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A Nearly Perfect First Month for Washington
Release: 10/04/2006
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Oct. 4, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) -- A three-game winning streak -- unseen for three seasons.

Sitting at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10 Conference for the first time since 2001.

Taking advantage of a friendly schedule, September couldn't have gone much better for Tyrone Willingham and Washington.

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"It's nice to be where we are. I'd like to be better, but this doesn't give us anything yet," Willingham said. "We have to go to work now."

The Huskies' stated goal all along has been to become bowl eligible and play after the third weekend of November for the first time since 2002, when they lost to Purdue in the Sun Bowl.

To get the six wins need to be bowl eligible, the Huskies needed a strong September, especially with a daunting five weeks in October and early November with games at Southern California, at California and at Oregon.

Five weeks in, the Huskies are two-thirds of the way to the six needed victories after Saturday's 21-10 win at Arizona. And Washington has games remaining at home against winless Stanford and struggling Oregon State.

It's the first time Washington has won four games in September since 1984, and the Huskies are 3-0 at home.

"Of course, we're going to enjoy what we're doing, but we've got to keep our focus," cornerback Dashon Goldson said. "We've got a lot of football left to play."

The capper to that almost flawless first month -- for wins -- came Saturday, when the Huskies' defense stymied Arizona. The Washington offense was explosive in the second quarter, rolling up 241 yards of offense, finished off by quarterback Isaiah Stanback's 55-yard touchdown pass to Quintin Daniels with 22 seconds left in the half. It was the second consecutive year that Washington struck with a long score late in the half against the Wildcats. Last season, Stanback completed a 69-yard "Hail Mary" to Craig Chambers on the last play of the half that propelled the Huskies to a 38-14 win.

Otherwise, it was the defense that held Arizona's offense -- last in the Pac-10 -- to minus-7 rushing yards, sacked Wildcats' quarterback Willie Tuitama six times and forced nine Arizona punts.

Still, issues remain with both the offense and defense, frustrating the players and giving the coaches fuel to keep their players humble.

"I feel like if both sides put four quarters together, I think we'll be unstoppable," defensive end Greyson Gunheim said. "For me, it's frustrating. We know we haven't gotten there yet and we still have a lot to do and a lot to work on."

Washington's pass defense continues to rank last in the Pac-10 and gave up 308 yards passing to the Wildcats. The Huskies' running game improved against Arizona with 154 yards rushing, but has come nowhere close to the output in the first two weeks when Washington ran for 300 and 204 yards respectively.

And, aside from the second quarter, Washington's offense managed just 206 yards the rest of the night. Those deficiencies are making the Huskies even more excited about their start.

"The positive thing is we've got wins and we're not playing to our full capability. We have something to look forward to," Stanback said. "This past game, we played offensively one good quarter and our defense held us in the game."

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