Notes and Observations from the Press Box

It was an amazing experience to cover a game from the Orange Bowl. It really is a great venue to watch a college football game with 78,000 screaming fans, loud music from Kiss to 2Pac blaring from the speakers; all under the lights on a beautiful Miami night.

How's that for looking at the bright side? Here are some observations from the press box and from the field tonight.



Tailgate – Anderson Style: Just inside the Orange Bowl, between Gates 8 and 7C, Jeff and Patty Anderson, parents of kicker John Anderson, were gracious hosts of a pre-game party for all the Husky fans who came from near and far. On the menu were Cuban sandwiches, black beans and rice, and all the rum and cokes you could ask for. Susan Neuheisel was helping Patty with the food, while Jerry Neuheisel was passing out neon purple necklaces and bracelets. Some of the people in attendance were friends and relatives of John Anderson, the Charles Frederick clan, the Rich Alexis family, Kevin Ware's mom, dad and brother (from Texas), and Jerramy Stevens' dad. Thank you to the Andersons for showing us some South Florida hospitality.

Pay Back Time: During the pre-game warm-ups, we were fortunate enough to go down onto the field to take in the whole Orange Bowl experience. The one thing I noticed was a sign that read "58 NCAA Home Game Winning Streak" right where the visiting team entered the field. Knowing the Huskies were the team that ended that streak in 1994, I was hoping beyond hope that we could end another Miami streak since they currently have the longest winning streak in college football. On that note, the scoreboard read "It's Pay Back Time" throughout much of the game. Yes … it was, and it was a bitch!

Gilbertson to the rescue: After the pre-game warm-ups were complete, we headed back to the press box elevator. We were yelled at by the Orange Bowl staff to not get on the elevator because the Washington coaches were trying to get to the press box at the same time. Coach Gilbertson observed the situation, took pity on us, and told the elevator operator to allow us to get on the elevator. You could cut the tension with a knife on that elevator ride up to the fifth floor. Except for Gilby, who calmly nodded to us with his game face.

Willie ‘One-Arm' Hurst: On third and 2, on the Huskies' second drive of the game, Hurst hauled down an amazing 10-yard catch with one arm to keep the drive alive and help keep the Hurricane offense off of the field. During the second quarter, with the Huskies down 37-0, Hurst kept getting the ball and ran for some of the toughest yards of his career. Kudos to Willie for not packing it in and showing his senior leadership by continuing to fight and compete.

Early home cooking: Husky sophomore tailback Rich Alexis had fifty yards in the first nine minutes of the game. Unfortunately, Washington had to turn away from the running game after getting into a huge hole in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Alexis found the end zone for the Huskies' sole touchdown and did some woofing to the student section, earning a chorus of boos.

No-so-friendly confines: The Huskies had to warm up in the most hostile of all environments this season. The packed student section in the closed end of the stadium sits right on top of the field, with all of four feet of turf separating the stands from the field. The Dawgs were harassed endlessly during their warm-ups, with the most popular cheer being "Huskies Suck! Huskies Suck!" Obviously, the team came out just a little rattled, giving up a turnover and seven points in the first minute and seven seconds. And things only went downhill from there.

Wrong direction offense: After gaining 74 yards on their second drive of the game, the offense started heading in the wrong direction. On the Huskies' third drive, they went for minus 18 yards, and gained only one yard on the very next drive. On Washington's second drive of the second quarter, they netted minus four yards because of the fumbled snap on the punt attempt that resulted in a safety. Not helping matters in the first half was the fact that the Huskies started four of their drives from deep inside their own territory -- the 9, the 4, the 18, and the 5-yard line.

Too much time on our hands: Normally, coaches strive to win the key time-of-possession battle. Not tonight. In the first half, Washington won that battle to the tune of 23:10 to 6:50. But Miami still led 37-0. The Hurricanes needed little time to find the end zone in this game. They scored on drives lasting a whopping 0:12, 0:43, 1:11, and 0:21.

Portis 18 – UW 0: While the game was still in the balance, Clinton Portis outscored the Huskies 18-0, scoring the first three touchdowns of the game. His scores came on runs of seven and 30 yards and his third trip to the end zone came on a five-yard pass. His ability to make the "stretch" play work was amazing. Miami would run a sweep and he would stretch the field sideways and then cut back, making the UW linebackers miss him.

Speed kills: Just how fast is Miami? On one play, Rich Alexis was chased down from behind by defensive end Jerome McDougle, a 6-4 260 pounder. Then Roc Alexander, Washington's fastest man, was caught by a Miami defender after a 67-yard kickoff return. Those guys are FAST. So fast that they ran up 30 points in the second quarter before anyone on the Husky sideline knew what hit them.

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