Nov. 7, 2005
The Game: The Washington football team (0-6 in the Pac-10, 1-8 overall) heads out on the road for the final time this season this Saturday, November 12, when the Huskies face Arizona (2-4 in the Pac-10, 3-6 overall) at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. Kickoff time is set for 4:00 p.m. Mountain time (3:00 p.m. Pacific time) and there is no live television coverage of the game. Washington enters the week looking to snap a six-game losing streak while the Wildcats have won their last two in a row (including a 52-14 rout of No. 7 UCLA last Saturday) after five straight losses. In another week, the season wraps up with the annual Apple Cup game vs. Washington State, November 19 at Husky Stadium. The Apple Cup will be televised live on FSN, beginning at 12:15 p.m.
Huskies vs. Wildcats History: Washington holds a 14-6-1 (.690) edge in the series against Arizona, with the Huskies taking seven of the last 10. Overall, the Huskies are 29-16-1 all-time against the Arizona schools (Arizona and Arizona State), including a 13-10-1 record away from Husky Stadium. The last six games in the Huskies' series with Arizona have been decided by a total of 31 points, with the most lopsided result (a 31-21 Arizona win) coming last season. Last year, the Wildcats overcame a 13-9 halftime deficit, out-scoring the Huskies, 14-0, in the second half for the win. In 2003, Arizona snapped a string of 13 straight home losses in conference play by pulling out a late, 27-22 victory. In 2002, it was the Huskies who rallied late when Reggie Williams scored on an 80-yard reception with only 2:03 remaining in the game. In 2001, Cody Pickett ran in from three yards out with 13 seconds left to cap an amazing day. Only two weeks after separating his right (throwing) vs. USC, Pickett broke the UW record with 455 passing yards as the Huskies won, 31-28. Also included in the recent close contests are Washington's come-from-behind, 35-32 win in 2000 in Seattle, which may be the most memorable game in the series' history. Trailing 28-24 to Washington with under a minute to play, Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins flipped head over heels over three Husky defenders, landing on his feet in the end zone for the winning score. Close wins for Arizona are the rule in this series. Three of the Wildcats' five wins in the series have come by three points, including Arizona's first-ever win over Washington in 1988, snapping the Huskies' six-game unbeaten streak in the series. The Wildcats overcame two 10-point deficits, but still appeared headed for a tie before Washington quarterback Cary Conklin fumbled in the final minute, setting up Doug Pfaff's game-winning 22-yard field goal with five seconds left. The Wildcats won again by a field goal the following year, marking their longest winning streak (two games) in series history. Prior to the loss two seasons ago, the Huskies hadn't lost to the Wildcats in Tucson since 1992, when the "Desert Swarm" defense lifted UA to a 16-3 win over No. 1 Washington, breaking the Huskies' 22-game winning streak. In only his second season as a head coach, Arizona's Mike Stoops is 1-0 against Washington. During his seven seasons at Stanford, UW head man Tyrone Willingham went 2-3 against the Wildcats (Stanford and Arizona didn't play one another in 1995 or 1996). Both of Willingham's two wins came at Arizona Stadium (1999, 2001) and in both cases, the Cardinal scored 50 or more points (50-22 in 1999, 51-37 in 2001).
Television: There will be no live television broadcast of the Washington-Arizona game. The game will, however, air on tape delay on FSN Northwest, Sunday at 3:00 p.m. with Rich Cellini and Sonny Sixkiller calling the action. Both remaining Husky games will air on FSN on tape delay Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Additionally, "Husky Football All-Access" airs each Thursday at 7:00 p.m. during the season on FSN. The program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one 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 five different states and British Columbia, Canada, on 26 different radio stations. Longtime play-by-play man Bob Rondeau and color analyst Chuck Nelson are joined by sideline reporter Steve Sandmeyer. Most broadcasts will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio on channel 194, 195 or 196.
The Coach: Tyrone Willingham was named Washington's 22nd head football coach on December 13, 2004. A former head coach at Notre Dame and Stanford, Willingham became the first African-American to serve as the Huskies head coach. While he brings an impressive resume with him to resurrect the Husky program, Willingham has acquitted himself well among his peers for much more than just fielding winning teams. Over the past 28 years Willingham has developed a coaching style that emphasizes toughness, enthusiasm, intelligence, discipline, commitment and unselfish play. The result has provided his players with more than just the opportunity to enjoy victories on the field. His guiding principles have prepared his players to be successful in life. Willingham, who turned 51 on Dec. 30, served as the head coach at Stanford (1995-2001) and Notre Dame (2002-2004) over the past decade. His Stanford teams enjoyed a 44-36-1 record while he was 21-15 with the Fighting Irish, including a 38-3 victory against Washington last season at Notre Dame Stadium. In his inaugural season with the Irish in 2002, he wasted no time reversing the tide of the Irish program, leading Notre Dame to a 10-2 regular-season record and a trip to the 2003 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. He was named Sportsman of the Year by The Sporting News after the 2002 season, while also picking up several national coach of the year awards. Prior to his tenure at Notre Dame, Willingham directed the Stanford program for seven seasons. In 1999, the Cardinal won the Pac-10 and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1972, earning Willingham Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. He also led the Cardinal to the 1995 Liberty Bowl, the 1996 Sun Bowl and the 2001 Seattle Bowl. Willingham, who grew up in Jacksonville, N.C., played both football and baseball at Michigan State, earning three letters in both sports and was awarded the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor as the outstanding scholar-athlete in the league. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1977 and, aside from his two previous head coaching stints, has served as a full-time assistant at Central Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Rice and Stanford, as well as with the Minnesota Vikings.
Willingham vs. The Pac-10: Thanks mostly to his time at Stanford, but also via frequent games vs. western teams while at Notre Dame, Tyrone Willingham has amassed a lengthy record against Pac-10 teams. Overall, Willingham is 47-32 against Pac-10 teams. Interestingly, his teams have struggled the most against Washington, as he's gone 1-6 against his new charges. Here's Willingham's record against each Pac-10 team (including this season): Arizona (2-3), Arizona State (4-4), California (7-1), Oregon (4-2), Oregon State (3-4), Stanford (3-0), UCLA (3-5), USC (4-7), Washington (1-5), Washington State (6-2).
Coaching Staff: Washington's new coaching staff, under first-year head coach Tyrone Willingham, includes a number of names that might be familiar to more savvy Pac-10 football fans. Willingham, of course, spent seven seasons in charge of Stanford, where he'd previously served as an assistant (1989-91) for three seasons. And, two members of the Husky staff from last season were held over as well, lending more than a little familiarity. Defensive line coach Randy Hart is now working for his fifth different head coach as a member of the Husky staff while linebackers coach Chris Tormey, is beginning his 15th season at the UW, spread over three different stints. Aside from those three, several other UW coaches have experience in or around the Northwest. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer has coached in the Pac-10 at California, Arizona State and Stanford, as well as at Idaho. Spokane native Tim Lappano previously worked at Idaho, Washington State, California, Oregon State and with the Seattle Seahawks. Receivers coach Eric Yarber, an Idaho grad, has spent time at his alma mater, with the Seahawks and at Oregon State while Mike Denbrock (offensive line) and Trent Miles (running backs) both worked one season each at Stanford. Only tight ends/special teams coach Bob Simmons, the former Oklahoma State head coach, and defensive backs coach Steven Wilks can't trace their coaching roots through the Pac-10.
The GAs: Washington's two graduate assistant coaches this season are Kyle Benn (offense) and Joey Hildbold (defense). Benn earned four letters as a center and was a captain on the 2001 team. That season, he was one of only two players named to the All-Pac-10 and Academic All-Pac-10 first teams. He is in his second season as a G.A. at his alma mater. Hildbold, a 2003 graduate of Notre Dame, was a punter for the Irish from 1999 to 2002. He was a two-time finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's top collegiate punter.
Washington-Arizona Ties: There are a few connections between the UW coaches and the Arizona staff. UA defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo is a cousin of Manu Tuiasosopo, father of former Huskies Zach and Marques Tuiasosopo. Mike Tuiasosopo also worked at Nevada (2000-02) under former Wolfpack head coach and current UW linebackers coach Chris Tormey. UA running backs coach Kasey Dunn (a graduate of North Kitsap High School) worked on Tormey's staff at Idaho in 1995, Tormey's last season as Vandals head coach. Arizona's roster includes only one player from the state of Washington: freshman tight end Adam Grant, from Puyallup High, the alma mater of Husky wide receiver Cody Ellis. Washington's roster lists two Arizonans: sophomore kicker Michael Braunstein (Gilbert/Gilbert HS) and junior offensive guard Clay Walker (Scottsdale/Horizon). Walker and Arizona offensive lineman Philip Brown attended the same high school. Other Huskies and Wildcats that went to the same high school: Arizona receiver Gerold Rodrigues was a member of the 2004 senior class at L.A.'s Venice High along with Husky sophomoredefensive lineman Erick Lobos and RS-freshman cornerback Mesphin Forrester. Wildcats WR B.J. Vickers is also a Venice grad. Husky tackle Robin Meadow and Arizona receiver Ryan Eidson both went to Northern California powerhouse DeLaSalle High. UW linebacker Scott White went to Mission Bay High in San Diego, as did Arizona defensive ends Marcus Smith and Jason Parker.
Last Year vs. Arizona: Arizona snapped a seven-game losing streak and gave first-year head coach Mike Stoops his first Pac-10 win on Nov. 6, 2004, as the Wildcats beat Washington, 23-13, at Husky Stadium. The game was the Huskies' first after head coach Keith Gilbertson had announced that he would step down at the end of the season. Arizona took the lead in the first quarter when Mike Bell, who posted three long TDs the previous season, scored on a one-yard run early in the first quarter. The run was set up by a 50-yard flea-flicker pass from Richard Kovalcheck to Syndric Steptoe. The `Cats increased their lead to 9-0 by blocking a Sean Douglas punt ouf of the endzone for a safety. The UW, however, rallied to take a halftime lead. Shelton Sampson scored on a one-yard run and Evan Knudson booted a 42-yard field goal to close out the first quarter with the Dawgs on top, 10-9. Another Knudson FG, this one from 34 yards out, gave the UW a 13-9 lead at the break. Arizona did all the scoring in the second half. With 3:32 left in the third quarter, Wildcats cornerback Wilrey Fontenot recovered a Sampson fumble and ran 33 yards for a touchdown to the lead. Bell then scored from 13 yards out after the `Cats regained possession when Kirk Johnson intercepted backup Husky QB Isaiah Stanback. Bell, who ran for 222 yards in the 2003 game vs. the UW, was held to 82 yards on 24 carries, but did score twice. Kovalcheck was 11-for-25 for 164 yard with no interceptions or touchdowns. UW starting quarterback Casey Paus went 13-for-37 for 164 yards, one interception and no scores while Stanback was 3-for-10 for 33 yards, one pick and no TDs. Then-tight end Joe Toledo had his most prolific receiving day, catching six passes for 62 yards.
Last Time vs. Arizona at Arizona Stadium: Mike Bell rushed for 222 yards - including touchdown runs of 67, 69 and 37 yards - as Arizona snapped a string of 13 consecutive home losses against Pac-10 opposition by beating visiting Washington, 27-22, Nov. 8, 2003, at Arizona Stadium. Bell's TD runs of 69 and 37 yards came in a span of only 59 seconds in the fourth quarter. The first gave the `Cats their first lead and the second opened an 11-point gap that Washington couldn't overcome. The Huskies opened the scoring in the first period, driving 88 yards on 12 plays on their second possession of the game with Cody Pickett throwing three yards to Adam Seery for the touchdown. Bell followed with a 67-yard scoring run, but the point-after failed, leaving the UW on top. In the second quarter, Derrick Johnson intercepted Kris Heaver's pass at the Arizona 22-yard line to set up the UW's next touchdown, a one-yard run from Shelton Sampson. Arizona cut the lead to 14-13 in the final seconds of the half when Gary Love stripped the ball from UW receiver Charles Frederick at the Arizona 21 and returned it to the 50. Heavner then hit Biren Ealy for a touchdown with 26 seconds left. After a scoreless third quarter, the Huskies made it 16-13, pinning Arizona on its one-yard line and gang-tackling Bell in the endzone for a safety with 9:58 left in the game. Bell then responded with his 69-yard dash up the middle to give the `Cats their first lead, 20-16 with 7:28 to play. Pickett fumbled on the UW's next possession and the Wildcats recovered. Two plays later, Bell raced 37 yards to increase the lead to 27-16 with 4:38 to play. Pickett, who completed 31-of-51 passes for 351 yards and two scores, completed a 41-yard pass to Isaiah Stanback to set up a four-yard scoring pass to Corey Williams to cut the lead to 27-22, but a two-point try failed. The UW drove to the Arizona 28-yard line on their final drive before consecutive false start penalties pushed them back 10 yards. Pickett threw three interceptions to close the game, the last deflected by Lamon Means to preserve the Arizona win.
Scoring First: Interestingly enough for a team with a 1-8 record, the Huskies have posted the first score of the game in seven of nine contests this season. Only against Notre Dame on September 24 and against Oregon State last week has the UW's opponent scored first in a game this year. In the seven games in which the Huskies have scored first, they've opened with a touchdown four times and a field goal on three occasions. In all but the win over Idaho, that opening tally came in the first quarter. Despite the early leads, however, the Huskies have led in the fourth quarter of only three games this year: the win over Idaho and losses to Air Force and UCLA.
Improved? Here's Some Proof: While the Huskies' record (1-8) after nine games this season is the same as it was last season, it's worth noting that the UW has shown marked improvement in a number of key statistics. The Huskies are doing demonstrably better in both the passing and rushing games, they're scoring more and they've cut down significantly on turnovers. What's more is that the Huskies played only one ranked opponent in their first nine games last year (No. 1 USC in the seventh game) while the Dawgs have faced five ranked opponents through nine games in 2005. Here's a look at some key statistics, with the current number compared to last year's total through nine games:
2004 thru 9 games 2005 thru 9 games Points (avg. per game) 117 (13.0) 177 (19.7) Rushing Yards Allowed (avg.) 1,563 (173.7) 1,266 (140.7) Pass Efficiency Rating 74.12 121.03 Pass Completion Percentage 38.7% 52.7% Interceptions Thrown 18 7 Fumbles Lost 16 11 Total Turnovers 34 18
Pac-10's Top Tacklers: Washington has four players ranked among the top 10 tacklers in the Pac-10 Conference, similar to how things ended last year. In 2004, three of the league's top six tacklers (in terms of total tackles per game) were Huskies. This year, senior linebacker Evan Benjamin ranks No. 3 in the conference with 9.4 per game. Fellow senior LB Joe Lobendahn is tied for sixth with 8.4 stops per game and safety tandem Dashon Goldson and C.J. Wallace both rank tied for 10th at 7.8 per game. Additionally, linebacker Scott White sits not far outside of the top 10, at 14th on the list with 7.4 tackles per contest.
Captains: Washington will not have season-long captains this year. Instead, Coach Tyrone Willingham will name game captains each week. Each game's set of captains will be informed of the honor the Friday before each game. Here's a list of the captains that have served in each game:
Air Force: Evan Benjamin, Joe Lobendahn, James Sims, Joe Toledo
Cal: Dashon Goldson, Joe Lobendahn, James Sims, Brad Vanneman
Idaho: Manase Hopoi, Evan Knudson, Robin Meadow, Scott White
Notre Dame: Dashon Goldson, Manase Hopoi, Isaiah Stanback, Brad Vanneman
UCLA: Tusi Sa'au, Isaiah Stanback, C.J. Wallace, Scott White
Oregon: Evan Benjamin, Joe Lobendahn, Tusi Sa'au, Isaiah Stanback
USC: Dashon Goldson, Donny Mateaki, Casey Paus, James Sims
USC: Tui Alailefaleula, Evan Benjamin, Joe Lobendahn, James Sims
Oregon State: Evan Benjamin, Joe Lobendahn, James Sims, Brad Vanneman