Huskies Insider Blog

A reminder of the 2006 Apple Cup might benefit UW

If an ounce of overconfidence exists in the UW football camp this week - that doesn't appear to be the case at practice or walking around campus - maybe the Huskies should get Jake Locker's take on the 2006 Apple Cup.

Of any current player or staff member, he was the only one in Martin Stadium for the UW's 35-32 upset of the Cougars.

That was a season of a hot start, a season-ending injury to Isaiah Stanback and then-coach Tyrone Willingham not electing to burn the redshirt freshman year of Locker, who had graduated from Ferndale High School the previous spring.

So, Willingham relied on who he brought that cold night in Pullman - quarterback Carl Bonnell, Louis Rankin, Marcel Reece, Cody Ellis and company to try and thwart the Cougars' bowl aspirations.

And they did - with a season's worth of big scoring plays.

"I remember our team meetings, our discussions as a football team going into that one was that point exactly that we personally really weren’t playing to get anywhere or to go to a bowl game," Locker said. "But we could play the spoiler role, I guess. Just being on the sidelines watching that game, it was a lot of excitement. ... We came out and played really well."

It was arguably the low point of the Bill Doba head-coaching era at WSU. Starting November, the Cougars were 6-3, and taking on two of the worst teams in the Pacific-10 Conference at home in Arizona and the Huskies.

They dropped both of them, along with a road tilt at Arizona State, to fall to 6-6. Even though they were bowl eligible, WSU was not invited to a bowl game.

"They (the Huskies) were a spoiler. They took that bowl game away from us," Cougars defensive lineman Kevin Kooyman said. "It still bothers me, because I haven’t been to a bowl game. We’ll try and do that to them."

That loss was especially hard on Alex Brink, the starting WSU quarterback who ended up setting most of the Cougars' career passing records.

"To be honest with you, it still does stick with me. One, it’s the Apple Cup. Losing an Apple Cup, you never get over the hurt of that," Brink said. "And that game, missing out on the bowl that year, after the start we had and all that ... I still haven’t gotten over it."

That much time hasn't passed for Locker to forget the devastation that loss caused the Cougars. He saw it in the faces of their players as he was walking into the tunnel.

"Obviously, I think anybody would be disappointed and frustrated in themselves," Locker said. "Like I said, I expect WSU to come in with that same attitude and that same approach. We’ve got to be prepared for that. We’ve got to be ready to come out and play our best football game this year."