We Go Around The Northwest:
Seattle, Washington – Race Bannon
Outlined against a pale gray sky, a sports writer steals an opening to a story. The injury depleted Husky squad gathered at Husky Stadium for the annual Spring Game. As I looked at the handful of players in uniform, I wondered if the game wouldn't be eight-man football, a popular game in small towns in Washington. While pondering this deep thought, the announcement came across the loud speakers that the Husky Crew had vanquished long time foe California in a Clash of the Titans down Cali way. Does anything scream Husky Experience more than getting crew results at a spring football scrimmage? All that was missing was a softball game at sparkling Hedges Field next to Husky Stadium.
After the squad avoided further injury in the warm ups, the decision to go 11 on 11 was made. Many new faces were in evidence, as the returning starters were on the sidelines comparing shoulder scars. But old favorite, Paul Arnold, retired the Mr. April trophy with his third straight stellar performance. Arnold's Washington career pales only compared to the unreasonable hype and expectations piled upon him before he ever set foot on campus. A team player, and team leader, this could be the year that all of Arnold's many talents are let loose on the field. He looks much more comfortable at the receiver position, and should team with Reggie Williams to strike fear in defensive coordinators across this land. It is hard to believe that this will be Paul's last year.
Joining the receiver corps, but not at the Spring Game, will be Patrick Reddick, a favorite of this grizzled scribe, and an unsung hero of several Husky comeback wins. Matt DeBoard, from Olympia, gets a mention at the receiver spot because he's from Olympia.
The story of the day had to be the push and fire shown by the defensive line on both squads. Manase Hopoi showed why he's been a Dawgtales regular in practice reports, as his speed from the end was too much for the poor tackle assigned to stop him. Robin Meadow is no slouch, either, but Hopoi went through him like poop through a goose on several plays. Terry Johnson stood out as well. There is hope for the Husky defense, when they are all together, and all healthy. Several young defensive backs and safeties got valuable practice time against one of the nation's top receiver corps.
Head Coach Rick Neuheisel commented that all the pieces are here for a Rose Bowl bid. It is a matter of doing the work and making the improvements to make it happen. The Fiesta Bowl, home of the National Championship Game this year, dropped by to say hello, and ask the Huskies to qualify to take the sting out of last years disappointing game.
Portland, Oregon – Mallard N. Moore
Standing outside of PGE Stadium, it sure sounded like the Duck Spring Game was exciting. I really would have liked to watch it. However, my editor neglected to give me anything more than a round trip Greyhound ticket, mittens pinned to my Donald Duck jacket, and a suspicious sandwich. He thought I was joking when I said it cost 12 dollars to get in and watch. I called the magazine and told them they better catch the broadcast, as I would be back on the bus, heading for my home in White Center. I figured I could just catch a tape of the game and report from that.
Who would have guessed that a University that paid 250 thousand dollars for a billboard in New York wouldn't have their game televised in the Northwest? The increased secrecy, some would say paranoia, must be the price of big time success at Oregon.
Rumors continue to run rampant that the decision to finally give Coach Bellotti the hourly roll over contract he deserves has put the school in a financial pinch. Internet message board users in Oregon have offered to pitch in and help out by paying to post glowing things about our Maximum Leader.
From all accounts of the 51-3 rout, Jason Fife didn't disappoint, as he takes over from the departing Joey Harrington. Fife threw for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns in a little over one quarter of play. The backups mopped up, but were kept under wraps to keep them from the many NFL scouts in attendance.
In other spring news, leaked by brave moles deep inside the Duck Empire, the Ducks are pursuing a new recruiting plan. Sources openly admit that they are looking for early commits from five-star, blue chippers. When I asked how this new strategy fit in with long time Duck dogma of the later the recruit, and the lower ranked the better, I was escorted to the state line and asked never to come back.
Pullman, Washington – Rob Bobertson
Heisman candidate Jason Gesser opened his campaign by leading the Crimson to a big win over the Gray at the annual Spring Game and Pig Roast in Pullman. Husky fans who caught the game on FOX were particularly interested in the 2nd and 3rd teams, as that is usually who is healthy enough to play by Apple Cup time. The Cougars could be in trouble again with their cross state rivals.
But with good health the Cougs are excited about the prospect of back to back winning seasons for the first time since the other George Bush (not "dubya") was President. The previous back-to-back winning seasons were in the Paleolithic Era.
I feel like I should say more, but to be honest, I was at the Coug instead of the game, and I have a really bad hangover right now. Go Wazzzu!
Corvallis, Oregon – Benny B. Goode
Highly touted quarterback Derrick Anderson – the top recruit out of Oregon in many decades, showed the faithful why Dennis Erickson made the right call in offering Derrick first. Behind his 7-30 performance, which may fool less intelligent football fans, were the makings of a top notch QB. Anderson faced the Beavers first team – mainly - and the Beavers will put the best defense in the league out this year.
Coach Dennis Erickson said, " If I can jusht get Pricsh to help me beat the Hushkies again, *hic* we'll be fine."
The Beavs open up with a schedule that even Duck fans think is easy, so you know the risk of diabetes from the sugar content of the cup cakes are real. By the time league play rolls around, the Beaver offense will be ready to do their share. OSU is good enough to finish second to the Huskies, and to keep their Civil War streak at Reser alive.
Expansion plans were unveiled for Reser Stadium, although a more upscale food provider may be needed to pay for the cost. Look for naming rights to go back out to bid, as the Beavs attempt to crack the 40,000 seat barrier, a notable accomplishment with the premier program in America just a few miles south, prepared to move into a 90,000 seat port-a-potty.
With more living alumni, the Beavers are dead set on taking the state, the coast and then the world. *hic*.
SPRING THOUGHTS – duck fighter
Gauging anything from a spring scrimmage is dicey at best. As impressive as say – Jason Fife was – he was playing against his own team. Is he real good, or are the back up defenders real bad? This once fooled me during the Lambo era, as the Purples notched an impressive 40 plus point rout. It turned out we were sadly lacking in depth, and when those Purple guys went down, so did the season. Not that that could ever happen to UO, where they're loaded more than Keith Richards before a Stones gig. They'll load the entire team with better players than departing NFL draft picks.
But by my unofficial Unified Spring Theory, a lower scoring close game indicates a better team over all. Something along the lines of 27-17 is an ideal score for the soon to be crowned conference champion. The Beavers also played a close game. Rob Bobertson already discussed the lack of depth at Wazzzu, even though I could have sworn Mike Price said on the broadcast that they were deeper than ever. I guess it all depends on where you're coming from, it could be that the view from what Price affectionately calls "Poop Island" is better than some think.
So as we head into summer, here is Duckfighter Illustrated's Early Early Northwest Power Rankings:
1 – Washington
2 – Oregon State
3 – Oregon
4 – Washington State
One final serious note - We would like to pay homage to a fallen hero, Curtis Williams. He fought the good fight, and on Monday he heeded God's call and walked out of his chair for the rest of eternity. Curtis, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your inspiration, your smile, your grace, and for all of the gifts you gave Husky fans during your short time on this earth. God bless your family and loved ones. You will be missed, but never forgotten.
Enjoy the summer workouts, thanks for reading, and rest assured that if football news breaks, we'll be here to cover it in great detail. Oh yeah, go ahead and get those rooms in Pasadena. – df
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