Dawgman.com Diary - 9/29

Playbooks are not the only books being studied by Huskies. Fall quarter is just beginning and they each return to the status of "student-athlete." Monday was the first day of classes so naturally, some players would not make it to the Don James Center. However, several others could not pass up a free lunch and ventured down from campus for a quick bite to discuss their outlook for this week.

"It's going great," said Justin Robbins regarding his first day of classes between mouthfuls of pizza. "It's cool. You go to class, take a little break, go lift, and then go to practice."

With classes in session, most of these guys will have a full slate of activities to fill their days. Fatigue may come naturally to them and some of the freshmen may be overwhelmed, but J-Rob knows that it is all just a part of the job. "We've got a lot of guys who've been through it before so they know what to expect," he said. "They know how to stretch their time out and make sure you have enough energy. It's definitely tough the first week, but you're going to be OK."

Going on the road to UCLA, Robbins will get to play his first road game since the Rose Bowl. Robbins has fond memories of that game and it showed by his trademark smile and excitement when talking about it.

"Playing in the Rose Bowl," said Robbins when asked what he was looking forward to most on the road trip. "I like playing in the Rose Bowl. It's a stadium with a lot of tradition. It's a great place to play and UCLA is another conference game so we have to go out and be ready to play."

Robbins also knows that UCLA's defense does not play around. CB Matt Ware and Safety Jarrad Page are both All-Pac 10 caliber and will be bringing their best game to the Huskies offense. "I know they have a lot of athletes," said Justin. "I haven't seen much film on them to know about the schemes, but we're definitely going to have to bring our ‘A' game."

For Robbins, it will also present a chance at a reunion with the man who recruited him to Washington – UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell. "I'm looking forward to seeing him and it'll be weird to see him on the other side, but I still will have to play my best," he said.

Derrick Johnson also stopped by after his first day of classes. "It was cool and a little bit long," said the cornerback from Riverside, California. "I got up at 8 am this morning for an 8:30 class so it was a little long."

"D.J." had an up-and-down weekend. After being suspended for the first half of the Stanford game, Johnson came back to make a huge impact against the Cardinal with his interception return for a touchdown. His game-saving touchdown shows just how much of an impact having Johnson in the game can have for the defense.

"It feels good because I felt I let my team down by not playing the first half so I thought I had to make it up to them and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to make it up," said Johnson.

By staying at home for so long before going back on the road, some may think that the Huskies may come out a little rusty on Saturday. Who could blame them? After all, Washington played five games in a row at home last season and when they returned to Los Angeles to play USC, they fell hard to the Trojans 41-21. However, Johnson thinks that the overall feel for the team this season is much better than last year.

"It's the intensity and just how we're playing right now," said Johnson. "We're very excited to go on the road and get a win on the road."

And what does Derrick think about UCLA's Craig Bragg? "I played against him last year," said Johnson. "He's very fast and very talented. If he gets the ball, he can do a lot with it so we're going to have to do our best to keep the ball out of his hands."

For any college senior, starting your final year is always bittersweet. It certainly applies to Rich Alexis. The senior out of Boca Raton, Florida put together another solid day against Stanford and looks to continue his 100-yard rushing streak against UCLA.

"It feels exciting to know that I'm at the end," said Alexis of his fourth year in school. "I've been waiting for this a long time and just ready to move on. I'm just happy the first day is here and I look forward to having a great school year and a great football year too."

Alexis is feeling as good as he ever had in a Husky uniform and his numbers show it. In four games, Rich has 364 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. He is also averaging 4.4 yards every time he touches the ball.

"I'm feeling very good these days," said Alexis. "I've always been confident in my abilities and I'm just more healthy this year and all I can do is work hard and help the team in any way that I can and the last two performances, it wasn't just me. It was the whole offense coming together."

An interesting fact - the Huskies are undefeated every time Alexis rushes for over 100 yards. That is a stat that Alexis just found out. "I just realized it the other day," said Alexis. "That's a good deal and hopefully I can continue this throughout the season."

Southern California native Todd Bachert is sure looking forward to a homecoming of sorts. The senior out of Mission Viejo looks to guide his team to a victory in the town he grew up in. "A lot of family is going to be there," said Bachert. "A lot of my friends I played with and against will be there too. It's like how it is for the guys that are from Washington. Their family and friends are always out and supporting them. We kind of have a bad track record against UCLA so we're going to come out and try to clean that up."

Bachert is also looking forward to the reunion with Axman and Dorrell. It will be the second straight week Bachert sees two former Husky coaches on the opposite field. (Wayne Moses and Tom Williams at Stanford) "We just have to say our quick hellos and just play football," he said.

And how was Todd's first day of classes of his senior year?

"Good," he said. "Thoroughly expanded my mind during first day of classes."

Then we both laughed.

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