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In the Trenches with John Anderson
Release: 10/10/2002
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Oct. 10, 2002

In his four years at Washington, John Anderson has established himself as one of the school's greatest placekickers. Anderson equaled the school record with a 56-yard kick in 1999, and holds UW records for career 50-yard field goals (4) and 50-yarders in a single season (3). His four field goals last week against California, which equaled the second-most in school history, gave the Boynton Beach, Fla., native 49 for his career, trailing only legendary kickers Jeff Jaeger and Chuck Nelson on the Huskies' career top-10. Anderson's contributions have been more than just what fans see on the field, however -- after arriving in 1999, Anderson tipped off the Husky coaches to an up-and-coming tailback at his alma mater, Pope John Paul II High School. Thus, Rich Alexis became a Husky, and the following year, so did PJP II alum Charles Frederick. With just seven regular-season game remaining in his Husky career, Anderson reflected on all that has happened in his four years with the Dawgs. You had to kick two field goals over 50 yards in distance in the Cal game this year. What kind of mindset do you have right before kicking one that long?
John Anderson: "You just have to go out there and kick it like an extra point. I'm blessed that I don't have to kick any harder to make a 50-yarder than I would an extra point. I just have to go out there relaxed and try to make it."

GH: Last year, you made two game-winning field goals, one against Arizona State, and one against USC. With the game on the line, do your nerves escalate?
Anderson: "Both times I was really excited to go do it. Luckily, I made both of them and won both of the games. I was a very neat experience for me. It's something that when I'm 40 years old and talking to my kids I can say, 'yeah, I beat Southern Cal, and I beat Arizona State.' It was just a very exciting moment in my life."

GH: Kickers are put in a difficult position: if you make it, the crowd breathes a sigh of relief, but if you miss, you're the bad guy. How do you react to that?
Anderson: "I guess the media and other people might think of it as hero or goat, but that's the reason we go to practice, to off-season conditioning and to mat drills -- to build a team. I'm sure if I missed one of those [game-winning] kicks there would have been 50 guys putting their arms around me saying, 'That's alright, don't worry about it, the season's not over.' That's just the type of relationship we have on this team. No one points the finger. When we lost to Cal there was no finger-pointing, everyone stayed together."

GH: You're on pace to kick 24 field goals this year, which would rank second all-time at UW [Chuck Nelson kicked 25 in 1982]. Is that a goal of yours?
Anderson: "It would be cool. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. Every time I go on the field, I'm just going to do my best to make the kick because this team is going to need as many points as it can get, and that's my job. If I get two more attempts the rest of the year and we win, I'll be as happy if I get 40 attempts and we lose."

GH: Last year you were a preseason candidate for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker. Does that enter your mind during the season, and is there pressure to win it in your last year?
Anderson: "Football is not an individual sport. My goals this year were to kick as best I can, and help this team win as many football games as I can. If I get nominated or elected for the Lou Groza, it happens. I'll be excited for that after the year. It's a postseason award, and that's when I'll probably think about it."

GH: Do you have any advice for freshman kickers coming in next year to play for the Dawgs?
Anderson: "Actually you'll have two freshman kickers coming in. Just don't take it too seriously. The people here will love you if you make it or miss it. Just go in and try your best. I just hope they realize what it means to come in and wear a purple and gold helmet. You don't point fingers at anybody else; the hold was never bad, the snap was never bad. I just hope they come in and continue to help this program."

GH: Speaking of the hold, that job falls to Cody Pickett. When you kick a field goal do you ever worry about accidentally kicking his hand? And would the coaches kill you if you did?
Anderson: "Every once in a while he won't get his fingers out of the way in time, and you'll see it. Quite a bit in practice it'll catch his fingers, it doesn't hurt him at all, but the ball doesn't go very far. I don't think it's ever happened in a game and I hope it never does happen."

GH: Is there any difference kicking in Washington versus kicking in Florida?
Anderson: "About 40 degrees! The footballs at home are maybe a little softer. As with anything, as a football gets warmer, it gets softer. It's still a football and goal posts, though, so there is really little difference."

GH: When you were growing up in Florida, what collegiate sports teams were you a major fan of?
Anderson: "I guess, Miami and Florida State. I never liked Florida. The first thing I thought of this weekend after we lost was, 'at least Florida lost.' When I came up here, though, and I didn't really realize what Pac-10 football was all about. I'm a Washington Husky now, and probably the biggest moment of my life was beating Miami, the team I grew up cheering for. I'll always cheer for those teams. I'm a fan of this sport, and I'm just happy to be at Washington; I could never be anywhere else."

GH: So you grew up a 'Cane fan, eh? When Miami and Washington split the national title in 1991, who do you think deserved to win it more?
Anderson: "I don't know. I think everyone in college football would have loved to see that matchup. Both of those teams went through really good schedules unscathed, and both blew a bunch of teams out. I think it was President Bush who said that maybe they should've just played on the White House lawn. Both teams can say they won the national championship that year and both of them earned it."

GH: So you're dancing around my question?
Anderson: (chuckles) "Yes."

GH: It's somewhat of a football legend that kickers are a tad quirky and weird. Is that true?
Anderson: "I don't know. I consider myself a football player. I've always played football, it's just at this level I'm not big enough or fast enough to play another position, so to get on the field I have to kick. I wouldn't consider myself quirky or anything. I'm just really laid back and don't take anything too seriously. I just want to go out there and help my team win."

GH: So I hear you're dating Jill Johnson on the UW cross country team. She runs a lot! Do you two ever go running together for a date or something?
Anderson: "Absolutely not. I would never ever put myself through that torture." contributing to Steve Hitchcock

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