Notes from the press box

During today's game with Arizona, we spotted some things that we really liked and some things that still need some work. Here is what we were able to spot from the press box above Husky Stadium.

The Good

1) Pickett's Charge: How tough is this kid? He has a separated shoulder but comes out throwing missiles. His velocity was on early and so was his accuracy. On his touchdown to Elstrom he looked off to the left beautifully, allowing his senior wide receiver to find open space. On his touchdown to Arnold, Pickett used his mobility to buy time for his junior wide out to break free and then launched a perfect ball across his body to Arnold. Some had knocked Pickett for telegraphing his passes, but on both TDs he didn't come close to locking in on anyone. It was an impressive performance in the first quarter for a guy that was supposed to be hurting big time. He was six of nine for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the opening stanza. It was apparent that he was on his way to something special early on, even if his shoulder was killing him.

2) Don't blink: Washington scored on their first three possessions, all in the first quarter. It was an offensive display that Husky fans had yet to see this season. Offensive Coordinator Keith Gilbertson spotted something in the Wildcat secondary and beat it like a rented donkey with the deep ball. Cody Pickett became the first Washington player to ever complete passes for 75 yards or more in the same game, let alone in one quarter. Only one other Husky had ever completed passes of 75 yards or longer in his entire career. Damon Huard had a 79-yarder against ASU in 1995 and a 75-yarder against Miami in 1994.

3) The A-train: Rich Alexis ran as hard and with as much vision and conviction as he had all season this afternoon. He saw holes better and accelerated through them well today. The offensive line provided better holes but Alexis did a better job of getting up into them so his linemen wouldn't have to hold their blocks as long. He looks very close to hitting his stride now and is more in sync with his young offensive line. The good thing about this pairing is that both Alexis and the majority of his line will be together for the next two seasons.

4) Senior Sam: Senior linebacker Sam Blanche's presence on the sidelines cannot be seen on television but it's very evident from the view above the stadium. #31 in purple was up and down the sidelines encouraging and exhorting his teammates up throughout the game. Blanche has come a long ways and is now playing significant minutes at SAM linebacker, so he knows what it's like to sit on the sidelines and watch a game. Today he made sure that those on the sidelines were into the game and ready to contribute. Kudos to Sam. Freshman Reggie Williams also shows a lot of excitement and shouts encouragement to the defense when they are on the field.

5) Showing the love: After the game in the press room, some of the Husky players came in for their post game interviews but none of them would begin until after Cody Pickett was finished speaking at the front of the room to reporters. "I want to listen to my man for a bit," said Larry Tripplett. "Let's just listen to him for a while before we get started."

The Bad

1) Hanky panky: Washington drew two yellow hankies in a row for unsportsmanlike conduct. The first came on an excessive celebration penalty on Elstrom after his touchdown catch, the second came on some late jawing after Zach Tuiasosopo had drilled the Arizona return man on the ensuing kickoff. As a result Arizona only needed to march 60 yards to tie the game in the first quarter. That was followed up by a late hit personal foul penalty on Washington on Arizona's very next drive. When Zach Tuiasosopo jumped offsides later on that drive, Washington had committed 50 yards of penalties on two Arizona possessions.

2) The defense rests: Washington was able to put 21 first quarter points on the board but their early defensive woes continued as Arizona hung 14 points on them in their first two drives. The first quarter has not been kind to Tim Hundley's defense and today they gave up 138 yards in the first 15 minutes. Jason Johnson was not pressured at all, except for the coverage sack that Zach Tuiasosopo made. USC, UCLA, and now Arizona have all abused the Husky defense. Washington continued giving up big yards all afternoon today to a mediocre team that played a back up quarterback for nearly three quarters. Arizona hung 394 yards on the Dawgs, 199 on the ground.

3) Button, button, who's got the button?: Whoever was working the scoreboard clock in Husky stadium today was asleep at the wheel for a good portion of the first half. Several times the officials had to call up to the booth and tell the clock operator to get his hand off the button and put time back onto the clock. The Huskies actually ran two plays in the second quarter where the clock was frozen at 4:32 remaining in the half. The officials were probably tired of calling up to the press box because they just let it go and started keeping time on the field.

4) Can you turn it up please?: After a barn burner first quarter the Husky Stadium crowd went to sleep. It was so quiet at times people in the press box could hear Rick Neuheisel shouting on the sidelines. Husky fans need to attend a game in Baton Rouge (Louisiana State) or Death Valley (Clemson) and see what it's like for opposing teams in those Hell holes where the fans stand the entire game and the opposing team's quarterbacks cannot hear themselves think. Husky Stadium could be that way, couldn't it? And not just when the other team is pinned deep in their own territory. It's not even the loudest place in the Pac-10 anymore according to an informal pole of six sportswriters in the box. That's a shame. Two writers actually believe that the place was louder BEFORE the second deck was built in 1987. It's amazing what high expectations can do to a fan base.

5) Injuries: How much more can a team be beaten up? Willie Hurst suffered a thigh bruise and could barely walk after the game. Rich Alexis hurt his shoulder and then became dizzy after a shot to the head. Cody Pickett's arm hurts every time he throws a ball, and cornerback Omare Lowe is playing through a series of maladies. How much would a bye week help about now? Sorry, instead the Huskies get to travel to Tempe and play a dangerous Arizona State team on Saturday. ASU had lead the conference in passing before QB Jeff Krohn went down. Washington's defense will need to be much improved in about six days from now. Top Stories