kickoffs that went unreturned for touchbacks.

Captain Wondame: Wondame Davis was a game captain today, joining team captains Larry Tripplett, Kyle Benn, and Willie Hurst on the field for the coin toss. Top Stories