By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 5, 2004
If any college football team knows what it's like to deal with adversity, it is probably the Washington football squad.
Team Nickname: Huskies
2003 Record: 6-6 (4-4 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Keith Gilbertson
Player to Watch: WR C. Frederick
Just this week the Huskies were dealt another blow, when head coach Keith Gilbertson announced he would step down at the end of the season.
"I'm a bottom-line guy, and the bottom line is that with wins and losses it isn't happening for whatever reason," Gilbertson said in a press conference in Seattle Monday. "I'm not going to throw a lot of excuses out there."
Gilbertson is 7-13 through a season and a half with the Huskies after taking over for Rick Neuheisel.
Washington players were unsure how the team would react to the midseason move, but several agreed it would be necessary to finish the season strong.
"It kind of put some bad emotions into this team, but he is a great coach," said UW receiver Charles Frederick to Washington media earlier in the week. "In these last three games we need to go out and make sure that we give a good effort to try and win."
The only advantage UW might have in dealing with tough times is that they've already had run-ins this season with the injury bug.
Washington has seen 13 players with significant roles coming into the season go down with various injuries so far this year, and the results of that have not been kind to the Huskies.
"I would say that we had bad luck," said Washington receiver Charles Frederick earlier in the week to Washington media. "We had captains and starters getting hurt all of the time, and it wasn't like we were trying to get hurt. We were going out and giving our all, but unfortunately people were going out and getting hurt at the same time."
All four senior captains for the Huskies missed time with the team including two players, fullback Zach Tuiasosopo and tackle Khalif Barnes, who are likely done for the season.
Fredrick, the Huskies' top returning receiver and an All-Pacific 10 Conference first-team selection last year who led the league in punt return average, was forced to miss three games. The final senior team captain, cornerback Derrick Johnson, missed one game.
"They have quality Pac-10 players, but they've been hurt by a lot of injuries," said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. "I think that's really hurt them."
In all, the Huskies have had nine offensive players who have started at least one game miss time due to injury.
Receivers Corey Williams and Quintin Daniels will miss the rest of the year, while tight end Joe Toledo and a pair of quarterbacks Carl Bonnell and Isaiah Stanback have missed games, hampering the Washington passing attack.
The Huskies passing offense ranks ninth in the Pac-10, just ahead of Arizona, and are last in pass efficiency.
"Their inability to throw the football has hurt them along with the injuries," Stoops said. "Inconsistencies offensively, I think have really bothered them."
Washington is averaging just 308 yards and 13 points a game through eight contests, while using three different quarterbacks.
Junior quarterback Casey Paus began the season behind center but because of inconsistent play has given way to Bonnell and Stanback.
Paus is completing just 43 percent of his passes and is tied for the Pac-10 lead in interceptions.
One bright area for the Huskies has been the play of its defense, even though they've been put in some tough situations.
Defensive tackle Manase Hopoi leads the Pac-10 in sacks with nine, and linebacker Joe Lobendahn ranks second in the league in tackles with 89.
"Defensively, at times, they show they can play very well," said Stoops citing their 10-0 halftime score with top-ranked Southern California.