Husky Stadium -- Seattle, WA
Last Meeting: September 2, 2000 – Washington 44, Idaho 20
Series All-Time: Washington leads, 30-2-2
For both Washington and Idaho, the brutal coldness that was the September 11 attack of upon the soil and the citizens of our United States will certainly bring them together in a way neither could have imagined two weeks ago. For Washington, the added weight of paying game-time tribute to the 16 fans and alumni lost in the tragic sightseeing plane accident in Mexico last Thursday will also be carried.
"If you think about the last 12 months for our program, certainly everybody shares in the catastrophe of last week and we also have the compounded tragedy in Mexico," Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel spoke of his team's seemingly endless trials during his weekly press conference. "And also factor in the Curtis Williams thing. There has been reminder after reminder to our young people, our program, and in the Washington athletic department that you can't take things for granted."
Neuheisel noted that the vitriolic events of the past year –- terribly punctuated by this past week -- serve to remind his team just how precious the chance to play college football really is. "We've had a number of events in this program that have given us a chance to remember the perspective that this is a really neat thing that we get to do. And we ought to look at it from that vantage point. That certainly doesn't mean that we should diminish our competitiveness or lessen our goals or deviate from striving to be the best."
"But it is a wakeup call that we are darn lucky -- Not only to be playing this game in this place but also to be in this kind of country which fosters that kind of environment."
Idaho 2nd-year head coach Tom Cable senses that after last Saturday's practice (the Vandals game at Montana was postponed, and will most likely not be made up) his team is beginning to focus again, and will be ready to play.
"The state of the world is so very saddening right now," said Cable, "but there's something to be learned from it; something to be learned from dealing with adversity. This game makes you do that, and now you have to deal with it in life, individually and as a team. We all feel the sorrow and the tragedy. We need to move on now, deal with it, and support those people affected by it."
"We are looking forward to going to Seattle and playing the game."
Idaho -- who last beat Washington 96 years ago -- again is a decided underdog, but is treating this one the same way as the Huskies (who begin PAC-10 play in Berkeley next week). The Vandals are in the midst of a brutal out-of-conference schedule. Saturday's cancellation in Bozeman means that Idaho will be facing their third-straight PAC-10 opponent (after losses to Washington State and Arizona), and they still have rival Boise State to meet before embarking on their first tour of the Sun Belt. "It's going to be tough for us, but it's preparing us to play in our own league," Cable said earlier this fall of Idaho's gauntlet. "In the end, if we can stay healthy, it will do nothing but help us. So I think it's good for us to be in these kinds of games."
For possibly the first time in Husky Stadium history, the highlight of the day might not be made on the field by offense, defense, or special teams; it might instead be made by the 200 or so band instruments and 72,000 voices bellowing the National Anthem –- OUR National Anthem -- as if it were for the very first time.
And for the Washington Huskies and the Idaho Vandals -- after the silence is given, after the tears are shed, and after the chants of "U.S.A" resound across Montlake as both teams share a moment of honoring and respect at midfield -- they will hear our voices once more bellow out the two words that really do mean so much to the American way of life.
Then again, there's always stadium announcer Lou Gellerman's technique.
Hello, Dawg Fans . . .
Idaho projected two-deeps
UW Projected two-deeps
After being waxed 36-7 by Washington State and then finding themselves down 22-0 to Arizona after three quarters, the Vandals suddenly blasted out of hibernation, racking up 277 yards and four touchdowns in a relentless 4th-quarter charge to come within a gnat's wing of a shocking road upset. Only an onside kick recovery by the Wildcats in the final minute sealed their 36-29 win, but coach Cable was buoyed by the effort. "We could have cashed it in," Cable said after, "but we kept battling. I was proud of them."
Senior QB John Welsh (6-2, 215), about who coach Cable says "you'd be hard pressed to find a much better quarterback in College Football", is back scrambling and running and throwing and colliding and . . . well, being Idaho's version of Marques Tuiasosopo. He was the Sun Belt Conference's player-of-the-week for his sterling performance that furious 4th-quarter rally, throwing for all four scores. Welsh has opened the season with 72 straight passes without an interception, second only to BYU's Brandon Dornan. He had a big day in Seattle last year, throwing for 256 yards and a pair of scores. Welsh is as tough as they come, suffering an early-season broken ankle his sophomore season only to return later that year to lead Idaho to three straight wins. He marched the Vandals into the Humanitarian Bowl as a freshman and led them to an upset win over Southern Miss. Walla Walla-DeSales sophomore Brian Lindgren (6-4, 210) has been given at least one series to direct in both Vandal games, and it stands to reason he will do it again here.
J.C. transfer Blair Lewis (5-11, 210) averaged over six yards per carry at Pasadena City College, then transferred to Idaho in January, and made the most of his first-ever Division 1-A start against Arizona, motoring for 110 yards on 21 carries. Lewis is also a dangerous return man, as his 71-yarder against Washington State can attest. Senior Anthony Tenner (5-9, 205), the Vandals' leading rusher in 1999, lost his 2000 season due to an injury suffered in fall camp. His career-best was a 122-yard day against Eastern Washington as a sophomore. Junior fullback Kevin O'Connell (6-2, 238) was recruited out of Gonzaga Prep as a quarterback (where he was the Greater Spokane League's MVP in 1997), moved to tight end in 1999 and has finally settled in as the primary blocking back. Sophomore Zach Gertsner (5-10, 195) ran for 304 yards as Willie Alderson's primary backup last year –- 110 of those coming against Montana State.
The wide receivers are quick and experienced, giving Welsh a lot of options. Seniors Chris Lacy (6-0, 190) and Rossi Martin (6-0, 179) share most of the load –- Lacy also doubles with Blair Lewis to form the most dangerous kick return tandem in the Sun Belt Conference. He seems a shoe-in for first-team All-Conference. Lacy and Martin have four TD receptions between them so far this year. Seattle-Garfield sophomore Orlando Winston (6-0, 182) is seeing his first extended field time besides handing the punt-return duties, and Richland junior Josh Jelmberg (6-1, 190) has become a trusted possession receiver. Jelmberg enjoyed an eight-reception, 106-yard day against West Virginia last year. Fourth-year senior TE Geoff Franks was a pre-season first-team All-Sun Belt pick, but two neck stingers suffered this fall has forced Franks to use his redshirt year to heal. That leaves freshmen Luke Smith-Anderson (6-5, 240) and Mike McCoy (6-3, 225) the unenviable task of immediate on-the-field training.
Talk about your young and rebuilding offensive line. Sophomore tackle Jake Scott (6-5, 290) is the lone returning starter from 2000 on the Idaho offensive line that has only one senior on the roster. He was a walk-on just two years ago, but has become the leader of the front, almost out of necessity. Scott, who coach Cable is already pushing for All-Sun Belt recognition, started all 11 games as an RS-freshman last year. Huge junior Ray DeAnda (6-9, 315), who played the last two years at Riverside J.C., is the strong side tackle. Wenatchee sophomore Matt Martinez (6-2, 315) did get some time in at center last year, and is entrenched there now. The guards are sophomore Jason Cobb (6-4, 310) from Kennewick and junior Robert Mitchell (6-2, 310), a JuCo transfer from Chaffey College in Rialto, CA.
The front four will determine Idaho's fate with regard to keeping the Husky offense at bay -- it is the Vandals' deepest and most experienced area, though depth has been depleted with season-ending injuries to one starter and one key reserve.
Senior nose-tackle Wil Beck (6-2, 310) is what coach Cable calls "Our greatest example of 'Vandal Pride'. He's the heart and soul of our defense." Beck was the Big West Conference defensive co-player of the year last season, and for the second straight year will be the man Washington will pay the most attention to. Beck managed nine tackles against the Huskies last year (including a sack of Marques Tuiasosopo) despite constant double-teams. The ends are also manned by seniors; Dennis Taeatafa (6-3, 253), who gave up his junior season to stay with his now-deceased mother and has been named Game Captain twice already this year (Idaho has no seasonal captains, preferring to name Game Captains based on performance and example); and Ryan Knowles (6-3, 250), Idaho's leading sacker from a year ago. Kent-Meridian RS-freshman Brian Howard (6-3, 286) gets his first collegiate start at the other tackle spot, right in his own back yard, as junior Mike Jones broke his ankle at practice last week and is lost for the season. Freshman Brandon Kania (6-3, 225) is a promising end, owning one of Idaho's two team sacks.
Senior Brad Rice (6-1, 225) came to Idaho as a quarterback, was moved to safety a year later, and finally has settled in at linebacker. Rice was an enforcer at strong safety, and has taken that role with him to the weak side. He had a 15-tackle day last year against Oregon. Junior JuCo transfer James Staley (6-1, 218) was ticketed for the middle, but couldn't unseat incumbent sophomore Jordan Lampos (5-10, 240), so Staley now starts on the strong side. Veradale-Central Valley sophomore Patrick Libey (6-2, 233) will also see time.
Junior strong safety Jordan Kramer (6-2, 220) is the son of Idaho legend Jerry Kramer and the leading Vandal tackler after two games, adding to his 120 career stops. Kramer started at free safety last year, and was targeted for the strong side 'backer spot until Staley was moved there. Diminutive junior free safety Sergio Robleto (5-10, 180) had a strong game against the Cougars, leading the defense with seven tackles. Both corners are converted safeties; Federal Way-Decatur junior Ed Rankin (6-1, 202) and senior Ighe Evero (6-0, 205), who leads Idaho with three pass defenses. JuCo transfer Sammy Ruben (5-9, 165) will see time in the nickel.
After a spirited fall competition, junior Keith Stamps (5-10, 215) has earned the placekicking duties for now. Stamps walked on two years ago and backed up then-senior kicker Ben Davis. Sophomore Brian Pope (6-2, 209) was a perfect 6-6 in field goals at San Bernadino Valley College last year, and also backs up sophomore punter Ryan Downes (6-5, 185). Downes had an adventurous debut last year in Husky Stadium, rooting his first collegiate punt 54 yards to the Husky 2, then seeing his last punt of the day bounding backwards nearly the same distance after Ben Mahdavi spiked it. The long snapper is sophomore Bryan Yarno (6-0, 232), son of former Idaho legend and Seattle Seahawk center John Yarno. John's number 56 is one of four retired Vandal numbers (as is Jerry Kramer's number 64) hanging from the Kibbie Dome ceiling.
Why the "Vandals?" Husky hoops coaching legend Hec Edmundson can be thanked for that. Prior to coaching at Washington, Edmundson -- who was raised near the Idaho campus in Moscow -- earned his stripes as Idaho's basketball coach, preaching ball-hawking defense. Local scribes were fond of calling Edmundson's defenses "vandalizing". When a writer for the Idaho student newspaper labeled Edmundson's 1917 team "the strongest gang of ‘vandals' ever", the name eventually stuck . . . PAC-10 postponements rescheduled: Four of the five postponed games involving PAC-10 teams have firm make-up dates. The Washington/Miami game has moved to November 24; California will visit Rutgers on Friday, Nov. 23; and the Stanford at San Jose State and Arizona State at UCLA games will be played Saturday, December 1. It is looking like the Colorado/Washington State game will not be made up, as Colorado already has an 11-game schedule, and neither team can find a suitable date. The Cougars are looking to fill their bye week date with a Division 1-AA foe, most likely Montana State . . . Washington is 22-0-1 all-time against Idaho in Husky Stadium . . . Oregon is four wins shy of the all-time PAC-10 record home winning streak, held by California at 26 games. The Ducks shoot for their 23rd-consecutive Autzen Stadium win on Saturday against USC . . . Ken Simonton is 526 yards behind Marcus Allen for second place on the all-time PAC-10 career rushing list . . . Washington State leads the PAC-10 conference in total offense with an average of 517 yards-per-game. Their closest pursuer is Arizona State, who's 425 yards against San Diego State puts them second . . . Yeah, they've only played one game, but Washington is the only PAC-10 conference team not to have committed a turnover . . . California, who led the PAC-10 last year in sacks with 44, have yet to record one in their first two games. Conversely, the Bears have allowed a league-high eight sacks on Kyle Boller . . . Washington's Kai Ellis and Ben Mahdavi are running 2-3 in the PAC-10 tackles (per game) list, behind Oregon's Keith Lewis . . . Stanford's backup QB Chris Lewis on 6-7 Teyo Johnson's move from tight end to wide receiver: "It's about time we had a receiver taller than Coach Willingham" . . . Be prudent when entering Husky Stadium of Saturday. They will have separate gates available for backpack checking and the like, but entry will no doubt be slower. The bottom line is that any bags WILL be checked (and the gate-keepers are not allowed to touch the bags themselves, meaning that YOU will have to do it for them) . . .