Sept. 18, 1999
Air Force Game Notes and Quotes
September 18, 1999 - Husky Stadium
Washington hasn't begun a season with an 0-2 mark since the 1985 season, when the Huskies suffered losses to Oklahoma State and BYU. The Huskies finished that season 7-5. The Huskies had won 13 straight home openers before today's loss, a streak that dated back to that Oklahoma State loss (31-17) in 1985.
Paul Arnold's 100-yard kickoff return was the longest in school history. Anthony Allen (1979 vs. Pittsburgh) and Jim Kreig (1971 vs. TCU) had shared the UW mark with 99-yard returns. Washington has now had a kickoff return for a TD in each of the last four seasons (1996-99) after going 17 years without one after Allen's '79 return. Arnold's TD return came on only the sixth "touch" of his career.
As he also did in last week's game at BYU, UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo set a career high for pass attempts with 43 (36 last week). He also fell two completions short of a career high with 20 (22 last week). A couple of other UW career highs set today: Gerald Harris's nine receptions (old high was seven vs. USC last year) and Chris Juergens' 96 receiving yards (94 vs. Oregon last year).
Braxton Cleman matched a career high with 100 rushing yards. He had 100 in last year's loss to UCLA. The Huskies rarely lose with a 100-yard rusher. After today's game, the Huskies are 141-34-3 (.801) since 1947 when a UW back runs for 100 or more yards.
Today's attendance of 70,019 is the sixth largest crowd that Air Force has played in front of. It is the largest since the Falcons played Vanderbilt in the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl before 75,114.
With the win today, Head Coach Fisher DeBerry became the winningest coach in service academy football history with 122 wins. He passed Army's Red Blaik, who had 121 from 1941-58.
Braxton Cleman's 40-yard run in the second quarter of today's game was the longest in his career.
AFA ILB Matt Pommer's second quarter interception is the first of his career.
AFA extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 11 games. Tennessee leads the nation with a 14 game streak (playing at Florida tonight). The streak by AFA is the second-longest in school history and longest since the 1984-85 teams combined to win 13 games.
The blocked punt by AFA is its second this season and 53rd of the 1990s which is second in the nation to Virginia Tech (62 entering 1999). The block is the second of Corey Nelson's career.
Washington freshman kicker John Anderson recorded his first career field goal today.
Washington Head Coach Rick Neuheisel
General Remarks: "Congratulations to Air Force, a fine team. They played within themselves and made far fewer mistakes than we did and obviously the result was victory.
"Hats off to Fisher Berry and his squad. It's disappointing to be sitting here 0-2 because obviously we had all hoped for much better than that. The bottom line is that we are a work in progress and it's going to take a while before we get all the kinks out. Defensively I thought in the second quarter and second half we played much better. We caught up with the speed of a very difficult offense to contain.
"Offensively we squandered numerous opportunities and for the first time all season we were careless with the ball. When you turn the ball over five times, it's going to be hard to win the game. There's a lot of character on this team and although it's painful to suffer defeat, I think that we can still be a good football team. That's our mission and we are not going to rest until we get that accomplished."
On the play of Marques Tuiasosopo: "There's an old saying that says 'what your strengths are, are also your weaknesses' and Marques, being a playmaker, being a guy who's used to finding ways to get you out of trouble, sometimes does try to do things that are very difficult and in so doing, puts himself at risk."
On the Attitude of the Team: "The kids are definitely trying and working hard and now it's important for them to start seeing some positive results and hopefully we'll start to see those quickly."
On the Play of Paul Arnold: "Paul Arnold is certainly an exciting player. I put him in on the kickoff return trying to get a big play and low and behold we did get a big play. Paul's still on the learning curve. He's still trying to learn everything. It wasn't a little more than three weeks ago when he just got here. I think he's on the right course. I don't want to push any panic buttons and say that he's got to be the guy in there all the time. There's certainly things that he can improve on in our scheme on offense and I know Paul would be the first admit it. I'm thankful that he's on our team and I think he has a tremendous future."
Washington Player Quotes
LB Lester Towns
On Play of Defense: "It took us awhile to adjust at the start. Once we got adjusted and saw what they were going to give us, I think we did pretty good."
On the Chop Blocks: "I think we did a good job stopping the option. Playing off the chop is tough because you don't really see that very much in the Pac-10, and it's hard for your scout team to give you a good look at it.. As far as stopping the option, I think we did a decent job -- not the best job, but I think we did ok. If we had to play another team that runs it, I think we would need a lot more work. I guarantee you that the next time we play them, it will be a lot different."
On Getting Ready for Next Week: "I don't know what happened. I think that we need to make more turnovers. I think that if we had more turnovers, made some interceptions, they wouldn't have won the game."
RB Paul Arnold
On His Kickoff Return For a Touchdown: "It felt pretty good. I just followed my blocks and it opened up for me. I just saw the crease and ran."
QB Marques Tuiasosopo
On the Offense: "I thought that we drove the ball pretty good, but ended up shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers, four of which I was responsible for. That hurt us big-time. We just couldn't finish our drives."
On Air Force: "They did everything that we expected them to. We just didn't execute the best that we could all of the time."
On Preparing for Next Week: "We need to work on being focused and executing every play for the whole game."
RB Braxton Cleman
On his Performance: "It was all right. I wish we would have come out with a better outcome, that's more important. The line, fullbacks and receivers did a great job up front, there were a lot of holes. There were a couple of plays that I wish I could have back and break free. There were a lot of plays working. The holes were there, it was just a matter of me keeping my feet and taking it to the holes.
On the Team Performance: "On offense I think we're doing good, and the defense picked up their performance this game. It's looking real good, and I think that we can be a hell of a team."
On What to Improve On: "There are things here and there. We'll see that tomorrow after watching the film. Overall, we're looking real good. We need to start a little faster and finish a little stronger."
DB Renard Edwards
On the Defense: "The defense played well, everyone played hard. We missed a couple of assignments."
On Preparing for Next Week: "To tell you the truth, we just need to make sure that everyone sticks to their assignments. Air Force is a good team. We need a little work, but we should be ok."
Air Force Head Coach Fisher DeBerry
General Remarks: "I certainly am proud of the way our players performed today. This was the type of game where you couldn't relax until the last play of the game. We came in here and did something that no other team has done in thirteen years and that is to win the opening game here at Husky Stadium. The kids kept their poise and their concentration despite the awfully noisy crowd. We have a lot of work to do, but I am very proud of the way we have performed in our first two non-conference games."
On Air Force Penalties: "We had some costly penalties today that cost us a lot. After we had some big plays we were faced with unnecessary penalties that in turn jeopardized our yardage and first downs. We have got to do something about that, and we have the control over that."
On Marques Tuiasosopo: "He is going to be one tremendous quarterback here at the University of Washington. He has so much poise and athleticism. We broke down and couldn't contain him several times and his speed has a lot to do with that. He has some fine receivers and can throw the ball on the run very well."
Air Force Player Quotes
OLB Corey Nelson
On his blocked punt: "Coach tells us that we are going to have the best special teams in the country. We work on it every day in practice. As long as it keeps paying off like it has, we will keep doing it."
HB Scotty McCoy
On Washington: "They played their hearts out today. It is such a great win to come into a place like this with all its tradition and come away with the victory. They tried to get the ball to me today, and I got some great outside blocking. The offense line gave me some great holes to run through. We could have put anybody in hear today and they would have had some great numbers."
On His 39-yard Run Down to the One: "I thought that I scored. I was trying to protect the ball because I knew that there was going to be some pursuit. I dove, and thought I got in. Luckily we were able to score on the next play. I will take the long run and Cale (Bonds) can have the score."
On the Play of the Defense: "They came up big today. When your defense comes up with five turnovers its an outstanding effort. They gave us great field position all day. Everytime we block a punt it is a great momentum swing for us. It takes them out of the game and gives us great field position."
QB Cale Bonds
On Washington: "They came out in a defense that we have never seen before. We were forced to use most of last weeks game plan. We just took what they gave us and it paid off. They gave us the option to the outside early and we were able to make it pay off. Turnovers are the most important statistic in football often determining the outcome of the game. Today was no different"