Coach's Corner

The match up is set. The Trojans are coming to town and the Huskies have to play them because they happen to be the next team on the schedule. Why couldn't it be Stanford and USC be the team the Huskies skip this year?

It would certainly appear that this match up is a real miss match and that it would be much better to save the equipment and play this game in, say, about five years from now. However, no such cancellations are accepted and the Trojans will just have to strap it on against another out manned opponent.

So in come the defending national champions with about 25 NFL prospects and a swagger and confidence that make them the best team in the country.

What a wonderful opportunity for this young Husky team. A chance to play on the field with the best team with some of the best players you will ever get to play against. Step up to the plate and take your swings. See if you can stay on the field with the best.

Make no mistake about it, the Trojans are in the middle of one of the most incredible runs of winning football in many, many decades. (maybe ever) Their star, Reggie Bush, is simply one of the greatest players playing football today and he might not be the best running back on his own team. Matt Leinart has to rank as one of the best quarterbacks ever in this conference's history. They are flat loaded and marching towards their third straight national championship.

This is a chance to play against the best team in country. The Huskies get to go out and see if they can hit with them. That is what this sport is all about, and it should be fun!

USC's game last weekend against a Notre Dame team recruited almost entirely by Tyrone Willingham was one of the greatest college games in a long time. Their dramatic comeback and victory was spectacular and their talent was obvious. This team is very, very, very good. There is no question they might be part of a dynasty that could endure for years.

Pete Carroll is one of the best coaches in the country and belongs at the NFL level for about $5 million per year. When is someone going to do the right thing and get him out of this conference? I thought that when he lost Norm Chow that things would even up a little. But, noooo, they bring in a couple of kids to coach in Norm's spot and they find ways to keep winning.

It also doesn't appear that Washington is catching the Trojans at the right time, at least based upon their recent game against Oregon. I got to witness the Husky game last weekend from the sidelines. You spend the majority of your time weaving in and out of massive bodies. I know enough to go opposite of the ball and look down the field from my old linebacker's point of view.

I also knew enough to stay out of the way, keep my mouth shut, and watch as many things as I could.

I spent the whole wet and dismal day there on the Husky sidelines. I was there an hour before kickoff and stayed until an hour after the game. I got to smell, feel, hear, and see the game of football again up close and in person.

Sure it was a struggle. All games are. Sure they had their moments and for most part competed hard. They got beat. They got beat convincingly. They know it. They suffered way more than any of us did. They understand reality. They were not very good in that game. Study it, learn from it, do everything you personally can to not repeat it, and go on. There's a lot more work to do in order to get better. The change that is now taking place with the Huskies is going to be a long and on-going process. Move forward and look ahead at the opportunity to play against the best team in America. Test yourself against the best. Show them you can play the game. Show them you can hit with them. Be tough and try as hard as you can. Play your best against the best. Whatever happens will happen.

All the progress they had showed against UCLA seemed to slip away but after reviewing the game, I am convinced they are still a better team then they were. They got beat that day by a clearly better team that came into the game determined to pass the ball. They went after the Huskies through the air and completed passes at a 75% rate for four touchdowns and 425 yards. Wow! It was like they were playing catch in a skeleton pass drill. Many of the incomplete passes were, in fact, drops. Clemens had way too much time and way too much experience not to riddle a Husky coverage unit that has been thin, hurt, and inexperienced all year long. It was a nightmare. Then injury set in and they lost their very best football player in CJ Wallace. The drop off from your best player is always the most severe. The deeper you go in your depth, the less and less of your package you can use. It is almost a hopeless task against a passer who was as hot a Clemens was.

But, it is over. A team that beat the hell out of that same Oregon squad is playing this Saturday in Husky Stadium. Time to look upon it as an opportunity in development, both individually and collectively. Take another step forward and improve.

If you stay in the sport of football long enough, sooner or later you will experience the down side or losing aspect of the game. It happened at Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, and almost every good football school who plays the sport. USC was 3-8 when the Huskies were on top of the sport in 1991. Heck, the Trojans were 5-7 in 2000 that included a stretch of 5 straight conference losses and a last place finish in the Pac-10 conference. California was 1-10 before Jeff Tedford took over. Turn around takes time and these Huskies will begin that turn around this season.

USC is obviously a very talented team that must be drained from their epic battle with the Irish. It was a game for the ages as indeed maybe the Trojans are a team for the ages. This is a tremendous undertaking for a developing team like Washington. The deck is stacked against them. They may be the biggest underdogs across the board. They will be given no chance whatsoever to win the game.

So what? Strap it on come running out of the tunnel with purpose and fervor, and play your best against the best and see what happens. What have you got to lose?

I had the opportunity to play against USC my senior year of college. We opened our season in LA against them in 1967 and then played Oklahoma the following week in Norman. We got killed by both teams. The score at half against the Trojans was 7-0, but the final score was 49-0. I was a captain and personally played well leading my team in tackles and playing the whole game. I knew they were good but didn't give it a thought. I just played as hard as I could.

When the season ended, USC was undefeated and the National Champions and Oklahoma finished as the runner up number two. We had played against the two best teams in the country and didn't even know it. When the draft came along following that season, 11 Trojans were drafted including 5 in the first round. I guess they WERE really good and after it was all over I looked back and realized I had tackled OJ Simpson a number of times and had walked off the field with him. I know to this day that I competed with the very best on that day in LA.

This group of Huskies will get that very same opportunity and with it will come a lifetime of memories.

And remember - nobody thinks you're going to win anyway.

Except an idiot like me who picks the Huskies to win 24-21. Top Stories