Ducks still have dander up
Seattle Times staff reporter
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti dropped it quickly into the middle of an answer to a question concerning Washington's lengthy on-field celebration at Autzen Stadium last season after UW's 42-14 victory over the Ducks.
"I may remind them (about it)," Bellotti said, referring to his own players.
Considering this is Oregon-Washington week — when the slightest of slights tends to wind up highlighted on the bulletin board — you can probably count on it.
After UW's win last season, the Huskies lingered on the field for 20 to 30 minutes, stomping on the Oregon "O" at midfield, posing for pictures in the end zone and generally celebrating in a manner usually reserved for something other than a regular-season win.
Bellotti said he didn't really see it as he left quickly to head into his own locker room, and said his greatest frustration about that moment was that Oregon lost the game, allowing UW to celebrate at all.
But Bellotti also said that he wouldn't "condone" such a celebration and that "I think it was in very poor taste."
Oregon safety Keith Lewis said the Ducks talked about Washington's celebration yesterday.
"We know they celebrated on our field," he said. "That is something that's going to stick with us while we are playing this game. It's important that we play with emotion, but keep it under control. But trust me, if we win, we will celebrate the same way."
Lewis said he didn't see much of the celebration at the time, but has watched it on tape.
"They pretty much had their own party on the middle of our 'O,' so payback is up and coming. We will probably do the same thing in the middle of their 'W.' "
And when the Ducks talk about that celebration this week, it probably won't matter to them much that the UW coach who not only OK'd but seemed to encourage it — Rick Neuheisel — is gone.
New UW coach Keith Gilbertson made it clear that a similar celebration won't happen under his watch, though he declined to say so directly.
"For me to make some comment on it would be throwing Rick under the bus and I'm not going to do that," Gilbertson said. "But people know how I am and that's it."
Gilbertson's way is to gather the players to sing the fight song with the band and the fans who have made the trip — which is basically what every visiting team that wins a game does — and then hurry off to the locker room.
Gilbertson said he wasn't really a part of the party at Oregon as he was making the long walk from the Autzen Stadium press box to UW's locker room.
"I can't control how Mike (Bellotti) or anybody talks to his team about it," Gilbertson said. "That wasn't in my lane (of duty) last year in any fashion, so I really don't have anything I could say to add to it or defuse it. I certainly can't go back and change any of it."
Most of the Huskies sound as if they wouldn't change any of it, either, even knowing that it may add some fuel to Oregon's fire this week.
Neuheisel said at the time that he felt the team was owed a celebration considering that the Huskies hadn't won at Oregon since 1996 and had endured a tough season — the win over Oregon made UW 6-5 and all but assured a spot in a postseason bowl. It was also the second win of three that was needed to take the mythical Northwest Championship, which Neuheisel had made the team's goal for the end of the season.
"I don't think it matters now," said tackle Khalif Barnes. "I wouldn't change it. We were happy that we had won. We were going through a lot of tough times like we are now and we expressed some emotion, just like WSU celebrating on our field before a game (in 2001)."
Receiver Reggie Williams, who had maybe the best game of his career against Oregon with 14 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns, said the celebration wasn't planned.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," he said. "We won, it was a big game, and we won without reasonable doubt, and we just did it."
Williams said he would take no offense if an opponent won and celebrated in similar fashion at Husky Stadium.
"I wouldn't," he said. "We lost, the other team celebrates. ... If that's what they've got to do to get motivated to play us, that's what they've got to do."
Said quarterback Cody Pickett: "We were excited to win. They are probably going to try to use it as motivation, but I'm not worried about it."
Barnes said he thinks it will be a moot point come Saturday night.
"We don't look for them to do that at Husky Stadium," he said. "We are going to win, so they won't have any need to celebrate."
Gilbertson said he expects Rich Alexis, who sat out the USC game with a quadriceps contusion, to start against Oregon and be "pretty much full speed."
Gilbertson also said the word on Charles Frederick is more encouraging than it was after the game Saturday. Frederick suffered an injury to his clavicle and sat out the last three quarters. Gilbertson said there is a chance Frederick will be able to play against Oregon. Gilbertson said Frederick will be re-evaluated today, at which time a final determination of his status for the week could be made.
Cornerbacks Roc Alexander and Chris Massey are still questionable, and tight end Joe Toledo is out.
Wide receiver Justin Robbins is expected to have arthroscopic knee surgery and is out for the year.
• There is a chance Washington's game at California on Nov. 15 will be moved to 7 p.m. for TV purposes. A decision will be made next week. UW announced yesterday that the Arizona game Nov. 8 will not be televised and will remain a 3 p.m. PDT start.
• UW has won its past five games against Northwest opponents, 11 of the past 13 and 33 of the past 42 dating to 1989.
• Gilbertson said he might continue to use Williams as a punt returner but probably not as a kick returner. He will use Shelton Sampson and Isaiah Stanback more in that role with Frederick hurt.
• Oregon hasn't visited Husky Stadium since 1999, a 34-20 win in Neuheisel's first Pac-10 game as Washington coach.
• A few tickets remain for the Oregon game through the UW ticket office.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
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