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OK. It's the real deal now. As I spoke with players before Monday's practice, it was very obvious that the Huskies understood that from now on, these games count for the Roses. The focus was there, the sense of urgency was there, the waiting is over. Here come the Bears.

QB Cody Pickett believes that he knows what the Bears are going to be doing on defense – stop him. "That's something we've done well all year, is throw the ball. I know Cal is going to come in here ready to stop our passing game so we've got to be balanced on offense," said Pickett, who has thrown for over 1500 yards in his first four games this year.

"We try to mix in the option with a lot of runs, of course, I would love to get into five wides in the shot gun and throw it on every down."

It won't happen on Saturday, as Cal will be gunning for #3 in purple. Especially since the Golden Bears are coming off of a tough loss to WSU.

"Credit WSU, they had a good game. You can't think that because they put up a lot of yards last week that they're (Cal) going to give up a lot of yards to us. They're going to come in here fired up, ready to play. They had an unfortunate loss last week so their backs are against the wall, needing a win. We're not thinking we're going to have an easy day or anything like that as far as throwing the ball. We've got to come in ready to play."

Washington hasn't lost to California in a football game since Gerald R. Ford was president, star jeans were the rage, and fondue sets were still considered a good wedding gift.

Pickett said of the streak, "We haven't talked about it. The winning streak and all that is something that we want to uphold, but we're worried about the one game for us right now."

Washington has a nice winning streak at home to think about as well, the longest currently in the Pac-10. "Hopefully we can keep it going for a little longer. Credit the fans. It just the great atmosphere we have here at Husky Stadium. It's a great advantage for us when we get to play at home. It's kind of a hectic place for opposing teams to play," said Pickett.

Of his counterpart, Cal's Kyle Boller, Pickett had nothing but praise. "He's a good quarterback. I had a chance to meet him last summer, and he's a good guy and throws the ball really well."

One of Pickett's favorite targets this year has been sophomore sensation Charles "ET" Frederick, who has overcome a lot of off-the-field distractions to show everyone why he was rated as the #3 wide receiver in the nation coming out of high school. "He's a guy with tons of talent. We have lots of depth at receiver, and he's guy that's electric. You put the ball in his hands and he's capable of taking it the distance every time. You saw a little of that at Michigan with the great catch, and a little bit at Idaho with some of his catches," said Pickett.

Pickett has a lot of weapons at his disposal, and has made the most of them. He has thrown to running back Rich Alexis 13 times in the past two games, showing that the Husky signal caller is willing to share the wealth and not go for the home run ball on every down.

"That's something that you've always got to get better at, you've got to be able to take what the defense gives you. If linebackers drop then you've got to be able to hit your running back and let them get the little yards. You can't try to force the ball downfield or bad things happen, you throw interceptions. As a quarterback there's so much to learn everyday."

LB Marquis Cooper has been a tackling machine, a real bright spot on a defense that has been maligned a great deal this year. Cooper had to wage quite a battle just to win the starting job over sophomore Joseph Lobendahn. "Basically it will be me and him this year at Will. He probably won't play mike. I look forward to seeing him in more games," said Cooper.

Cooper has had the job since replacing Lobendahn early in the Michigan game and he has yet to let go of his first team status. He had an interception last weekend, which made him smile. "We're all tied now, Derek has one in the secondary, Terry has one on the D-line, and I have one for the linebackers, so I'm looking forward to getting the LBs in front," joked Cooper.

It's not a laughing matter, however, when you factor in Cooper's 4.40 40 time, which is as fast as anyone in the secondary.

Senior OL Elliott Zajac has had to watch from the sidelines. He has some thoughts about what he's seen from his fellow offensive linemen. "Obviously we're winning, so that's not that bad. We're 3-1, I wish we were 4-0, but they've got to be doing something right. There's a lot of things I've noticed being on the sidelines that I think need to change, and I think my leadership or ‘veteranism,' however you want say it, will help that this week going into pac-10 play. There are some things that need to pick up," said the 6-3 297-pound guard.

"It's incredibly hard sitting out, especially after being voted a captain to just sit there and watch your team go out there to battle. You just get to sit there like a regular fan and it hurts."

He expects to see some action against Cal on Saturday, but he's still not sure of how the rotation will work. "It's a trial and error type thing. This week we'll do the same thing. I'll go out there and run around and see how it feels tomorrow."

Zajac sees definite areas for improvement on the line. "I think intensity. There are a couple guys on our O-line that are a little out of shape, so they get tired. All the pass blocking comes, comes, comes, then all of a sudden the run play comes and they're a little tired. That needs to change. You have to dig down deep, grab some intensity, what's left in your body and move these people and make holes. I think we'll pick it up. Honestly I haven't been out there with them. When I get out there I'll lead in huddle, tell the guys that we need these yards and the first down, and get this down. Hopefully I'll lead the guys in the right direction."

Husky kicker John Anderson will be happy, as he regains 1/3 of his special teams unit. "I'll definitely snap this week. After I practice this week and make sure my snaps are crisp and clean I plan to definitely go this week," said Zajac of his place kicking snapping duties.

WR Paul Arnold has a new job. He's a reporter now. Yep, media-shy Paul is part of the mediots. "They've got it set up where I interview some student athletes that participate in Olympic sports. They've got me behind the mike, we'll see how that goes. It should be fun, I've had one interview so far, I had a lot of fun with it," said Arnold of his new gig in the Athletic Department.

"I interviewed (Husky goalie) Hope Solo. I was a little nervous about it as it started, but as it rolled on I got a little more comfortable and got back to my personality. It could come back and help me later for a career. I'm definitely keeping it open."

Terry Johnson is looking to turn up the heat on Cal quarterback Kyle Boller on Saturday. "If we do have just the front four rushing, we're going to take it personally. We have to adjust our defense depending on what they do, but I really don't know how we're going to attack them," said Johnson, who has an interception for a touchdown this season.

"I'm pass rushing exclusively when we go nickel, but sometimes I'm pass rushing from the edge, instead of up the middle. I run to the outside and try to contain the play, and look for things to come backside to me," said the one they call ‘Tank.'

Says Johnson of preparations for Cal, "We practice hard, and we get ready for a game on Saturday. It's a big game and the mind set will be a little different."

He was very disappointed in the second half effort against Idaho on Saturday. "We were ready for the game to be over. I hate to say it, but we felt like we proved a point. We got a little lazy in the second half and didn't take it as seriously as we did in the first half," admitted Tank.

"But that won't be a problem in the Pac-10. Every game each weekend is a pac-10 championship game for us. We're going to play it as it were a championship game. And you can't let up in a championship game."

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