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11 Washington With their rodeo quarterback throwing ropes, the Huskies will score big, keeping the heat off an unproven defense

Quarterback Cody Pickett's teammates like to tease him about his
growing up on Chicken Dinner Lane in Caldwell, Idaho, the son of
former rodeo world champion Dee Pickett and a good enough roper
in his own right that he could, he claims, lasso a pigeon. What
the Huskies take seriously, however, is Pickett's toughness,
which he showed after separating his right shoulder in the third
game last season. Says coach Rick Neuheisel, "He reminds me of
the guy in the Monty Python movie who gets his arm chopped off
and says, 'Flesh wound!'"

Pickett didn't merely play with pain; he excelled despite it.
After sitting out one game, he passed for a school-record 455
yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28, come-from-behind win over
Arizona, one of five fourth-quarter comebacks he engineered
during Washington's 8-4 season. The 6'4", 205-pound Pickett, who
underwent shoulder surgery last January, also set school marks
last season for passing yardage per game (240.3) and completions
of 50 yards or more (five). One of his favorite targets was 6'4"
wideout Reggie Williams, who set conference freshman records in
receptions (55) and yards (973).

Thanks in large part to Pickett and Williams, Washington scored
353 points during the season--almost as many as its injury-plagued
defense allowed (370). The Huskies, whose rushing D was last in
the conference, gave up a combined 112 points in their final two
games alone, losses to Miami and Texas.

That unit now has a year of experience--23 lettermen return,
including five starters. Despite the questions surrounding the
defense, Williams is characteristically confident about
Washington's prospects. He's planning on a trip to the Fiesta
Bowl, where he wants to play "some team from the South," he says.
"People say those teams are the best anywhere. Well, I beg to
differ." --K.A.

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER PURPLE BLAZE The speedy Williams, a true freshman last season, set team records with 55 catches and 973 yards.


2001 RECORD: 8-4 (6-2, T2 in Pac-10)
FINAL RANKING: No. 19 AP, No. 19 coaches' poll


Point differential for the Huskies in '01, only the second time
in 25 years that Washington had given up more points than it

An opposing coach's view

A big-time wideout and a solid line will carry the Huskies

"Quarterback Cody Pickett was flustered at times last year, and
after starting for a full season, there will be pressure on him
to perform.... Wideout Reggie Williams is a big-time player. He
has natural field sense and wants the ball on every play.... The
offensive line is pretty stacked and will be the soul of the
team.... If they can rebuild the line, the defense could be a
force. Guys like linebacker Kai Ellis have paid their dues and
are ready to dominate.... The kids believe in Rick Neuheisel."

Strength: 62nd

Aug. 31 at Michigan
Oct. 5 CAL
19 at USC
26 at Arizona State
Nov. 2 UCLA
16 at Oregon
23 at Washington State