Oct. 7, 2003
At the time, it seemed like a blessing, but in retrospect, perhaps it was more of a curse. Then an unknown freshman, Rich Alexis' 50-yard scamper down the sidelines sparked a monster rookie season in 2000, culminating with freshman records and a win in the 2001 Rose Bowl. The season, however, also raised expectations through the roof for the running back out of Coral Springs, Fla., who had only played organized football for one year before coming to Washington. As the Husky offense struggled to run the ball over the next two years - while putting up record-setting passing numbers - Alexis shouldered much of the blame from critics, disappointed that the back had not fulfilled expectations he had never asked to be placed upon him in the first place. With 420 yards and three touchdowns through five games in 2003, however, Alexis has run back into the hearts of Husky fans, leading a UW running game that ranks among the best in the Pac-10 conference. GoHuskies.com correspondent Jordan Roy-Byrne talked with Alexis last week about his ability to overcome obstacles, and what lies ahead for the Huskies this season.
GoHuskies.com: Are you surprised about the success of the rushing game thus far in 2003?
Rich Alexis: "We are a little surprised, but we expected to get better. I think most people are surprised, though. I don't think many people expected us to be able to run the ball this year."
GH: To what do you attribute the success ?
Alexis: "It's a combination of all the factors. The offensive line is working real hard. Coach Cozzetto brought in a new attitude and he has them doing real well. I talk to him a lot, so I can get an idea of what the line is working on."
GH: Does it help to have Kenny James and Shelton Sampson running well behind you?
Alexis: "It's great, because they are the future. Husky fans are spoiled right now because they have two great young backs. I'm happy to see them both doing well."
GH: You're doing pretty well, yourself - through four weeks, you were third in the conference in rushing!
Alexis: "I used to think a lot about statistics as a freshman. As you get older, your whole focus is on winning and winning championships. Everything is about the team for me right now."
GH: You had a lot of success your freshman year in the option, and it seems that the offense has gone back to that more this season, particularly against Stanford.
Alexis: "The option was a perfect scheme to keep Stanford off guard, since they blitzed a lot. I now prefer to run inside, though, since I know the blocking schemes up front."
GH: I've always wondered if it bothers you guys when the media asks you questions when you are trying to eat at these press conferences.
Alexis: (laughs) "It doesn't bother me. They are kind of like coaches to me, because I see them every day."
GH: How have things gone with Coach Gilbertson at the helm?
Alexis: "We have a great head coach who keeps us focused every week, and keeps our eyes on the prize. We just have to stay on top of things every week."
GH: So, how are you staying on top of things, with school starting last week?
Alexis: "I'm happy school is starting, because I'm trying to get my degree. This is my last year, and I'm trying real hard."
GH: What are you majoring in?
Alexis: "I'm a comparative literature major."
GH: Have you taken any classes from Willis Konick? I've heard great things about some of his comparative literature classes.
Alexis: "That's my favorite teacher from kindergarten and up! I love Professor Konick. If you haven't had him, then take him!" (laughs)