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Copyright © 1998 The Seattle Times Company
Posted at 10:53 p.m. PDT; Sunday, September 27, 1998

Game notes: Long passing game missing for Huskies

by Percy Allen
Seattle Times staff reporter

LINCOLN, Neb. - The only thing that seemed to have any effect against Nebraska were long passes. However, too many throws didn't connect or were dropped.

An unofficial tally: Washington attempted 14 long passes and completed three.

"We've got to prove to teams that we can hit some of those home runs if we're going to get the pressure off of us," said Scott Linehan, Husky offensive coordinator. "If we don't hit them, they'll play us tight and rush our quarterback."

And that's what the second-ranked Cornhuskers did in yesterday's 55-7 victory. They played tight single coverage on the Husky receivers on the corners and crowded the middle with defenders to take away the short routes.

Washington quarterback Brock Huard tried several times to hit receiver Gerald Harris, but overshot him many times. Harris had just three catches for 24 yards.

"The deep stuff just wasn't there," said H-back Dane Looker, who finished with a game-high seven catches for 77 yards.

But most puzzling was the continued absence of Ja'Warren Hooker in the passing game. The Pac-10 sprint champion was nearly shut out, but managed to catch one pass for 15 yards.

Dirty laundry

Despite their youth, the Huskies played like veterans in their first two games, compiling just 10 penalties for 86 yards. Not yesterday. Perhaps the intimidating environment at Memorial Stadium contributed to 12 Washington penalties that totaled 114 yards.

"I don't know what it was, but I do know we're not ever going to win a game the way we were penalized," H-back Dane Looker said. "You take away momentum and put yourself in too many third-and-long situations. And against a good team like Nebraska, that'll kill you."

The Huskies were penalized every way possible.

"We beat ourselves," free safety Brendan Jones said. "It's that simple. How can you have that many penalties and expect to win? Obviously, you can't."

Can't run, can't hide

Try as they might, the Huskies couldn't run the ball against Nebraska's four-man defensive front. The Huskers held Washington to just 97 yards rushing. It's becoming a disturbing trend for the UW.

Washington gained just 100 yards against Brigham Young last week and 139 yards in the season opener against Arizona State.

No Husky has rushed for more than 62 yards in a game this season.

"For us to be successful, we've got to be able to run the ball," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "We've haven't done a very good job of that so far, and as coaches we've got to find a way."

Washington's most frequent running play, a draw to Maurice Shaw, fooled no one and each time Nebraska stuffed it for a loss.

Willie Hurst, a freshman, led the Huskies with 10 carries and 36 yards. Shaw had 25 and quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo scrambled once for 19 yards.

Standing ovation

When the Huskies walked off the field, they were greeted with a standing ovation by thousands of red-clad Nebraska fans who stayed until the end.

Showing their appreciation, many Huskies waved back.

"Their fans were real polite," Husky free safety Brendan Jones said. "They showed a lot of class."

Evans makes his mark

The game marked the long-awaited return of Nebraska's DeAngelo Evans. The sophomore I-back missed the entire 1997 season after having two operations to repair an lower-abdominal muscle injury, and he had to sit out the first three games this season after suffering a knee injury in preseason practice.

Evans made his presence known early. He broke a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play of Nebraska's second series, and he finished with 146 yards and three touchdowns.

"It was kind of a fairy tale thing today," Evans said. "After being out for so long, and with all the worries and pressures I had to deal with with the media talking about how great I was, that was tough. Everything worked out well."

Defensive tackle Jason Wiltz now leads the Huskers with two interceptions after picking off a Brock Huard dumpoff pass in the face of heavy pressure in the first quarter.

"Just as I expected, our defensive line leads us in interceptions," defensive coordinator Charlie McBride joked.

Wiltz made a nice return of about 15 yards to inside the 10-yard line, with Huard making a shoe-string tackle. However, Wiltz had stepped out of bounds at the Washington 22.

"That's where I tried to make my juke move," Wiltz said, laughing.

Notes

-- Nebraska's 48-point winning margin was its largest against an Associated Press top-10 team, bettering the 45-point margin in the 52-7 win over Colorado in 1992.

-- Nebraska scored eight rushing touchdowns on a total of just 45 plays. Three drives were two plays or less, six were seven plays or less. The Huskers' 434 yards on the ground were their most of the season.

-- Nebraska is 86-0 when rushing for 400 yards in the past 26 years.

-- Washington punter Ryan Fleming got plenty of work and he had his best game of the season, averaging 42.4 yards on seven attempts, including a 51-yarder.

-- How bad was it? Fourteen Cornhuskers had at least one carry as Nebraska rolled up 434 rushing yards.

-- Injury report for Washington: receiver Gerald Harris (ribs) and fullback Pat Conniff (knee sprain) left the game and didn't return. Linebacker Lester Towns reinjured his foot, but remained in the game. All three players are expected to play next week.

Seattle Times correspondent Eric Olson contributed to this notebook.

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