Willingham, Stoops reverse roles

After the game was over, the coach couldn't help but admit that not only was his team out-played, but he was out-coached. His team didn't rise to the occasion and play to their ability. They made too many mistakes and the other team took advantage of every miscue. If you know Washington was one of the teams playing, but didn't know which game, you'd likely think Tyrone Willingham would be the coach talking above. Not so fast...

"We were just hanging on - we didn't play well," Arizona Head Coach Bob Stoops said after the Wildcats were dominated by Washington 38-14 - the same Washington team that had only beaten San Jose State and Idaho in the past two years. The same Washington team that put a current 14-game in-conference losing streak to bed. The same Washington team that basically owned the 'Cats the same way the 'Cats owned UCLA the week before.

"We turned the ball over. We got beat up and down the field. We got outplayed and out-coached. It's pretty simple."

Willingham used Stoops' formula for beating the Bruins - no mistakes, capitalize on the other team's miscues and employ a monster running game - to take Arizona to the woodshed. The Huskies completely dominated the first half of play on the stats board, outrushing the 'Cats 160-26. And if it weren't for a Stanback pick that helped Arizona out to an early lead and 75 yards in penalties - 32 yards over their normal game average, the Huskies would have thoroughly dominated Arizona in all facets of the game.

"You can't have mistakes, and I think that's what triggered their success," said Willingham. "And we only had one turnover in this ball game, the early interception. So as long as you don't turn the ball over and take advantage of their miscues, you've got a chance to have success."

Let's break it down, point by point. First - turnovers. Washington had one, Arizona had five

The Huskies most definitely took advantage of the 'Cats' generosity, and if it weren't for a debateable roughing call on Washington defensive tackle Erick Lobos, Washington would have forced a full six-pack of errors. The miscues they did cause were converted into 21 points, enough to be the 'Cats on their own.

"I honestly didn't think Arizona would be off of their game tonight," said Willingham. "With their upset over UCLA, I thought they would be excited and ready for us, but we took advantage of every opportunity."

Touted freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama showed up as expected and played wiser than his years at times. But at other times, he looked exactly how you would expect a first-year player to play, being involved in all five Arizona turnovers. He had only been involved in one turnover in his previous two starts.

"This was a great learning experience for Willie," said Stoops. "You're going to have bad games. He got confused and made young errors. He's still a true freshman. He'll learn a great deal from this."

Next, let's look at the running attack. Stoops let Mike Bell and Gilbert Harris carry the load against UCLA, as the 'Cats ran for well over 300 yards. The Huskies also used two backs - James Sims and Isaiah Stanback - to roll for 333 yards. The last time a Washington team ran for over 300 yards was in the 2000 Apple Cup.

"We didn't imagine it would be 300 yards of rushing, but we felt like we could get some yardage against them," said Willingham. "It was a total effort up front, and that includes the tight ends and the fullback."

When it came to the rush game, Stoops agreed wholeheartedly. The Wildcats ran at an average of less than three yards per clip, while the Huskies averaged 6.4 yards on 52 carries. "You have to play good up front if you want to win," he said. "They pushed us around."

But there may not have been a bigger intangible than the final play of the first half. Husky QB Isaiah Stanback urged Washington to go for a hail mary pass with nearly 70 yards to go. On the ensuing play, the rocket-armed junior through the ball almost all the way in the endzone, where it was grabbed by Washington receiver Craig Chambers on a dead run. That miracle of a play - followed by an Evan Knudson PAT - knotted the game at 14 as both teams went into the half.

"Isaiah did a great job tonight," Willingham said of his oft-maligned signal-caller. Stanback was benched last week against Oregon State. "He is the kind of athlete that I don't have to be concerned with. Every quarterback makes mistakes, but he has shown that he can rebound back from them."

As halftime came, one team headed to their locker room with their heads up, jumping around. The other team was walking with their heads down, in shock.

If you knew Washington was one of the teams playing, but didn't know any other details about the play, you'd think the Huskies gave up another last-play-of-the-half scoring effort.

In the topsy-turvy world of college football, Willingham turned that formula upside-down and inside-out.

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