Neuheisel Post Game Comments

Washington Husky Head Coach Rick Neuheisel was obviously pleased with his team's performance this afternoon, knocking off #10 Stanford 42-28 in Husky Stadium.

General Commentary: "We are extremely excited with the victory given the caliber of the opponent and the magnitude of the game. It was a hard-fought game. In the fourth quarter, with the score 28-28, it really could have gone either way. Somehow, someway, we came up with some big, big plays down the stretch. It's been that way for our football team for a long time now and I am just very honored and privileged to be a part this. These kids fight, they play, they do everything you ask them to do. They play with passion. I have said it many times, and I don't mean to sound "syrupy," but there is passion in this program. It existed long before I arrived and I am privileged to be a part of it."

The coach continued, looking forward to a road game in Corvallis next Saturday. "We like our position. We have one loss in the conference. I don't know what is going on elsewhere, but we still have a chance and that is all you can ask for in the month of November. I am looking forward to the Oregon State game. We know it will be a big-time test. They haven't had the season they had probably envisioned for themselves, but they are a very capable team with a great coaching staff. We have to get back to work as quickly as possible to play our best game next week."

On the injury to Simba Hodari: When I was out on the field, he was moving his extremities, which was a great sign given the situation from a year ago with Curtis. Certainly, he was in better shape than that. It was almost eerie in that it was almost the same point in the third quarter that it happened. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and certainly with the Stanford program. I think there is a great deal of mutual respect for each other. I know I have a great deal of respect for Coach Willingham in the way he handled the situation with Curtis. He came to the hospital a year ago and wanted to be as helpful as humanly possible. It is just a bizarre set of circumstances that we would be out on the field having a similar circumstance.

On mood after injury: Our kids know all too well that these things can be very, very serious. And, as does Stanford, having participated in the game a year ago. I don't know what the right word is, but it was certainly respectful. Everybody on the field took a moment to realize that this is a game and to send their best to Simba Hodari and his well-being.

On helping players regroup after the injury: I mentioned to them how much time was left in the game. I told them that he was moving his arms and feet. They were giving him commands and he was able to move his extremities. It was vastly different than from a year ago.

On players steppin' it up: A couple of guys I have singled out are Pat Reddick, Kevin Ware, Chris Massey, Roc Alexander, Zach Tuiasosopo, Tui Alailefaleula, Josh Miller, Marquis Cooper, Jim Skurski, and certainly I am leaving some out. That is what makes coaching special. That you are able to watch kids evolve. They find out that they can play in the big time and they can make the plays that they always thought possible. To see that kind of look on their face and to be able to congratulate the kids makes it all worth it. I am excited about the direction of our program. But I am really excited about our seniors being able to finish this season and be in the hunt. Hopefully they will be mature enough to stay focused on the job at hand.

On play of Pat Reddick: Pat has played really, really big for us. Today, when we lost two receivers to injury – Reggie Williams and Wilbur Hooks – Pat was there on a critical third down in the fourth quarter and makes a big play.

On play of Kevin Ware: He was the player of the game last week. He didn't catch any balls, but he just blocked so magnificently. Then today, when we are in critical situations when he has got to catch the ball, he hangs on even with an absolute, cataclysmic collision with Tank Williams, and gets us down to the five-yard line. I said many things to Kevin on how proud of him that I was. My old coach, Terry Donahue, used to say that players are like flowers, they don't all bloom at the same time. You have these guys that come in with great reputations off the high school recruiting charts, and they don't necessarily just blossom. When they get here, sometimes there are growing pains, there is moving away from home and other things going on. But for him to continue to fight and to take advantage of opportunities like he has, he made the big play when he needed the big play. That was awesome. Kevin Ware is the same guy that bobbled the play at UCLA. But instead of putting his head down, he has gotten better since that time.

On play of Paul Arnold: He's got a sure touchdown and lets it get away from him. On the next play, he makes a circus catch. We've got kids that just forget it and keep moving on and keep fighting.

On getting pressure on Cardinal QB: I think Chris Lewis is a fine player. That is why I recruited him. But we thought he was making a lot of his passes ‘easy passes.' We tried to take away some of the easier passes by putting on some pressure and making him throw down the field. That was the strategy.

On play of the defense: I thought our defense played really well, especially given the turnovers. We had two fumbles and they came away with no points on both of those. I thought that was the difference in the game. I thought our defense really rose to the challenge.

On play of the offensive line: We feel like they are getting better. We knew there were going to be growing pains. I think they have been coached well. I think their confidence was never lost and it is neat to watch that kind of improvement. I think they are just more confident. In being more confident, they are able to be more thorough in their blocking rather than wondering if they are doing the right thing. They are doing the right thing and doing it with everything they've got. But there is still a lot of improvement left.

On the rushing game: We were able to run the ball really well. We had the option going. Cody took a hit on his touchdown where he landed on his shoulder. He was not a big fan of it after that point. So, given our situation, we didn't go back to it. They made some adjustments defensively to keep us from running the ball. But we went back to our bread and butter at the end and were able to manufacture a drive that put us in the lead.

On team having an all-around game: I think we are rounding into form. It's nice that it is this time of year. We might even get a few more guys back from injury next week. We will get Tyler Krambrink and maybe Jerramy Stevens. But what matters most is that our team, its desire its work ethic, its attitude, and now its play, is coming together. If we don't keep our eyes on the target, meaning Oregon State, we can squander that as have other teams across the country who all of a sudden think their work is done.

Thoughts of cruising to victory after being ahead 28-13: I've been around longer than that to think about anything being easy. It is just not the case. This league is just too competitive. You've got to play every minute, so we expect nothing less.

On Hurst's final touchdown: I was trying to think of a nine-second play (laughs). We had some different ideas, like maybe rolling out and throwing the ball high into the stands. But, it was Keith's play. We thought it would get us the first down and then we would be able to take a knee. Obviously, we caught them and we were able to score. We were just trying to effectively get rid of the clock.

On the Willie-Rich tandem: Willie is very experienced. With Rich's success from a year ago, kind of bursting onto the scene, this freshman from Florida, and it was just a foregone conclusion that Willie was just going to step aside and watch the phenom go. I think lost in all of that was we had Marques Tuiasosopo a year ago and our offense was very option-oriented and that Rich, while playing brilliantly, was getting a lot of his yard via the option. This year because of injury and personnel, the option hasn't been the focal point of our running game. And so now you go back to inside blocking schemes which require a tailback that has a lot of experience in reading blocks and knowing how to set blocks up and having quickness to make the one guy who is unblocked miss. We think Rich Alexis is going to be fantastic. But, remember that he has played only one year of high school football and now this is his second year of college football and there is still a huge, huge amount for him to learn as he develops into what we think will be a premier tailback.

On being in the national championship race: I told the team not to fall prey to that. We found out a year ago that we have no control over that stuff. We just take care of our own business and our business is with Oregon State. There are teams that sometimes get caught in what might be instead of what needs to be done. We need to worry about how to fix ourselves. We played well today. I am excited that we won, but we've got some things to fix. We need to concentrate on that instead of the other implications that we have no control over.

INJURY UPDATES:

Reggie Williams has a quad contusion, much like what Willie Hurst had against Arizona. Neuheisel described the injury as just stiffening up to where he couldn't keep running. Neuheisel hopes that he will be okay by next week.

Wilbur Hooks dislocated his shoulder again. Neuheisel said that he had been playing this entire season with a dislocated shoulder. "He's been in a harness and unfortunately it came out again on him. The good news about dislocated shoulders is you can't hurt them any worse. My hope is that he will be able to continue to participate because he is one of those guys who keeps coming through for us."

HUSKY NOTES:

Home Cooking: Washington extended its home win streak to 13 games, longest in the Pac-10. The Huskies' three-game overall winning streak is also the longest active streak in the Pac-10, as is their three-game win streak in conference games.

TDs via the ground: Willie Hurst's three rushing touchdowns is a career high and ties as the fourth-most by a UW player in a game in school history. Washington's five rushing touchdowns are the most in a game for the UW in 2001, and the most since the UW had six against Utah State on October 10, 1998.

#8 Moves to #8 and up from #8: Hurst's 108 yards rushing moved him into eighth place in Husky history for career yards rushing with 1,938, passing Toussaint Tyler's mark of 1,898 yards. Hurst also has 24 career rushing touchdowns to move from eighth to a tie for fifth place, tying Jacque Robinson and passing both Corey Dillon and Greg Lewis, who had 22 rushing TDs each.

Super Frosh: With his first reception of the game in the second quarter, UW freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams set a Husky freshman record for most receptions in a season with, passing Paul Skansi who set the old mark of 32 in 1979. Williams now has 34 receptions and also owns the UW record for most receiving yards by a freshman with 636.

The Good Hands People: UW's Rich Alexis' fumble with 9:24 left in the third quarter is the first fumble lost by a Husky running back this season. Stanford failed to convert the takeaway into any points. UW opponents have managed to convert just four of the Huskies' 15 turnovers into points.

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