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September 18, 2006In last Saturday's win over Fresno State, the Washington football team was finally able to overcome its fourth quarter frustrations and win a tight ballgame. Thanks to a blocked extra point and a raucous crowd, the Huskies improved to 2-0 at home going into this weekend's match up against UCLA.
On the field at the end of the game, the crowd noise was just what the doctor ordered for the UW. It had been almost three years since the Huskies had won two straight games at home, and they want that streak to continue.
"It was a real good feeling to have, everybody just yelling and knowing that we were in the game. It really helped us out a lot," safety C.J. Wallace said. "I couldn't really hear myself on the field talk, but it was good for us but I don't think it was good for them."
The Bulldog offensive line was called for two false start penalties on their crucial drive at the end of the game as they tried to take the lead, and the Huskies think it was the fans that caused them.
"Our crowd support affected the other team," guard Stanley Daniels said. "We need the city of Seattle to support us and give us the kind of loud cheer that they did."
Coach Tyrone Willingham knows what the Husky Stadium environment can be like from his times playing on Montlake as the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal, and he hopes that atmosphere is beginning to return.
"It was one of the more passionate places about football, especially on the west coast," he said. "I have said this many times, when Husky Stadium is rocking, it is not like west coast, it is more like the Southeast and the Mid-west, as far as football appreciation."
Home wins can give a boost of confidence for a team, allowing them the feeling that no matter what, they can get it done in their own building.
"It's definitely great to have two wins in our building," cornerback Roy Lewis said. "The confidence level is starting to go up, and I think we are starting to get the chemistry that we need that all great teams need."
But Daniels thinks that winning at home is more than just about confidence.
"I think it's just a pride thing," he said. "We're at home and this is our stadium and we always want to win on our stadium."
Willingham said that in order to be a good football team, it starts with getting wins at home.
"You have got to have an amazingly high percentage at home," he said. "So, it is nice to have a place where you feel like you have home field advantage. Whether it is the stadium or whether it is the crowd."
Washington is going to be hoping for a big-time performance from its crowd next weekend against the Bruins, and they are going to need it. The Huskies have lost eight of their last nine against UCLA, including last year's crushing fourth quarter comeback.
C.J. Wallace named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week
On Saturday, Fresno State tailback Dwayne Wright looked to be an unstoppable force against the UW defense. He was like a battering ram on every play, running people over on his quest for the first down marker.
But C.J. Wallace refused to be knocked to the turf.
As a result, the Husky safety was honored as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week. Wallace had 17 tackles, including two for a loss in the 21-20 victory over the Bulldogs.
"That is a heck of an honor," Willingham said. "I think he geared things up and kind of picked our team up a little bit. He had some hits on a very good back, and I was surprised the guy got up a couple of times."
Wallace was joined by offensive recipient wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett of USC and special teams recipient Washington State kicker Loren Langley as this week's Pac-10 honorees.
"It's a good accomplishment for me, but I'm not satisfied with it," Wallace said. "However many more games we got, that's how many more times I want it."
Assistant coach switch
In Washington's victory over the Bulldogs last weekend, two Husky assistant coaches were in different places than normal. First year secondary coach J.D. Williams took a spot down on the sideline during the game, while defensive coordinator Kent Baer spent the contest up in the coaching booth.
Baer sat in the box during the game for the first time in his coaching career. Willingham said it was done as a way to create a "clinical environment" by reducing noise and clutter.
It may not be much of a surprise that as Williams moved down to the sideline, the Husky secondary performed better. Cornerback Lewis said that he and his fellow players in the defensive backfield liked the change.
"It kind of gave us a sense of confidence that he's right there," he said. "I hope that he remains on the sideline."
Fresno State only racked up 140 yards through the air on the day, a far cry from what opponents had been able to do with the passing game during the first two games of the season.
E.J. Savannah, who injured his thumb during Saturday's ballgame, may miss time due to the injury. Willingham said that they will hear from doctors today about the final prognosis. No other serious injuries were reported.
Caesar Rayford won more than just last Saturday's game against Fresno State with his fourth quarter PAT block; he won the Pepsi Special Teams Player of the Week award as well. He was joined by Wallace and quarterback Isaiah Stanback who won for defense and offense respectively.
Dan Howell is expected to be back this week after missing Saturday's game to attend his father's funeral in this past week.
Marcel Reece said that the dropped passes over the weekend were purely mental, and is something they can avoid in the future. "We just have to pick each other up," he said. "There is not one receiver on our receiving corps that doesn't have great hands, and it's all about staying focused, staying poised, and keeping you concentration."