Williams inspires Huskies

  • JOHN SLEEPER / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, November 18, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

PULLMAN – University of Washington players and coaches gave credit to fallen safety Curtis Williams for some extra motivation prior to the Huskies’ 51-3 victory over Washington State Saturday.

Williams, who injured his spinal cord Oct. 28 against Stanford and is in a rehabilitation facility in San Jose, Calif., told Neuheisel Thursday that he wanted the team to bring him a Rose Bowl ring.

Williams still is unable to move, but reports have indicated that he is beginning to have feeling in his neck and fingertips. When he visited Williams Thursday, Neuheisel said, Williams was unable to speak, but could mouth words enough to understand.

“I think these kids really wanted this 10th win, not only for themselves, but for their buddy, No. 25, down in San Jose,” Neuheisel said. “He told me to tell the kids how much he missed them and how much he wanted them to win. I can’t wait to see the look on Curtis’ face when his teammates deliver it to him.

“My hope is that he will be able to walk out of that hospital soon and be with his buddies.”

Williams injured the spinal cord in the C-2 vertebra, high in the neck. Doctors have given no prognosis, other than that he will have an extended time of hospital stay and rehabilitation.

Williams has become a source of inspiration to his teammates. After the initial shock of not having the senior starter at practice and in games, the Huskies have wanted to show support to Williams through their play.

“We decided the best thing we could do for Curtis was to win the rest of our games and let him be a part of something that he started,” UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo said. “Curtis is a warrior. He’s one of the guys that a lot of people respect. He came to play every game. He never changed.”

Neuheisel said he had never experienced a season with so many extreme emotions.

“With the injury to Curtis and the uncertainty of his situation, I have not been a part of something with this much emotion,” he said. “And I have never admired a group of people more than I admire these players and coaches.”

  • Defense does in Kegel: With Washington State starting a freshman quarterback, Washington’s defensive strategy wasn’t difficult to predict.

    The Huskies gave Kegel much to think about, in the form of different looks and a variety of blitz packages.

    Kegel was 12 of 28 passing for 122 yards with no TDs and one interception. He was sacked just twice, but was hurried repeatedly and was abused on numerous occasions just after he got rid of the ball.

    “I saw him talking to his linemen a couple of times after he got hit,” UW linebacker Derrell Daniels said. “He told them that they had to pick that man up, but he was saying it much more forcefully. I think their tight end false-started on one play, and he blew up on him. Once stuff like that happens, you know he’s getting frustrated.”

  • Vontoure injured: Washington cornerback Anthony Vontoure did not make the trip for the Apple Cup because of an injured thumb.

    Vontoure, who injured the thumb against Arizona but played against UCLA, will have surgery on the thumb Monday. He should be available for the Rose Bowl.

    Vontoure missed practice Wednesday and huddled with Neuheisel on Thursday.

  • Censored: Late in the game, frustrated Washington State players were picking up penalties of frustration, mostly of the personal-foul and unsportsmanlike-conduct variety. On one occasion, Cougar defensive end Fred Shavies and referee Jim Fogltance had a verbal exchange, and Fogltance assessed Shavies a conduct penalty.

    But that wasn’t where it ended.

    After he announced the penalty, Fogltance discussed the situation with his fellow officials. Only, he forgot to turn his microphone off.

    Suddenly, the sound system echoed with the words, “Washington State lost their cool. Any time anyone calls me a (bleep) … “

    Amid much crowd laughter, even the public address announcer couldn’t resist.

    “At least we know what prompted the penalty,” he said.

  • Short routes: UW corner Chris Massey picked off a pass in the first quarter. It was his first interception as a Husky … This was the fifth time in the UW-WSU series that Washington scored 50 or more points. The others came in 1950, 1976, 1990 and 1991. The 48-point margin was the largest for either team in the 93-game series … The game was the worst loss for WSU since UCLA beat the Cougars 62-3 in 1976. It was the worst home loss for Washington State since 1955, when the Bruins took a 55-0 victory.

    Washington tailbacks Rich Alexis and Braxton Cleman both ran for more than 100 yards, the second time two Huskies have done that this season. Alexis finished with 122 yards on 11 carries, while Cleman added 105 yards on 15 carries. Against Oregon State, both Alexis and Paul Arnold ran for better than 100 yards. WSU’s Dave Minnich ran for 113 yards on 19 carries.

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