Holiday Bowl Aftermath

It was an amazing finish. Washington racing out to an unexpected lead, scoring 23 points on Texas in the second quarter alone and going up 19 in the third quarter. Then back came the Longhorns to set up one of the best finishes in recent Holiday Bowl memory.

When Hurst bolted 34 yards to vault the Huskies back into the lead at 43-40 with just 1:34 remaining, Husky faithful felt good but Texas had been attacking the Washington secondary with amazing success.

Lo and behold, Applewhite hit BJ Johnson for two big plays to get the ‘Horns down to the Husky five-yard line, where tailback Ivan Williams would take two carries to cross the goal line and plunge the final blow into the solar-plexus. Washington's last-ditch drive with just 38 seconds remaining would fall short and send the underdog Huskies off the field with a very gut-wrenching loss.

The emotions were running high from the Husky locker room. Husky sophomore Cody Pickett, playing with a painful separated shoulder, hung his head and spoke softly to the press. "We just came up short. This was very disappointing because we feel like we should've won this game. That's about all I can say, we should've won this game," said the junior to be.

Pickett blossomed into one of the finest quarterbacks in the Pac-10 this season and displayed an arm strength not seen by a quarterback at Washington since perhaps Hugh Millen back in 1985. Then a separated shoulder would affect his delivery and velocity for the rest of the season. Still, a leader was born and hopefully Pickett will make a recovery of some sort, whether it is surgically or otherwise.

He was unwilling to divulge what was in the cards as far as repairing the third-degree separation he has played with since the USC game. "I'm probably going to have surgery on my shoulder but I'm not sure yet," said Pickett. One surgical option would require nearly 9 months of rehabilitation so there is a lot of thought that will go into his decision.

As the leader of the offense, Pickett wanted to erase the horrible memory of Miami with a good Holiday Bowl showing. "We were trying to come out here and show everyone that we could still play. Unfortunately we just came up short. Major (Applewhite) is a guy that knows how to win and he got it done. We came out and just tried to move the ball as best we could. We got it done at times but we didn't do it enough."

Pickett was limping noticeably after the game. He took one of the hardest sacks of his career in the fourth quarter when Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson slammed him to the turf after running full-bore with about a 10-yard head start. "After a college football you're pretty beat up, especially against a team like Texas. They played well."

Taking a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter should've made Pickett feel pretty good, but Texas then began to put much more pressure on him. They took away the crossing routes to Stevens and started getting their defensive line up field and into Pickett's face. It showed as the Huskies went three and out. "We didn't convert on third downs after that. When you have a lead like that you have to move the chains and we didn't get that done," said Pickett.

Tight end Jerramy Stevens set a personal record by catching nine balls. "That's always part of the game plan, to get him the ball. Jerramy is a great player and we tried to get the ball in his hands as much as possible," said Pickett, who may have thrown to Stevens for the final time. Stevens has yet to announce his intentions for 2002 but he may be a high enough draft pick to forgo his senior year and turn pro.

Stevens was getting open on Texas early because of the Longhorns' scheme. "They were playing man coverage underneath, so I was one-on-one each time. I feel like anytime I am matched up with somebody man-on-man that I have the advantage. So, we were just taking advantage of those underneath routes with me running away from people."

The junior wasn't ready to say one way or the other after the game, just saying that "This one game will not have an affect on what I do. It is going to be a culmination of what there is to offer next year at UW or at the next level. It will be a whole bunch of factors."

Stevens felt that the Longhorns may not have taken the game as seriously as they might have. "I think Texas came in with a lack of respect for us. We could tell that as soon as we had contact with them that they didn't show us the respect that we felt like we deserved. I can't knock Texas, though, because they beat us today and they out-played us. But I do think they didn't give us the respect that we deserved. I think they respect us now."

Pickett had pain in his eyes as he continued to speak. "This game hurts a lot more than the loss to Miami. That sounds crazy, but against Miami we didn't play well. Against Texas, well, we felt like we should've won. Take nothing away from Texas, they played a great game and never gave up and beat us. This is a game that we were in and felt like we should've won it."

Before leaving for the locker room, Pickett attempted to put a positive spin on things. "These were great learning experiences for the young guys. To go down to the Orange Bowl and play Miami and then to follow up that with a game in the Holiday Bowl against Texas, those are great opportunities. These will be great learning experiences for us."

Freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams was matched up most of the night against Quentin Jammer, Texas' all-American cornerback. "He was really physical. He's a strong guy, the most physical corner I faced all year. I just matched up with him to see who would come out on top," said Williams, who had five catches for 62 yards.

"He played me a little differently than I saw on film. He followed me the whole time on the field, and was in ‘press' coverage the whole game. He's a great athlete and I wish him the best of luck in the NFL next year. We complimented each other at the end of the game. There's mutual respect there. He's the best corner in the nation. He told me that he thought I was a great athlete and I told him the same. He'll be in the NFL next year and if I keep working hard for the next two or three years, I could be there, too."

Williams will be one of the marquee receivers in the Pac-10 next year and will undoubtedly be a focal point in Washington's offense in 2002. He wasn't looking to next season just yet though, still smarting from the loss to Texas. "This one we took to the heart. To come so close down to the wire like that hurts. This was tougher than the Miami loss. You can't say much about blow outs, but in a game where the margin is so close like this, it only takes one or two plays to make the difference."

Husky fans have a lot to be excited about. They've never had a receiver like Reggie Williams in the program before. Ever.

Texas receiver Roy Williams proved why he's considered one of the nation's finest. With 11 receptions and 134 yards, Williams sparked the offense and pretty much caught everything Applewhite threw his direction. "I think we showed a lot of heart. We've got the one heartbeat going. I think our defense really stepped it up in our second half and the offense put up enough points. We were down 19 points and had three turnovers and the chips were down. Major, being the competitor that he is, just threw it where we could catch it and had the confidence in us that we would make the grab."

Williams was asked if the Longhorns had made any adjustments or spotted any weaknesses in the Husky defense. "Not really. We didn't make any adjustments. We just went out and played. Last year we came here and blew it. This year we proved what we could do and showed the world what we could do. Washington is a very good ball club. I mean, we were down 19 points to them. They are a great team. We just fought hard to get back. They are really a great ball club."

Kicker John Anderson had a roller coaster year in 2001. He's been kicking injured the entire season, having blown out a hip flexor but still kicking despite the pain. "It (hip flexor) hurts. The trainers are joking that both me and Jim Skurski have to get shots before every game," said Anderson.

In the Holiday Bowl his kickoffs were deep, many hitting 5-yards deep in the end zone, and he converted three of four field goals. After the game Anderson took the one he missed very hard. ""I hit it and it just nicked the left rush guy and caused it to spiral and go off to the left. We would have been driving to kick a game-winning field goal instead of having to score a touchdown. Coach Neuheisel told me to just keep my head in it and that I would get another chance."

Linebacker Ben Mahdavi will be one of the senior leaders, and very likely a team captain next fall. He was also distraught about the way the bowl game concluded. "Things were going our direction from the get go and when you have that kind of momentum, you start thinking that nothing can go wrong. Apparently, I was wrong."

"You try your hardest, you do the best you can. Good players make good plays but great players make great plays. (Major Applewhite) made some huge plays on third down. They're a good team and they made good plays," added Mahdavi.

"We stopped the run early in the game, so they had to go to the pass, and they were successful at the pass. They are a team that repeats success. If they are successful on a couple of plays, then they stay with it. They ran a reverse on back-to-back plays."

Looking ahead, Mahdavi is able to see a very bright future for a defense that had some very crooked numbers posted against them this season. "We are a young team and at times we had trouble executing certain plays. But, everyone is a veteran coming back and everyone will be more experienced, so we are going to stick to our game plan because we will be more used to running the plays. You can't go away from something if it's not working right away because if you keep practicing at it, it is going to work eventually. There were times in the season where everything went right and there were times in the season where everything went wrong. That was just maturity, and everyone is maturing next year and it will be a good team."
Husky Notes:

Former Husky running backs coach Wayne Moses was on the sideline. He said "I bleed Purple and Gold 51 weeks out of the year".

Former Husky OL Elliot Silvers was on the sideline. He told Robin Meadow, "You aren't the real number 68," with his menacing stare. He was joking, of course, but our guess is that Meadow will do that number quite proud by the time he's finished.

The entire Cal-Florida high school all-star team was there. Husky verbal LB Scott White was recruiting everyone within earshot, telling everyone that they were going to be Huskies. He was hitting TB Herschel Dennis and OL Stan Daniels extremely hard for the purple and gold. Jarrad Page was there as well, and had Scott White's full attention. Page visits Washington in January and would make a great safety. It was easy to spot White, as he had a Washington hat on. He kept putting it on Daniels' head.

Curtis Williams sat right behind us in the press box. It was an amazing honor to spend time with him. He looked great.

Texas CB Quentin Jammer and all-American OL Mike Williams were on the same flight back as some of the dawgman.com staff. Both were randomly selected to be wanded and searched at the airport metal detector. Williams was laughing, as was everyone around him, when all of his 6-6 345 pounds was being searched.

Only one person from the dawgman.com staff was stopped, that being our ace female reporter Dawn Van Diest. She was asked to empty the contents of her purse after it was x-rayed. It contained some unusual looking objects that looked like they could've been large caliber bullet casings. It turns out they were lipsticks, about 20 of them. It isn't hard to figure out why she's our most popular staffer among the male members in the press. Security guards brandishing M-16 rifles approached as the melee was unfolding, teasing Dawn that she must be a model to have so many shades.

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