Aug. 30, 2000
SEATTLE - The Washington Huskies will try to live up to their preseason hype when they host Idaho on Saturday.
Last season, the 13th-ranked Huskies went 7-5 in their first season under Rick Neuheisel and lost to Kansas State in the Holiday Bowl. With 17 returning starters, including senior quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo and tailback Willie Hurst, Washington is expected to battle Southern California for the Pac-10 title.
"I think the kids are obviously excited. People are thrilled that it is football season and also thrilled that the Huskies are mentioned in the same sentences with the top programs in the country," Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel said. "As I have said often times, Washington is one of the premier programs in the nation, and has been for some time. Expectations come with a price and it is our responsibility to live up to them."
Tuiasosopo threw for 2,221 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while adding 541 yards and six touchdowns rushing. Hurst ran for 546 yards and five touchdowns in nine games last season.
Washington has a challenging non-conference schedule before its Pac-10 slate, also playing host to Miami and traveling to Colorado for what should be an emotional homecoming for Neuheisel, who coached the Buffaloes from 1995-98 and went 33-14 there.
Tom Cable makes his coaching debut at Idaho and has ties to the Husky staff. He served as a graduate assistant to Washington offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson and was offensive line coach under Neuheisel at Colorado in 1998.
"I'm anxious. It really hit me Sunday when we were taking the team pictures. This is it," Cable said about his first game. "Just seeing the guys in their uniforms, being with them at practice. It was a special time. We all understand what are challenges are... who has to play big, who has to step up. I just want to get it started."
The Vandals have a strong tandem of receivers in Jeffrey Townsley and Ethan Jones, but hope to get a full season from quarterback John Welsh. He was injured in the second game of the season and finished with just 623 yards on 52-of-103 passing. Defensively, linebacker Chris Nofoaiga had 121 tackles last season, including 10 sacks.
The schools are meeting for the first time since 1973, when the Huskies posted a 41-14 win. Washington holds a whopping 29-2-2 lead in the all-time series, winning the last 13. The Huskies also are 26-0-2 in their last 28 games against the Vandals since an 8-0 loss Oct. 30, 1905.