10/29 Press Conference

The Stanford Cardinal come to Seattle this weekend as one of the hottest teams in the country, fresh off back-to-back victories against top-five schools in Oregon and UCLA. Playing at Washington has historically been a touch chore for the Cardinal, who hasn't won at Husky Stadium since 1975.

Ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll and 13th in the coaches' poll, Stanford has lost four in a row in the series against the Purple and Gold and will look to end that streak on Saturday.

"They snapped Oregon's home winning streak which is no easy task, and then to beat a very good UCLA team," Husky Head Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We've got our hands full. Hopefully we can play our best game on Saturday because I'm sure we'll have to in order to be successful."

To beat Stanford, the Huskies will have to find a way to stop their powerful running back tandem of Kerry Carter and Brian Allen. Already this year Carter and Allen have teamed to rush for 927 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Cardinal like to run up the middle behind their three senior interior linemen, guards Eric Heimann and Greg Schindler and center Zack Quaccia. Sophomore tackles Kwame Harris and Kirk Chambers are each 6-7 and up-and-comers and add to the potent ground game. They'll look to pound the ball through the Husky defensive front and set up the pass later in the game.

With that said, Neuheisel said he liked the way the Huskies stopped the rush on Saturday against Arizona State, so it'll be an interesting to see if that stands up again this week against the bruising backs Stanford brings to the table.

"We did a nice job against the run and did a very good job tackling (against ASU)," he said. "And we're going to need to do that again this week. This is a ball-control offense that also has big-play capability. We're going to have to do a great job containing their two fine backs, Carter and Allen, and see if we can make them try to beat us throwing the ball."

Throwing the ball for "The Tree" this week will be sophomore Chris Lewis. Senior Randy Fasani, who started the first five games of the season, is out with a sprained right knee. Lewis threw for two touchdowns without an interception when he came in to relieve the injured Fasani in the Oregon game two weeks ago, and went 20-29 with three touchdowns and three interceptions en route to knocking off UCLA last week. He'll look to senior Ryan Wells and sophomores Teyo Johnson and Luke Powell as his main options through the air.

Johnson, who starred at Mariner High School in Everett, moved to receiver from quarterback this year and at 6-7 has started to come into his own. The Huskies recruited him hard two years ago, but he decided to sign with the Cardinal and plays on the basketball team as well.

"He's obviously a gifted athlete, and we knew that all along," Neuheisel said. "He's a handful."

The Cardinal appear to be catching fire as a team at the right time of the season, similar to the way Oregon State did last year. That definitely hasn't gone unnoticed to Neuheisel.

"I think it's always who hits their stride at the right time," he said. "You've got to play your best down the stretch and that's what's so frightening about Stanford right now, they're playing their best football right now and that makes them very tough to beat."

Defensively, they send 11 seniors out on the field to start. That's a credit to how far the Stanford program has come, now possessing great depth at many positions. Defensive ends Austin Lee and Marcus Hoover are solid on the edges, and linebacker Coy Wire is a tackle machine with 50 on the year. Tank Williams is one of the best safeties - and hardest hitters - in the conference.

"They are a very well choreographed defensive unit that looks to stop you running the ball, force you to throw the ball, and then make plays on the ball," Neuheisel said. "I don't think there's a more opportunistic defense in the country. It's going to take a great effort on our part to be able to move the ball effectively against them."

The good news for Washington - besides the fact that they are 6-1 - is that they did start to show marked improvement on the offensive side of the ball against the Sun Devils. If they can manage to repeat that performance again this week, it would help them keep Stanford's potent offense off the field and even out the time of possession battle. That's been an area where the Cardinal has dominated all year.

Rich Alexis started the game last week but didn't fare well, and gave away to Willie Hurst. Hurst had the game of his life, rushing for a career-high 185 yards. Neuheisel said he has a simple way of dictating who will get the majority of the carries each game.

"I think that in the early portion of the game you give each guys series' and get them both acclimated to the competition," the head coach said. "Then you make a decision as to who's hot. In the last game it was Willie Hurst, and we're going to need Willie to have another big game this weekend, as we're going to need Rich Alexis. Both of them scored touchdowns against Stanford a year ago and we're hopeful that we can get them both playing their best football."

Cody Pickett continued to impress in Tempe, showing the same heart that former Husky quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo did over his four seasons with the team. He's orchestrated last-minute drives in each of the last two games and led the team to victory each time. It doesn't hurt that his receiving corps has continued to improve. Paul Arnold caught seven balls in Tempe, and is getting more looks. Reggie Williams hasn't slowed down with his production. And Todd Elstrom has caught touchdowns in each of the last four games. They Huskies are spreading the ball to all three of the receivers really well in recent weeks.

Defensively, the Huskies hope to improve this week from the torching that the secondary took in Arizona. One person who could help do that is Kai Ellis, who will play more of an active role against the Cardinal after being able to only play in about 30 snaps against ASU.

"He played hard but was pretty rusty," Neuheisel said of Ellis' performance in his first game back from knee surgery. "A lot of that was conditioning."

He's still looking for his first sack as a Husky, and this would be the perfect game for his coming out party. He'll get closer to 60 plays this game if all goes as planned, according to Neuheisel.

Another area that the Huskies will have to work on in practice this week is the punt unit, where they have allowed three to be blocked already this year, including one last week. Neuheisel said that of the three blocks, only one was a schematic problem and the other two were simply guys who missed their blocks.

"That will be a matter of extreme urgency this week because Stanford blocked two punts against Oregon in the fourth quarter to get themselves back into it," he said.

If the game is close at the end, give the advantage to the Huskies again this week. In games decided by seven points or fewer, Washington has now won 10 in a row. When down late, the team seems to pull it together time and time again and come out with a victory.

Neuheisel hopes that the team's knack to comeback is something that other teams think about when the game is coming down to the wire.

"I hope it's something that's on their mind," he said. "I think the key to be successful in anything is to be totally focused and have total concentration. You're not totally focused and totally concentrated if you're worried about what the other team is going to do."

Husky Notes:

On the Tube Next Week: It was announced today that the Washington-Oregon State game next Saturday in Corvallis will be televised on Fox Sports Northwest. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m.

Anderson Honored...Again: Kicker John Anderson was named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his 2-2 performance against Arizona State. It's the second time this season that Anderson has won the award, and the fourth time a Husky has won it in 2001 - Roc Alexander and Derek McLaughlin each were honored as well.

J-Steve Update: Husky tight end Jerramy Stevens is now able to do all the running necessary to come back and is getting closer to a return. It remains unlikely that he'll be available versus Stanford, but Neuheisel said that the team hopes to have him back for the Oregon State game on November 10.

Honoring the Wave: Washington announced today that it will recognize Washington alum Robb Weller between the first and second quarters of the Stanford game this Saturday for the 20th anniversary of "The Wave." Weller, a former cheerleader, teamed with band director Bill Bissell to instruct the crowd to start in one section and make a human wave that rolled around the stadium. It is believed to have started in the third quarter of the Huskies' game with Stanford on Oct. 31, 1981, as Washington scored 28 consecutive points en route to 42-31 win over John Elway and the Cardinal.

For the Cause: The Washington athletic department will use Saturday's home football game to help draw attention to November as National Pancreatic Cancer month. The athletic department joins a national effort to focus on the disease and to encourage funding for more research into the causes, prevention and cure of pancreatic cancer. To increase awareness, there will be 30,000 purple ribbons distributed at entrance gates to fans attending the game.

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