Oct. 27, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - Defensive back Dashon Goldson was in the Washington film room, getting an early jump on scouting Arizona State when Todd Turner came strolling by for a look.
Even the Huskies athletic director knows Saturday's matchup between the Huskies and Sun Devils is critical for each school's bowl hopes.
"It's extremely vital, but I'd say that no matter who we're playing. They're all vital this time of year," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said. "There is a bunch of teams sitting there with four wins. They'll be fighting for conference positioning and for getting to six wins."
Tickets to Saturday's game against Arizona State or the season finale on Nov. 11 against Stanford are available by calling 206/543-2200.
Now, Washington is 4-4 (2-3 conference) and needing a split in its final four games to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2003.
"Everybody has to keep their focus and everyone has to do what they did in the first few games," Goldson said. "It's important. We're coming off three straight losses."
Since being routed by Cal and Oregon late last month, the Sun Devils (4-3, 1-3) have rebounded well, playing USC close on the road before routing Stanford 38-3 last Saturday. Thanks to a quirk in Pac-10 scheduling, Arizona State will be playing in Seattle for the first time since 1999.
Most notable for the Sun Devils is the recent improved play of sophomore quarterback Rudy Carpenter. Against Cal and Oregon, Carpenter threw five interceptions and completed just 40 percent of his passes -- the two worst performances of his young career.
Carpenter was efficient against the Trojans, then picked apart the Stanford secondary last week. Carpenter missed on just one pass, completing 14-of-15 throws against the Cardinal, including his 13th TD pass of the season. Now, he gets to face a similar Huskies defense that he picked apart for 401 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start last year.
"To be honest with you, I was so nervous in the hotel. I was nervous the whole week. I was scared, I didn't know what to do with myself," Carpenter said about his first start last year. "It was a great game. I'll always remember that."
Carpenter's been helped by the emergence of running back Ryan Torain, who is fifth in the conference in rushing. The talent of the 6-foot, 216-pound junior is creating a change in Koetter's offensive attack. He's known as a coach who likes to throw the ball, but the Sun Devils' offense is now taking a running tone.
Arizona State has run 262 times versus just 186 passes this season.
"It's different for me. The last five years here plus the three I was coach at Boise State we were definitely a pass first team," Koetter said. "But you have to build it around the team you have."
Washington's concern is avoiding the letdown that happened against Oregon State. The Huskies stayed with USC down to the final snap, then played lethargic and lackluster, getting dominated by the then-struggling Beavers.
A similar scenario has played out again.
With Carl Bonnell starting his first game in two years, the Huskies took Cal to overtime when Marlon Wood caught a deflected pass for a 40-yard touchdown on the final play of regulation. In the extra session, Cal's Marshawn Lynch scored on a 22-yard run, and then Bonnell threw his fifth interception to clinch the Bears' victory.
Coach Tyrone Willingham said he was made aware -- by the media -- of the Huskies' tendency to play up to highly regarded opponents and play down to lesser foes. Trying to avoid any letdown, Willingham addressed his players the day after the Cal loss.
"He said, the main thing to do is if you know your history, you shouldn't repeat it," offensive guard Stanley Daniels said. "We know we're not going to underestimate anybody."