Nov. 24, 2007
SEATTLE (AP) - Coach Tyrone Willingham had a simple directive for his Washington Huskies, to keep them from invigorating the Washington State Cougars leading up to the 100th Apple Cup on Saturday.
"Don't talk," the coach warned.
Minutes later, Jordan Reffett talked.
When asked what he would say to his toddler daughter, Kendall, if she tells Dad someday she wants to attend Washington State, the Huskies' defensive tackle said: "I would say, 'You're a traitor.' That would not be allowed."
Reffett wasn't smiling.
"I plan on having more kids," he said. "I want them to be able to get a job some day."
Jake Locker, the dynamic redshirt freshman quarterback, is returning for Washington (4-7, 2-6 Pac-10) after missing last week's romp past California with a sprained neck.
Locker said he is ready to represent all of his Washington predecessors who have played in this game -- going way back to a 5-5 tie in the mud at Denny Field on the UW campus in 1900, the first Washington State-Washington game, when touchdowns and field goals were each worth five points.
But if Reffett and his defensive mates don't slow down Washington State quarterback Alex Brink in the final game for the Pac-10's leader in total offense, Reffett will be hearing about it again when he goes home.
"We plan on getting after them early and often," Reffett said of the Cougars (4-7, 2-6).
Reffett grew up in Cougars country -- Moses Lake, Wash. -- and returns there during breaks in the school year. He endured taunts after he played in the Apple Cups of 2004 and '05, when WSU won. Last winter, after Washington upset the Cougars in Pullman and prevented them from going to a bowl game, Reffett got to taunt back.
But that isn't even his best Apple Cup memory. As a junior at Moses Lake High School in 2000, Reffett was inside Husky Stadium when Marques Tuiasosopo led UW to a 51-3 trouncing of the Cougars en route to winning the Rose Bowl.
"That's what we're going to try to do this Saturday," Reffett said.
Brink holds the school's career records for yards passing and touchdowns, as well as attempts (1,411) and completions (821) -- surpassing Jason Gesser in every category.
He's bettered Ryan Leaf, who led the Cougars past UW in Seattle in 1997 and into WSU's first Rose Bowl in 67 years.
He's also surpassed Drew Bledsoe, whose 44-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Bobo, who crashed into a snow bank just beyond the end line, helped the Cougars upset the fifth-ranked Huskies 42-23 in Pullman in 1992.
But the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Brink, who has started 39 games since midway through his freshman season, remains maligned because he never took the Cougars to a bowl. This week, he conceded being shut out from the postseason was his biggest disappointment.
"You can't change what people think about you. It's something I don't think about and I don't worry about anymore," he said.
He's left with Saturday's quest to become the only Cougars quarterback to defeat the Huskies three times.
"That's a pretty special deal, considering all the guys who have gone through here before me," Brink said.
The last time the Cougars made a bowl was 2003. That was Bill Doba's first year as head coach squad, after Mike Price left Pullman. Doba hasn't had a winning record since.
So speculation has been heavy that Saturday could be the 67-year-old Doba's final game with WSU. He is 29-29 in five seasons as coach.
"There's no doubt he deserves another year," Brink said. "I've seen what he's put into this program over the last four years."
Of course, Brink is biased.
"He gave me the opportunity to play Division I football," Brink said. "That's more than I can say about anybody else in the country."