As we engaged DL Terry Johnson, he held his head high and put a good spin for the future. "It was a game that had a good feeling the whole time, except for the end, of course. That game is going to help make us a more mature team," said the 275-pound defensive lineman. "The main thing we got out of that game is that we are good and that we are capable of doing anything we want to do. We can't hang our heads too low and for too long because we are a very good team. We have a lot more to show everyone. Once everything blends together, we are going to be a fine defense."
Johnson felt that the second play from scrimmage, a 57-yard TD run by Chris Perry, definitely had an impact on the Husky defense. "That big run they had in the first quarter, that made me a little more hesitant to go hard up field. I was more concerned with gap control and making plays in my gaps," he said.
"It showed me that the guys before me, like Larry (Tripplett) were right about watching film. You watch film, and you see tendencies."
Johnson finally grimaced and shared, "I'm just ready to get this bad taste out of my mouth and play a good game. We have a personal responsibility to ourselves not to let anyone else dictate how our season goes. We're going to go out and play our own football. We play every game as hard as we can. We're going to play the rest of the teams just as hard as we did against Michigan. Actually, harder."
Husky WR Reggie Williams wasn't too unhappy with the effort, despite the outcome, on Saturday. "I just wanted to play hard and come away with the victory. I think we played a decent game. There were some mistakes made here and there," said the 6-4 215-pound sophomore.
Michigan put their Thorpe candidate, Marlin Jackson, on Reggie the whole game. "It was a cool match up. They didn't really play honest man coverage the whole game," said Williams of the respect the Wolverines gave him. "If you watch the tape they shaded a safety or they would try and put a safety in my face or an extra linebacker. When it happened I wasn't getting frustrated because I knew the other guys were getting open. And the other guys were catching the ball and moving the chains, so it wasn't really a problem."
Now it's time to focus on the home opener against San Jose State, and Williams is easily making the transition. "We're already focused. Saturday's game is behind us. We're going to work hard and play these next five games at home and try to get five victories."
Coach Neuheisel said that conditioning was a factor in the play of several of his players, Williams included, because of the amount of practice they missed. "I'll just be taking a lot more reps this week, now that my foot is fine. I just need to get into football shape. I'll be fine by the time game-time hits," said Williams.
Redshirt freshman FS Evan Benjamin had a big impact on the game Saturday and gave Husky fans a lot to be excited about. His entrance into big time football came a bit sooner than he had anticipated.
"Actually I didn't see (Jimmy Newell) get hurt. I was standing there disappointed that they ran off that 57-yard touchdown and then the coaches start yelling, ‘Evan! Get in there!' I didn't find out what had happened to Jimmy until a few plays later," said Benjamin, who replaced Newell after the play that saw Jimmy suffer a compound fracture of his hand.
"For me, it was just the experience. And for the team, hopefully they know now that they can call on me if they need to and I can step up in these roles. The beginning of the game was a really good experience for me to get my feet wet," said Benjamin, who finished with seven tackles.
He may be just a freshman, but he has the wherewithal to know that the next opponent doesn't care about Michigan anymore, and neither should he. "From today on we're going to be thinking about San Jose State. We're going to be getting prepared for them, and hopefully work out some of the kinks and mistakes that we had this past weekend."
Benjamin continued, "San Jose State got a win Saturday and they've got some confidence. We'll need to start out strong on Saturday. The only thing I can do right now is keep on playing hard. I've still got a lot to learn. I need Greg (Carothers), Jimmy (Newell) and Owen (Biddle) to help me out."
The 12-men penalty was a tough pill to swallow for Benjamin. "I think there was a lot of confusion out there. It was real hectic at the time . . . we were getting down to it. I haven't seen the tape on it yet but hopefully we can square away the personnel situation."
TE Kevin Ware had a terrific game and showed that the Huskies once again have a threat at the tight end position. He felt that he and his team will be better for what happened on Saturday, not choosing to focus on the final score. "It was a great season opener. It's too bad we couldn't come away with a win, but we need to take this experience, learn from it and take our pain out on the rest of the teams we play. At the end things seemed to be kind of bogus, but like I said, we've got to take it and learn from it."
Ware showed good hands and the ability to get free down the middle of the field. "I think I started off pretty good. I know I've got a lot to improve on. I didn't play a perfect game. I need to get my techniques better. I need to get my pads down and stay low. I caught myself with my pads too high on Saturday. You can always improve. And hopefully in the coming weeks I can get to 100 percent and be at the top of my game."
The passing yards that Washington could generate this year excites Ware, who wants to play a big role in both that as well as improving the running game. "I want to be a big part of the offense too. I want to go out there, catch balls, and score touchdowns. Coach Gilbertson wants to get that running game going a little bit too. It was non-existent at times. Passing is great, but if we can get the running game going too we'll be unstoppable."
Ware said of the home opener on Saturday, "It doesn't matter who we are playing next week. It's just the next week on the schedule for me, and it's going to be very unfortunate for them. It's going to be scary. We are going to have a very good team this year and I don't see a lot of teams out there that are going to hold us back."
Offensive lineman Aaron Butler had an up-front-and-personal view of the mighty Michigan defensive line, best in the Big 10 this year. He enjoyed the opportunity. "Going up against Michigan in their house, in front of 110,000 people, it's something you dream about and I got a chance to live it. It was exciting but also a little scary at first. When we got going, I was just having fun," said the 6-2 325-pound sophomore from Tacoma.
"I'm happy that we were able to come from 14 down to make it a good game. Some of the Michigan fans came up after the game and they were clapping for us and telling us that we played a good game. I can't remember when an opposing team got applauded for playing a good game. And the fact that Coach Lloyd Carr came into our locker room and congratulated us as well - that just hit me in the heart and it was something that you just can't help but respect."
Butler felt that he held his own on Saturday. "I feel like I matched up pretty well. Sometimes I got the better of them, sometimes they got the better of me. Overall it was pretty even down the middle."
Now he is excited about the home opener against San Jose State. "It's cool having 110,000 people screaming at you, but it feels better having 72,000 of your own fans cheering for you," said Butler. "All I know is that they are going to come in ready and hungry to play and that it's going to be a great game. In my mind, I just feel like we're going to play Michigan again. My mindset hasn't changed."
Quarterback Cody Pickett threw for well over 300 yards in the loss and felt that his team exuded the proper confidence against Michigan. "It was a big-time atmosphere and they have crazy fans and a lot of support. For us, after the first snap it was just like another football game. We felt confident in what we were doing, and unfortunately took a tough loss."
Pickett spread the wealth, finding NINE different receivers. It makes him smile. "I have great receivers. I want to get them the ball as much as possible. That was something that was working for us early. It's something we're going to stay with as long as we can. Besides Reggie and Paul we have a lot of guys that can make plays. ET, Eddie Jackson, Wilbur Hooks, Pat Reddick . . . we have a lot of guys that can make big plays. And Justin Robbins is about ready to come back too, so we have a lot of weapons on offense."
The team's field general then put his San Jose State game face on. "Our guys are ready to play. This is the first day we'll see each other - we took some time off yesterday to get away from it. We were definitely ready before the Michigan, but now we're going to be even hungrier for it. It's a tough loss to take, but I'm excited about being at home. It's time to put some pressure on the other teams as far as crowd noise and a hostile environment."
Pickett came through his first test on his surgically repaired shoulder in great shape. "I feel good right now. I have the bumps and bruises you get when you play a big-time game like that, but nothing out of the ordinary. I'm ready to get going for this weekend."
It warmed Husky fans' hearts to see REB Kai Ellis back to his old self, showing no ill effects from two sore knees. "I don't think we have any reason to hold our heads low. We made a couple of mistakes on both sides of the ball, but if we practice the way we should and fix the problems we had we should be good for the season," said Ellis, who caused a fumble and made a key interception.
"They got an early touchdown on us and there were a lot of question marks as to how our defensive line was going to do. I think we played their run pretty well."
It was shortly after the Michigan game last year when Ellis began to feel his knees swell up. So far, so good. "They've held up because of my Don Joy's (knee braces). I have two of them now. Last year I used the knee brace the offensive linemen use, but now they have new ones that are a lot lighter than that. I'll be wearing them for the whole season," said Ellis.
Michigan showed a ton of respect to LB Ben Mahdavi, who was hit sometimes by four offensive players on some snaps. Captain Ben believes that his team learned some valuable lessons from the game. "We learned that we can play well on the road. We started out a little slow but we finished strong. We have to keep that momentum going for the rest of the season and especially for San Jose State this weekend. We need to bounce back from what happened," said Mahdavi, who had six tackles despite being doubled a lot.
The senior inside linebacker now hopes to become more productive from this game forward. "One thing I'm going to improve on is making more tackles. The kind of offense Michigan ran last weekend, they forced a lot of things over to the strong side linebacker, so the main person that's responsible for making plays is the weak-side ‘backer. Last year I had 11 tackles as the weak-side ‘backer and this year Coop (Marquis Cooper) had 11. I was surprised I came out with six, to be honest. Next week I'm looking for 15, because I want to get 120-plus (tackles) this year. I need to keep it going."
Mahdavi struggled a bit on his snaps back to punter Derek McLaughlin. "I've been a deep-snapper for four years and nobody even noticed I was doing it until I made one mistake in the Michigan game. And it won't happen again. You can lose a lot of wind running down the field and maybe as a linebacker it would be better if someone else snaps. But if they want me to do it, I'll do it. I've been doing it for four years," said Mahdavi.
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