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Washington Defense Leads Huskies To Victory
Release: 11/06/2007
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Nov. 6, 2007

SEATTLE (AP) - Frustrated by a six-game losing streak in which Washington seemed to find a different way to fail each week, the Huskies finally turned it around -- and they did it without any fist fights.

Center Juan Garcia acknowledged Monday that he'd been so aggravated "that if anybody on the (offensive) line joked around, we was going to fight each other.

"I knew eventually someone was going to pay for all the stuff that had been happening to us."

The result was Saturday's convincing 27-9 win over Stanford, good enough to bring a few smiles around the Washington football program -- and renewed hope that there is still time to salvage slim postseason hopes.

Washington plays this coming Saturday at Oregon State and must win its final four games to become bowl eligible.

Had the Huskies lost, "You probably never would have seen me here again," Garcia said. "We needed this."

Garcia and his fellow linemen were largely responsible for Washington (3-6, 1-5 Pac-10) getting its first win since a Sept. 8 contest against Boise State. The Huskies controlled the line of scrimmage, bullying the Stanford defense to the tune of 388 yards rushing, the Huskies' highest total since rushing for 559 yards against San Jose State in 1996.

This time, it wasn't quarterback Jake Locker doing most of the heavy lifting on offense. Louis Rankin put together the fourth-best running day in Washington history, rushing for 255 yards on 36 carries and a touchdown. It was a fitting stage for Rankin, who was playing just 80 miles from where he grew up in Stockton, Calif.

"Whenever it was wide open like it was, it's going to be hard not to get a lot of yards," Rankin said. "(The offensive line) just made it really easy. I really think anybody could have stepped in there and did that with the job they did up front."

Rankin was named Pac-10 co-offensive player of the week, sharing the honor with Oregon's Dennis Dixon.

Though Rankin was the offensive focus, that didn't mean Locker wasn't making an impact. The redshirt freshman continued his remarkable first season with 151 yards passing and another 97 yards rushing. He broke the school record for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback, and is on pace to rush for 1,000 yards.

So too is Rankin, who needs 207 yards in the final four games to reach 1,000. Locker needs 209 yards. Washington has never had two 1,000-yard rushers in one season and hasn't had one back reach that mark since 1996.

"Just to say I blocked for a guy who got 1,000 yards, maybe I didn't block nobody, but just to be on that (offensive) line, that's exciting," Garcia said.

Not to be ignored was the sudden reversal of Washington's maligned defense that allowed 103 points in the previous two games. After giving up 661 total yards to Oregon and another 535 to Arizona, the Huskies' defense stymied Stanford, limiting the Cardinal to just 253 yards.

One factor was control of the game by Washington's offense, which gave Stanford just 57 offensive plays. Another was a less cautious and more aggressive Washington defense,players and coaches agreed.

"We tried to have a little more of an aggressive tone to everything we were doing. I think our theme was not to play cautious and not to coach cautious," coach Tyrone Willingham said. "I think that's what happens sometimes when you're not having the success that you want, you get a little cautious."

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