Notes from the Press Box

There were a lot of positives to take out of this game, and it was damn nice to see the Huskies get a win for their seniors on their final parade through the tunnel at Husky Stadium this afternoon. Although the running game is still anemic, the defense took the ball away five times, giving it to the offense three times and putting it into the endzone twice.

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  • THE GOOD:

    Redemption is sweet: After getting toasted for a 60-yard touchdown thrown right over the top of him, Husky cornerback Derrick Johnson made back-to-back interceptions, the second of which went for a 42-yard touchdown.

    Getting defensive - In the first 20 minutes of play, Washington's rushing defense was once again superb. They held Steven Jackson to short gains while still putting ample pressure on Derek Anderson. Anderson hit the 60-yarder, but the Husky secondary baited him into two interceptions and he was clearly rattled. He was so rattled that he threw a second pick that went for a Husky TD and then promptly missed his next four throws by a wide margin. He only completed four passes the entire first half. Jackson got most of his yards in the second quarter and then the defense stiffened, holding him to just 32 the entire second half. Jackson has been compared to Herschel Walker. Yes, he's that good. Next week Washington will take on a back that is not as big but faster than Jackson in Oregon's Onterrio Smith.

    Onterrio Who? - Kudos to OSU's Jackson for his 13-yard TD run. On the play he broke it outside left tackle and put a shimmy-shake on Derrick Johnson, which froze the Husky corner and allowed the 227-pound tailback to get the corner and the end zone. Jackson had a solid second quarter and was over 100 yards for the game by halftime on 21 carries. The sophomore tailback is the heart of the Beaver offense and will do wonders in Derek Anderson's development. It's a similar situation that the Huskies had when a young quarterback named Brock Huard was still learning the ropes and had big Cory Dillon to hand the ball to. Jackson finished the game with 135 yards on 35 carries.

    Island pride: - Joseph Lobendahn (say low-ben-DINE) earned the start at inside WIL linebacker ahead of Marquis Cooper, who has struggled as of late. He replied by hitting Steven Jackson for no gain on two plays early in the game.

    Nate the great: - With 1:38 remaining in the third quarter, Steven Jackson looked to be stuffed at the line of scrimmage. After ducking, bobbing, and weaving away from several Husky defenders he found himself outside containment and had one guy to beat – Husky true freshman cornerback Nate Robinson. The 5-8 dynamo was able to get the much bigger Jackson to the turf for a one-yard loss. If Jackson would've gotten by Robinson, it would've gone for 30 yards, maybe more.

    Nate followed that up with the interception that sealed the game for Washington. Derek Anderson lobbed a ball for Tim Euhus but it was woefully lacking zip. Robinson stepped in front and made the pick, Washington's fifth of the game. I doubt anyone will wonder why the true freshman is starting ahead of experienced players Chris Massey and Sam Cunningham. Yes, he's that good.

    Fore! - McLaughlin must have one Hell of a pitching wedge in his golf bag. Inside the last minute of the third quarter, he uncorked a 56-yard punt that bounced at the one and bit like a Phil Mickelson flop shot. Wilbur Hooks was able to catch the ball on the bounce and down it at the two. That pin job was crucial as it set up Ben Mahdavi's interception and John Anderson's 52-yard field goal to ice the game.

    Getting some kicks: - John Anderson's 52-yard field goal was his sixth of his career of over 50 yards. He had three as a freshman and has had three this season.

    Pickett number one: With a 14-yard screen pass to Rich Alexis with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter, Cody Pickett surpassed Brock Huard's career passing yardage record. Huard had thrown for 5,742 yards through his junior season before leaving for the NFL.

    THE BAD:

    Where's the love? - It was the final home game for 15 seniors on the UW roster and as the band played the Star Spangled Banner, there were approximately 17 people in the stands. . . OK, closer to 17,000, but in the Dawg House, it looked pathetic. Traffic was a breeze today on the way to the game, so that wasn't an excuse. The Oregon State fans were all there early and outnumbered the Husky faithful until about 12:31. At kickoff, there were approximately 50,000 fans seated, 6,000 were dressed in Orange.

    Where's the excitement? - Washington walked out of the tunnel at approximately 12:35, the scheduled time for kickoff. They didn't run, they didn't jump, they just sort of sauntered out and formed a tunnel for their seniors to run through as they were introduced. Anthony Kelley received the loudest ovation. It was a long shot for Kelley to even make it into Washington. He overcame a learning disability and earned his degree in four years. It is young men like Anthony that the partial qualifier rule was invented. Paul Arnold also received a nice ovation.

    However, the Oregon State fans were nearly as loud as their road-clad warriors raced out the tunnel behind the Husky team. It was disappointing to hear the Husky Stadium fans being almost drowned out by the visiting section.

    One and out: - John Anderson made his debut as the Husky punter. His one and only punt traveled 16 yards. Derek McLaughlin took over and Anderson's punting career was over before it really got started.

    Put them away, will ya? - When Washington went up 38-22 in the third quarter, helped largely by three Beaver penalties, they had the momentum and the crowd in their favor. It was the perfect opportunity to bury the Beavers and their struggling quarterback. Instead, Anderson was able to hit a couple of short passes in rhythm and then two clutch throws to lead OSU into the end zone and right back into the game.

    Sack attack lack - Washington's defensive line did a decent job of getting up field, but were unable to get any sacks on Anderson. Defensive Coordinator Tim Hundley believes that a defense should sack a quarterback once for every 12 times he throws. A few times they had him hemmed in but Anderson got away. Next week, they'll need to take Jason Fife to the Autzen Stadium turf when they have the opportunities.

    Slanted field: - Washington's defense played well enough today, but still had a difficult time defending the underneath slant pattern in the zone between the linebackers and safeties. Also, OSU cashed in on yet two more big plays against the Husky secondary. One was clearly an offensive pass interference penalty that wasn't called, but it counts in the statistics column.

    Speed kills: - Watching OSU's linebackers chase down Husky tailback Rich Alexis is either a sign that OSU has incredible team speed or that Alexis is still struggling with his motor. Twice in the open field OSU's Richard Siegler was able to stand Alexis up in the open field and make a solo tackle.

    Safety Dance…nope - Washington's defense had OSU pinned inside their two-yard line. Steven Jackson took the handoff and was bounced backwards into his own end zone. However, he was not brought down and was able to pick up eight yards after the contact.
    Illegal, so why not call it? - Does anyone else get as mad as I do that they don't call a penalty on the "Norm Chow receiver screen" play? It's that play where the flanker catches the ball while running an out and then cuts inside of the wide receiver, who has already thrown a block on the cornerback. This play is lovely, but illegal. The wide receiver is not supposed to be able to throw a block when the ball is still in the air, that is called a pick and would be flagged if it were downfield. USC uses this play with sickening success, and OSU used it three times in the second half with good success. I hate it.

    Be Ware! - Cody Pickett loves to throw to Kevin Ware, but it cost him dearly last weekend and nearly cost him again today. With 9:00 remaining in the game, facing third and four, Pickett locked onto him and tried to thread one into his 6-2 265-pound TE. Safety Lawrence Turner stepped in front of the ball and should've had a huge interception that could've gone a long ways. He dropped it.

    THE EXTRA-CURRICULAR

    Windy enough for ya? - In the fourth quarter, the Husky student section decided that it was time to part with their thunder-sticks, those inflatable clappers that annoy the Hell out of everyone. While the wind was gusting toward Lake Washington, the students all threw their clappers into the air and they flew like birds toward the open end of the stadium. You had to be there to enjoy the visual it created, I guess.

    Coaches relaxed - I chatted with running backs coach Chuck Heater before the game up in the catwalk where you get the coffee in the press box. Chuck wasn't nervous in the least. When I tried to get him to talk football and about the game plan, he shook his head and asked, "So how are your little ones, Dawgman?" In the restroom I had the "honor" of standing next to Gilby, during the fourth quarter with about 6:00 left and OSU with the ball. He looked like he didn't have a care in the world and winked on his way out. Yep, it was a good day for the UW coaches.

    Trash talk - Oregon State is easily the biggest trash talking team in the conference, and they didn't disappoint this afternoon. While the Huskies were trying to come down the tunnel to get out and have their seniors introduced, the OSU team stood in their way and blocked their path. Tempers flared but physicalities were avoided. Still, Husky QB Cody Pickett said of LB Richard Siegler, "That guy was talking before the game in the tunnel, during the game, and even when I took a knee he was still talking."

    I wonder what he's saying now? Perhaps something like, "Hey Derek, could you throw the ball to the guys in white?"

    Luminaries - On the sidelines today were former Huskies Kurth Connell, Rock Nelson, Darrell Daniels, Pat Conniff, Kyle Benn, and Tom Tunure. Mariner relief pitcher Jeff Nelson was also on the sidelines, making sure that Dave "Softy" Mahler wouldn't get hurt. Husky Director of Football Operations Jerry Nevin wasn't so lucky, as he suffered a broken wrist after Rich Alexis slid into him on the sidelines. Nevin went to the hospital.

    Dawgman.com's hands team - On John Anderson's 52-yard field goal, our own Kim Grinolds was the man that attempted to one-hand the ball as it went through the uprights. Clutching our new digital camera in one hand, he failed to catch Anderson's successful trey with the other. Booooo!

    How do you do - Anthony Kelley took Derek Anderson down in hog-tie fashion and in the process the quarterback's ankle was rolled underneath his body. He left the game and was replaced by Adam Rothenfluh, who was greeted very rudely by Terry "Tank" Johnson. Tank planted him to the turf so hard that DE Anthony Kelley helped him up and then helped him search for his teeth on the Husky Stadium turf. Two plays later Kai Ellis drilled him to the turf and knocked every ounce of breath out of his lungs. Kelley again looked concerned for the quarterback's health, but he popped up and weathered the onslaught.

    By the way, X-rays on Derek Anderson's ankle came back negative.

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