Notes and Quotes from California

The Huskies 31-28 comeback-victory yesterday versus California marked the third year in a row that they've had to scrape tooth and nail to come out on top. It certainly wasn't pretty, it definitely didn't turn out the way the oddsmakers expected, but it was a conference win on the road.

That's the bottom line, and Washington will gladly take it.

"I'm certainly elated with the victory, given the nature of the comeback," Husky head coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We certainly were not on all cylinders. We were firing blanks in the first half. I need to talk to my young team so that they bring their full attention in all situations. I did not have them ready to play. It's a great lesson for me. Hopefully I'm not going to forget it soon."

Washington's slow start was alarming, especially with the way the Bears had played in their first three games. Cal's previous high point total was 20 points against Washington State. Against the Huskies, it only took them 16:52 to get 21. Cal beat Washington early on with plays in the flat, often by using players out of their backfield. Adjustments clearly had to be made, and luckily for Washington they had one of the best defensive masterminds in the game in defensive coordinator Tim Hundley to work things out.

And they did. After the first quarter, the Husky defense put the clamps down on Kyle Boller and the Cal offense.

"After the second half of the second quarter, a few of the things that we did made it simpler for our guys to defend the flat pass," Hundley said. "Then in the second half, we played a little bit more man coverage with a guy that could double and still got some edge pressure, so we were able to match up a little better on the runningbacks."

It worked beautifully. Just ask Boller.

"We played pretty well in the first half, but the second half. . . the third quarter, we just couldn't get it rolling," the junior quarterback said.

Cal head coach Tom Holmoe saw it much like his quarterback did.

"We came back to our passing game (in the second half)," he said. " Washington just made some adjustments. I didn't think they were going to let us keep doing it in the second half. We tested it a couple of times and they were alert and ready so we had to change up a little bit. We actually came back and got a couple of things in the flat. But they were sharper in the second half defending some of the things we had hurt them with early."

Early on, Washington's offense didn't fair much better the defense did. The were confused right from the start because Cal came out with a zone defense, a stark contrast from the blitzing schemes they usually run. It stymied the Husky offensive attack and sent them scrambling for some tweaks in the attack.

"They totally changed their defense from the first three weeks," said offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson. "They went to all coverage field type zones where they had been all pressure blitz. So we had to make some adjustments in our passing game."

Those adjustments worked, and the offensive attack became more potent. Husky quarterback Cody Pickett struggled with consistency, but mixed in the option attack to keep the Bears off-balanced.

"We're continuing to evolve as an offense," Neuheisel said. "Guys are trying to develop strengths. This plan had to evolve as the game went on because of the intricacies that they did on defense."

Even with his team down 21-7, Pickett says he still felt confident.

"I felt good," he said. "I knew we needed to stay calm and get some rhythm."

Pickett and his team did just that, and the quarterback finished the game with 291 yards through the air, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. His favorite target on the day was Paul Arnold, who had five receptions for 116 yards two touchdowns.

On the second of their two touchdown connections, a 62-yard score, Arnold burned Cal corner Atari Callen on a post route and caught up to a perfectly placed pass from Pickett to make it a 17-21 game.

"My eyes just got big and I caught it and ran," Arnold said of his long touchdown. "Just coming out of the huddle I thought it was going to be a big play but I really didn't know until afterwards, but that's just the way all wide receivers are coming out of the huddle."

Meanwhile, Rich Alexis was a workhorse on the ground in the second half, carrying the ball 26 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns for the game. The sophomore from Florida loved the fact that the team came back, but said he hopes they doesn't have to win in that fashion in the future.

"I don't like coming back from behind," Alexis said. "I like putting things away in the first half. I hate relying on the fourth quarter because there may be times when we run out of minutes on the clock. I don't want to have to keep doing that."

Finally in the zone: Cody Pickett's 42-yard touchdown pass to Paul Arnold in first quarter was the first of his young career.

The record-setter: Derek McLaughlin's 74-yard punt in the first quarter broke the previous record of 73 yards set by Ryan Fleming in 1999 versus BYU.

Brock and Tui: Both former Husky quarterbacks played in today's Seattle Seahawks-Oakland Raiders game. With the Raiders ahead by over 30 points and both Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Dilfer out with injuries, the Seahawks brought in Brock Huard to finish the game. He threw for one touchdown in mop-up duty. Marques Tuiasosopo came in the game in relief of Rich Gannon, who the Raiders removed with the huge lead. For the game's final ten minutes, it was like old times at Networks Associates Coliseum. Top Stories