UW Football | Dawg ugly: "It's an embarrassment"
Seattle Times staff reporter
They'd been part of an unfathomable home loss to Nevada in 2003. Seen their team called quitters after a 47-point blowout at California later that year. Endured consecutive seasons in which they went 3-19.
But in their final home game, 26 Washington seniors saw the Huskies do something they didn't think was possible — hit an even deeper bottom.
"This is the lowest of the lowest," said fifth-year senior linebacker Scott White after the Huskies were shocked by previously winless Stanford, 20-3 in front of 55,896.
"This is the most devastating loss in my career because of what was at stake and the magnitude of what was at stake."
The defeat ended any Washington hopes of getting a bowl game, the one thing those seniors were hanging on to as validation for their careers as Huskies.
"I'm not trying to take anything away from Stanford," White said. "But they were a winless team and we were playing for a bowl game and they weren't really playing for anything, and you let them come in here and beat us on Senior Day. It's an embarrassment."
One that means the Apple Cup on Saturday will end the season for the Huskies, a season that has completely collapsed since a promising 4-1 start that seemed to herald a new beginning from the drudgery of the past two years.
Instead, UW has lost six in a row to make in vain Husky coach Tyrone Willingham's preseason goal of becoming a "bowl victory team."
Washington is 6-16 since Willingham took over before the 2005 season, on par with the 7-16 record that led to Keith Gilbertson's firing after two seasons.
"You always get that question: 'Is it a step back?' " Willingham said. "In this case, I have to say, 'Yes, it is.' I felt like this was a ballgame that we could win and then we could position ourselves to go into next week and still have a chance at a bowl-eligible season. We didn't respond."
No, it was Stanford, threatening to become the first 0-12 team in Pac-10 history and losers of 11 straight dating to last season, that did.
Stanford entered the game 0-9, having been outscored 215-30 in six conference games and 318-83 overall. It had also lost 12 straight to Washington in Seattle, not winning since 1975.
But the Cardinal defense dominated the Huskies, holding UW to 39 yards rushing and picking off three passes, returning one for a touchdown. Stanford's offense hit a couple of big passes to lead two scoring drives.
"They just came to play and we just didn't," said UW defensive end Greyson Gunheim.
The Huskies were 19-point favorites and, according to the coaches, had a great week of practice. Early on, they seemed to be controlling the action.
But UW could get only a field goal despite starting four of its first five possessions from its 48-yard line or closer. Once, UW started at Stanford's 23 and ended up punting.
"When you give a team life, eventually they come back and get you," Willingham said.
UW's cause worsened when starting QB Carl Bonnell left with a thigh bruise late in the first quarter. Johnny DuRocher came on and threw a wildly off-target pass that was picked off and returned 49 yards for a touchdown by Stanford's Bo McNally with 6:49 left in the third quarter to put the Cardinal ahead 10-3.
DuRocher suffered a concussion on the play when he was blocked by a Cardinal defender, and Bonnell had to come back, often limping noticeably. Things were so bad UW coaches thought about using walk-on Felix Sweetman at QB, but he had suffered a shoulder stinger while playing on special teams earlier in the game.
UW coaches figured they could take the pressure off the quarterbacks by running on a Stanford team that was allowing an average of 239.1 rushing yards. But even the return of Kenny James and giving Johnie Kirton a few carries did little good. The passing was just as bad as Bonnell and DuRocher combined to hit just 11 of 44 passes, with at least six dropped, including a probable touchdown by Anthony Russo.
"We had guys open and we wouldn't throw it there, or we'd have guys open and they dropped it," said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano.
The Huskies finished with just 161 total yards, a week after getting 138 at Oregon. It was the first time since the 1983 Apple Cup that UW was held without a touchdown at Husky Stadium, and the fewest yards in a home game since 1984 (109 against Oregon).
Willingham said "I'll spend all night trying to chase something down" to explain what happened.
"I have to say, 'Willingham, what did you do?' Obviously, that was not good football."
And now comes a trip to Pullman for the Apple Cup, with an uncertain quarterback situation and an all-too-certain end date to the season.
"We've just got to come out with a lot of pride," White said. "We can't lay down."
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company