Sept. 18, 2002
Despite its lofty ranking, Washington coach Rick Neuheisel doesn't think his team has played to its full potential this season. The No. 13 Huskies can change all that Saturday.
Owners of the longest home winning streak in the Pacific 10, Washington (1-1) looks to take its 16th straight at Husky Stadium when it meets the struggling Wyoming Cowboys (0-3).
The favorite to win the conference, Washington entered the season with a No. 9 ranking. But in their first two games - a 31-29 loss at Michigan on Aug. 31 and a sloppy 34-10 win over San Jose State on Sept. 7 - the Huskies have yet to show the form that was expected of them.
Neuheisel thinks a well-timed bye week can cure those problems.
"I don't recall a bye week where I felt any better," Neuheisel said. "I think every player on our team worked hard to improve."
Neuheisel, the MVP in the 1984 Rose Bowl as UCLA's quarterback, used the extra week to work specifically with quarterback Cody Pickett.
In the first two games this season, the junior passed for 665 yards and five touchdowns, with two interceptions. Against San Jose State, he lost fumbles at the Spartans' 2 and 15 in the first half but finished 22-for-35 for 347 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.
Pickett's main outlet is sophomore Reggie Williams, last week's Pac-10 offensive player of the week who caught six passes for 160 yards against San Jose State.
Neuheisel hopes the tandem can help the Huskies develop an identity.
"We want to establish who we are," Neuheisel said. "The job is to win the game and to play well. If we're fortunate to get that done, then we want to establish ourselves, both from a running standpoint and from a throwing standpoint as an offense that can generate more from itself."
The return of senior tailback Braxton Cleman, who missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, should help the Huskies run a more balanced attack. Washington is averaging only 116.5 yards per game behind junior Rich Alexis.
While the Huskies are looking to extend their home win streak, the Cowboys are trying to snap their prolonged skid, one that has them making history.
After falling to Boise State 35-13 Saturday, Wyoming has dropped 11 straight dating back to last year, that matches the school record for most consecutive losses.
The last time Wyoming lost 11 consecutive games was in the 1929-30 seasons. The current streak began with a 42-14 loss to Colorado State on Sept. 29, 2001.
Coach Vic Koenning, however, isn't concerned with the futile run.
"We are going to be fine," Koenning said. "We just have to continue to keep working and keep finding ways to be successful."
Wyoming gained 336 yards total offense against the Broncos, including 125 on the ground, its best rushing game since Oct. 13, 2001, when it rushed for 189 yards in a loss to Air Force.
Performances like that have Koenning thinking his team is better than its record indicates.
"The only way we are going to prove it is to win some football games," he said.