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If there were one word to describe the players' moods on Monday at the Don James Center, it would definitely be ‘angry.' This comes as no surprise to anyone. After another performance that was far from expectations, the Dawgs must look forward to another week of trying to fix what is broken in order to reclaim their confidence and avoid the unthinkable – a losing season.

"They (USC) outplayed us Saturday. We didn't execute and we just have to play better," said Cody Pickett, who once again took his arm to the limits. Even though Pickett did throw two costly interceptions at USC, he continues to progress into one of the finest UW quarterbacks ever. Without a rushing attack to balance him, Pickett is pretty much the entire engine in the Husky offense.
This week Pickett and the gang take their act to the place where they last won a game on the road - Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

"They have a great defense. They have one of the best pass rushers in the nation in Terrell Suggs and it will be a big challenge for us. We definitely got to play better than we have the last couple of weeks and we have to start going forward again."

Even though he is putting up numbers for a quarterback never before seen at Washington, Pickett still sees the need to improve in the offense and brought a list with him.

"We have to get better in the running game; I have to be more efficient in the passing game, I can't turn the ball over, I have to throw better, and we just have to get better as an offense, in all aspects of it. We know we need to keep a balanced attack, whether it be the option or whatever, so we're just going to keep mixing up the plays and hopefully have better success," said the junior from Caldwell, Idaho.

Though there may be much despair in Huskyville, Pickett said that this is no time to fold the season and give up on what can still be done.

"Everybody wants to say ‘you guys should quit' or whatever," Pickett said. "By no means. We have five games left in our season and we're going to be playing even harder now, not that we haven't been playing as hard before, but by no means are we going to put our heads down or anything like that. We're going to keep our heads up and we're going to play hard."

So what does a star quarterback do after a frustrating Saturday afternoon? He does what every star quarterback does, of course.

Pickett went out and built a fish tank.

"Some of my friends and I, we're kind of into that thing a little bit so we were just hanging out and relaxing."

However while some may find building aquariums as a way to get their head clear over frustrations of the past, other players such as Khalif Barnes still could not get Saturday out of their minds and the frustration showed.

"It wasn't our best effort," said Barnes of Saturday. "We could've done a lot, I think on both sides of the ball. In terms of coming out with a different result, we didn't do that. I don't know why we didn't do that. I don't think it had anything to do with preparation because we had a good week of practice that week. I thought we had good intensity about playing USC in the Coliseum and when we got on to the filed it just didn't turn out that way."

In regards to the mysterious answer as to why they cannot find their groove in their running game, Barnes is getting impatient for answers.

"I don't know what it is. You guys ask us the same question every week. I'm getting tired of you guys asking us that question just as much as everyone is getting tired of asking those questions. And we're getting tired of giving you guys the answers as to what we're not doing and not doing what we said we're going to do. I really don't know. I'm really stumped."

The offensive line could be back at full strength against Arizona State with the return of Nick Newton, which could be a shot in the arm.

"Zaj (Elliott Zajac) is still a little banged up and Newt (Nick Newton) is a little hurt too but should be alright. From what I hear he should be back this week. After this week we should be back to full strength," said Barnes.

Khalif has a big task waiting for him when they face the highly regarded Terrell Suggs and he is looking forward to the challenge.

"This week will probably have to be my best pass blocking week. Terrell Suggs is a pretty good pass rusher and I am looking forward to playing against him He's a great player so I will have to be on my game this week against Terrell. That's what I have to work on."

With another Pac-10 quarterback putting up huge numbers against the Washington secondary at USC, their job doesn't get any easier with Andrew Walter of ASU, who racked up over 500 yards in their defeat over Oregon.

"I'm sure with the way we've stopped the run, there are a lot of teams in the Pac-10 licking their chops about throwing the ball. But like I said, we have to stop them and make them work for every single play that they get. A lot of plays came really easy to USC and teams in the Pac-10 are just too dangerous to be giving up yards like that," said safety Greg Carothers.

With Oregon's loss, it just showed how strong the Pac-10 is from top to bottom and that most likely, no team in the Pac-10 will go undefeated this season. However, that is no consolation to Carothers.

"For the most part, we have to stop thinking like that. We don't need that anymore. What we need to do is worry about us winning and not what happens to the rest of the Pac-10. All I care about in the Pac 10 is the five games we have left. I don't care about who plays who and what happens."

With so much questions hovering over the secondary this season, it certainly did not help losing cornerback Roc Alexander for the remainder of the season. Carothers has been playing SAM linebacker in many sets this year but with Alexander out, it may be more difficult to move around.

"That does affect us," said Carothers. "He's probably one of the corners that are more capable of playing aggressive because of his size and speed obviously. If he makes mistakes he's able to catch up with almost anyone because of how fast he is."

One would thing that the defense that practices with the best passing offense on the west coast, they would get a handle on what can be fixed. However, Carothers is perplexed by the questions that still remain.

"You can't really quite put a finger on it. Its odd how our offense is doing so well in passing and our defense is not doing so well in pass defense when they play each other every week, all week. It's weird. I don't get it."

While they have struggled mightily against the pass, the defense has been marvelous at stopping the run. DE Anthony Kelley shared some of his insights.

"I just think we were putting too much emphasis on the run and so they (USC) beat us with the deep ball," said Kelley. "The big emphasis was stopping the small ball and stopping the short yardage passes. So I think they kind of stung us with the play action pass. We have to make sure we go out to this game and cover all facets instead of emphasizing just one."

"We did the best we could on the run and we need to get better to improve on the pass rush."

As a senior and one of the team leaders, Kelley worries that the younger players may start to panic.

"Most definitely. That's why we have to let them know that the Huskies went through adversity before. It's how we bounce back that's going to count. We still have five more games left and they are going to be some tough five games. And going into the tank is not going to help us. As a senior that's what I'm really going to really establish this week."

Kelley intends to be more vocal and making sure the team cuts down on the mistakes that have haunted them all throughout this season.

"I know that after watching this game that (ASU) probably thinks that they can just do what they want. I just know that from the defensive line's standpoint, we're going to be getting after them as best as we can. I know that we're going to be on the secondary and the linebacker and making sure that they got their coverages down. I think the defense as a whole, were going to make sure we're not going to get beat with the long ball," said Kelley.

"We're pretty good on the run, now we just have to bring it all together so that we're good on the run and the passing."

One of the most happy-go-lucky guys you would ever meet probably said it best yesterday.

"Basically, this is some bullshit," said Wilbur Hooks. "I don't really know what could be the problem. I just think that we the players need to get our asses together. Plain and simple."

These are incredibly strong words if you've ever met Wilbur, who always has a smile for everyone, for all occasions. The smile has been replaced by a grimace.

"I don't blame any of the coaches. I think the coaches are putting together great game plans for us. Coach Neuheisel is a great coach. He says after the game all the time that. ‘This one is me. It's my fault,' and that pisses me off because it's not his fault."

Hooks continued. "As players we need to go out there and play up to the certain level that is expected in Husky football. A lot of guys just like to come in and just say, ‘Hey, I'm a Husky football player.' Its not just about putting on the W and everything will be all good. There's a certain way about doing things around here and it hasn't been that way."

Now in his fifth year in the program, Hooks has seen his fair share of Husky ups and downs and knows what is expected out of him as a player for the University of Washington.

"We were taught that when we were younger that it was just a certain standard of the way you do certain things, so it's expected out of everybody to perform a certain way and showcase effort that way. I think we're going to get it fixed and hopefully soon."

Hooks is still hopeful that this season can still bring pleasant surprises and be very rewarding. A Pac-10 champion with two conference losses is nothing new and mathematically, the Huskies still do have an outside shot at playing in Pasadena on New Years Day.

"We could. It's very possible. We still have five games left and we could have a ten game winning season (bowl victory included) so we're looking to go out and give other teams in the Pac-10 a loss too. I felt going into this season that whoever won the Pac-10 wasn't going to do it undefeated. This conference is hard-nosed and it could be any team. Hopefully the Huskies have proven that in the 18 out of 25 years we've been first or second that we know how to do it. We just have to go out there and do it instead of just talking about it."

The negative press and comments about his program kills Hooks inside. He still has faith that this group of defensive backs can get their act together.

"Just as much as a quarterback looking forward and licking his chops about passing on us, our secondary should be licking their chops and saying, ‘We're the Dawgs. We are the Huskies and we're going come and knock these guys down.' That's how our boys back there should think about it, especially when there is so much negative criticism. They just need to go out there and play with confidence and just ruin ASU's day. They have to rise to the occasion."

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