Aug. 25, 2003
The Game: The Washington football team, ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press preseason poll and No. 19 in the this week's ESPN coaches' poll, opens its 2003 season vs. second-ranked Ohio State, the team that beat Miami (Fla.) in last year's BCS Championship game at the Fiesta Bowl. The game, which kicks off at 5:00 p.m. (PDT) Saturday at Ohio Stadium, marks the UW's first game under new head coach Keith Gilbertson, a Seattle-area native who had previously served as a grad assistant, assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Washington. This season is the beginning of Gilbertson's third stint as a head coach as he previously oversaw the programs at Idaho (1986-88) and California (1992-95).
Huskies vs. Buckeyes History: Ohio State boasts a 6-3 record in its nine all-time meetings with Washington. All nine OSU-UW games have been contested in the regular season (no bowl matchups). Five of the nine have been played at Husky Stadium (UW is 2-3 in those games) while the other four have been at Ohio Stadium (UW is 1-3 in those). The series got started in 1957, when Washington hosted the Buckeyes, losing 35-7. OSU went on to win the national title. The following year, the Dawgs visited Columbus and fell to OSU, 12-7. The series picked back up again in the 1960s. In '65, OSU handed the UW a 23-21 loss in Seattle. The following year in Ohio, Washington picked up its first win, 38-22, as Husky halfback Don Moore rushed for 221 yards. Current UW defensive line coach Randy Hart was a (non-playing) freshman on that OSU squad. The series went on hiaitus until 1986, when a 10th-ranked Buckeye team visited Husky Stadium and fell to No. 17 Washington, 40-7. In that game, the UW piled up exactly 204 rushing yards and 204 passing yards and exploded for 24 points in the second quarter after a scoreless first. Chris Chandler threw for 204 yards and two TDs, both to Lonzell Hill. In 1993, 12th-ranked UW lost, 21-12, to a No. 16 OSU team in Columbus. The game was 14-12 in the fourth quarter before a 49-yard TD run from OSU's Butler By'not'e put the game away. In 1994, at Husky Stadium, unranked Washington upset No. 16 Ohio State with a 25-16 win. UW tailback Napoleon Kaufman rushed 32 times for 211 yards and totaled 278 all-purpose yards to break Hugh McElhenny's school record. UW led 19-0 after one quarter and 22-0 at half. The most recent game was in 1995 at Columbus when No. 10 OSU, after a 20-day layoff after its season-opener, took a 30-20 decision over the No. 18 Dawgs. Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George rushed for 212 yards and two scores while UW tailback Leon Neal ran for 135 yards and also caught seven passes.
Cody To Reggie: Many consider Husky senior quarterback Cody Pickett and junior wideout Reggie Williams the best QB-receiver combination in the country. And why not? Both have appeared on numerous preseason All-America teams and Heisman Trophy hopefuls lists, and both hold the rare distinction of entering a new season already holding the UW career records for passing yards and receiving yards. Pickett, who set a Pac-10 and UW record with 4,458 passing yards last season, holds the career mark with 6,873 yards, more than a 1,000 more than the No. 2 passer. He also holds the UW career records for attempts and completions, among others. Williams, who is only a junior in 2003, has already bagged a number of school records as well. With his UW single-season mark of 1,454 yards last season, he upped his career total to 2,427 yards, also a UW record. He is also the Dawg's all-time leader in receptions, receptions per game and receiving yards per game and could have as many as 26 games remaining in his career.
Television: The Washington-Ohio State game will air live to a national audience on ABC-TV, with Keith Jackson (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (color) and Todd Harris (sidelines) providing the commentary. The game will also air on tape delay Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports in the Northwest with Jim Watson and former Husky QB Sonny Sixkiller calling the action. Also, "The Washington Football Experience" airs each Thursday during the season on Fox Sports (schedule subject to change based on Mariners broadcasts). The second-year, Emmy-winning program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one player interviews and sideline video.
Radio: The Husky Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game to four different states on 23 different radio stations. Longtime play-by-play man Bob Rondeau and color analyst Chuck Nelson are joined by sideline reporter Steve Sandmeyer. Also, the Ohio State game will air live nationally on the USA Radio Network with Larry Kahn, Gino Torretta and Troy West calling the action.
The Coach: New Husky head coach Keith Gilbertson hit the ground running, as his first official day as the Washington coach was only a month and a day before opening the 2003 season against defending national champion Ohio State. However, Gilbertson had the advantage of having served as an assistant coach at the UW for the previous four seasons, his third stint as a Dawg assistant. Gilbertson, a native of Snohomish, Wash., north of Seattle, served as a graduate assistant at the UW under Don James in 1976, James' second season. In 1989, Gilbertson left his head coaching job at Idaho to join the Washington staff, first as offensive line coach before taking over as offensive coordinator in 1991, when the Huskies won the national championship and led the Pac-10 in rushing offense, total offense and scoring offense. In 1992, Gilbertson took his second head coaching position, travelling down to the coast to California. His four-year stint at Berkeley was highlighted by the 1993 team that posted a 9-4 record and defeated Iowa, 37-3, in the Alamo Bowl. That win stands as California's last bowl victory. Until last season, Gilbertson was the last Cal coach to notch a win over rival Stanford. Gilbertson, a 1966 graduate of Snohomish High School, played football at the University of Hawaii and graduated from Central Washington in 1971. His coaching career includes two professional stints, first as an assistant for the L.A. Express in the USFL (1983-85) and then for the Seattle Seahawks (1996-98). In his seven total seasons as a head coach (2003 is his eighth), Gilbertson has posted a career record of 48-37 while going 30-25 in conference games.
Gilbertson Year-by-Year as a Head Coach
Year School Overall Conf. Finish 1986 Idaho 8-4 5-2 3rd Big Sky 1987 Idaho 9-3 7-1 1st Big Sky 1988 Idaho 11-2 7-1 1st Big Sky 1992 California 4-7 2-6 9th Pac-10 1993 California 9-4 4-4 t-4th Pac-10 1994 California 4-7 3-5 t-5th Pac-10 1995 California 3-8 2-6 t-8th Pac-10 2003 Washington 0-0 0-0 Totals 7 Seasons 48-37 30-25 .565 .545
Pac-10 Double Dip: Keith Gilbertson is the first coach in Husky history to come to Washington after having been head man at another Pac-10 school. In fact, it's relatively rare for a coach to have served in that capacity at more than one Pac-10 institution. Recently, Bruce Snyder (California and Arizona State), Dennis Erickson (Washington State at Oregon State) and Larry Smith (Arizona and USC) have done it. Earlier examples include Tommy Prothro (Oregon State at UCLA) and Washington's own Leonard "Stub" Allison, who coached one season at the UW (1920) before eventually spending 10 seasons as Cal head coach (1935-44).
Coaching Debuts: Keith Gilbertson's first game in charge of the Husky football team presents a formidable challenge as his first time at the helm will see his team taking on the defending national champions on the road. Here's a look at each of the Huskies' most notable coaches' first games at the UW:
Coach Date Opponent H/A Score Gil Dobie 9/6/08 Lincoln H.S. H W, 22-0 Enoch Bagshaw 10/1/21 9th Army Corps H W, 24-7 James Phelan 9/27/30 Whitman H W, 48-0 Ralph Welch 9/26/42 Pacific H W, 27-0 Howard O'Dell 9/25/48 Minnesota H L, 0-20 John Cherberg 9/19/53 Colorado H L, 20-21 Darrell Royal 9/22/56 Idaho H W, 53-21 Jim Owens 9/21/57 Colorado H T, 6-6 Don James 9/13/75 Arizona State A L, 12-35 Jim Lambright 9/4/93 Stanford H W, 31-14 Rick Neuheisel 9/9/99 Brigham Young A L, 28-35
Continuity of Coaching: Despite the coaching change over the summer, it's still fair to say that Washington has had more continuity in its head coaches than any Pac-10 school over the past five decades or so. Going back to 1957, Washington has had only five head football coaches: Jim Owens (1957-75), Don James (1976-92), Jim Lambright (1993-99), Rick Neuheisel (1999-2002) and Keith Gilbertson (2003). In that time, the nine other Pac-10 schools have had an average of about eight coaches each, a total of 76 (counting some of them -- Bill Walsh, John Robinson, etc. -- more than once). Oregon has had the next fewest with only six head coaches over that span. Arizona State, California, USC and Washington State have had eight each. Arizona, Oregon State and UCLA have had nine head coaches each since '57 and Stanford has had 11.
Washington-Ohio State Ties: No surprise that there has been some crossover between the coaching staffs at Washington and Ohio State, especially considering that longtime Husky defensive line coach Randy Hart was a three-year letterman at Ohio State and a member of the Buckeyes' 1968 national championship team. Hart, who coached at his alma mater from 1982 to 1987, was an assistant at OSU alongside current Buckeyes head man Jim Tressel for three of those seasons. Husky running backs coach Chuck Heater also spent one season on the same staff as Tressel (and Hart). OSU tight ends coach Bill Conley and defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio also overlapped with Hart and Heater at OSU. Buckeyes running backs coach Tim Spencer was a fullback for the Bucks and was a senior when Hart joined the OSU staff. Ohio State's defensive line coach, Jim Heacock, held the same position at Washington under Don James from 1983 to 1987, coaching such standouts as Ron Holmes, Reggie Rogers and Dennis Brown. Finally, Tressel is a cousin of Carol James, wife of former Husky head coach Don James. While some ties definitely exist between the two coaching staffs, there is essentially no crossover on the rosters. There are no OSU players from the state of Washington, or the West Coast, for that matter. Similarly, there are no Husky players from Ohio.
Football In August?: Saturday's game at Ohio State will mark the earliest game in Washington football history and will be only the second time the Huskies have ever played a game in August. Last year, when the Dawgs opened the season on the road at Michigan on Aug. 31, it was the earliest game in school history. Prior to 2002, Washington's earliest-ever game had been a Sept. 1 game vs. Texas-El Paso at Husky Stadium in 1982.
Tough Opener: Washington will open its 114th season of college football at defending national champion and second-ranked Ohio State. Facing a tough opponent in the opener is nothing new to the Huskies. In fact, including this year's matchup with the Buckeyes, Washington will have faced a nationally-ranked team in its opener in eight of 11 seasons. In 1993 the Huskies dumped 15th-ranked Stanford 31-14 in the opener in Jim Lambright's head coaching debut. The following season, UW lost at 17th-ranked USC 24-17. In 1996 Washington fell 45-42 to 20th-ranked Arizona State. The following season saw the Huskies hand 19th-ranked BYU a 42-20 loss in Provo. In 1998 the Huskies upset eighth-ranked ASU 42-38 in Tempe. Last season saw the Huskies drop a heartbreaking, 31-29, decision at No. 11 Michigan in the opener. The Huskies also faced an 11th-ranked Wolverine team in the 2001 opener, winning 23-18 at Husky Stadium.
Playing the National Champs: Though it's sometimes hard to identify a true "national champion", especially in the year's before the AP poll began in 1936, it's fair to say that Washington has played at least 21 games against defending national champions the year after that team was crowned with the title. Most of those meetings have come against conference foe USC, which has won at least nine widely-recognized championships. In fact, USC is the only defending champ that Washington has ever beaten, as the UW defeated the 1975 Trojans, 8-7 at Husky Stadium, and the 1963 Troy squad, 22-7, also in Seattle. The Huskies' most recent meeting vs. a defending champ was in 1998 against Nebraska, when the Huskies handed the UW a 55-7 defeat in Lincoln. NU had won the coaches' poll the previous season.
Huskies vs. Big Ten: Washington holds a 39-37-1 record all-time vs. Big Ten opponents, a record that includes an 0-2 mark against Penn State, though the Lions were not members of the Big Ten at the time of their games against the UW. Aside from regular season games vs. Michigan each of the last two years, the Huskies' most recent action against Big Ten teams has come primarily in bowl games and in a series of games vs. Ohio State during the mid-1990s. The Huskies have played Big Ten teams seven times in bowl games since 1990: Iowa in the 1990 Rose Bowl, Michigan in the 1992 and 1993 Rose Bowls, Iowa in the 1995 Sun Bowl, Michigan State in the 1997 Aloha Bowl, Purdue in the 2001 Rose Bowl and Purdue in the 2002 Sun Bowl. The Huskies went 4-3 in those games. Washington is 7-6 against Big Ten teams since 1990.
Season Openers: Washington is 79-28-6 all-time in season openers, good for a mark of .726. Since 1989, Washington has posted a 9-4 record in season openers -- 5-0 at home and 4-4 on the road. In that 13-season span, the Huskies have opened vs. a ranked team (as they will this weekend) seven times: vs. No. 15 Stanford in 1993 (W, 31-14), at No. 17 USC in 1994 (L, 24-17), at No. 20 Arizona State in 1996 (L, 45-42), vs. No. 19 BYU in 1997 (W, 42-20) at No. 8 Arizona State in 1998 (W, 42-38), vs. No. 11 Michigan in 2001 (W, 23-18) and at No. 12 Michigan last season (L, 31-29).
Pickett Shatters Marks: In last season's seventh game, then-junior quarterback Cody Pickett broke the UW single-season passsing yards record. Three weeks later vs. Oregon State, Pickett, with 14 games left in his UW career at the time, broke the Huskies' career passing yards record. Another week later at Oregon, he broke the Pac-10's single-season yards record and in the regular season's final game at WSU, he became the first 4,000-yard passer in Pac-10 history. He also ranks on nearly every other Washington career top-10 list, including No. 1 on many. In the loss at USC, Pickett threw for 350 yards to extend his school record of seven consecutive 300-yard games, a streak that was broken at ASU. He had his third 400-yard game of the year vs. UCLA. Pickett, who has since raised his career passing total to 6,873 yards, passed both Huards to the No. 1 spot vs. OSU. Pickett, who set a UW single-game record with 34 completions vs. Wyoming then broke it with 35 vs. Cal and tied that with 35 at WSU, now has 535 career completions, putting him first on that list. His career mark of 12.85 yards per completion ranks No. 10 and his 264.3 yards per game are currently a school record. His 20.6 completions per game are No. 1 and his career completion percentage of .582 is No. 3. Pickett boasts a slew of firsts: he is the first UW QB to post more than one career 400-yard game (he has four); the first to post 12 300-yard games; and the first to throw for 300 yards in more than two consecutive games (he had seven straight to start the 2002 season). In 26 career games Pickett boasts seven of the top 10 and 10 of Washington's top-17 single-game totals in passing yards. His 19 career 200-yard passing days are most in UW history and his 10 50-plus-yard passes are also a school record. Finally, his 38 career TDs are second while his 28 touchdowns in 2002 were most in UW history, five better than Brock Huard's old 1997 record of 23.
Pickett Returns With Record: Last season, then-junior Cody Pickett smashed the Pac-10's single-season passing yards record with 4,458. The last time that a reigning Pac-10 record-holder in season passing yards returned for an additional season with the record in hand was 1994, when USC's Rob Johnson came back for a senior season after throwing for 3,630 yards in 1993, breaking a record held at that time by Drew Bledsoe (WSU, 1992). Cougar QB Ryan Leaf, whose record Pickett broke, also set the record as a junior, but didn't return for his senior season. Incidentally, no Pac-10 QB has led the league in passing in back-to-back seasons (yards per game) since Stanford's Steve Stenstrom did it in 1993 and 1994.
Williams Breaks All Marks: Wide receiver Reggie Williams was only one game into his sophomore season when he passed the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving. In the loss at USC last Oct. 29, he had his third straight 100-yard receiving game (tying a school record) and his eighth career 100-yard day (breaking the school record). Williams, who ranked No. 5 in the NCAA in yards per game and No. 9 in receptions per game in 2002, made it to the top of the UW career receiving yards with his 198-yard performance at Oregon in week 11. With 2,427 career yards, he has beaten Mario Bailey's old record by 334 yards. With 14 catches in the Oregon game (most ever by a UW receiver), Williams broke Jerome Pathon's single-season record of 69. Williams ended 2002 with 94, the third-highest total in Pac-10 history. His 1,454 receiving yards in 2002 were also a school record, beating Jerome Pathon's 1,245 in 1997. Williams' 1,454 yards were only two short of the Pac-10 record (1,456 by Stanford's Troy Walters). At WSU (where he had 12 catches), he passed Paul Skansi on the UW career receptions chart and now tops the list with 149. Williams now ranks No. 1 on the UW career yards-per-game list by a large margin. With his average of 101.1 yards per game during his career thus far, he's more than 35 yards per game better than Brian Slater's former mark of 65.9.
Reggie's Record Season: In last season's 10th game vs. Oregon State, wide receiver Reggie Williams became only the fourth wideout in UW history to post a 1,000-yard season in receiving yards. With his 169-yard game at Washington State, Williams passed Jerome Pathon to take over the No. 1 single-season spot in UW history and the No. 3 spot in Pac-10 history. With is 973 yards as a freshman in 2001, Williams is the only Husky with two of the top-10 receiving yardage seasons in school history.
How Good Is Reggie?: Receiver Reggie Williams, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection and a consensus first-team All-America in 2002, had, statistically, the best two-year run in Pac-10 receiving history. In 2002, Williams' 94 receptions were the third-most in Pac-10 history and his 1,454 yards were second on the all-time conference list. In his first two years, Williams caught 149 balls for 2,427 yards and 14 touchdowns. No receiver in Pac-10 history has ever posted that many receiving yards over a two-year span, and the only two players with that many receptions over two seasons -- Arizona's Dennis Northcutt and Arizona's Bobby Wade -- both did it during their junior and senior seasons, as did USC's Keyshawn Johnson, who had one fewer reception than Williams. Incidentally, Williams would need 94 receptions and 1,556 more receiving yards to reach the Pac-10 records of 248 and 4,047 yards, both held by Stanford's Troy Walters (1996-99).
Reggie On the Prowl: In only two seasons of college ball, junior receiver Reggie Williams has already compiled 2,489 career receiving yards (according to the Pac-10's official total, which counts bowl games both seasons), easily surpassing the school's career mark. Though an unscientific predictor, William's pace would mean he should go for 1,245 more yards this season, which would give him 3,734 over a three-year career. That would be the No. 2 career mark in Pac-10 history, ahead of Bobby Wade's 3,351 (Arizona, 1999-2002) and only 314 yards short of the Pac-10 record of 4,047 yards, set by Stanford's Troy Walters (1996-99). Williams needs only 379 yards to move past Shaun McDonald (Arizona State, 2000-02), who totaled 2,867 yards, most ever in the Pac-10 over three seasons With 154 career pass receptions, Williams enters the season ranked No. 27 on the Pac-10 career list. He'd need to catch 95 balls to break Walter's Pac-10 record of 248. Last year, Williams made 94 receptions.
Random Notes: Just like last year, the Huskies will open the season on the road in August against a Big Ten team (it was Michigan last season), and then return to Seattle for more than a month ... with an off week (Sept. 13) included, the Huskies won't play a road game in September for the second straight season ... last year, Washington played five straight home games after opening in Ann Arbor ... this time, the Dawgs play three straight at Husky Stadium before traveling to UCLA on Oct. 4 ... last season, Washington led the Pac-10 in attendance for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons, averaging 71,435 fans per game ... not bad, considering that Husky Stadium has a smaller capacity than five of 10 conference schools (ASU, Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC) ... the last time Washington played Nevada, as they will this Oct. 12, was 100 years ago, on November 23, 1903 ... what makes that somewhat significant is that the original Washington-Nevada meeting was the game attended by Chief Joseph, the legendary Nez Perce Indian who spent most of the game on the sidelines, smoking a cigar ... asked his impression of the game, which Washington won, 2-0, he said, among other things, "I feel pleased that Washington won the game. Those men, I should think would break their their legs and arms, but they did not get mad." ... oldest and youngest: the oldest member of the Washington team is sophomore outside linebacker Brian Tawney, who turned 25 last Valentine's Day ... Tawney served in the U.S. Navy before enrolling at the UW ... his younger sister, Traci, played softball for the Huskies ... the youngest Husky is freshman safety Chris Hemphill, who won't turn 18 until New Year's Day, 2004 ... four current Huskies are younger brothers of former UW players: Zach Tuiasosopo (brother of Marques), Jason Benn (Kyle), Matt Fountaine (Jamal) and Craig Chambers (Richie) ... a quick scan of Pac-10 rosters shows that Husky junior defensive tackle Tui Alailefaleula continues to lead the conference in syllables in his last name, with eight.