Can anyone stop this passing offense? When Cody Pickett gets the time, he is outstanding. And this year so far, his offensive line has proven to be exceptional at pass blocking. The front line of C Todd Bachert, OG Aaron Butler, OG Dan Dicks, OT Nick Newton, and WT Khalif Barnes have provided a nice pocket in which Pickett can sit and scan the field.
One of the knocks last year on Cody was that he seemed to key in too much on one receiver. He has all but obliterated that notion with the way that he's spread the ball all over the yard. Last night, his leading receiver was Rich Alexis. Rich Alexis! Seven throws to your tailback who isn't known as a huge receiving threat shows me that Cody is not forcing anything and taking what the defense is giving him. That's a maturity benchmark and Pickett is growing by leaps and bounds.
In the opener against Michigan, Pickett threw to NINE different receivers, and his head is on a swivel this year, scanning for receivers to come open. It would be very easy for Cody to lock onto all-American shoo-in Reggie Williams, but to his credit, he's not done that. Senior Pat Reddick has been a frequent target across the middle as has TE Kevin Ware, and Paul Arnold got into the mix last night as well. Charles Frederick has earned Cody's trust and for good reason - he's catching everything. JC transfer Eddie Jackson had three drops last night, but that won't stop Pickett from still firing the ball his way.
This team can throw on anyone in the nation, and Pickett may wind up with 3500 yards through the air if Gilbertson gives him the go ahead to keep airing it out in any circumstance. And I suspect, Gilby will do just that.
Did you notice how late the crowd arrived last night? It was amazing to me that there appeared to be only about 45,000 people in the stands by the time the hordes of band day musicians had completed their pre-game show. A UW spokesman asked us as we came up the press box ramp if traffic was bad or if there was a large number of people waiting to get in. Didn't notice that so much, but the house did fill up to a little over 70,000 by the time the second drive had commenced.
Speaking of Kevin Ware, I'm loving what he's bringing to the offense. He had some limited shots last year with Jerramy Stevens out, but this year he's been a different player. He may not be the type of offensive threat that Stevens was, but Ware has been very productive so far with his blend of blocking and ability to get open down the middle of the field. Pickett is definitely looking his way and throwing the ball like someone who trusts him to catch the rock. Big kudos to Kevin for putting in all that hard work this off-season, turning his off-the-field problems around, and looking like a future NFL player this fall. At 6-2 265 and the ability to bench press an SUV, Kevin could possibly follow the likes of Ernie Conwell, Jeremy Brigham, Mark Bruener, Cameron Cleeland, and Stevens and possibly play on Sundays.
Do you smell what the Roc's been cookin'? Roc Alexander has been laying the lumber over the last two games. On three occasions last night, he planted a ball carrier and made them woozy as they got up off of the Husky Stadium turf. Alexander is still not 100% but you'd never know it by the way he's hitting. His first big collision came on Wyoming's first offensive play of the game. Roc put a shoulder into the ball carrier's arm and sent the ball skyward. On the second hit, he found Leonard Jones and body slammed him after a very short gain to hold a third-down conversion short. The third hit didn't put the Cowboy on the ground but it spun him so hard that he went out of bounds and forgot which way was north (or west, as the case in Husky Stadium is).
Carothers at linebacker? Did anyone else love what Greg Carothers brought to the outside linebacker position? I know, they ran a nickel all night last night, but didn't Carothers look great up near the line of scrimmage? He's a big kid, he tackles well now that he has two healthy shoulders, and he's not easy to block. I love the look of having Carothers on the field PLUS redshirt freshmen James Sims and Evan Benjamin out there in the secondary. It's fast, it's exciting, and it's a lot to look forward to. This is a not a knock on Jafar Williams at the SAM, just something to talk about at the water cooler when you get back to work on Monday. I'm on the Greg for LB bandwagon as soon as the two youngsters get their feet wet in the secondary.
Anyone else think that Cody Pickett is as special as I do? Wyoming coach Vic Koenning said after the game, "It was a pretty awesome spectacle of throwing the football." He was asked to compare Pickett to Tennessee's highly touted Casey Claussen, and he said, "I thought going into the game that it was pretty close, but the guy tonight was awesome. Believe it or not we had double coverage on a ton of those receivers." Head Coach Rick Neuheisel also credited Pickett with saving at least 10 plays that "didn't work."
With WSU's Jason Gesser suffering a dislocated rib and his status unknown at press time, Cody will be the northwest quarterback in the spotlight now. Heck, he's thrown for over 1000 yards in his first three games this year. There is no question who the better quarterback is right now. Husky fans should love their quarterback, and hopefully they will truly see what a special competitor they are watching. It's easy to overlook Pickett's accomplishments since he followed one of the most exciting Husky football players in history, Marques Tuiasosopo. Don't blink. Pickett is going to put up incredibly crooked numbers before he's done, and all the talk about his surgically repaired shoulder has died.
Sticky fingers were needed last night, as Washington lost four of five fumbles to add to their three lost fumbles in their first two contests. Also, there were five dropped passes. Do you realize that Pickett's school-record 34 completions could've easily been THIRTY-NINE? Still, the Huskies have been very opportunistic this year when the ball has bounced their way. The Dawgs have converted all six take-aways into points (3 TDs, 3 FGs).
He's truly a player's coach. Rick Neuheisel could've berated his team after only being ahead 17-7 at the half, but the talk he gave to his offensive charges in response to the turnovers was stern but positive. He reminded them that they were a great offensive team and to just take care of the ball and go out and play Husky football.
Streaking aside, the Huskies now are within one home victory of tying the modern consecutive home winning streak record of 17, set between 1991-93. That is some heady company. It is the longest current streak in the Pac-10 and third longest in the nation behind Nebraska (24) and the mighty Hurricanes (18). Miami has a ways to go before it reaches 58 again, when it will once again be time for the Dawgs to head back to South Beach and put them into their place.
Notes from the press box
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