|Huskies getting ready to face woeful Cougars|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 November 2008 15:02|
When asked about this Saturday's Apple Cup against the equally miserable Cougars, the seventh word out of linebacker Donald Butler's mouth on Monday was ``hate.'' It might be the most passionate remark from any Washington player in weeks, and came from someone who grew up in California.
Even in a horrible season for both schools, there's venom in this rivalry.
``It's the Apple Cup, one, we hate Wazzu and we're trying to win a game,'' Butler said Monday.
While debate swirls on whether players have tuned out lame duck coach Tyrone Willingham, the Huskies (0-10, 0-7 Pac-10) head across the state for the first game in Pac-10 history between two 10-loss teams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
d little spark and became the first team in school history to go through a winless home season in Husky Stadium.
Willingham's firing, effective the end of the season, was announced three weeks ago and the Huskies have been outscored 122-26 since. Not that they were any better before the announcement - the Huskies enter Saturday's game as the only winless team in the country.
``It's hard because we have coach Willingham leaving and we don't know what's happening next year, but at the same time guys are just trying to do what they can and it's just coming up a little short,'' linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo said after Saturday's loss. ``But we're still pushing.''
Willingham avoided Monday tying the Huskies' overall lack of competitiveness in recent weeks to his firing, saying the decision is in the past and he wanted to move on. He did say after Saturday's loss that players still around from the Huskies' last coaching change in 2004 said the seniors on that team quit on outgoing coach Keith Gilbertson.
Willingham said he didn't sense a similar path being followed by this team.
``I don't think this team has quit rallying. I think this team has continued to fight and win and do something,'' Willingham said Monday. ``I don't think our guys have quit trying to win and quit trying to be successful.''
Willingham is hoping the natural rivalry with Washington State and the desire to avoid becoming the first winless team in Washington's history will be enough of a motivating factor for his team this week.
With just two games left the Cougars are easily Washington's best opportunity at avoiding the winless tag. The Huskies' season finale comes Dec. 6 at California.
``I think there is a natural energy around this game that everyone is affected by and everybody is drawn to it,'' Willingham said. ``You know there is something different about this week. You know this game will have a lot of conversations in this state, everyone will have something to say about it - good, bad or indifferent - and our guys will feel that, sense that.''
The biggest help for Washington would be a rediscovery of its offense. The Huskies managed just 135 yards of offense Saturday against a UCLA defense that came in giving up 368 through the first nine games. Washington's passing game threw for just 39 yards passing, the lowest total since the Huskies had just 34 in a 17-10 win over Oregon in 1984.
Maybe they can find some solace against Washington State. The Cougars defense ranks 112th nationally in total defense and 118th in scoring defense.
``You learn from it. I'm learning from all these games and all my experiences,'' said redshirt freshman quarterback Ronnie Fouch. ``I've got to bounce back this week.''