Oct. 12, 2001
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE - Taylor Barton's first start for No. 10 Washington couldn't get much bigger than this.
The Huskies' backup quarterback is likely to start in place of injured Cody Pickett when Washington plays No. 7 UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in a battle of Pac-10 unbeatens.
"Taylor Barton got a chance to compete in a big-time college football game, and he could have another chance this weekend," coach Rick Neuheisel said Monday.
Pickett is listed as doubtful for the UCLA game with a separated right shoulder, but will be able to hold on kicks, Neuheisel said.
Barton has shown he can lead Washington (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) to victory. After Pickett was injured in the second quarter against Southern Cal last weekend, Barton led the Huskies to a last-second 27-24 victory.
It was the Huskies' third fourth-quarter comeback win this season. Washington also came from behind to win in the final quarter five times in last year's Rose Bowl season.
Barton completed 11 of 20 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Even if Barton leads Washington to another victory, Neuheisel stressed that Pickett remains the starter, assuming he's healthy.
No matter who's directing the offense, it will be tough duty. UCLA's defense is allowing only 11.8 points per game, which is sixth-lowest in the country. The Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) have speed, depth and experience, not to mention a new defensive coordinator in Phil Snow.
"They're playing really well and they're playing inspired," Neuheisel said of the Bruins' defense.
Neuheisel originally recruited Barton to Colorado in 1998 before taking the Washington job. Barton used to come into Neuheisel's office every Saturday in Boulder, Colo., to find out which recruits were in town so he could welcome them.
Barton impressed Neuheisel from the beginning with his football mind.
"He's a gym rat around football," Neuheisel said.
Barton transferred to City College of San Francisco last year, then to Washington.
The Huskies' defense will face as much of a challenge as the offense.
Washington had trouble slowing down USC's Sultan McCullough last week, and UCLA's star tailback DeShaun Foster is a potentially bigger test.
"It's certainly a wakeup call to our defensive front that we've got to stop the run to stay in the conference race," Neuheisel said.
McCullough carried a career-high 32 times for USC in last Saturday's game. Neuheisel expects Foster to have at least as many rushes. Foster is tied for 22nd in the nation in all-purpose yards with 139.5 per game, and leads the Pac-10 in rushing with 128 yards a game.
While Neuheisel is emphasizing stopping the run, he said Washington's running game must get on track. Willie Hurst, coming back from a hamstring injury, made strides against USC with 19 carries for 102 yards.
"Our plan is we've got to find a way to run the football and take time off the clock," Neuheisel said.
Notes: Starting UCLA quarterback Cory Paus is the older brother of Washington freshman Casey Paus. "His mom and dad will be at the game," Neuheisel said of his reserve QB. "It'll be interesting to see how they dress for the game." ... Cornerback Omare Lowe is nursing a sore shoulder, but will be ready to play, Neuheisel said. ... Neuheisel was pleased with the play of Zach Tuiasosopo as replacement to outside linebacker Kai Ellis against USC. Ellis is out for at least another week with torn cartilage in both knees. Tuiasosopo, the younger brother of former quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, was second in tackles with nine against the Trojans.