Oct. 14, 2002
The Game: The Washington football team (4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-10 Conference) returns to the road for the first time in six weeks this Saturday as the Huskies take on USC (4-2, 2-1) in a 12:30 game Oct. 19 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Washington hasn't played a game in the Coliseum since 1998, when the Trojans cruised to a 33-10 win. The Huskies, ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press top-25 and No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, closed out a five-game homestand last Saturday with a thrilling 32-28 win over Arizona. USC, which came from behind to beat Cal last week, ranks No. 19 in the AP rankings and No. 20 in the coaches' poll. Having played five straight at home, the Huskies now play four of their final six games on the road. Three of those four games are against ranked opponents.
Huskies vs. Trojans History: Washington and USC have played one another 82 times since the series began in 1923. The Trojans hold a commanding 42-26-4 series advantage, although the Huskies have gone 6-3-1 over the last 10. Washington won its first-ever meeting against the Trojans, beating USC, 22-0, in Seattle in 1923. When the series re-started in 1927, USC handed the Huskies six straight defeats before Washington reeled off five in a row. The longest streak either way in the series began in 1965, when the Trojans beat Washington for the first time of 11 straight wins. Washington has faced USC four times when the Trojans have been ranked No. 1 (losing all four) while Washington has been the No. 1 team in the nation twice when playing USC (a 1984 UW loss and a 1992 UW win). Prior to last year (the Huskies didn't play USC in 1999 or 2000), Rick Neuheisel had never coached against USC as a head coach, either at Washington or at Colorado, but had stood on the opposite sideline a number of times as a player and assistant coach at UCLA. In his five years on the team (1979-83), the Bruins were 3-2 vs. USC, including a 27-17 win in '83 with Neuheisel at quarterback. In Neuheisel's seven seasons as an assistant for the Bruins (1986, 1988-93), UCLA went 4-2-1 against the Trojans. Trojan coach Pete Carroll is 0-1 as USC head coach vs. Washington following last season's loss at Husky Stadium. Before last year, Carroll had never faced Washington as a coach, but did come to Husky Stadium in 1972 as a player for the University of the Pacific as the No. 9 Huskies narrowly beat the Tigers, 13-6. Carroll, a starting safety, made eight tackles that day.
Closing In Fast: Junior quarterback Cody Pickett is having an unprecendented season in terms of his passing statistics. Washington, well-known for producing NFL quarterbacks, has never seen the prolific numbers that Pickett is posting this season. With six games still left to play, Pickett has already thrown for 2,251 yards this year. That's the sixth-best total in UW single-season history. Entering the seventh game of the year, Pickett needs 319 yards over his next six games to break the Washington single-season passing yards record of 2,569, set by Cary Conklin in 1989. With another season and a half of eligibility remaining, Pickett needs 1,077 yards to break the Husky career record. Pickett's 176 completions this season are already fifth most in Husky history, 37 short of Steve Pelluer's 1983 record (213).
Television: The Washington-USC game will air live on ABC-TV with Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts and Todd Harris calling the action. It will also air on tape delay on Fox Sports in the Northwest with David Locke and former Husky QB Sonny Sixkiller providing the call. The replay will air Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Also, "The Washington Football Experience" airs each Thursday during the season on Fox Sports. The new program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one player interviews and sideline photography.
Radio: The Husky Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game to five different states on 21 different radio stations. Longtime broadcast team Bob Rondeau (play-by-play), Chuck Nelson (color) and Bill Swartz (sidelines) provide the call. The game will also air on national radio via Westwood One, with Fran Curci and Bob Fitzgerald on the call.
The Coach: Husky head coach Rick Neuheisel is in the midst of his fourth year at the helm of the Washington program. In three-plus seasons, Neuheisel has led the Huskies to an 30-12 (.714) overall mark and an 20-6 record in Pac-10 play and finished either first or second in the league each year. Last year, the Huskies made their second runner-up finish under Neuheisel, going 8-3 in the regular season (6-2 in the conference) before falling short in a barn-burner vs. Texas in the Holiday Bowl. In 2000, Washington posted an 11-1 overall record, a 7-1 conference mark and shared the Pac-10 Championship. After beating Purdue, 34-24, in the Rose Bowl, the Huskies finished with a No. 3 ranking in the final national polls. In his first season at Washington (1999), Neuheisel led the Huskies to a 7-5 overall mark, a second-place tie (6-2) in the Pac-10 and a trip to the Culligan Holiday Bowl. Neuheisel became the first Husky coach in history to lead the UW to a bowl game in his first season as head coach. Prior to coming to Washington, Neuheisel served four seasons as the head coach at Colorado, posting a 33-14 (.702) overall mark with the Buffaloes. His career record, in seven-plus seasons, is 63-26 (.708). Neuheisel worked for six seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, UCLA, before joining Bill McCartney's Colorado staff in 1994 as the quarterbacks coach. Originally a walkon at UCLA, Neuheisel won the starting quarterback position as a senior and led the Bruins to the 1983 Pac-10 championship. He was named the MVP of the 1984 Rose Bowl that saw UCLA defeat Illinois, 45-9. Washington fans remember Neuheisel's tremendous performance when he completed 25 of 27 passes to set an NCAA completions percentage record that was only recently broken by Tennessee's Tee Martin. Neuheisel, a member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, still holds the Bruins' single-season (69.3) and career (68.3) completion percentage records.
Last Year vs. USC: Washington continued its fourth-quarter magic against the Trojans, and this time without the starting quarterback. Taylor Barton came on for injured starter Cody Pickett and led the Huskies a 27-24 win, thanks to John Anderson's last-second, 32-yard field goal. Pickett left the game in the second quarter with a separated shoulder and played only three plays in the second half. Barton finished the day 11-for-20 for 197 yards and two TDs. His first scoring toss, a 13-yard strike to Reggie Williams, tied the game at 14-14 in the third quarter. His second, a 14-yard screen pass to Willie Hurst, gave the Huskies a 24-17 lead. The Huskies entered the fourth quarter trailing 17-14, but an Anderson field goal tied the game and Hurst's TD put Washington ahead. However, Carson Palmer broke a string of six straight incompletions by hitting Kareem Kelly with a 58-yard pass to tie the game at 24-24 with 3:47 left. The Huskies marched down the field on the closing drive, using 10 plays to cover 49 yards before Anderson hit the field goal with no time left on the clock. Hurst, whose TD came on a pass, became the first Husky of the season to rush for 100 yards, gaining 102 on 19 carries. Williams had his second 100-yard receiving day, catching five balls for 101 yards. USC's Sultan McCullough led the Trojan attack with 132 yards on 32 carries.
Last Time in the Coliseum (1998): Washington's most recent game in the L.A. Coliseum came on Halloween of 1998, when the Trojans cruised to a 33-10 win . USC freshman QB Carson Palmer threw for 279 yards in his first-ever start and Antuan Simmons returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Simmons' two picks were two of five on the day for the Trojans, who saw Husky quarterback Brock Huard complete 33-of-62 pass attempts for 301 yards and one TD. The Huskies' 68 passing attempts in the game are still a school record, as were the 35 completions until this season's Wyoming game, when the Huskies had 37. UW receiver Dane Looker also set a school record with 12 receptions. Washington's only points came on a 23-yard pass from Huard to Chris Juergens and a 34-yard field goal by returner-turned-kicker Joe Jarzynka. Washington was down only 14-10 entering the fourth quarter, but a one-yard run by Petros Papadakis and Simmons' two interception returns (including a 90-yarder on the game's final play) put it away for the Trojans.
Washington-USC Ties: There's a fair amount of crossover between the Washington and USC teams. Husky head coach Rick Neuheisel, who earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA, graduated from USC law school in 1990. Husky athletic director Barbara Hedges was an administrator in the USC athletic department from 1974 to 1991. Kennedy Pola, the Trojans' running backs and special teams coach, was the running backs coach at Colorado under Neuheisel in 1997 and 1998. Husky senior wide receiver Matt DeBord is a first cousin of former USC receiver Benji DeBord (1995), though Husky cornerback Sam Cunningham is no relation to the former USC fullback of the same name. The Trojans' roster includes two players from the state of Washington -- tailback David Kirtman (Mercer Island HS) and punter Tommy Huff (Bellevue HS). Washington's roster includes 28 Californians, mostly from the southern part of the state. Several regular contributors among the Huskies' roster are from the greater L.A. area: C Todd Bachert (Mission Viejo), CB Sam Cunningham (Westchester), CB Derrick Johnson (Riverside/Notre Dame), DE Anthony Kelley (Alta Dena/Muir), CB Chris Massey (Moreno Valley), DT Josh Miller (West Covina), WR Patrick Reddick (Newbury Park), TB Chris Singleton (Fontana) and DT Jerome Stevens (Oxnard)
Arizona Redux: An 80-yard strike from Cody Pickett to Reggie Williams with only 2:03 left in the game salvaged a Husky win as Washington worked fourth quarter magic to beat Arizona in dramatic fashion for the third season in a row. The Wildcats, behind a 443-yard passing day by Puyallup, Wash., native Jason Johnson, took a 28-26 lead early in the fourth quarter after Johnson hit Bobby Wade with a 28-yard TD pass. The Huskies then had a field goal blocked with 6:48 left and needed to make a defensive stand to get the ball back. After stopping the 'Cats at the 35-yard line and watching a punt go for a touchback, the Huskies took over on their own 20. After an incomplete pass on first down, Pickett audibled into a short slant pattern to Williams, who caught the throw and out-raced the Arizona defense 80 yards into the endzone. Pickett finished the day with 345 yards on 25-of-35 passing with no interceptions and three touchdowns. Williams caught eight balls for 184 yards and three TDs, becoming the first UW receiver to catch three touchdowns in a game since 1991. Wade and Andrae Thurman were the primary benefactors of Johnson's great success. Wade caught 10 passes for 155 yards and Thurman had nine receptions for 142. The Husky defense, despite allowing the high passing total, was solid against the run, allowing only 23 yards and also sacked Johnson five times.
Tough After Turnovers: While the fact that Washington has committed 14 turnovers through six games this year (10 lost fumbles, four interceptions) is perhaps the most disconserting statistic of the early part of the season, the UW defense has played very well after those turnovers. Husky opponents have managed to turn 14 turnovers into only four scores -- one touchdown each by Michigan and by Wyoming and two by Cal, good for 28 points. By contrast, the Huskies have converted nine of their 11 takeaways this season into points -- five touchdowns and four field goals, a total of 46 points.
Pickett Moving Up: Junior quarterback Cody Pickett has already broken onto Washington's top-10 all-time career passing yards list, and will crack several other UW passing career top-10s at some point this season. In last Saturday's win over Arizona, Pickett threw for 345 yards to extend his school-record of six consecutive 300-yard games. Pickett, who brought his career passing total to 4,666 yards, passed both Don Heinrich (4,392) and Steve Pelluer (4,603) to climb to sixth all-time at Washington. Pickett, who is averaging 375.2 passing yards per game in 2002, needs 184 yards to pass Cary Conklin (4,850) for fifth, and is now just 1,076 yards shy of Brock Huard's school record of 5,742 passing yards. Pickett, who set a UW single-game record with 34 completions vs. Wyoming then broke it with 35 vs. Cal, now has 346 career completions, putting him seventh on that list. His career mark of 13.49 yards per completion ranks No. 7 and his 245.6 yards per game are currently a school record. Same goes for his 18.2 completions per game, and his career completion percentage of .607, both career No. 1s. Pickett boasts a slew of firsts: he is the first UW QB to post more than one career 400-yard game (he has three); the first to post eight 300-yard games; and the first to throw for 300 yards in more than two consecutive games (he has six straight to start this current season). In just 19 career games Pickett already boasts five of the top seven and seven of Washington's top-14 single-game totals in passing yards. His 12 career 200-yard passing days are tied for third-most in UW history and his nine 50-plus-yard passes equal Damon Huard's school record.
Pickett Among Nation's Elite: With his outstanding start to the 2002 season, junior quarterback Cody Pickett has placed himself among the nation's top signalcallers. Pickett ranks No. 11 in the nation in passing efficiency, but his raw totals are even more outstanding. His 369.5 yards per game of total offense ranks No. 2 in the nation (behind Marshall's Byron Leftwich at 411.6) and his 29.3 pass completions per game also ranks No. 2, trailing only Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury (33.9). As a team, the Huskies rank No. 2 in passing offense and No. 4 in total offense in Division I-A.
Williams Chasing 'Super Mario': Sophomore wide receiver Reggie Williams was only one game into his sophomore season when he passed the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving. In last week's win over California, Williams totaled 184 yards -- equaling the seventh-highest single-game total in school history -- and tied a school record with three TD catches. Most remarkable is the fact that Williams' three TDs against Arizona equal his total from the entire 2001 season. With 1,628 career receiving yards, Williams leapt past Spider Gaines (1,529) into seventh on the UW's all-time list. With just 21 receiving yards in the upcoming week's game with USC, Williams would pass Lonzell Hill (1,641) and Brian Slater (1,648) for fifth. In only his second season, Williams is now just 465 yards away from No. 1, and needs to average 77.5 yards per game the rest of the season to surpass Mario Bailey (2,093 yards from 1988-91) as the Huskies' all-time receiving yards leader. Or, one could say that he needs to average only 25.8 yards over the next 18 games (through the end of his junior season) to break Bailey's record. Additionally, with an average of 95.8 yards per game during his career thus far, Williams would easily be the Huskies' all-time yards-per-game leader (the mark is 65.9 by Brian Slater, 1985-88). However, with only 17 career games, he does not yet meet the 18-game minimum.
Ware Latest In Tight End Tradition: Several years ago, when Sports Illustrated ranked the top college programs all-time by position, Washington's tradition of outstanding tight ends was picked No. 1 at that spot. And for good reason -- the Huskies' last six regular starters (and one backup) at the tight end position have all gone on to NFL success, dating all the way back to Aaron Pierce. Pierce started the majority of the 1990 and '91 seasons before being drafted by the New York Giants in 1992. Since Pierce, Mark Bruener (Pittsburgh, '95), Ernie Conwell (St. Louis, '96), Cam Cleeland (New Orleans, '98), Jeremy Brigham (Oakland, '98), Reggie Davis (San Diego, '99) and Jerramy Stevens (Seattle, '02) all appeared in the NFL. Five of those seven remain in the NFL today, including four (Stevens, Brigham, Conwell and Bruener) with their original team. Of the group, four were selected in the first or second round, and two (Conwell, Bruener) have started in Super Bowls. This year, senior Kevin Ware will try and keep the streak alive. After notching only eight catches in his first three years total, Ware is off to an impressive start. He's currently ranked third on the team with 24 receptions (for 248 yards) and his three receiving touchdowns rank second. His 4.0 receptions per game are third among all tight ends in Division I-A.
Anderson's Big Kicks: When senior kicker John Anderson booted a game-ending, "walk-off" field goal from 32 yards out to win the USC game last Oct. 6, it marked the first time in his career that he's won a game with a field goal, no matter how much time was remaining. It also marked the first time since Chuck Nelson kicked a field goal to beat Stanford, 27-24, on Oct. 18, 1980, that the Huskies won a game on the final play. Anderson, however, repeated the feat three weeks later at Arizona State when he kicked a 30-yarder on the final play to beat Arizona State, 33-31.
Anderson's Leg: Washington senior placekicker John Anderson entered his final collegiate season as one of the top candidates for the Lou Groza Award, which he also won as a high school senior. Against Cal on Oct. 5, Anderson tied a UW single-game record with five field goal attempts, the most by any Husky kicker since Jeff Jaeger was a perfect 5-for-5 against Houston in 1985. Anderson converted four of the five kicks -- the second-most field goals made in a game at Washington -- including one from 51 yards. Last week vs. Arizona, Anderson booted a 52-yarder, the third-longest (tied) in UW history, and the fifth 50+-yard field goal of the senior's career. Anderson's has kicked 12 field goals in six games in 2002, putting him on pace to boot 24 for the season, a total that would rank second in school history to Chuck Nelson's 25 field goals in 1982. As a freshman in 1999, Anderson converted 13 of 18 field goals and 34 of 35 PATs that year and led Washington in scoring with 73 points. Anderson's 50-yard field goal against Oregon State that season was the longest by a UW kicker since Jeff Jaeger converted a 52-yard field goal in 1983 vs. Oregon. Since Jaeger's kick, the Huskies had made 224 field goals over the previous 17 seasons without making one from at least 50 yards. Anderson ended that season with three 50-yard field goals to his credit, including a 56-yarder at UCLA to tie the UW school record. That field goal tied as the 14th longest inPac-10 history, and was the longest by a true freshman in conference history. His kick was the seventh longest in Pac-10 history since 1989, when use of a kicking tee was eliminated. When Anderson booted three 40-plus yard FGs vs. Stanford in 1999, it marked the first time a Husky kicker had converted three 40-yard field goals since Brandy Brownlee made four vs. Texas A&M in 1987. Additionally, as a freshman in 1999, Anderson became only the second true freshman in NCAA history (joining Texas A&M's Tony Franklin) to boot three 50-yard field goals in a single season.