|Washington 31 Tall Tree Cards 28 (Oct 28, 2000 Palo Alto)
|Time to stay focused
For a fleeting moment as the rain began and the purple ponchos came out I thought I was seated at Husky stadium. Its hard to believe there were 31,000 fans in attendance; seemingly half them were Dawgs, not tall-tree Cards.
Tall-tree Cards? The name Palo Alto means tall tree in Spanish, but at the end of the game, Washingtons evergreens stood taller than the symbolic redwood located in the city park.
However, the joy of winning this exciting game will always be tempered in my mind by the injury to Curtis Williams.
After his injury, a pall hung over Stanford stadium for the remainder of the game. It was quite unsettling to watch him lie motionless for so many minutes, then to be taken away in that ambulance. Somehow the driving rain, the cold wind and the outcome of the game didnt matter anymore. As he lay motionless, I said a prayer for him, as did many other fans in attendance; the Husky players knelt in a large circle of prayer on the sidelines.
I would like to say it was one of the greatest Husky games Ive ever witnessed, but I cant. That dreadful collision on the eight-yard line will be forever etched in my memory. I know injuries like this can occur during a game, that its a risk a player takesbut when one occurs its so hard to accept.
For other reasons, its a game I will never forget. Im sure that Curtis Williams would want it that way.
The pre-game festivities were outstanding as always.
Before the game, my wife and I trekked through a forest of Eucalyptus trees to get to the Husky warm up, where we met a number of Dawg fans that hang out on dawgman.com. Of course, Officer Lee Groinman was there, along with Deano and company.
Groinman, (a jack-of-all-trades, master of all), took our picture with King Redoubt Junior, the Husky mascot. King Redoubt likes potato salad, too, having willingly shared some of mine with me. That Alaskan malamute stands tall as a mascot, when compared with those costumed stand-ins. Groinman, a proud owner of a malamute called Rocky, stands just as tall; when is the SPD going to promote him, I wonder? Its long overdue.
Ill always remember the final drive by the Huskies. Call it The Drive, with deference to John Elway and his memorable last minute drive against the Cleveland Browns in the 1986 AFC championship game. For Marques Tuiasosopo, it was an Elwayesque performance, taking place on the same field where Elway engineered many come-from-behind wins.
The Driveif you willwas orchestrated against a Stanford defense that was well rested, that practices against the best passers and receivers this conference has to offer. The Husky offense did this under the most terrible of climatic conditions; they did this with 47 seconds remaining and a mile to go; they did this because they are apart of one of the most determined Husky teams ever fielded; they did this under the leadership of Rick Neuheisel, who continues to silence more and more of his critics after each and every win; he's a players' coach. He demonstrated that once more by staying overnight with Curtis Williams at the hospital instead of returning to Seattle.
As for Stanfords quarterback, Randy Fasani, he might just as well have been playing in Husky stadium with its fans and weather. After Fasani figured out a way to deal with the rain, wind and slippery ball, he did an Elway impression himself, leading the Cardinal to what appeared to be a comeback victory with just 57 seconds remaining. I couldnt believe they made a comeback, he said during a post game interview. Along with Tuiasosopo, hell play on Sundays.
During the game, some of the Husky players who have been criticized this season silenced their critics with outstanding performances.
Given enough time, Marques Tuiasosopo can throw the ball with any of them. And lets bury the canard about our supposedly ineffective receivers. They know how to get open and catch the ballperiod.
The Huskies kicking game has been the target of more than one fans fury this season. As it turned out, John Andersons field goal in the final minute of the second quarter was the critical difference in the game. To no avail, Tyrone Willingham seemingly saved his three time outs so that he could lay a head-trip on Anderson just for that kick. It might have been tougher on the fans than for John, since most of them were cold and wet, waiting impatiently for halftime and a hot beverage. Later in the game, Anderson booted another one, but the coaches decided to trade it for a touchdown thanks to a Stanford penalty on the play. Ryan Fleming has never punted the ball any better this season, kicking the air out of a waterlogged ball so to speak.
Lets not forget Willie Hursts two touchdown runs, aided by an offensive line that dominated the Stanford defense most of the game and who along with Hurst has been unfairly criticized.
In closing, I wish to express my heartfelt sympathy to Curtis Williams, to his family and to the Husky team for the sorrow they must feel at this time. Somehow the team needs to stay focused in light of what happened to him; sure it will be tough, but he would want it that way.