"The Drive," The Turning Point in Modern-Day Husky Football?

Thanks, Guys
By Malamute

 This Husky fan has never witnessed a more cardiac-arresting, mojo-sapping season than this one. There were many memorable moments I’ll never forget. Thanks, guys; your actions on the playing field carved your names in the Hall of Fame, preserving the memory of my devotion.

So, “Heaven help the foes of Washington.” The chorus gives me the chills. With the lyrics to “Bow Down to Washington” running through my head, I looked back on this past season and managed to come up with some memorable moments, which took place on the Husky playing field. Here are just a few of them, appropriately captioned.

The Undertaker. "If I get a chance to go to running back during the season, you might as well call me `The Undertaker,' " Willie Hurst was quoted as saying during his tryout at slot receiver. "You may try to bury me, but I'll keep coming back."

Given another shot at running back, Hurst made the most of it, taking front and center stage against Arizona and UCLA, almost burying them single-handedly. Against Arizona, Hurst’s 65-yard touchdown run brought the crowd into the game. His 23-yard touchdown run, featuring a full spin and a one-handed balancing act, mitigated Ortege Jenkins' “infamous” summersault. The replay of this Dawg’s effort will give ‘cat fans the “willies” for years to come. Hurst was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week after his game against UCLA.

The Ice Man. Thanks to the Stanford game, I’ll always remember the field goal John Anderson kicked near the end of the first half. To no avail, Tyrone Willingham seemingly saved his three time outs so he could “ice” Anderson 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. As it turned out that field goal was critical in a closely played ball game.

The Warrior. In each and every game this season, Marques Tuiasosopo played brilliantly. He was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week after the win over Miami. In games where he had a so-so effort, at least by his standards, he kept the Dawgs in them by not turning the ball over, while providing the leadership qualities we’ve come to expect from him, and sometimes take for granted.

The Drive. I’ll always remember the final drive Marques Tuiasosopo engineered against Stanford, when it appeared the Huskies had lost the game and were headed for the proverbial Toilet Bowl, (e.g., the Sun Bowl?). 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.

Tui and company orchestrated “The Drive” against a well-rested Stanford defense--one that practices against the best passers and receivers this conference has to offer--doing this under the most terrible of climatic conditions, with just 47 seconds remaining and a mile to go. In a Heisman-like performance, Tui completed three straight passes, one to Todd Elstrom, one to Wilbur Hooks and one to Justin Robbins for the touchdown, all of this taking just 30 seconds to accomplish.

In years to come, fans just may look back on “The Drive” as being the turning point in modern-day Husky football, those three perfectly executed passes leading to parity with football’s elite, the Nebraska’s and Florida State’s.

The A-Team. How about Rich Alexis’ 50-yard run against Miami, which caught the coaches’ attention big time. He set a freshman rushing record for the Huskies this season, accounting for over 700 yards on the ground. After his scintillating performance against UCLA, he was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week. Along with Derrick Johnson, Alexis was named to the Rivals.com "True Freshman All-American Team."

Also, let’s credit Paul Arnold, the other member of the A-team, who has taken his share of criticism this season, while playing with a bad back. He was named the Pac-10’s offensive player of the week after his game against Oregon State.

The Sled Dawgs. The offensive line pulled the load this season, making it all happen for the A-team, as well as for Braxton Cleman, Pat Conniff and Willie Hurst. Culminating a superb season, the “sled dawgs” accounted for 685 yards rushing in their last two games. Because of their dominance in those two games (against UCLA and WSU), the Huskies had the ball most of the time--to this fan's delight. The Huskies lead the Pac-10 in rushing, and are fifteenth in the country in that category.

The Defense and Special Teams. During the game against Miami, it was critical to strike first and bring the crowd into the game. After Santana Moss fielded the Huskies’ first punt, Tyler Krambrink hammered him Husky style, taking possession of the ball. After that play, which led to a Husky touchdown, the Miami coaches might have been thinking, “no más, Santana Claus.”

Larry Tripplett’s most significant games might have been against Miami and Colorado, since his effort against them set the tone for the Husky defense the rest of the season. Against Miami, Tripp played rabidly, bursting through the line for tackles a couple of times. Twice during the game, he forced Miami’s center back into their quarterback, and also recovered a bad snap. He didn’t stop there. Against Colorado, Tripplett was credited with eight tackles, three sacks, one quarterback hurry, one knock down, and a fumble recovery. For that remarkable effort, he was named Pac-10 defensive player of the week on September 16. Also in this category, was Derrell Daniels who was similarly cited for his play against Arizona.

The Students. It’s not all about playing football; it’s about cracking the books, too. Ryan Fleming is one of 11 repeat winners on the GTE All-Academic District 8 football team. An accounting major with a 3.27 grade-point average, Fleming is one of 24 on the team. Way to go, Ryan.

The Leaders. This season wouldn’t have happened without the dedication to duty provided by the Husky coaching staff. Also, credit Barbara Hedges, winner of the Honda Award of Merit (June 2000). Along with the hiring of Coach Rick Neuheisel, she’s responsible for the improvements made (some in progress) to the Husky athletic scene: The remodeling of Hec Ed, the remodeling of the Training Room and the Hall of Fame room, and the construction of the new indoor practice facility. Without her who knows where the Dawgs would be today. She’s captained the Husky ship over some troubled waters, and after eight long years at sea, has re-docked it at the Rose Bowl.

The Seniors. I wish to thank the seniors who played so gallantly for the University of Washington during their careers. Combining a scholastic career with the demands of playing college football calls for a determination and dedication to life that most of us don’t have. They have enriched our lives by giving us many moments of exciting football to watch.

Their perseverance and dedication to their scholastic and athletic endeavors will pay big dividends for them in years to come. This perseverance is called true grit.

A big thanks go to:

Toure Butler, Wes Call, Pat Conniff, Derrell Daniels, Dominic Daste, Ryan Fleming, Matt Fraize, Odell George, Dajaun Hawkins, Brent Knopp, Jeremiah Pharms, Matt Rogers, Elliot Silvers, Marques Tuiasosopo, Oye Waddell, Chad Ward, Justin Weber, and Curtis Williams (winner of the Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award).

The National Champion. The Huskies will most likely play in the Rose Bowl. If they beat Purdue, they should win the national championship based on my poll of Husky fans. When all is said and done, when the battle’s lost and won, one poll is as good as another, each of them declaring a mythical national champion, not a real one as would be determined by a sensible playoff system.

Let’s get it on, Huskies…and keep the faith, C-Dub.

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