Sept. 20, 2003
by Mason Kelley
Special to GoHuskies.com
SEATTLE -- When the Huskies took the field on Saturday against the Idaho Vandals, it was the end of a long journey for junior wide receiver Justin Robbins.
"It felt good," Robbins said. "There was a lot of nervous anxiety, but I tried to turn it into positive energy and use it to my advantage."
He would make his presence felt early, helping the Huskies (2-1) to a 45-14 victory.
Robbins, who has spent much of his career on the sidelines battling injuries, just finished rehabbing a serious knee injury suffered while the team was preparing for the 2001 Holiday Bowl. He last played in 2001, when Washington traveled to California on September 29th.
On the Huskies' first possession of the game, Robbins made it out onto the field. He was lined up in the slot and quarterback Cody Pickett hit him over the middle. However, he dropped the pass. As he trotted over to the sideline after the play, coach Keith Gilbertson had a few words.
"He said, 'Come on, man, you have to get that one, I am only allowing you one,'" said Robbins. "That was the one -- after that I caught every one."
In the second quarter, Robbins would set up a Husky field goal, catching his first pass since 2001. Pickett hit Robbins on a six-yard slant route that set up Evan Knudson's 37-yard field goal.
Robbins finished the game as the team's second leading receiver, catching four passes for 40 yards. His longest reception of the game was an 18-yard catch in the third quarter.
After his performance today, Robbins feels he is finally over his injuries.
"Not at all," Robbins said about whether he worries about getting hurt again. "I try to play 100 miles an hour. I just try to go and not think about my knee at all."
Robbins was one of many receivers that got into the action on Saturday. Pickett spread the ball around, hitting 12 different receivers. He finished the game 20-29 for 234 yards.
The Huskies were without junior wide receiver Reggie Williams for the first half, who was forced to sit out after missing a mandatory team function. Without him they needed the rest of their receiving corps to step up.
Charles Frederick stepped up and led the Husky receivers in the first half catching three passes for 32 yards.
"With Reggie out in the first half, I knew I would have to step up and make big plays to give us a good shot," Frederick said.
Frederick set up the Huskies second score in the first quarter when Pickett hit him down the right sideline for 18 yards setting up Rich Alexis' 8-yard run.
"Cody gave me the route and he said, 'If I have to scramble I am going to scramble your way so get open,'" Frederick said. "I did what he said, I was open and I caught it. It set up a good run play for Rich."
Idaho kept the game close through much of the third quarter, trailing 17-14.
The momentum changed instantly when Pickett hit Williams on a hitch route. Williams saw that there wasn't much room to the left so he turned and took the ball all the way around the right side. An Idaho defender was closing in on Williams before Alexis leveled him, freeing Williams for 12 yards.
Alexis would take the ball in from 25 yards out, five plays later, making the score 24-14. The Huskies would blow the game open after that.
Quarterback Isaiah Stanback continued to get some snaps as a slot receiver. He recorded the first reception of his young career, a 12-yard pass, in the second quarter.
"It was cool," Stanback said of his first career reception. "I knew I was going to get hit as soon as I caught it but I am starting to get a better feel for the slot position."
The passing game used a lot of weapons on Saturday and with Robbins back in the mix, supporting Williams and Frederick, look for the Washington passing game to continue to put up big numbers when they begin Pac-10 play next week.