Washington Is Taken by Swarm : College football: Arizona defense keeps No. 1 Huskies in check and conservative Wildcat offense gets the job done, 16-3.


The goal posts were spared, but not their uprights or much else in the aftermath of Arizona’s 16-3 upset of the late, great No. 1-ranked Washington Huskies Saturday.

Washington’s stay atop the polls? Finished. Washington’s 22-game win streak? History. Washington’s national championship hopes? Slim. Washington’s Rose Bowl chances? Iffy.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Nov. 9, 1992 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday November 9, 1992 Home Edition Sports Part C Page 3 Column 4 Sports Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
College football--The remaining opponents for the University of Arizona football team are USC and Arizona State, not USC and Washington State, as reported Sunday.

Chances are the dazed Huskies (8-1) will awake this morning, their dreams of an undefeated season as long gone as the uprights pilfered by jubilant Arizona fans, and still wonder how they lost this one. Not that you could blame them.


In short, Washington was beaten by a Wildcat offense so boring that it actually does lull opponents to sleep. The only thing more conservative in Arizona is Barry Goldwater.

Dive plays. Off-tackle plays. Sweep plays. Quarterback sneaks. Arizona (6-2-1) ran them over and over and over again. You would have thought the forward pass was illegal.

So predictable were the Wildcats that any of the 58,510 fans who squeezed into a sold-out Arizona Stadium could have directed the offense. The motto of choice: When in doubt, hand off. That’s what the Wildcats did, using 54 of their 66 offensive plays for the run.

Guess what? It worked. The Wildcat attack, the offense that time forgot, did what no team has done to mighty Washington. It beat them up and wore them down.

“It’s not very fancy, but I do think teams underestimate it,” said running back Chuck Levy, who contributed 37 yards to Arizona’s 197 net rushing total. “It may be ugly, but we get the job done. Now they’re sitting in their locker room (wondering) how we won.”

They were doing more than that. They were thinking of lost opportunities. Of four fumbles, three of them lost. Of one interception. Of several blown scoring chances inside the Arizona 20.


“We have not lost in so long that this hurts real, real bad,” said Husky linebacker Dave Hoffman, who did what he could with 12 tackles, 11 of them solo.

Washington will surely take a brief fall down the polls, past Miami, Alabama, Michigan, Florida State, Texas A&M; and who knows who else. Miami, of course, was the team that nearly lost to Arizona at the Orange Bowl back in September. The one-point margin cost the Hurricanes their No. 1 ranking and a certain degree of national respect.

But that was before the Wildcats won their next game. And the next one after that. And so on and so forth.

Since losing to Miami, Arizona has won five consecutive games and given itself a reasonable chance of earning a Rose Bowl bid with a 4-1-1 Pac-10 record. Two more conference victories--remaining opponents, USC and Washington State--coupled with a tie or loss by Washington (5-1 in conference) would provide the 12th-ranked Wildcats with a trip to Pasadena.

If it happens, Arizona followers will look back on the Saturday’s game as the turning point. It was then that the Wildcats combined Desert Swarm, the nickname given to their outstanding defense, with Desert Yawn, which will have to do for their mind-numbing offense.

“I know our offense doesn’t look too good on the outside,” linebacker Sean Harris said. “They didn’t do nothing in the first quarter. They didn’t do nothing in the second quarter. They didn’t do nothing in the third quarter. But they turned it on in the fourth quarter.”

Turned it on? Sort of. Quarterback George Malauulu wedged his way into the end zone on a one-yard run late in the fourth quarter. The touchdown put the game out of reach and caused Arizona fans to edge closer to the field.

Until Malauulu’s score, the Wildcats had to make do with three Steve McLaughlin field goals. It was McLaughlin who had missed a last-second field goal against Miami. Sweet vindication was his Saturday.

“I wasn’t thinking about Miami,” he said, “I was thinking about Washington.”

But pressed about the memories of that failed field goal against the Hurricanes, McLaughlin changed his story.

“Ah, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” he said.

As each quarter passed, it became more obvious that Arizona, especially its defense, was as good as advertised. And with each passing minute, it became more apparent that Washington was vulnerable.

“I’ve never been more confident going into a game,” Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said. “I liked what was in our eyes and in our hearts, from an emotional standpoint.”

Of course, don’t mention the absence of quarterback Billy Joe Hobert to anyone. Hobert, who was suspended for Saturday’s game while the school investigates the circumstances involving his acceptance of $50,000 in loans, didn’t make the trip to Tucson. But admit it or not, his loss was felt.

Under the usual Husky system, Mark Brunell would start the game and Hobert would replace him in the second quarter and then again in the second half. Not this time. With Hobert back in Seattle, Brunell took every snap.

“I’m not going to get into anything about the Billy Joe Hobert case,” Brunell said. “It had no impact, and I’m not going to talk about it in any way.”

But Hobert might have helped. Remember that it was Hobert who rescued the Huskies from a 21-9 deficit against Nebraska last season at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. Also remember that Brunell is now 0-3 when Washington trails during the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats couldn’t have cared less about the controversy. They gave up 333 total net yards, but only 98 on the ground. Husky tailback Napoleon Kaufman was little factor, as were the Washington receivers.

“It didn’t really matter to us,” Wildcat nose tackle Rob Waldrop said. “Whatever they bring in, we’ll stop it. It didn’t matter if it were Hobert, Brunell or if the third-string guy was in there.”

Added cornerback Keshon Johnson: “We were prepared.”

It showed. Rather than take chances on offense, Arizona stuck to its tried-and-true philosophy: control the ball, get good field position, depend on the defense.

The Wildcats had the ball more than five minutes longer than Washington. Thanks to punter Josh Miller, who averaged 47.3 yards per kick, they often pinned the Huskies deep in their territory. And thanks to the Arizona defense, Washington was unable to score anything but a field goal.

“They’re a good defense, but they didn’t completely shut us down,” Washington offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy said. “We drove up and down the field, but we couldn’t put it in. We wasted a tremendous amount of opportunities.”

Or as Husky linebacker James Clifford said: “I wish I could do it over.”

Sorry, no mulligans. The Huskies are stuck with the loss, to say nothing of the ramifications. Washington will drop and Arizona, virtually unknown before the Sept. 26 game against Miami, will find itself in the top 10.

“I don’t like to give credit, but today I have to,” Clifford said. “(Arizona) played a great game.”

* JAYHAWKS ROCKED: No. 7 Nebraska turns a Big Eight showdown into a rout, rolling to a 49-7 victory over No. 13 Kansas. C3

* EASY STREET: No. 8 Notre Dame has everything its way in a surprisingly one-sided 54-7 victory over No. 9 Boston College. C4