In the eyes of many Huskies fans venting on Internet message boards the last 48 hours, the most frustrating sight during Saturday's 23-13 loss to Arizona wasn't a Casey Paus interception...

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In the eyes of many Huskies fans venting on Internet message boards the last 48 hours, the most frustrating sight during Saturday’s 23-13 loss to Arizona wasn’t a Casey Paus interception or an Isaiah Stanback fumble.

It was, instead, seeing injured receiver Charles Frederick sitting on the bench spending much of the game chatting amiably with former teammates Reggie Williams and Rich Alexis while his current teammates went down in flames without him. It was an image captured on the stadium video board and displayed for all to see during one break in the action.

Frederick, however, has always been regarded as an eccentric sort — and rarely is seen anywhere without a smile on his face. And in any circumstance, it’s dangerous to read much into the actions of just one player on a team of 100 or so.

Still, Frederick is a team captain, and some wondered if his actions indicate a lack of leadership — or worse, a team that doesn’t care much anymore.

The stats don’t necessarily back up the latter assertion. The defense, after all, held Arizona to 251 total yards, hardly indicative of a unit that wasn’t giving its all. And the offense has looked as bad as it did Saturday on several other occasions this year.

But even UW players — who have usually taken solace after losses that at least they had played hard — seemed to hint that maybe the effort needed wasn’t really there against the Wildcats.

“This was a tough loss, and it told a lot about us,” said linebacker Evan Benjamin.

Linebacker Joe Lobendahn, also a captain, began to say that he wasn’t sure everyone on the team was committed to doing things in a manner necessary to win before stopping himself from going further, saying he didn’t want to “point any fingers.”

Maybe a letdown was inevitable given the news earlier in the week that Keith Gilbertson would not be back as coach.

The Huskies had already lost all of their tangible goals — a winning season, a bowl game, etc. — two weeks before. Then, playing for Gilbertson was taken away last week.

Which leads to wondering what there is to play for this week against California, a game some fans may figure will be most interesting for seeing Bears coach Jeff Tedford — regarded as a serious contender to replace Gilbertson — prowling the opposite sideline.

Cal was listed yesterday as a 30-point favorite, a shocking turnaround in fortunes for the two programs. It was just two years ago when the Bears came to Seattle and got their first win against the Huskies since 1976.

It is the largest spread against UW in a home game in at least 30 years.

The game will be the last at home for a small group of seniors — UW had just five on its two-deep for Arizona — some of whom are the final link to Washington’s last Rose Bowl appearance. Maybe, some players said, that will be enough motivation.

“If we can’t play for our seniors, I don’t know who we can play for,” Benjamin said.


• WR Anthony Russo, who re-injured an ankle Saturday, is listed as probable.

• The only change in the depth chart is at guard, where Clay Walker will start in place of Stanley Daniels, who was whistled for two costly holding penalties.

• The Cal game was not picked up for television and will remain as a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or