Comments on OSU/UW Football Game
UW 33 OSU 30, October 7, 2000, Seattle, Washington

East meets west, the A-team is here
By Malamute

 Marques Tuiasosopo leads the conference in total offense. That’s the good news. But some people say Tuiasosopo can’t do it all if Washington expects to go to the Rose Bowl. Me worry? Not anymore. Coach Neuheisel worked some magic last Saturday. Seemingly, he waved his magic wand and said, “Abra-kadabra, Marques needs help.” Voila: east meets west, never fear, the A-team is here.

An unlikely duo indeed, Rich Alexis (Coral Springs, Florida) and Paul Arnold (Seattle, Washington) might be the one-two punch Washington has lacked in recent years. Alexis and Arnold, call them the A-team. Washington hasn’t had a truly gifted runner since, Rashaan Shehee and Cory Dillon turned pro. Apparently, it has two now.

Arnold, who was highly regarded coming out of high school, has been somewhat of an enigma at Washington, looking tentative at times, especially when asked to attack the middle. On the other hand, Alexis, who only played one year of high school ball, was not as well known. In fact, John Anderson, a former teammate of Alexis at Pope John Paul II high school, recommended him to Coach Neuheisel.

As a true freshman this year, Alexis burst quickly onto the scene, running 50 yards for a score against Miami, which recently beat number one, Florida State. The coaches took notice. Alexis attacks the middle, foregoing legerdemain. Mostly running over tacklers, he bulled his way for 107 yards against Oregon State last Saturday. He has the speed, size and instincts to be a great one.

Paul Arnold is a different type of runner. Some people call him a glider, likening his running style to that of O.J. Simpson who played for USC. It wasn’t until the Oregon State game that Arnold came into his own, rushing for 102 yards, while adding 65 yards in pass receptions. Arnold looks more comfortable on the outside, where he can stretch his long legs and gallop to daylight. The Huskies used those assets against the Beavers by dumping the ball off to him on screens and short passes. When Arnold cuts to the outside and turns on the afterburner, he can give a defender a mouthful of rubber, spewed from the field turf planted at Husky stadium.

With Alexis hammering the inside and Arnold skirting the flanks, the east/west duo ran north and south against the Beavers, accounting for 274 all-purpose yards. Up to last Saturday, OSU was the nation’s fourth best team against the rush. A national television audience tuned in to watch OSU’s Ken Simonton do his thing. Instead, Arnold and Alexis did theirs.

With the help of Alexis and Arnold, Washington won the time-of-possession battle against Oregon State. Coach Neuheisel has won 10 of 11 games at Washington when his team dominates time of possession.

Willie Hurst, the shiftiest runner on the team, didn’t see any action Saturday. He has the credentials to give either Alexis or Arnold more than just a breather. He led the team in rushing the last two seasons.

Right now Arnold and Alexis are the one and two guys. With Pat Conniff out with an injury, it’s possible they could see action as a combo, in the same backfield with Tui. In terms of a popular computer game, with these three in the backfield, it’s akin to doing siege with a battering ram, a Petard and a Trebuchet (a short-range, explosive, long-range attack).

Some say the duo must build up their armor and attack skills first, that they haven’t proven themselves yet: to wit, Alexis is still a freshman and Arnold is just a sophomore. Furthermore, they need to show what they can do on the road. Will this act play in Peoria? How will it do in Tempe on Saturday night? Most likely the skeptics are correct, more proof is needed.

Just the same, I am optimistic. In this fan’s opinion, Husky opponents can’t gang up on Marques Tuiasosopo anymore. The A-team is here, and it’s here to help.

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