QB Cody Pickett saw some positives from Saturday night at Arizona State. "It seems like we ran the ball a little bit better. The yards we gave up were on the pass. I think our running game feels good right now and we just need to put everything together and play a full game."
"We've just got to stick together. It's a tough time. We're really down right now. This sticks with us every day. This is our lives right now. Our players hear this. This is what we do. These loses are devastating to ourselves, but we have to stay together. If we start splitting apart, things are just going to go downhill. Our team is going to stay together. We're a bunch of close-knit guys. We're going to stay together and keep playing hard."
Pickett has been part of the team meetings that have gone on to discuss the problems. "We've had a little bit of that, and I think there's going to be more now. I think we're going to pull together and be stronger."
Cody was sacked eight times by ASU and threw a costly interception while in the grasp of "T-Rex", Terrell Suggs. "He was swinging me around and my first thought was to get rid of the ball but then there's intentional grounding. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw somebody out there and so I tried to throw the ball, but he gave me another yank and it turned over. After that, I couldn't tell what happened. That's something, where I'm trying to make a play and I can't do that. It was early in the game. I should have taken the sack and we could have punted. I got in trouble trying to make something happen."
ASU kept close tabs on his favorite receiver, Reggie Williams. "Teams are trying to double-cover him right now. ASU had a guy bumping him at the line and then also had a safety over the top of the hash. They are trying to do as much as they can to get two guys on him."
Defensive lineman Josh Miller has played good football all season for the Husky defense. He has been a bright spot on an otherwise maligned stopping unit.
"It's pretty much a shock that we're 4-4, but we have next week to play. That's the nice thing, that we have a next week," said Miller in preparations for UCLA.
"We got good pressure on the quarterback (against ASU). He was hesitating a lot of the times I'm not sure we took advantage of his lack of experience . . . but we got him rattled a little bit. Defensively we feel pretty good about ourselves because we improved another week. The coaches said we improved this week. Offensively, I don't know about the confidence level. Watching the game, it looks pretty low, I guess."
Miller looks for a very good game against the Bruins on Saturday evening. "It should be a real physical game. I think they have three returning offensive linemen from last year and they are looking pretty good."
Miller and company will face a freshman quarterback and a freshman running back. Josh will take aim at shutting down Tyler Ebell, who has been on quite a streak despite his age. Ebell has run for over 100 yards four consecutive games and has carried the Bruins in the absence of their senior quarterback, Cory Paus, who is lost for the season with an ankle fracture.
"I think it's a big challenge. It puts more pressure on me to get up field, to penetrate my gap," said Miller of trying to stuff the 5-9 170-pound Ebell.
"San Jose State used a smaller back (Lamar Ferguson), and it was hard to see him as a lineman."
Will UCLA be a statement game for Miller? "We need to make big hits, bigger than in the past. We need to knock people down. Nobody has, offensively, starting with Michigan. Nobody has. I believe a lot of the times we beat ourselves. Maybe it's the confidence level. I have no idea."
Senior WR Paul Arnold didn't hide his displeasure over how his final season as a Husky is going. "We had a big season coming for us this year, and it's a big disappointment. But we still have talent on this team and we believe that we can have a winning season."
Arnold knows that his team's backs are collectively against a wall now, but is trying to keep them from panicking. "We definitely have to win out, but we also have to take one game at a time. Everybody's got to be willing to fix the mistakes they've been making and do the things that it takes to be properly prepared."
"Everybody has a perfect picture for their senior year but it's not going that way right now. I can't sit around and dwell on the past and say 'I wish' or 'I hope'. All I can do is go out and try to fix it. We haven't reached that point where it's like we're giving up or our only motivation is to spoil somebody else's season."
Junior safety Greg Carothers remembers the UCLA game well last season. "UCLA was kind of a season-spoiler for us last year. It was going really well and then we went down there and got thumped. Bad. We got embarrassed down there. It'll be interesting to see how some of the people, including myself if I get to play, react to this situation. I'm excited. We'll see what happens."
Carothers is probable for the game, but is nursing an injury (groin). He did see some progress on defense Saturday night. "I think we showed improvement. They won the field-position battle. They were working with a short field a lot of the time. I think our corners came out and worked hard and did a real good job. I think we can do better."
Carothers wants to create more turnovers. "People might say that we're spending a lot of time out there on the field, but whose fault is that? That's our own fault. We have the opportunity to get the ball back. And that's got to be what we look to do."
The role reversal of having the offense struggle surprised Carothers a bit on Saturday. "Yeah, it caught me off-guard. But we have struggled and they've been the ones to keep us going, so we needed to keep them going when they were struggling and we didn't get it done. Our defense played well, but evidently we didn't play well enough because we lost."
He hears the criticism, from fans, media, and even family. "It makes you think, and a lot of the time it makes you think negatively because of what you hear from everybody. Not just from the media. It's family members too wondering what's going on. I've got old coaches, parents, Grandma . . . everybody wants to know what's going on with the program. I mean, my Grandma wants to know what's going on and I'm going to have to give her an answer pretty soon."
Defensive lineman Terry Johnson had been exiled to speaking to the media after the USC game, but that ban was removed today. "We're excited that we're getting better. That's our main focus as we go into practice every week is to get better at the things we didn't do well the week before. And the fact that we did get better shows that we have the ability," said Johnson.
"It's frustrating to be on the losing end, but a lot of the times when we weren't doing good the offense had our back. It's a two-way street, and when we all get it together it's going to be a beautiful thing. When it does happen, I'll be excited."
Johnson played in front of family and friends in his native Arizona on Saturday. "It was tough getting all the tickets and stuff, but it was fun. I was excited about going home. I had about 176 people that came to the game. It was a good experience. I've been on the winning side and I've been on the losing side and I know that my family will have my back regardless of how the game comes out. Going home is always a pleasure and you feel comfortable. The air just feels right going through your lungs."
Johnson isn't sure what it will take to get this team over the hump, but his focus is on the trenches. "All I can control is what goes on up front. It's frustrating knowing you can't be everywhere all the time. The only thing I can focus on is to get better and better in practice. And if guys want to get better and are trying to get better, that's all you can ask for."
Randy Hart's defensive line has improved each week, and not for lack of motivation. "We took it personal. People were saying, 'you're losing Larry (Tripplett). You're losing Marcus (Roberson).' They said that we were going to be a question mark. We took that to heart. We worked hard all spring. All summer long we worked hard as a unit. We all stayed here and worked hard. And Coach (Randy) Hart does things, like motivates us and works us hard during the week, breaking us down, but by Saturday you are as strong as you can be. Coach Hart is a great Coach. We respect him. We listen to him, and we compete with each other to see who can be the best for Saturday. That's our motto - toughness and competition."
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