Dawgman.com Diary - 11/04

If you want to find a wicked roller coaster, there is no need to look further than the shores of Lake Washington on Montlake Boulevard. Ask the Husky players, and they can tell you just how wild this ride is and how many times they have gone up and down on this thing. Disney Land and Six Flags – eat your heart out. The wickedest roller coaster is painted purple and gold and this ride is going back up. But how much farther will the roller coaster climb?

There are some people in Tucson looking to derail this ride and send things screaming downhill like we have seen before.

I guess it is safe to say that the wheels are spinning again after spanking Oregon for the second straight year. Once the game clock expired, the Ducks flew off the field and headed south faster than any bird in the Alaskan winter. Washington will head down to the desert to face the Arizona Wildcats, who are in the midst of a miserable season where they fired their head coach just five games into this season and have been outscored by their opponents 334-147. Surely the Huskies have learned a lesson about overlooking lesser opponents. (Remember Nevada?)

I saw Todd Bachert and got a moment of his time to look back on Oregon and look ahead to Arizona. Bachert anchored a line that did not allow a single sack and paved the way for 261 yards on the ground against the Ducks.

"Once Cody (Pickett) got hurt, we knew we had a young quarterback (Casey Paus) coming in so we wanted to keep him safe and not get rattled when he's in there," said Bachert. "We just tried to play the best that we can with our two young running backs, we just tried to give them the biggest holes that we can and I think we did a pretty good job last weekend."

With the status of Pickett still up in the air and Rich Alexis most likely done for a longer amount of time, Bachert will have a totally different backfield operating behind him. Bachert said, however, that he had a lot of experience working with Paus, Shelton Sampson, and Kenny James from practices.

"I don't see them as backups but as different players," he said.

The senior center also felt good about how he wrapped up his career against Oregon with two big whuppings in a row. "It feels good," he said with a smile. "Anytime that you beat a school that's up in your area, it's a good win."

With Arizona on the horizon, Bachert also knows that it can be easy for teams to overlook struggling teams, but has enough experience to know that struggling teams could be more dangerous teams.

"At this point in our season, you don't overlook anybody," said Bachert. "We're 5-4 with our head just above the water. I think we'll prepare well for it."

Terry Johnson and the defensive line had a fabulous day against Oregon as well. By applying constant pressure on Oregon's two-headed quarterback system, the defense racked up seven sacks and forced three turnovers.

"It was just another game that we had to go out there and win," said Johnson. "We got excited and our whole d-line got involved and that made a difference in the game."

"Tank," a native of the Phoenix area, said that he did not really know just how serious the Washington-Oregon rivalry was when he got here, and that he was happier with a strong win rather than specifically a win over the Ducks.

"I guess it feels alright," said Tank shrugging his shoulders. "It was a good win."

Going up against Arizona now, that's what Johnson can talk about. "I get to go back home and play against some guys I played against in high school. That'll be fun getting after those dudes."

Tank knows that Arizona should not be taken lightly as well. Rest assured, he will be constantly reminding his teammates just how tough Arizona is on the field despite what they may see on paper.

"Our coaches are going to be on us and we're going to be pushing each other as well. There's no letting down for this game," he said.

The man that everybody wanted to talk to was Khalif Barnes. Barnes and Oregon's Keith Lewis nearly transformed last Saturday's game in to an all-out brawl after Barnes blindsided Lewis from behind in the fourth quarter and the game no longer in doubt. The two players came up jawing at each other and Lewis took a swing at Barnes and immediately the two players had to be separated drawing personal fouls.

"As soon as it was over, I don't remember what I was saying to him," said Barnes. "I was yelling and we yelling back and forth. I don't remember what he said to me. Some words were exchanged and I went back to the sidelines and saw Shelton (Sampson) make that big play."

Barnes did not return to the game, but that was not because he was being disciplined for his actions. Barnes said that he was planning on returning, but after Sampson's run to seal the Ducks' fate the entire first team was given the rest of the night off.

"I think it was the best the line has played all season," said Barnes. "I saw (Oregon's D-Line) playing against Michigan and they sacked (John) Navarre a few times. They're big guys and I think we held them off pretty well. We had that working for us."

Barnes also knows that Arizona can present a tough match-up as well. "There is still a game to play and you can't overlook anybody, If you don't respect your opponent, you get beat, We're going to prepare for Arizona like we did for Oregon. Just because we're playing Arizona, that doesn't mean we're going to do things differently."

But here is the quote of the day. After the game on Saturday, Barnes said his hit on Lewis was "89 percent football, and 11 percent personal." After reviewing the film and seeing the hit for himself, has his feelings changed?

"Yeah, it changed," said Barnes with a smile. "Nothing was personal about it. It was just in the heat of the battle and had it been somebody else, I would have done the same thing. It's just football man. I've been hit before and I just got up and lined up again."

Finally we saw Shelton Sampson. Like James and Paus, Sampson had a career game against Oregon. Sampson rushed for 131 yards on just six carries (that's a 21.83 yards per carry average!) and on top of that, he scored three touchdowns. His performance was good enough to at least get him a nomination for the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week.

"It was a cool experience and I had fun doing it," said Sampson. "The linemen blocked well and Paus had a really good game and stepped up. I just tried to go out there and do whatever came to mind."

With Alexis out possibly the rest of the season, Sampson knows that he and James will have to be putting out the same kind of numbers on a weekly basis.

"I'm not nervous about it," he said of his new increased role. "We talked to Rich about it and he told us what we needed to do and we already know what we're capable of doing so we're just going to go out there and just run and have fun doing it."

The highlight of Sampson's night, a 77-yard sprint downfield, came immediately after the Barnes-Lewis fiasco. There was no doubt that the emotions were running high during the play.

"The linemen were calling the plays the whole time and sure enough, they had my block and I just crept through there and ran through. I tried to give the guy a little move and sprinted towards the end zone."

A "little move" is an understatement. Sampson shook the Oregon defenders out of their cleats with a nifty shake-and-bake move to score his third touchdown.

So are Husky fans getting a glimpse of the future right now?

"You should be," said Sampson with a smile that lit up the room. "You definitely should be."

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