Aug. 31, 2009
THE GAME: The Steve Sarkisian era begins at Washington this Saturday when LSU visits for a 7:30 p.m. (PT) game at Husky Stadium. The game will air live nationwide on ESPN television. Sarkisian, the Huskies' first-year head man, comes to Washington having made a name for himself as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at USC, which went 77-15 and won six Pac-10 Conference titles during his seven seasons there. LSU enters the game ranked No. 11 in the preseason AP top 25 and No. 9 in the coaches' poll. The Tigers are just the third SEC team to visit Husky Stadium and the first since 1978, when Alabama rolled into Seattle.
UNDER THE LIGHTS: While night games at Husky Stadium have become a much more common occurrence over the last 10 years or so, Saturday's 7:30 p.m. kickoff time is the latest for a home game in Husky history. Previous games have kicked off at 7:00 and even 7:15, but never 7:30.
TELEVISION: The Washington-LSU game will air live to a national audience on ESPN television with Mark Jones and former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie providing the commentary. Additionally, "Huskies All-Access" airs each Wednesday evening on FSN. The program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with features, one-on-one interviews and sideline video.
RADIO: The Washington ISP Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game on 15 Northwest radio stations. Longtime play-by-play man Bob Rondeau and color analyst Chuck Nelson are joined by sideline reporter Elise Woodward. Many game broadcasts will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio on channel 193, 194 or 195 and can be heard over the internet via the Dawg Channel at gohuskies.com. The game will also air to a national audience on Sports Radio USA with Dan Fouts and Gary Barnett on the call.
ALL NEW STAFF: Every member of the UW's 2009 coaching staff is in his first season (at least of this stint) with the Huskies, meaning the entire staff, including graduate assistants, is new. According to research conducted by Utah State's sports information department, Washington is one of only two Division I FBS schools this year with an entirely new staff, including GAs (Utah State is the other). Auburn, Iowa State, Miami (Ohio), New Mexico and Toledo also have new full-time staffs, but retained at least one GA from the previous season.
HUSKIES vs. TIGERS HISTORY: Washington and LSU have faced one another only one time in history, on Sept. 24, 1983. The ninth-ranked Huskies came into Baton Rouge 2-0 on year after wins at Northwestern and at home over Michigan, but left with a 40-14 loss in front of 82,390 fans at Tiger Stadium. LSU jumped out to a 20-7 halftime lead and built that lead to 34-7 early in the fourth quarter as the Tigers cruised to the win. The Huskies couldn't get the ball moving on the ground with RB Jacque Robinson as they netted just 28 yards rushing for the game. The Huskies did find out though that they could move on the Tigers through the air, but every time the Huskies got a drive going, out came a penalty flag, as they where whistled for nine penalties for 107 yards. LSU's "Dalton-James" gang (Dalton Hilliard and Garry James) combined to rush for 226 yards and sophomore QB Jeff Wickersham added a career-high 259 passing yards and a touchdown . Wickersham also recorded two more touchdowns running the ball, both of them on play-action rollouts. His 259 yards passing were the second most in LSU school history. LSU kicker Juan Betanzos added to the Tigers scoring by booting two field goals, one from 32 yards out and the other from 37. Washington's two scores came on a two-yard run by Robinson, which made the score 10-7 LSU, and when Steve Pelluer scored on a one-yard QB sneak four minutes into the fourth quarter, cutting the Tigers lead to 34-14 at that point. Pelluer connected on 27-of-42 passes for a career-high 312 yards. He threw seven completions to receiver Mark Pattison, six to Danny Greene, and five times to tight end Larry Michael. Washington went on to an 8-4 season and a berth in the Aloha Bowl while LSU finished the season 4-7.
WASHINGTON-LSU TIES: Not surprisingly, Washington's roster doesn't include any players from the state of Louisiana, nor are there any Tigers from Washington. The closest it gets are a pair of Tigers from the West Coast: freshman WR Karl Acker (Portland, Ore./Grant HS) and junior DL Akiem Hicks (Elk Grove, Calif./Del Campo), who attended the same Sacramento-area high school as Husky senior linebacker Donald Butler and freshman cornerback Anthony Gobern. Additionally, Husky safety Victor Aiyewa is from the Houston area, home to a long list of LSU players, though none of them attended Aiyewa's high school (Hightower). A much less subtle connection is the fact that LSU wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy is a Washington graduate. McCarthy played at the UW from 1991 to 1993, having transferred from Long Beach CC. He was on the roster when current UW safeties coach Jeff Mills was a grad assistant here (1991) and was on the same staff as Mills at Idaho from 2000 to 2003. Also an obvious connection is the fact that University of Washington president Mark Emmert (a UW graduate) was previously chancellor at LSU, where he worked with current Husky athletic director Scott Woodward, a native of Baton Rouge and an LSU graduate. Additionally, Cheryl Taplin, the UW's assistant to the head coach, was a three-time national champion sprinter at LSU and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.
HUSKIES vs. THE SEC: LSU is only the third Southeastern Conference team ever to visit Husky Stadium, joining Alabama and Mississippi State. In fact, the Huskies have only played four of the 12 current members of the SEC, home, away or neutral. Washington has gone 0-4 vs. Alabama (including losses in the 1926 Rose Bowl and the 1986 Sun Bowl; also lost in 1975 in Tuscaloosa and in 1978 in Seattle). The Dawgs beat Florida, 34-7, in the 1989 Freedom Bowl, and lost to Mississippi State, 28-17, in a regular-season game in 1977 in Seattle. The Huskies have never faced Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee or Vanderbilt.
HOME OPENERS: The Huskies are 85-27-5 in home openers (whether the first game of the season or not), a percentage of .748. (Washington did not play any home games in the 1890 or 1893 seasons.) That mark includes a 28-game streak of home-opener wins that ran from 1908 to 1935. Before falling to Air Force in the 1999 home opener, Washington had won 13 straight such games since falling to Oklahoma State on Sept. 7, 1985.
HOME vs. NON CONFERENCE: Washington has been very tough to beat in home, non-conference games over the last couple of decades or so. Going back to (and including) the 1981 season, the Huskies have posted a 49-11 record against non-Pac-10 foes in Husky Stadium. Those 11 losses have come to BYU (2008), Oklahoma (2008), Ohio State (2007), Notre Dame (2005), Fresno State (2004), Nevada (2003), Air Force (1999), Nebraska (1997), Notre Dame (1995), Colorado (1989) and Oklahoma State (1985). The wins during that stretch include victories over No. 22 Boise State in 2007, No. 11 Michigan in 2001, No. 4 Miami in 2000, and No. 12 Nebraska in 1992, to name just four. Prior to the 2004 loss to Nevada, Washington hadn't lost a home game to a non-league opponent since falling to Air Force, 31-21, on September 18, 1999. The Huskies had won 10 such games before that Nevada loss.
CAPTAINS: At the "Raise the Woof!" kickoff celebration held on Aug. 28, the four captains, as voted by their teammates, for the coming season were revealed. They are senior LB Donald Butler (Sacramento, Calif.), junior QB Jake Locker (Ferndale, Wash.), senior DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (Waikoloa, Hawai'i) and junior C Ryan Tolar (Pasco, Wash.). Te'o-Nesheim was also voted as a season captain at the end of last season.
FAMILY TIES: As is the case with most seasons of Husky football, there are a number of players on the Washington football team related to either current or former Huskies. Linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo is a first cousin of former Huskies Marques and Zach Tuiasosopo as well as older sister, Leslie, a standout Husky volleyball player and now an assistant coach for the UW volleyball team, and younger sister Ashley, a junior on the Husky softball team. Fullback Paul Homer is a cousin, by marriage, of former Husky offensive lineman Aaron Dalan, who married former Washington women's basketball player Gena Pelz. Cornerback Matt Mosley is a cousin to former Husky Luther Carr. Outside linebacker Fred Wiggs is the younger brother of former Husky defensive lineman Sekou Wiggs, while tailback Chris Polk and wide receivers Jordan Polk are cousins. Freshman linebacker Jordan Wallace is the younger brother of former Husky safety C.J. Wallace, who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks. Another freshman, Talia Crichton, is a cousin of senior DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim while sophomore tailback Johri Fogerson is related to both Nate Robinson (former UW football and basketball player; current New York Knick) and former Husky basketball standout Dion Brown. Lastly, freshman quarterback Keith Price is a cousin of former UW tailback Jelani Harrison. Incidentally, at least four Huskies have close family ties to Washington State. Both T.J. Poe's and Cameron Elisara's fathers played at WSU, as did Husky cornerback Desmond Trufant's brother Marcus. Freshman safety Nate Fellner is the grandson of former WSU head coach Jim Sweeney.
OVERALL ATHLETIC SUCCESS: Having firmly established itself as one of the top broad-based Division I intercollegiate athletics programs in the country, the University of Washington once again placed in the top echelon in the annual U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup competition in the 2008-2009 academic year. Husky athletics finished 11th among all NCAA Division I institutions (271 schools earned at least a point and were ranked) in the annual standings. Washington scored a total of 1010.25 points in the Director's Cup, which is based solely on NCAA championship competition (and therefore didn't include the Huskies' national championship in men's rowing, which is not an NCAA sport). The 2008-09 Washington athletic season was highlighted by a number of team and individual successes, including NCAA championships in women's cross country and softball, plus the national title in men's rowing. The Huskies also won the Pac-10 championship in women's cross country (posting the best possible score), men's basketball and men's golf and posted top-10 NCAA finishes in men's golf, women's rowing, women's volleyball and women's tennis.
RANDOM NOTES: Washington's roster includes player from 14 different states (based on where the player completed high school): Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawai'i, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington ... Washington has a long tradition of great Polynesian players; this year's roster includes 18 players of Samoan, Tongan or Hawai'ian descent: Kalani Aldrich, Jonathan Amosa, Talia Crichton, Cameron Elisara, Johri Fogerson, Ronnie Fouch, Mykenna Ikehara, Senio Kelemete, Kimo Makaula, Andru Pulu, Alameda Ta'amu, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Everrette Thompson, Tobias Togi, Semisi Tokolahi, Anthony Tokunaga, Trenton Tuiasosopo and Nate Williams.