"Beaten in every phase of the game"

It was a distraught and bewildered coach Keith Gilbertson that addressed the media after watching his Huskies being beaten so by visitors from Reno. He didn't have any easy answers, didn't offer any, and at times seemed as perplexed as 55,000 or so souls in attendance that braved the cool, wet day.

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  • "We got beat today in every phase of the game today – offense, defense, special teams," admitted the disheartened coach. "(Nevada) outplayed us, and they just beat us. We didn't execute in any phase of the game. And every time we created an opportunity to turn it around, we just did something to stop it. We kept taking the wind out of our own sails."

    "It was getting ridiculous how we continued to shoot ourselves in the foot."

    And how did they shoot thee? Let Gilby count the ways. "We got a good first drive, threw a pick. Get a couple of first downs on the second drive, throw a pick for a touchdown. We have a long kickoff return, and we fumble. We get a long punt return, get a penalty.

    Gilbertson senses that his team was still reeling from the UCLA disaster suffered a week ago. "We've got so much fixing to do," said Gilbertson, understating the obvious. "We've been moping around here since the second half of last week. We've got to be able to hold up against other teams with what we've got, and today we couldn't do it."

    Gilbertson did let it be known that it wasn't Washington's undoing that won it for Nevada – but a combination of bad football by his team and good from Chris Tormey's Wolfpack. "This was not an ‘Oh my God, what happened' game, we got beat. From the first quarter to the fourth. We only contributed to the loss – they beat us fair and square."

    It was an elated Tormey that walked on air towards that familiar Husky Stadium tunnel when the clock said 0:00, first spending a few moments basking in the glow with the 2,000 or so Nevada supporters at the west end. "I wanted them to come up here and give me four quarters," chimed the former 13-year Washington assistant, "and that's what they gave me. On both sides of the ball. They played extremely hard, they gave it all they had, and then they finished it.

    "It's one of the biggest ones of my career, and I couldn't be more proud of them."

    Cody Pickett suffered through a horrible 19-37-3 day, but was especially off-kilter in the first quarter, only hitting two-of-seven with two horrid interceptions while being sacked twice. And Gilbertson was at a loss for words to explain his senior quarterback's malaise, though he was more forthcoming with his beleagured offensive line. "I really can't tell you what's up with Cody," Gilby wondered. "I do know their defensive line beat our offensive line, though. We're kind of out of answers right now at guard." And that extended to the special teams unit. "Part of it was Evan not getting the ball up," said Gilbertson about Knudsen's three field-goal blocks, "but mostly they just ran right through there, got their hands up, and blocked them."

    As a whole, Gilbertson sees a line that's "not doing a good job of holding their ground. We did everything we could (with Jorge Cordova), we slid out on him, we tried to chip him with our backs – but sooner or later our tackle has got to take a guy out and block him.

    "We can't dink around with our protection schemes all the time to get guys stopped."

    Gilbertson, while acknowledging that Nevada QB Andy Heiser had a fine day, also mentioned "and if you can't get any pressure at all on the quarterback, any quarterback will be made to look good. Getting no pressure on anybody is just killing us."

    So now, what's next? An Oregon State bunch looking for a bit of revenge looms next Saturday night in Corvallis, and it is clearly a broken-spirited band of Huskies that have to go to work beginning tomorrow. "We just have to work that much harder now," says Gilbertson with a sigh, showing the realization of how hard the task itself might be. "We need to look at the film, and every player and coach has to face up to the role that they play – be accountable for what happened and do all that we can to make the team get better."

    Then Gilbertson began to address the issue of attitude – that unspoken 12th man that can be either friend or foe. "We need to fix this attitude about losing. They have to start asking themselves ‘when is enough enough'? Is following a second half (like last week) with a performance like today acceptable? When is enough enough?"

    And so suffering through the three consecutive halves of Husky hell, there is now very real danger of a year – now half over – falling into an abyss where a Washington team hasn't ventured in nearly three decades: A losing season. Does Gilbertson sense a bottoming out? "We are all in this together – coaches and players. It's everyone's fault. We have to look at every single thing that we are doing. This is not me standing up here and pontificating on a bad day; this all falls on me first.

    "This was a low, low day. These last six quarters have been really tough on us. We are really going to have our work cut out for us next week. It's going to be a challenging task."

    Getting them down to Corvallis will be the easy part. Getting them from down in the abyss will be much more daunting. And on the crushed face of Keith Gilbertson, it is beginning to show.

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