The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Washington hopes to improve on 0-2 start

Pat Leonard | Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Keith Gilbertson did not script the season to begin this way.The Washington Huskies’ head coach has started his second season 0-2 after early home losses to unranked teams.Fresno State erupted in a 21-point fourth quarter to take Washington’s opener at Husky Stadium, 35-16, and UCLA running back Maurice Drew cut up the Huskies’ defense for a school-record 322 yards and five touchdowns in a 37-31 Bruins win Saturday.”[Saturday was a] terrible struggle,” Gilbertson said. “We have a lot of concerns with what happened to our defense. On several occasions you’ll see we’ll run around a scheme when we’re supposed to take them on.”Drew ran for touchdowns of 47, 62, 58, 15 and 37 yards.”There’s also the cases where [the UCLA offensive linemen] grabbed us and threw us on the ground,” Gilbertson said. “If you look at the tape of the game, we have a lot of guys on the ground.”Gilbertson was disappointed with every aspect of his team’s defensive effort against UCLA. He said players who made good tackles often had missed their original assignment and were out of position.But there is not a shortage of bright spots for the Huskies.”I think the offense played better,” Gilbertson said. “We ran it pretty consistently … we made some good decisions.”Kenny James rushed 27 times for 133 yards, and Washington finished with 219 total rushing yards. But quarterback Casey Paus made the biggest difference, going 13-of-28 for 200 yards and two touchdowns.”One thing I was pleased with was we did not turn the ball over,” Gilbertson said.Paus threw three interceptions against Fresno State. The Bulldogs returned two of those interceptions – and a fourth quarter fumble – for touchdowns. But Paus played well enough against UCLA – putting up 24 first quarter points – to stay in Gilbertson’s good graces.”Casey will get 75 to 80 percent of the snaps this week and 80 to 90 percent of those snaps will come with the first-team offense,” Gilbertson said.The last two Husky teams to start 0-2 rebounded to have winning seasons and appear in bowls. But a 2004 turnaround becomes harder when the first road game takes a team to Notre Dame Stadium.”If you were 2-0, it’d be tough to go in there,” Gilbertson said. “We certainly have a lot of respect for the traditions and game and atmosphere at Notre Dame. It’s … been a tough place to play for generations.”Now you’ve still got to play the game … against a good team. And once all that settles down, it’s our team versus their team between the stripes. But of course there’s a special uniqueness about playing at Notre Dame … I mean, come on, it’s one of the great places in all of college football.”Last season, Washington traveled to Ohio State and California for its two biggest road games. The Huskies lost in Columbus to Ohio State, 28-9, and California, 54-7.”We’ve had some tough road trips,” Gilbertson said. “We’ve been to some landmark places. It would be nice to win one of those games.”