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Agreeing With Braxton
By: Casey Anderson, Posted 22 November 2002

Two down, one more to go.  Last Saturday I had the pleasure of watching the Washington vs. Oregon game with two Eugene-native Duck fans.  After the Ducks took the lead 14-0, I twisted the cap off of a cheap pint of whiskey, beginning to drown my sorrows in one of Canada’s finest cures for the bitter loss.  The snickering and Husky-heckling were only just beginning.  Or so I thought.  In a matter of minutes my earlier gulps in attempt to lessen the sting of defeat turned into impromptu fuel for a touchdown dance…followed by several more increasingly less stable touchdown dances to the tune of 42 unanswered points. 

Whether these Duck fans liked my theory of Jason Fife’s inability to complete a pass being directly related to his dire need of a haircut, I can’t be sure.  I am quite sure that they thoroughly enjoyed my Bob Rondeau imitation, though, complete with Husky Stadium siren. Especially the 6th time. 

TOUCHDOWN WASHINGTON!  WooooooooOOOOOOOOOOooooooooo! 

But we can forget about that now.  Though the state of Oregon has been vanquished, the War of the Northwest is yet to be won.  Now the jewel of the Northwest crown is upon us.  The Apple Cup.  Forget about whatever www.com bowl the Huskies may or may not end up playing at the end of December.  This is the game of the year.  Forget about Michigan, Oregon, or USC.  This is a game against a team that is ranked #3 in the nation and led by a Heisman candidate at quarterback.  This opponent is most likely going to be the champion of one of college football’s toughest conferences, and has a chance at the national championship.  This is an opponent of a much higher caliber than any middle-of-the-road Pac-10 team like the Huskies will see in a late-December bowl game.  This is Washington’s bowl game.  The Washington State Cougars come into this contest nearly as highly touted of an opponent as the Miami Hurricanes of the past two seasons.  WSU’s only loss is at the hands of the #2 team in the nation. 

To win the Apple Cup this year, the Huskies are going to have to play at least as well as they played against Oregon.  Turnovers will be key.  The Dawgs cannot afford to give the ball away and most likely need a takeaway or two to come out of this one with a W.  And Reggie must get the ball.  Coach Neu’s move to line Reggie up in the slot worked wonders against the Ducks, and would probably serve well against Wazzu.  Not only does the move free Reggie in the middle of the field where he can use his size and speed to make plays, but it will also get him away from WSU’s soon-to-be NFLer, Marcus Trufant.  In addition, the return of the option last week was a shot in the arm for the ailing running game.  UW needs to keep the option in the offense this week, especially with WSU’s strong interior line.  Getting enough rushing yards to keep the Cougs honest will be critical, and those yards will most likely be gained by going outside the tackles.  Defense this week is all about one thing; contain Jason Gesser.  If he wants to stand in the pocket and throw, I say let him.  If he beats the Husky DBs, so be it.  Gesser is at his best when he is able to run and make plays, and the Dawgs have had trouble containing quarterbacks this year.  If that trend continues, Gesser will pick the Dawgs apart.  If the Huskies can contain Gesser and force him to throw into coverage, Derrick Johnson just might be looking at a couple of more INTs.  The Dawgs are hot right now, and having an offense that can throw ball gives them a fighting chance.  As much as it pains me to say it, though, the Cougars are looking like the better team this year.  Of course, they said that last year, didn’t they?

With all of that being said, I think it’s time to engage in a little of what the Apple Cup is really all about.  Talking smack.  The Washington Huskies ought to offer the Cougs a little encouragement, a little shove in the back to head them in the tried and true Wazzu direction.  Let’s help WSU do what they do best: Coug it.  Falling from such a height, the Cougs will make a satisfying squish when they hit bottom, won’t they?  The best scenario would be a 9 a.m. Michigan drubbing of Ohio State, giving the lowly Cougs the deliciously futile idea that they do indeed have a chance at the Fiesta Bowl, only to have their hopes and dreams crushed like the XX other Cougars teams who have become Husky-fodder in the past century.  The often-imitated, never-duplicated UW Dawgs are and shall remain the only Northwest school flying a national championship banner.  Please excuse my sinister laughter.  BWA HA HA!  That’s right Beavs, Ducks, and Cougs, the evil Huskies will once again rule the Pacific Northwest.  Dark Helmet said it best in Spaceballs.  “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb."

 

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