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Originally published September 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 10, 2007 at 2:04 AM

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UW Football | The 2-0 start follows formula for success

Speaking a few weeks ago, before the Washington Huskies had played a game, former UW coach Don James laid out a simple formula for success...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Speaking a few weeks ago, before the Washington Huskies had played a game, former UW coach Don James laid out a simple formula for success this season.

"As I look at the schedule, I just believe that to have a decent year, they've got to win at Syracuse and beat Boise State, and then stay healthy the next three weeks," James said.

So far so good for the Huskies, who have fulfilled the first part of James' wish list by starting out 2-0 for the first time since 2001.

But if beating Boise State and snapping the longest winning streak in the nation seemed tough, now comes the really hard part — navigating a murderer's row of Ohio State, UCLA and USC the next three weeks before getting a bye.

Huskies fans finally have something to really get excited about after four consecutive nonwinning seasons; the game could give Husky Stadium its biggest crowd since 2003.

Saturday's win over Boise State might have been the most significant of the Tyrone Willingham era as it was the first over a ranked team since his arrival and seemed to further validate his rebuilding efforts.

Impressive as the Boise State win was, however, UW will likely have to play much better — especially on offense — to make it a routine occurrence.

While Ohio State is in apparent rebuilding mode on offense after losing Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, its defense remains salty, essentially shutting out Akron in a 20-2 win Saturday and allowing three first downs.

The Huskies, meanwhile, scored 24 points in the first 24 minutes Saturday, then were blanked the rest of the day. Only two drives out of seven in the second half mustered more than nine yards, and UW gained just 119 yards in the final two quarters.

Both the passing game and the running game were to blame. UW's receivers dropped at least five passes, and UW ran for just 58 yards on 25 carries in the final three quarters. Besides Locker, UW's rushing attack was practically nonexistent; the Huskies got just 55 yards on 22 carries from its running backs.

"We just did not flat execute," said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "You've got to give them some credit; their pressure hurt us. But we made a lot of mistakes on our own."

The Huskies, however, still found a way to win, largely because of a gritty defense that forced four turnovers and came up with every big stop it needed in the second half.

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Defensive end Greyson Gunheim said, "It shows to some guys on the team, if they had any doubt that we can't play with some of the big-name schools or whatever, you've got to remember that the University of Washington is a big-name school and we can play with anybody."

Or, as Reffett said: "I believe we are on the cusp of doing something great. We just have to keep working hard and get after it."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Visit seattletimes.com/huskies for the latest insights on the Huskies Blog.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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