Tyrone Willingham opened with the words, “Obviously, not a whole lot can be said about tonight,” and that’s about right. Mostly we just heard players saying that they’re disappointed, they’re still trying and they still believe.
Fortunately for them, it might be a little easier to believe in the coming week, considering it’s Apple Cup week and Washington State is one of the few teams the Huskies figure to match up with, maybe even be favored against.
Here’s Willingham’s entire opening statement:
“Obviously, not a whole lot can be said about tonight. We didn’t run it, throw it, tackle it, catch it or do in in a manner that weould put us in a position to be successful. We came into the ballgame knowing that we had to produce a run game to give our offense a chance, and we could not do that. We could not generate enough, and we were not able to pass the ball well enough to offset what we were not doing in the run game. So, obviously it became a very difficult night for us and one of great disappointment for our young men and the Husky family.”
Looking ahead, he said, “We’re going to take a break, we’re going to get ourselves refreshed and we’re going to attack the Apple Cup.”
And he admits that there is added motivation to avoid an 0-12 season.
“I would say that adds to the urgency. I think our guys feel it. I think I feel it. I think they wanted to win tonight. They didn’t want to finish out the home (season) without a win. I think these guys want to be successful I think the coaches want to be successful. And all we have is two remaining games, and we’ll give it the best we have for those two remaining games.”
Of course, that other coach was also part of the spotlight tonight.
“It was emotional,” UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said of returning to Husky Stadium. “But pleasantly. There were a lot of friendly faces.”
And Neuheisel winning on the game: “In some ways, it was important to try to play well and try to find a way to get a win, but more importantly this is for our team. I tried to tell my guys that this is about UCLA and Washington both trying to point to the future, and who’s going to get that first leg up.”
(Here’s more on Neuheisel from TNT reporter Ryan Divish.)
And, of course, the other thing special about tonight was the goodbye to this senior class, that has been through so much. Here’s the take from sixth-year center Juan Garcia.
“It was very emotional. Very hard. It makes it harder that we lost. It hasn’t been the season that any of us wanted. When you leave something, it hurts. I’ll never det to go down that tunnel again. It hits you pretty hard.”
A few highlights:
Player of the game
UCLA came into the game with the least effective running attack in the Pacific-10 Conference, averaging just 77.8 rushing yards per game. They doubled that with 157 yards on Saturday with Kahlil Bell leading the way with 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Husky of the game
Playing in his final home game, senior linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo gave the Huskies an early spark first by intercepting a pass and returning it 34 yards, setting up UW’s tying touchdown. On UCLA’s next possession, Tuiasosopo deflected a pass that was intercepted by teammate Tripper Johnson. Tui also was in on seven tackles.
Instead of taking advantage of that Johnson interception, UW quickly gave the ball back on a turnover of its own. Quarterback Ronnie Fouch evaded blitzing linebacker Akeem Ayers, but Ayers stayed with the play, caught Fouch from behind and forced a fumble. The Bruins took over at the UW 31 and quickly moved for a touchdown that gave them a 14-7 lead that they never surrendered.
UCLA opened with a trick play. Quarterback Kevin Craft flipped the ball to receiver Dominique Johnson on an apparent end around pass. However, Johnson apparently somehow missed Marcus Everett running free far behind the UW secondary and instead carried for short yardage.
However, this only delayed things as the Bruins continued on their way to a 12-play 80-yard touchdown drive for the game’s first score.
It was Senior Day, and 19 Huskies were introduced to the home crowd for the final time: Jared Ballman, Casey Bulyca, Byron Davenport, Desmond Davis, Mesphin Forrester, Darin Harris, Charles Hawkins, Juan Garcia, Michael Gottlieb, Johnie Kirton, Luke Kravitz, Robert Lukevich, Jovon O’Connor, Ryan Perkins, Chris Stevens, Trent Tuiasosopo, Jordan White-Frisbee, Walt Winter and Chancellor Young.
Perhaps the loudest ovations went to Tuiasosopo, Garcia and Perkins, a junior kicker who will forego his senior season due to lingering damage from a knee injury.
Kirton also drew a reaction by coming out in a hand-lettered shirt reading: “Dawg 4 Life."
UW tailback Brandon Johnson got his first start of the season and led UW with 75 yards on 20 carries. … True freshman Everrett Thompson also started at defensive end, becoming the 10th true freshman to start for the Huskies this seaosn. … UW cornerback Matt Mosley was injured on the kickoff that began the second half. He was taken to the locker room in a cart. Coach Tyrone Willingham said the team was awaiting the result of X-rays. … UCLA guard Darius Savage left the game in the first quarter with a left ankle sprain.
This was Tyrone Willingham’s final home game as coach of the Huskies. … UW completed its home season 0-7, its first winless home season since the 1800s. … UW attempted only one pass in the first quarter and didn’t complete one until four minutes into the second. Fouch ended the night with seven completions in 22 attempts. Walk-on Taylor Bean made his first career appearance, throwing two passes with no completions and one interception. … The Huskies came into the game with three interceptions on the season and they doubled that with three on Saturday. … Marlion Barnett, a 6-2, 220-pound tight end/linebacker from Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., committed Saturday to join the Huskies freshman class of 2009, according to Dawgman.com and Realdawg.com. … Captains for the final home game were Chris Stevens, Trenton Tuiasosopo, Juan Garcia and Michael Gottlieb.
Noon Saturday, at Washington State, Martin Stadium, Pullman. FSN.