Favorite Moments from 2001 UW Football

The staff at Dawgman.com was killing time while we wonder who the next basketball coach at the University of Washington will be. Since it's way too early to even worry about recruiting other than the cursory junior updates, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the amazing year 2001 turned out to be and relish our favorite memories.

Reggie was special from game one (Photo: Kim Grinolds)

Cameron Stevens, Columnist: I have three of them. Reggie Williams' performance against Michigan was one for the books. As a true freshman to do what he did, after two drops, was amazing. Taylor Barton's heroics to lead the team to victory against USC were fantastic. It was truly a gutsy performance. The team's performance against a very good WSU team was also right up there. It was a team victory and one that made me proud.

Joe Kaiser, Associate Editor: Covering the Husky football team for the 2001 season, there are countless experiences that will forever be imprinted on my mind. Many of them came on the road, if for nothing else than just being at someone else's house during those otherwise dreary Saturdays in the fall. But the moment that stood out the most for me came in the friendly confines of Husky Stadium late in October when the University of Southern California came to town smelling upset.

Palmer was not enough for USC (Allsport)

With 6:00 remaining in the closely contested game, the media filed out of the press box high above into elevators that led to the lower concourse. While we were in the elevator, Willie Hurst took a dump pass from Taylor Barton, who had come on late in relief of an injured Cody Pickett, and scampered in for a touchdown to put the Huskies up 30-23. As I walked down with the rest of the media onto the field for the final minutes, the Husky Stadium crowd roared for a late defensive stand. I positioned myself at the 20-yard line of the closed end of the stadium and stood very close to USC Head Coach Pete Carroll.

I remember thinking that there was no way Washington was going to lose, no way. Suddenly, Carson Palmer dropped back and launched a perfectly thrown bomb to speedster Kareem Kelly for a 58-yard touchdown to tie the score with just 3:47 remaining. There, right in front of me, right after the play, Kelly and Palmer hugged and Carroll pumped his fists in the air. But still, I just had that feeling that the Purple and Gold would prevail.

After taking the kickoff, Barton helped Washington do just that as the junior college transfer marched the team down the field and set up John Anderson for the game-winning 32-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. It was a beautiful day for a Husky fan. As the Trojan coaching staff stood senseless on the sidelines and the USC band finally quit playing their fight song, I stood there on the sidelines trying to stay a "neutral" member of the media, fighting to keep the smirk off my face. I failed.

Dawn Van Diest, reporter: Standing on the Orange Bowl field before the showdown with the top-ranked Hurricanes was the most memorable moment of the season for me.

Miami in the Orange Bowl is hard to forget (Allsport)

I had flown to Miami now twice for this game, and I was ready! The Hurricane fans were so raucous, screaming "HUSKIES SUCK!! HUSKIES SUCK!!" about four feet from where the Dawgs were warming up. You could see Randy Hart's lips moving as he yelled at his linemen, but no words were to be heard over those chants. Steve Emtman was pacing the sidelines, back… and forth…, screaming expletives with a look on his face that warned he was about to devour anything that got in his path. I was so wired, I was about to jump out of my skin. I looked at dawgman and said, "Come on, let's go tackle somebody!" Lucky for me, his wisdom won out.

I know there is something special about college football when you feel fortunate to have witnessed a 65-7 drubbing by one of your most hated rivals. Sometimes it's more the emotion of the moment rather than the outcome that you remember.

Hurst was special (Don Ryan/AP)

Patrick Thrapp, columnist: My most vivid memory of the last season was during the USC game. This memory isn't some awesome play like Willie Hurst's spin move the prior year. It was just an example of the kind of play I have seen lately with these Huskies.

Pickett was out with an injury, and Barton was in. The play I remember best was an ad-lib. The Huskies had the ball and were driving to the east end zone. The play started, I think, just inside the 50-yard line. Barton dropped back to pass. Hurst picked up a blitzing USC player. He then slid off the block and released to the north sidelines. Barton lofted a beautiful little pass that Hurst caught and turned into a first down.

There were so many things in that play that caught my fancy. I liked Hurst's maturity he showed in picking up the blitzing player. It showed me how far he had come since his freshman season. I liked his uncanniness, to slide off of that block, to give Barton a target. I liked Barton's vision to see the blitz and to know that Hurst was open.

Derek Johnson, columnist: No question, my favorite (and most ridiculous) 2001 moment was Omare Lowe's block of Michigan's field goal in the season opener was something. Up to that point in the game our offense couldn't seem to get anything going. There was a feeling that if the Wolverines converted that 3rd quarter field goal and extended their lead to 15-6, our Dawgs' goose was probably cooked.

Neuheisel was all smiles after the opener against Michigan (Allsport)

I had my friend Pat seated to my right and my sister Jennifer to my left. Omare came flying in around the left end and blocked the kick, which was then scooped up and it was off to the races for Roc Alexander. This moment somehow penetrated the most fanatical, deepest, Neanderthal reaches of my soul, as I bellowed AHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA as Roc raced down the sideline, and I felt light-headed. I high-fived Pat and then my sister and I enthusiastically hugged each other, then I turned and high-fived Pat again then I was yelling at the people in front of us "DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?! DO YOU BELIEVE THIS!?" A few minutes later as the bedlam subsided, my sister's attention was on her own forehead. She stated incredulously, "Derek, after that play, I think you head-butted me".

Zajac had a Wolverine pancake (Photo: Kim Grinolds)

Rick Samek, columnist: Games come and go, but the camaraderie of meeting and greeting both friend and stranger on Husky Saturday is a highlight in its' own right with each one different, and each one special. I love each and every Saturday during the season for that very reason.

But this years' easy topper was the magic minute against Michigan when Omare Lowe's blocked kick, Roc Alexander's sprint, and Lowe's subsequent waltz into the end zone with the following series' interception. Though the year didn't turn out how everyone had hoped, it let everyone know that there is still magic in the set of Jaws that we proudly call Husky Stadium. Our own Dawg House.

Mild mannered Todd Elstrom had something to cheer about (AP)

Kim Grinolds, business operations: Two instances stick out in my mind. The first came at the ASU game in Tempe. It was the in the second half and ASU had gone ahead after trailing the entire game. After they kicked off, they held Washington and forced a punt. Mild mannered Todd Elstrom downed the ball inside the ASU 5-yard line. He ran off the side of the field near the end zone and had to run by the ASU cheerleaders on his way back to the bench. One of the ASU yell kings was really letting Elstrom have it with the campy, "SCOREBOARD BABY" cheer. Elstrom, with the most intense look I've ever seen from him, yells back, "YOU'RE A GUY CHEERLEADER!". The Sun Devil went silent.

My second favorite moment came in Corvallis, Oregon. After the game the team has to head up a paved hill and then walk about another 75 yards to the locker room. The entire path is roped off and lined by fans. The entire team was pretty much heckled the entire way to the locker room after being hammered by OSU. Reggie Williams was tired, dejected, and walked up the hill with his head down pretty much the entire way. The OSU fans were brutalizing him. About 25 yards from the entrance to the locker room, a kid about 10 yells to Reggie, "HEY REGGIE, CAN I HAVE YOUR GLOVES?" Reggie looked up, walked over to the kid, took off his gloves, and handed them to him. He then took off his wristbands, and handed them to the kid next to him. Then he signed autographs for the kids and gave away everything he could. After he signed the last autograph, he picked up his helmet and shoulder pads. As he walked away, they all clapped for Reggie. It was pretty cool and kind of reminds you of what's important and what a great kid Reggie is.

Chris Fetters, Editor: The day? September 8th. The opponent? The Michigan Wolverines. The skies were beautiful, the house known as Husky Stadium was suitably packed to the gills and Washington was set to embark on the 2001 football season. Through three quarters, Michigan had the better of the game and the better of the scoreboard, 12-6, and for the first 5 minutes of the final period, it was looking like more of the same. The Wolverine's Hayden Epstein was about ready to tack on another 3 for the visitors that would force the Dawgs into having to score twice to pull out the victory.

What happened next is the stuff of legend. Omare Lowe, who had been abused all day by Michigan's Marquise Walker, came in from the side and blocked Epstein's effort. The block was neatly gobbled up on the dead run by the Huskies' Roc Alexander. Only fate would dictate that the fastest player on the field would pick up the ball that day, and that's exactly what happened. Roc went 77 yards in the blink of an eye to tie the game. John Anderson's PAT was straight and true, and the Huskies' lead would not be relinquished. Lowe's subsequent interception and touchdown off a John Navarre pass less than a minute later seemed almost surreal, and put the capper on what had to be one of the quickest turnarounds in Husky history.

Barton showed a lot of heart (EJ Flynn/AP)

Dave Samek, the one they call "Dawgman": My favorite moment of the season came after the USC game. It was an amazing effort by both teams as the Trojans fought gallantly in Husky Stadium to take the Dawgs down at home. Cody Pickett would suffer a separated shoulder during this game, prompting a heroic relief effort by Taylor Barton. The junior college transfer showed Husky fans that the depth at quarterback was in great hands as he masterfully took what the Trojan defense gave him and made correct read after correct read. After USC had taken a late lead with a long TD pass from Carson Palmer to Kareem Kelly, Barton cut the Trojan defense like a surgeon. He was precise and meticulous in leading the Dawgs into John Anderson field goal range where Johnny A would convert and send the fans home happy.

After the game the media must stand at the opening of the tunnel and wait for the players to leave the field before being allowed to follow them. Well, as luck would have it, Taylor had just left a throng of TV reporters and was making his way toward the tunnel when we made eye contact. He sprinted up, took me by the lapels of my jacket and started shaking me with the biggest grin on his face. After a bear hug, he winked and gave me a look that told me that all of the crap he had to endure to finally make it to the UW was worth this day. It was Barton's finest hour as a collegiate athlete and as he sprinted off the field to the cheering throngs of fans that had hung around the entrance of the tunnel to welcome their heroes, I remember feeling very lucky to have bumped into him and to have shared a little bit of it.
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