Back on the horse

Saturday, September 7 - 12:35 PM<br> Husky Stadium – Seattle, WA<br> Series All-time: UW leads 7-0<br><br> Last Meeting 11/16/96:<br> Washington 53, San Jose State 10

To some -- like Husky coach Rick Neuheisel, who said, "Lying there, going through it countless times, it becomes even more difficult to swallow. But swallow we will" -- what happened last Saturday in Ann Arbor may be etched in the conscious of the season until . . . well, perhaps January 1, should Washington and Michigan square off for Round Two.

To others -- like Reggie Williams, who said in the aftermath of the stunning ending, "We can handle this, we'll be over it by tomorrow and we'll be ready for San Jose State" -- last Saturday disappeared as soon as the first horn blared for Monday calisthenics.

So the onward push begins this Saturday, when the Huskies welcome the San Jose State Spartans to the 82nd home opener in Husky Stadium history. Previously, Washington has gone 59-18-4 in home inaugurals – including 2-0 in openers against their WAC rivals. And a tonic similar to the last meeting with the Spartans would be an ideal salve. Corey Dillon set a still-standing NCAA record for rushing yards (222) in a single quarter, while Terry Hollimon (148) and Maurice Shaw (101) would also break the century mark, giving the Huskies a rare rushing trifecta and a school-record 559 rushing yards in Washington's 53-10 win in 1996.

A performance like that would cure a lot of ills.

San Jose State opened their difficult 13-game schedule last Saturday with a 33-14 win in Little Rock against Arkansas State. The defense and special teams scored 21 of those points, however. And the Indians lost their season opener 63-7 to Virginia Tech, so it's hard to gauge how impressive the win was. "It was a win, that's all I could say about it," commented second-year coach Fitz Hill on his team's performance. "Overall, I was very disappointed in the way we played."

"We're still a long, long way off. I'm glad we don't start our conference race for a few weeks."

Hill, who is 4-9 as the San Jose State head coach, has only 62 scholarship players and acknowledges that his team will be undermanned when they play in Seattle. Still, he wants his kids to enjoy the experience. "Our guys are excited about playing this schedule," Hill says. "It's a football game and it is supposed to be fun experience for the guys. And as long as nobody is shooting at us and there are no terrorists involved, then we are going to have a good time."

After Washington, the Spartans will have more "good times" to enjoy at Stanford, Illinois, and Ohio State.

San Jose State, who's had just one winning season in the last nine years, has been making ends meet by playing most of their non-conference games on the road. This year, they will play nine of their 13 games – without a bye – away from Spartan Stadium, and they may still find themselves looking at NCAA relegation if their attendance woes continue. Last year they drew an average of a little more than 10,000 per game; there is little to suggest an improvement this year, and the NCAA attendance edict is 15,000 per game for Division 1-A accreditation.

But the bottom line is that Washington is 0-1 and San Jose State is 1-0 – a point not lost on coach Neuheisel, who says "I'd trade it with them in a heartbeat. We need to win. We need to taste victory. We have to play with everything we've got."

And the feeling is that the Huskies WON'T be feeling good about anything until the left side of the ledger gets off the zero. And fast.

San Jose State

RUSHING: Lamar Ferguson 12-70-0 TD (5.8), Oscar Rigg 15-36-0 (2.4)
PASSING: Scott Rislov 14-31-1, 162 yards, 1 TD
RECEIVING: Kendrick Starling 4-59-1 TD (14.8), Jamall Broussard 4-46-0 TD (11.5)

Fifth-year senior Marcus Arroyo was expected to start, but was beaten out at fall camp by JuCo transfer Scott Rislov (6-1, 218). Rislov was less than sparkling in his first Division 1-A start, turning the ball over twice, and coach Hill concedes that his new QB "was jittery early. But he did some good things, he shows some good running ability." Rislov scampered 24 yards on an option during San Jose State's first scoring drive, something Washington will be keenly aware of. "It's a neat scheme, something that will require discipline on our part," comments coach Neuheisel.

Rislov has experienced receivers in Tuati Wooden (6-0, 184) and Charles Pauley (5-10, 166). The two combined for 88 catches and four scores in 2001, and Pauley doubles as the primary return man. Junior Kendrick Starling (6-1, 195) caught his first career TD pass against Arkansas State, and senior TE Marcus Helfman (6-5, 241) is looking for his first career reception after transfers from California and Brigham Young.

Diminutive sophomore Lamar Ferguson (5-5, 143) is San Jose State's leading returning rusher, and the difficult thing for defenses is to simply find him. Ferguson averaged 16.6 yards per carry his senior season in high school, and busted out against Tulsa last season with a 196-yard effort on only 10 carries. Junior Oscar Rigg (5-10, 215) is the short-yardage back, and senior fullback Brandon Miles (6-0, 244) can go both ways, as he's in the depth as a defensive end. Miles missed the Arkansas State game awaiting an eligibility ruling by the NCAA. If he's unable to go, freshman Ezekiel Staples will get the call.

The offensive line averages 292 up front, led by senior tackle Tim Provost (6-6, 295). Provost is on the Lombardi Award watch list, and has started 34 games for the Spartans – an eternity for a program that has a turnover rate Peppridge Farms would be proud of. Senior center LaMons Walker (6-3, 270) is in his first year snapping after moving over from guard in the spring, clearing room for senior Charley DeHoney (6-2, 306). DeHoney is the only returning lineman in the WAC with at least one pass reception.

14.0 points, 290.0 yards (108.0 rush, 182.0 pass)
TACKLES/TFL: Luke La Herran 12/3
PASSES DEF/INT: Carlos Koustas 3/1, Josh Powell 2/1
SACKS: Luke La Herran 2.0

There was nowhere to go but up for the Spartan defense. Ranked 115th in Division 1-A last year in giving up 500-yards per game, San Jose State turned in their best defensive performance in three years against Arkansas State, only allowing 290 yards and forcing five turnovers. "I was very excited about our defensive performance", said coach Hill. "The defense as a whole got a game ball."

Senior outside linebacker Luke La Herran (6-1, 233) made the most noise after returning from a season-ending knee injury, garnering 12 tackles along with two sacks and an interception, and was named the WAC's defensive player of the week. Senior defensive end Chip Kimmich also had a big game, with four tackles and causing the fumble that free safety Gerald Jones (6-0, 196) returned 72 yards for a score – an auspicious debut for the first-year defensive back. Kimmich batted down four passes last year. Junior tackle Steve Nash (6-2, 255) is seeing his first action inside after two years on the end.

It was 30 games between interceptions for senior corner Carlos Koustas (5-9, 182), but he made the most of it, returning a pick 28 yards for a score against Arkansas State. "I just saw myself doing it," a beaming Koustas said afterward. Koustas also returned a fumble 14 yards to set up a Spartan field goal. Junior corner Melvin Cook (5-10, 197) is San Jose State's lone returning starter in the backfield. He has 71 career tackles and two interceptions.

PK: Nick Gilliam 2-2 FG, 3-4 XP
PUNTING: Michael Carr 5-33.0 (long 46)
PUNT RETURNS: Charles Pauley 2-20.0 (long 24), 0 TD
KICK RETURNS: Charles Pauley 1-41.0 (long 41), 0 TD

Senior place-kicker Nick Gilliam (5-7, 188) has John Anderson-type range, hitting on both of his attempts in the opener and nailing all five of his tries in the spring game, including a 56-yarder. He tried a 59-yarder in another scrimmage but was just short. Gilliam has 121 points in his Spartan career, and his official long FG is 44-yards. Senior punter Michael Carr (5-11, 201) suffered a broken foot early last year, and averaged 36-yards per boot after he came back. Charles Pauley returns the bulk of kicks, so Washington might try to kick it to Kendrick Starling, still looking for his first career return. Then again, Starling's first career pass reception went for a touchdown.

Michigan redux: Philip Brabbs on Michigan Radio when asked about his game-winning kick: "God willed me to make it". This opens up a large can of soda, but that's probably for an OpEd piece. Still, it causes one to muse about all the happenings before the kick . . . San Jose State's last win over a ranked opponent was two years ago, when they knocked off unbeaten TCU at Spartan Stadium. It's also been 15 years since the Spartans opened a season 2-0 . . . Defense wins: Last year, San Jose State scored one defensive touchdown all season. Last week, in their season opener, they scored two . . . Still counting: Washington is seeking its 15th-straight home win on Saturday. The Huskies have a 40-5 record against non-conference foes in Husky Stadium in the last 20 years . . . Neil Parry update: Parry, who suffered a compound fracture of his right leg two years ago that resulted in foot amputation and prosthesis, is still looking to hit the field again September 28 against Texas-El Paso – the team he suffered the injury against. Parry, who's had 20 surgeries since the accident, needed to get clearance from Mutual of Omaha to play on the prosthesis. He received that clearance last week . . . Considering that San Jose is only about 700 miles from Seattle, there is nary a single player from the state of Washington on the Spartan roster . . . Previous Husky loss on a score with 0:00 remaining: 1969 against Oregon State, when Steve Endicott hit Jeff Kolberg with a 49-yard TD on the game's final play, giving the Beavers a 10-6 win . . . Top Stories