Notes from the press box

Today's game against San Jose State was supposed to be a laugher. Well, no one was laughing, let alone breathing, at the half as the visitors led 10-0. It was difficult to find anything worthwhile to write about as this apparent debacle was unfolding. At one point, I had resorted to counting bees in the press box. But then it got interesting.

There's no place like home. We all talk about whether our team will experience any letdown from all of the emotion of last week, but what about our crowd? The stadium was by no means packed at kickoff and we heard a little noise once in a while on third down and when San Jose State was on the goal line. Nothing like a challenge from the Spartans to get the old blood boiling, huh? The fans resorted to a smattering of boos after the offense was ineffective early on. Our mochas obviously weren't strong enough this morning?

Speaking of which, I don't appreciate the team getting booed on their way through the tunnel at halftime. Unless you are cheering your butt off to help get the team going, I say you have no right to sit there and boo when things aren't going quite as well as expected. Remember, this is the same team you loved just a week ago. Do you think when the player who comes off the field after just coughing up the ball gets booed by his teammates?

Hey, I like this no-huddle stuff. I say we do it the whole game. Why wait until we are desperate to score just before the half. In this game, we are desperate to score on every drive. What is there to talk about in the huddle anyway? Throw our best athletes on the field, keep the defense scrambling, and jam it down their throats.

The proof is in the pudding. The Huskies, down 10-0 just before halftime, got the ball at their own 20. A minute and 43 seconds later, the ball is down to the Spartan one-yard line. Well, it would have worked like a charm if not for the fumble. Five of the Huskies' six scores came in less than 2:13. No huddle it is.

Well, it is halftime and things aren't settling well with me. The Huskies saw their opponent miss two field goals and now we are down 10-0 and the opponent is wearing the familiar blue and yellow. Oh no, tell me it isn't so! This is deja vu. Let's talk about half-time entertainment, shall we?

The Husky marching band did a tribute to the legendary band director Bill Bissell. "Wild Bill" was one of the most innovative directors in the country, introducing such scripts as "The Stripper," "Tequila," and "Louie Louie." Bissell also is credited with creating "The Wave," along with Rob Weller. The Stripper first made national headlines in 1979 when the band took it all off in front of a stunned Texas crowd at the Sun Bowl. In today's version, we have a trumpet player in red boxers with white hearts, a superman costume, a black cat costume, a tuba player with black boxers and pink tutu, two Hawaiian grass skirts, plenty of bare-chested young men, American flag shorts … now that's entertainment.

Also entertaining us in the press box was Dave "Softy" Mahler who was chasing around a yellow jacket with his half-eaten hot dog … Watch out Dick Baird! He's circling your head and Softy's hot dog is full of mustard. Chris Fetters was also trying to prove his toughness as one went crawling up his sleeve. "Don't worry, he won't get you," he assured. Sure, that is the same thing I heard at the Detroit Airport last week as Grinolds and Dawgman spotted a rat crawling in the vent just underneath my chair and both went running. Well, anyway back to the game at hand.

Finally! We have scored. And that was a pretty play. Cody Pickett skirted his way out of the clutches of LB Luke La Herran, rolled out to the open field and found game-day captain Wilbur Hooks in the end zone. Way to shut up the boo birds and finally an opportunity for Captain Husky to make his appearance. And what a nifty kick off by John Anderson -- a nice pooch that lulled the returner into calling for a fair catch at the 7 yard line.

Okay, here is the crowd of old. Spartan ball on the 7-yard line. A rushed throw because Hopoi was storming into the end zone where QB Marcus Arroyo was trying to avoid a safety. Second down and only a gain of four. Third down from the 11, and we're rocking now. The hex of the crowd worked because WR Tuati Wooden had a perfect ball drop right through his hands.

The Dawgs are woofing now. Boy is it great to finally see the scoreboard in our favor, after a beautiful 21-yard pass from Pickett to Reggie Williams in the corner of the end zone. Two plays later and FS Evan Benjamin picks off a pass intended for Wooden after the ball is tipped in the air at least two times. He sure got a hero's welcome from his teammates as he trotted off the field after his first pick as a Husky.

For having the longest reception in Husky history, you would think the Reggie would have had a special dance in store for a very special moment. No, think again. He stood in the end zone, put his hands on his hips while facing the east-end bleachers. Just a few seconds later, his teammates showed up in numbers to congratulate him.

If Reggie ever gets tired, I say we try Terry "Tank" Johnson at receiver. He has two interceptions for touchdowns in the last three games. Today, he caught the ball after QB Arroyo again tried to avoid a safety by hoofing the ball from the top of the "O" in Washington, to the bottom of the "O" where Tank was awaiting. Unlike the Holiday Bowl touchdown, he didn't even have to take a step to score his six points.

One thing I won't get on the crowd for booing about is when the highlights from the Oregon game were on the Huskytron. It quickly turned into a rousing cheer when the scoreboard showed Fresno State leading Oregon 24-15. Sorry Dawg fans, Oregon came back to win it at the end.

With the Dawgs finally comfortably in the lead, my faith is restored. I would never have believed that I would hear the crowd this loud in the fourth quarter against San Jose State. Starting off so miserably helps you appreciate the good things when they finally do happen. Maybe this wasn't such a bad strategy after all.

On the sidelines during the game were former Huskies Kyle Benn, Todd Elstrom, Elliot Silvers, Pat Conniff, Willie Hurst, Sam Blanche and Kenny Walker. Elstrom has a tryout next week with Tampa Bay. He claims the NFL is ten times worse than being a walk-on because you only get about two reps for every ten. Kyle Benn has a tryout with the New York Giants. Willie Hurst (now with the BC Lions) says it is more nerve-racking to be on the Husky sidelines not in uniform.

After the final whistle, some of the Huskies took the time to exchange fond farewells with their combatants. Todd Bachert had friendly conversation with Jamall Broussard, a wide receiver about half his size. Kai Ellis was exchanging phone numbers with TB Damarcus Ingram, who complimented Ellis on how well he played today. Manase Hopoi and Brandon Ala were standing in the tunnel taking off their gloves and such to give to the kids. Along came Blanche, a/k/a Mr. Wise Guy, saying, "Oh, isn't that nice." I'm sure Sam was just jealous remembering the days of old.
Did you know?

Washington won its 15th consecutive home game today, the longest active home winning streak in the Pac-10. The last Husky home loss was Oct. 16, 1999 vs. Arizona State. The Huskies have now won 15 of their last 16 home openers and are 82-24-5 all-time in home opening games.

Today was Rich Alexis' first 100-yard rushing game since the 2000 Apple Cup when he had 134 yards. It is his fifth career 100-yard game. The other four came in his freshman season of 2000. Since the 1947 season, the Huskies are 154-35-3 when a Husky player rushes for 100 yards in a game.

This is the third straight game with a Husky defensive lineman getting an interception. Kai Ellis had one last week at Michigan while Terry Johnson had one in the Holiday Bowl for a touchdown.

With four pass completions of over 70 yards in his career, Cody Pickett is the only Husky quarterback to ever throw that many in a career. Pickett is only the third quarterback to throw for back-to-back 300-yard games. Sonny Sixkiller threw for 300 yards in back-to-back games in 1970 at USC and at Oregon State. Marques Tuiasosopo threw for 300-yard back-to-back games in 1999 at California and against Stanford.

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