Notes from the Press Box

It was an incredible game today, another important win for the Huskies as they strive to defend their Pac-10 crown. Here was what we saw from the press box and sidelines today – some things we really liked and some, well . . .

The Good:
Crowd Alive and Well(er): Several players commented on how loud the crowd was today and reinforced that the noise really energizes the team. The Husky Stadium crowd finally showed up with their game faces on for the big match up against Stanford and, when it was all said and done, they had much to cheer about. They sensed their defense might need some extra help in trying to shut down the potent Cardinal attack, and came to the rescue with some serious noise. On the three Cardinal fourth down attempts, they rose to another level. They continued cheering on every defensive series, and gave the team a standing ovation as they were leaving the field at halftime. During Stanford's final drive, we couldn't even hear ourselves talk on the sidelines.

Fan Favorite: Reggie Williams is quickly becoming one of the most cherished players on the Huskies. Following his touchdown catch in the second quarter that put Washington up 21-10, the student section began chanting, "REEEEGGIE…REEEEGGIE…REEEEGGIE…" The guy gets it done on the field, and there's good reason why he's already one of the fan favorites.

Y-A-C: It stands for Yards After Contact, and the Huskies should know that well after their performance today. They did a terrific job of staying on their feet following receptions, often moving the ball much further down the field in the process. The first time Cody Pickett threw the ball to Reggie Williams, he was able to catch the ball, reverse his field to avoid a defender, and move the ball 20 yards further down field to the Husky seven-yard line. That helped set up a Pickett quarterback option play that went for a touchdown on the next play. On Washington's next possession, it was Rich Alexis who fought for tough yards after the catch. It came on a screen pass, which admittedly is designed for YAC, but Alexis had a large part in it himself en route to a 26-yard gain. After making the catch near the line of scrimmage, he broke the tackles of Tank Williams and Matt Friedrichs, then pulled Simba Hodari with him all the way to the seven-yard line. That set up another Husky touchdown on the next play.

Against the Grain: With 1:04 left until halftime the Huskies faced fourth-and-inches at their own 12-yard line. The hometown crowd and the entire Husky offense on the field pleaded for Head Coach Rick Neuheisel to go for it to prevent Stanford from getting the ball back. Wisely, Neuheisel went against the grain and put freshman punter Derek McLaughlin and the punting unit onto the field. McLaughlin made Neuheisel's decision look even better when he boomed a 56-yard punt all the way to the Stanford 28-yard line. It was the right call.

Third-down blitzes: Washington was very effective with the blitzing schemes they sent at Stanford on third downs throughout the game. Twice in the first half they sent sophomore inside linebacker Marquis Cooper on a blitz, and Coop used his 4.6 speed to rush quarterback Chris Lewis' throws. Another time late in the first half safety Greg Carothers came from the right side and hit Lewis as he threw to force fourth down. Following a Husky fumble that put Stanford in prime field goal position midway through the third quarter, Carothers came again to stuff a quick handoff attempt on third and long. It forced a Mike Biselli field goal, and the ensuing attempt fell weakly to the left of the goalposts to squelch the Cardinal momentum.

Good or Bad – You Decide:
Arnold too lonely: With 5:03 left in 2nd Quarter, Huskies opened up from their own 21-yard line. Pickett threw deep over the middle and Paul Arnold had his man beat by five yards, but when he looked back for the ball it bounced off his helmet and fell to the ground. It would have been a sure six points because the speedy receiver had nothing but green in front of him, and would have pushed the Huskies out to a 28-13 lead. The Huskies ended up punting on that drive. Arnold was able to turn the game around, not even dropping a pass and finishing the game with four receptions for 84 yards, the Huskies' leading receiver today.

Untimely Turnovers, but no damage done: With the Huskies trying to maintain their lead, the offense had two fumbles on their own side of the field in the third quarter. The Husky defense was able to keep points off of the scoreboard after the first fumble. When the Husky offense returned to the field, they lost their second fumble in a row. On the ensuing Cardinal drive, they bobbled the snap on a 37-yard field goal attempt and Massey was able to tackle the holder for a 16-yard loss.

The Bad:
Big Play Kills: Stanford was able to keep themselves in the game with help from the big play. Following a Husky touchdown that made the score 28-13, the Cardinal immediately answered with a one-play drive on a Brian Allen 80-yard touchdown. In the first half, the Huskies got burned on a third-and-10 play when the 6-7 Teyo Johnson beat coverage downfield and pulled down a 54-yard pass. It put the ball on the UW 20, and led to a field goal. Again, the Huskies looked to have Stanford where they wanted them early in the fourth quarter when The Tree faced third-and-long at the UW 34. But Chris Lewis beat two blitzers and found Brian Wells over the middle of the field for a first down at the 8-yard line. Brian Allen bulled into the endzone a play later to tie the game.

Too Dreadful to Think About:
After Simba Hodari was injured late in the third quarter, both teams immediately bent down in a circle to say their prayers. Knowing all too well how it felt to see a teammate lying motionless on the field, the Huskies stood in a huddled group on the field until Hodari was removed by ambulance. You could have heard a pin drop in the stadium with the crowd of 72,000 thinking of another injured player who is still very much in their hearts this week. A preliminary report on Hodari's condition was that he had a severe concussion and was able to move his extremities.

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