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Huskies have all the answers

By Adam Thompson
Denver Post Sports Writer

Sept. 17, 2000 - BOULDER - It wasn't "Neu" most of the 50,454 football fans greeted Rick Neuheisel with as he walked onto Folsom Field as Washington's head coach Saturday.

But aside from the boos the ex-Colorado coach heard from his ex-fans, there was little Neuheisel could deem offensive about the Buffs as his ninth-ranked Huskies pulled out a 17-14 victory.

From his five years in Boulder, four as the Buffs' head man, Neuheisel knew how difficult the real estate market in this city can be. Washington's players must have taken that knowledge to heart, allowing CU into their territory three times all day long.

Along the way, they allowed just 69 yards rushing and brutalized CU Bobby Pesavento for six sacks, three by nose tackle Larry Tripplett, in the quarterback's first start.

The Buffs' passing attack - for most of the game as dormant as the running game - awoke late to pull the team within three when Pesavento found Javon Green for a 19-yard score with 3 minutes, 46 seconds remaining. Green set up that score with a one-handed grab that went for 53 yards. But that was the only time CU's offense found the end zone all day.

"We just couldn't get on track on offense," Buffs coach Gary Barnett said. "They played us smart, doubled Danny (Graham), doubled Javon. It seemed like they were always a play ahead of us."

"We would have been talking about us beating Neuheisel, but it comes down to us making those big plays when we had to, and I didn't," said Green, who in the second quarter dropped a sure touchdown pass.

CU had one last gasp, but receiver Eric McCready fumbled with 46 seconds left to end the Buffs' drive.

For the most part, CU contained the Huskies' do-everything Marques Tuiasosopo, limiting the option quarterback to 43 yards rushing and forcing him into two interceptions, one of which turned into a 28-yard score by freshman cornerback Phil Jackson in the second quarter.

"To me, he wasn't that big a factor in the game, but it seemed like every time thirdand-long came up, he's just running around the field and we're not tackling him," free safety Robbie Robinson, who had 11 tackles, said of Tuiasosopo. "But . . . their option was nonexistent."

Instead, the Buffs fell victim to Washington's tailbacks inside and gargantuan tight end Jerramy Stevens over the middle. Stevens made seven catches for 102 yards.

Tailback Willie Hust darted untouched into the end zone to give the Huskies a 10-7 lead six seconds into the final period, and Wilbur Hooks caught a 24-yard pass for the eventual game-winner, as Washington showed off more offensive diversity than CU expected.

"Colorado decided they were going to take away the option today," Neuheisel said. "We didn't throw the ball downfield as effectively as we'd like. We have to have answers for any way people play us." Neither offense executed magically, but aside from blown coverage on Green's two catches, Washington's defense made few memorable mistakes. Tripplett hounded Pesavento, who walked into the postgame press conference with a noticeable limp, and tailback Marcus Houston could manage only 82 yards on 23 carries.

"We knew he was their bread and butter guy," Neuheisel said of Houston. "He's extremely talented. I know him very well. We tried to get him to commit (to Colorado) when he was a freshman in high school. He is as advertised. The focus of our game plan was to see if we could neutralize him and see if a kid, who's a very good player, could beat us starting in his first game." Pesavento could not, and as a result, the Huskies are undefeated and face a Pac-10 schedule that lacks its stiffest competition, No. 10 Southern California.

Copyright 2000 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Any revenge fantasies of Colorado fans involving Rick Neuheisel will have to remain imaginary. Even with quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo struggling, the Huskies rode a strong defense that kept CU's offense off the board for more than 56 minutes.

Turning point

With Washington leading 10-7, Tuiasosopo salvaged a third-and-9 pass play, dancing for 13 yards and setting up his team's final touchdown.

Saturday's heroes

Nose tackle Larry Tripplett was CU quarterback Bobby Pesavento's worst nightmare, sacking him three times on the way to eight tackles. Tight end Jerramy Stevens was unstoppable. Just a sophomore, he looks ready for the NFL.

Numbers game

32 - The number of rushing yards Tuiasosopo gained on four key third-down plays, which helped make up for an otherwise sub-par game.


CU - TB Marcus Houston (hip flexor) will miss a few days of practice but will play Sept. 30 against Kansas State. C Andre Gurode (poked in the eye) is fine. G Justin Bates (sprained knee) will rest but can play against K-State. SS Michael Lewis (neck stinger) should be fine. TB Bobby Purify, out since early August with a broken foot, should return late this week on a limited basis. He should be ready for KState. UW - LB Ben Mahdavi suffered a slight ankle sprain. LB Tyler Krambrink (concussion) did not return.

This week

The Buffs can lick their psychological wounds during a bye week. They get Monday and Tuesday off. But they can't spend too much time worrying about their 0-3 record. K-State, still another ranked team, looms.

This week's question

What is more valuable - television money or wins?`