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A small slice of history
Malamute, 23 February 2006

The UW hasn’t had a decent running game since its Rose Bowl team of 2000. That team averaged over 200 yards on the ground per game thanks to its offensive line and all-purpose quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. Over the last five years (2001 - 2005 seasons), the UW has averaged a woeful 112.72 rushing yards per game, with an average rank of 7.4 in the conference.

After the 2000 season, the Huskies, who had lost 6 seniors on the offensive line (Wes Call, Dominic Daste, Matt Fraize, Eilliot Silvers, Chad Ward and Matt Rogers), needed to reload their front-line Howitzers pronto. And so did Pete Carroll, USC’s first-year coach, who hired on December 15, 2000. In this regard, Carroll and then-Coach Rick Neuheisel of Washington, both looking for immediate help on the offensive line, made a pitch for for the services of OL Francisco Tipoti of City College of San Francisco. Tipoti was highly regarded, a first team junior college All-American, and was recruited by Washington along with QB Taylor Barton and REB Kai Ellis, both of whom were teammates of Tipoti.

After Tipoti committed to Washington, rumors circulated the Internet that he had changed his mind and had committed to USC. Later in that same week, Tipoti reaffirmed his commitment to Washington. Barton and Ellis came on board, too, as did LB Joe Lobendahn, another Hawaiian, who committed the same night Tipoti had made his final  intentions known. 

Because of a minor academic shortfall, Tipoti was forced to sit out the 2001 season at Washington. Down on his luck, he never seemed to recapture the promise once held for him after his one-year hiatus from football. USC finished the 2001 season 6-6, and Washington ended up with an 8-4 record, averaging 111.7 yards on the ground. Replacing an injured Cody Pickett at quarterback, Barton led Washington to a 27-24 comeback victory over the Trojans that year -- to this date, its last win against Troy.

In the 2002 recruiting class, the Huskies managed to land Nathan Rhodes, who was ranked number 6 at his position as an offensive tackle. Neuhiesel had this to say about his 4-star athlete, "I think he is one of the top offensive linemen in the country. These rankings are a little arbitrary but in terms of his numbers and his ability to move as a big man 6-7 305 pounds and probably very low body fat, I think that it is safe to say that this guy will have a great career here if he remains healthy. He is the kind of prototype tackle you look for in terms of a guy that can protect the quarterback's backside. I think that when it is all said and done our offensive line is going to be one of the nations best in terms of our recruiting class and Nathan is a huge part of that."

Rhodes never played a down for Washington because of a congenital back problem. Not getting Rhodes to play at all and not getting Tipoti to play at his best serve as illustrations of Washington’s recent problems with its offensive line -- and there are many more examples, to be sure. (1)

Losing Tipoti didn't deter Carroll from seeking blue-chip help.

As part of his 2002 class, Carroll brought in 5-star offensive tackle Winston Justice out of Long Beach Polytechnic high school. As a first-year freshman, Justice, 18, started 12 games (all but the opener against Auburn, in which he didn't play at all) at right offensive tackle and did yeoman’s work. He was named to several Freshman All-American teams. (2)

By signing Justice, Pete Carroll proved his was committed to the running game, in the spirit of an almost forgotten Tailback U. (Photo of Carroll above).

In 2003, Carroll landed running backs Reggie Bush (2005 Heisman Trophy winner) and LenDale White. Nevertheless, Washington had a good shot at getting Bush, as it had had with Justice.

In this year’s NFL draft, Justice, Bush and White will likely be drafted in the first round. None of Washington's departing offensive linemen or tailbacks are likely to be drafted at all. I hope I'm wrong.

A few years ago, Washington and USC were at critical junctures with respect to their offensive lines. Tipoti, Rhodes, and Justice serve as reminders of that time.

If Washington coach Tyrone Willingham had won at least 5 games last season, he certainly would have brought in a better recruiting class (thirty-fifth in the nation) this year – a class that could have jump-started his career at UW.

Seeking immediate help for the offensive line, Willingham managed to recruit highly-regarded Brandon Jefferson (6-5, 310) out of West Los Angeles Junior college. Reportedly, before Jefferson can sign a letter of intent and enroll at Washington, he must resolve some academic issues. Some déjà vu?

Past history at the "Dub" tells its story of how important a healthy, enrolled Jefferson is to Willingham's immediate plans.


(1) When Tipoti entered Washington in 2002, his weight having ballooned to 355 pounds, he fell off the depth chart at offensive tackle and never played a game that season. In 2003, Tipoti lost 30 pounds for spring football and had a productive early season, opening big holes, along with Nick Newton, for UW running backs. (Cisco pictured above). At the end of the season, Cisco was listed behind Newton on the two-deeps. 

Tipoti originally committed to Neuheisel when he coached at Colorado. He failed to qualify academically and took the junior college route.

(2) After a 6-6 season in 2001, Carroll signed four players from Long Beach Poly High, the effect of which helped turn his program around. Winston Justice (RT, 5 stars), Manual Wright (DT, 5 stars), Darnell Bing (S, 5 stars), and Herschel Dennis (RB, 4 stars) had NFL potential when they were recruited. Justice and Bing are headed for the NFL draft in April, and currently Manual Wright, after a so-so start, is growing into a big gun for the Miami Dolphins.


Are you a true Washington Husky fan, a loyal one? As a loyal, truly purple canine you should have in your possession, either at home or on your person (score one credit each), at least six of the following:

-- Proof that you have been banned from eDuck.com
-- Husky Stadium ticket stubs
-- A Husky fan (3)
-- A photo of C-Dub
-- An e-mail you sent to Art Thiel
-- Chronic hoarseness during the fall months
-- Beer gut from tailgating (women get a pass and 1 credit for this one)
-- Faded Husky T-shirt
-- An Alaskan malamute or Siberian husky
-- A dog-eared UW Media Guide
-- A business card from at least one of the three: Bill Fleenor, Ruth Robbins, or David Samek
-- Photo you took at Husky Picture Day
-- Figuratively speaking, a tear-stained handkerchief tucked under the mattress, the wet one you hid from your spouse after the Nevada game
Number of credits:
5 or less – Are you a Duck in Husky clothing?
6 – A Husky pup
7 – A Dawggone good Fan
8, 9 – A Dawgged fan
10, 11, 12 – A Dawgerrific fan
13 - A Husky for eternity

I received 10 out of 13 loyalty credits. If anyone doubts your loyalty to the Huskies, tell them that Mal gave you X (where X = ?) loyalty credits.
(3) That is, a rotating fan with a picture of a Husky on one of its blades, or if you’re married to a fan of the Huskies that will do.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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