Notes from the Press Box

Autzen Stadium lived up to its billing of being the loudest and most intimidating environment for a Pac-10 conference game. When the game started, you couldn't hear the person talking next to you in the press box. However, that all changed as the game unfolded and it became clear that Oregon was overmatched without Onterrio Smith in the line up. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, you could hear the transistor radio in the bathroom.

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    Fowl field position: Derek McLaughlin came onto the field standing in his own end zone. He took the snap and put foot to the ball, sending Keenan Howry running backwards from his own 40. The ball bounced clear back at the 15 and rolled to the two, where it was downed for a UW and Autzen Stadium record 80 yards. Two punts later, he nailed a 48-yarder that pinned Oregon at their own two again. His first punt of the second half was downed on the Duck 11. He later hit back to back 50+ yarders, one resulted in a fumble recovery while the other was fielded at the sideline and downed at the 12.

    Resilient Dawgs: After Oregon put their 14 (and only) points on the board, Washington needed to answer in the first quarter to avoid getting buried in a landslide. Just when it looked like their drive would die because of a holding penalty, Pickett found senior Pat Reddick for 23 yards, setting up a fourth and one. Alexis would get six yards to keep the drive alive, and would carry into the end zone from five yards out to cap it.

    Sack at last: After going all of last week with no sacks, the defense was able to take down Fife on the last play of the first quarter, forcing the Ducks to punt back to the Huskies. On Oregon's next possession, Josh Miller crushed the pocket and brought Fife down for another sack.

    Running man: Rich Alexis ran hard, not breaking any long gains but his first-down carries for four and five yards allowed the play book to open a bit wider. Washington was able to spread Oregon out a bit more because of it. He was dinged up after being run into the kicker's net on the Husky sideline. He returned to the game but had to gut it out on a bad wheel. His 56 yards in the first half were key in keeping pressure off of Cody Pickett while the Dawgs were crawling back from a 14-point deficit.

    Alexis would finish the game with 122 yards on the ground. It was the lowest his pad level has been all season. Kudos to RB Coach Chuck Heater, and to Keith Gilbertson who called much more option today.

    Fourth down, who cares? Twice in the first half, Washington faced fourth and one, and went for it both times. Alexis picked up six and Pickett picked up three to convert both of them. Both drives ended up in touchdowns.

    2nd quarter Dawg defense: After getting toasted for two touchdowns in the first quarter, including a long TD pass to cap a 98-yard Duck drive, the Dawgs stiffened. Oregon netted 177 yards in quarter number one in running out to a 14-0 lead, and only tallied 22 yards and just one first down in the second stanza when Washington got back into the game.

    They would remain stiff in the second half, as they held the Ducks to just 118 yards after the first 20 minutes.

    Erasing records: Cody Pickett set three more records this afternoon. He surpassed Ryan Leaf's single season passing yardage mark, Steve Stenstrom's season completions mark, and the UW school record for TD passes in a season. Pickett now has thrown for 3818 yards and 24 touchdowns and has completed 305 passes in 2002.

    Two more picks: Derrick Johnson had two interceptions for the second consecutive week. He got his hands on three other passes and was within a fingernail of getting his mitt on the 37-yard TD pass to Jason Willis that put the Ducks up 14-0.

    Balancing it out: Washington ran 86 plays from scrimmage, 49 of them rushes. That balanced offense controlled the clock for over 40 minutes and generated 479 total yards. It was more like the Husky offense of old and the option made its triumphant return. On both fourth downs, Washington ran the option successfully, and Alexis' second TD run also came on the option.

    THE BAD:

    Nate's fate: Nate Robinson had a gift-wrapped interception on Oregon's first drive that would've not only kept the scoreboard clean, it very well could've netted Washington some incredible field position, not to mention momentum. He dropped it and Oregon scored two plays later.

    On Oregon's next possession, they went 98 yards in just seven plays to put a dagger through the heart of the Husky defense, and all momentum was with the guys in green.

    Shaw SHANK redemption: One punt after his school record 80 yarder, McLaughlin panicked a bit when the snap to him was low and shanked a 17-yarder off of the side of his foot. He would more than redeem himself, however.

    Killer instinct: In the second quarter, after McLaughlin had the Ducks backed up on their two and Derrick Johnson intercepted Fife, Washington had momentum and a shot to really put the hurt on the Ducks, but an interception in the end zone allowed the Ducks to survive the quarter tied. It wouldn't really matter, however.

    Oregon's offense: How bad is this Duck team without Onterrio Smith? We thought Washington was one-dimensional, but I think we all witnessed an even worse example today by Oregon. They couldn't run the ball without Smith, as true freshman Terrence Whitehead could only muster 34 yards on 8 carries. Ryan Shaw netted 42 yards on 7 attempts, but 22 came on one carry. When your quarterback can only complete 10 of 32 attempts, it doesn't matter if you are throwing to Keenan Howry and Sammy Parker. You are going to get hammered and that is exactly what happened to the Ducks.


    What's number seven doing out there? Yes, you saw correctly. That was senior WR Wilbur Hooks playing free safety in the second quarter. James Sims didn't play and Owen Biddle started the game. Hooks has the speed to cover the deep ball when necessary and made his debut in the secondary.

    Still crazy after all these years: During the pre-game warm-ups, I'm sure they show the same highlights on the big screen before every game. Every big play the Ducks have ever made against the Huskies were replayed on the screen with the fans just roaring and shaking their yellow pompoms. The fans were screaming their loudest actually between highlights because they all knew what was coming next … the Kenny Wheaton pick. You've got to give the fans some credit -- they still get just as excited as when the plays actually happened.

    Short-term memory? Husky fans throughout the stadium were reminded that the Ducks have won more Pac-10 games than any other team in the conference … during the last eight years. Also of note, when they introduced their seniors, the stadium was packed with every single fan standing and cheering with each name introduced (the loudest for Husky-killer Keenan Howry).

    Not that hostile: The Huskies haven't played in such a raucous environment since they visited the Orange Bowl last year. One major difference here: today there were no beer bottles being tossed around like weapons – spam Dawg bones maybe. There was another slight difference as well, this was in security procedures entering the stadium. At the Orange Bowl, we had to set our laptops on the ground so that two dogs could sniff them out, as well as sniff us out. Today, we asked the gentleman at the gate, "Do you need to search these (laptop computers)?" He answered with a wry smile, "You don't want me to touch those things. I won't even tell you what happened the last time I touched one."

    Bye bye Ducks: With 9:52 left in the game, the stadium announced said the attendance of 57,112 was the highest of the season. They probably should have had that number on a countdown, like the game clock ticking down to another Oregon loss, because the Ducks fans were flooding the exits at the time of the announcement. Ironically, the announcer also thanked the loyal fans for sticking around during the rainy weather… but they're sure not sticking around through a Husky butt-whooping.

    You're all wet: As we were heading down to the sidelines with the game winding down, the remaining Duck fans provided some good laughs. One funny comment was, "Hey Skippy! We don't want to see you talking any trash to Mike after the game."

    Neuheisel didn't talk smack but he and his team had one hellatious celebration at midfield on the Oregon "O" after the game. The faithful Husky fans were awesome and were treated to a great celebration with their team. The last cheer of the game was loud and clear: "Whose House? Dawg's House!!" Top Stories