Finally! Now Can Dawgs Sustain the Intensity?

Frantic planning is now underway to begin construction on the Race Bannon Wing of the Husky Hall of Fame. This is in the wake of Washington's startling and inspired triumph over the lippy Oregon State Beavers.

Bannon, the legendary scribe of Dawgman.com, proved himself worthy of the title "Prince of Prognostication" with his stunning assertion on Friday's Dawgman.com Staff Predictions" that Washington would win this football game.

That he could reach this conclusion is staggering. The Huskies were coming off arguably the most embarrassing loss in their history. More importantly, they were physically manhandled on both sides of the ball by a WAC team. Yet, (in case you missed it) not only did Bannon boldly foresee the potential for a Husky victory against OSU, he also had right the exact score! Bannon literally predicted a 38-17 thrashing of the 22nd –ranked team in the nation, at the hands of our Washington Huskies.

"Mr. Bannon's gridiron acumen is truly inspirational", said University of Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges in a prepared statement. "This type of prediction comes along only once a generation. To honor this mind-boggling effort, we are hereby canceling next week's Homecoming festivities, and instead are proclaiming it to be `Race Bannon Day' at Husky Stadium."

With the tremendous effort and efficient performance put forth by Washington against OSU, it leads to two key questions. (1) Where was this effort up until now? (2) Will this effort be sustained?

Must Washington be insulted in order to play inspired football? Must motivation come from a lippy remark from an opponent, or from boos raining down from a waning crowd at Husky Stadium? Perhaps coach Gilbertson should hire comedian Don Rickles to go from locker to locker insulting everybody right before kickoff.

"Come on, you bunch of hockey pucks!"

Or perhaps Washington can sustain the effort and hunger through the rest of the season.

We remember the increased level of play from last season, which the Huskies sustained for three weeks, before vanishing prior to playing Purdue in the Sun Bowl.

But maybe, just maybe, coach Gilbertson's tougher discipline will push the team to maximize their efforts and cull the best performances from of their talents on a consistent basis.

Make no mistake, however. Washington's defense was made to look better than it was by the awful performance by Beaver QB Derek Anderson. USC won't likely fall apart at the seams if things start going south on them like the Beavers did. Looking at Oregon State's signal-caller, it is clear that a more poised and accurate QB would have converted several key pass attempts that were botched by the woefully erratic Anderson. He whined and yelled at his wide outs and any official in the vicinity to no avail. This kid just hasn't had his best performances against the Dawgs so far in his career.

It was the perfect approach to defeating Oregon State, taking Steven Jackson out of the game, thereby making the Beavers try to win with Anderson's arm. It is a tactic that will be adopted by future Beaver opponents, and it will be interesting to see how Oregon State coach Mike Riley adapts to this.

But for Washington, it was such a beautiful sight to see Husky players swarming to the football. It was reassuring to see them playing inspired and with confidence and urgency. It was fun to see the shuffled defensive front attacking the Beavers with emotion and taking no quarter. That kind of play will make the Dawgs competitive regardless of the opponent, when combined with a solid game plan.

After the game, the blossoming Charles Frederick likened the contest to playing football in the backyard. That is what college football is supposed to be like.

So now to town come the mighty USC Trojans. This is the biggest game at Husky Stadium since the Miami Hurricanes paid a visit in 2000. There is no fear this Saturday of 45,000 bored fans venting their displeasure toward lackadaisical play against a WAC team. A victory against the #3 Trojans would propel Washington's season hopes by a quantum leap. It would put them at 3-1 in conference play and 5-3 overall.

A loss means that Washington is back to fighting for a .500 season.

The rebound this team showed from six horrible quarters of football was remarkable. Now we see if it can continue to bounce upwards. The most important elements for the rest of the season can be summed up by two words - confidence and effort.

Washington had both in ample supply last Saturday.
Derek Johnson can be reached at uwsundodger@msn.com

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