Neuheisel still tinkering

  • JOHN SLEEPER / Herald Writer
  • Friday, October 20, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

SEATTLE – It seems to happen after every Washington Husky game.

Faced with a surly mob of reporters, UW coach Rick Neuheisel points his finger in at least one area that needs fixing.

Fixing this, fixing that. Neuheisel has done more fixing than a veterinarian. Or a degenerate gambler.

Against Arizona State last week, the culprits were the offense and return teams, which coughed up the ball six times. Against Oregon State, it was the defense that gave up 30 points and 474 yards.

Yet, the ninth-ranked Huskies (2-1 Pacific-10 Conference, 5-1 overall) still are in the thick of the conference race and are in great position for a BCS bowl.

The question is: When will Washington’s erratic play cost the Huskies?

“Hopefully, we can find ways to get both sides of the ball to play well, along with the kicking game, and put a full game together,” Neuheisel said. “That is the goal against California.”

Ah, yes. The Bears. Along with Washington State, Cal (1-2, 2-4) is the conference’s whipping boy. The natives are restless with coach Tom Holmoe (14-25 in his fourth year) and reports are that he’d better finish strong or find other means of employment.

Yet, the signs are that Cal is turning it around.

The Bears’ defense has rarely been in question. With linemen Andre Carter and Jacob Waasdorp, Cal’s front is talented and tenacious. This is a team that held Illinois to 17 points in its own house and held high-scoring Washington State to 21.

But the highlight came last week, a 46-38 triple-overtime victory against UCLA, once ranked as high as sixth in the nation, with glittery victories over Michigan and Alabama.

In that game, quarterback Kyle Boller threw for three TD passes. Tailback Joe Igber, who ran for 180 yards against Washington last season, caught five passes for 126 yards.

Offense? At Cal?

“There’s a sense of pride for the first time in a long time,” Waasdorp said. “Not offense, not defense or special teams. As Cal Bears.”

Cal’s new-found pride will make an issue of it’s 17-game losing streak to the Huskies. The Bears haven’t beat Washington since 1976.

Driven by pride and a little momentum, Cal goes into Husky Stadium against a team whose performance has not matched its promise.

UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo’s numbers are down from last year. Much of the problem is lack of help. Receivers drop balls. The running game is erratic. Turnovers. The offensive line isn’t as dominant this year. Extended scoring drives, a staple for the Huskies last season, are mostly memories.

Teams have learned to play Washington’s option attack. The trick has been to bring safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, which is made possible by the Huskies’ lack of a big-play capability in the passing game.

“We have got to be able to win in one-on-one coverage,” Neuheisel said. “We have to be able to throw it and catch it. Once we get those safeties back, we will look like a darn good offense again.”

Special-teams play, if anything, is adventurous. Returner Derrick Johnson, whose stunning speed and athleticism promise much better days, too often exercises the judgement of the true freshman he is. Placekicker John Anderson isn’t having the year he had last season.

For a 5-1 team ranked ninth in the country, there’s a lot wrong here.

Are the Huskies ripe for an upset?

“They are a high-riding team,” Neuheisel said of Cal. “They were very impressive (against UCLA). They probably played their best all year. We have got to understand that we’d better be ready to play.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Everett Community College has hired longtime assistant coach Daniel Thompson (middle) as its new head men's basketball coach. (EvCC Athletics photo)
EvCC names Thompson new men’s basketball head coach

Thompson, 35, has been an assistant with the Trojans for 9 seasons and takes over for Mike Trautman, who stepped down in April.

Spring 2023 All-Wesco teams

Note: All-Wesco teams are chosen by the league’s coaches. For any misspellings… Continue reading

Hammer throw.
Local trio shines in high school hammer throw finals

Adrianna Coleman and Kimberly Beard place 1-2 in the women’s portion, and Calvin Gutierrez takes 2nd in the men’s championship.

Washington celebrates a home run by Rylee Holtorf (3) at home plate during the second inning of an NCAA softball Women's College World Series game against Utah Friday, June 2, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)
UW opens Women’s College World Series with key win over Utah

After being rained out on Thursday, Washington beats Utah 4-1 to advance into the winner’s bracket.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 22-28

The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 22-28 Voting closes at… Continue reading

Hops rally in 9th inning to sink AquaSox

Reid VanScoter turns in an impressive outing, but Everett’s bullpen falters late in a 4-3 defeat.

Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (left) reaches down to tag out the Mariners’ Teoscar Hernande, who was trying to stretch a single into a double during the third inning of a game Friday in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Mariners’ bats silent in shutout by Rangers

Seattle’s offense musters just three hits in the 2-0 defeat.

AquaSox can’t make huge rally hold, lose to Hops

Everett takes the lead with six runs in the eighth, but allows two runs back in the ninth and falls 13-12 to Hillsboro.

The Everett Elite Flag Football 14-under team practices Sunday morning at Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington on January 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community roundup: 3 Jackson grads to D-I baseball tournament

Plus, Jayden White is headed back to the NCAA track and field nationals, the Silvertips sign their first-round picks and more.

Most Read