On this day in 1991: Emtman, the future No. 1 pick, has 10 tackles as Huskies obliterate Arizona 54-0.

Share story

It’s one of the iconic images of Washington’s perfect 1991 season: Steve Emtman celebrating in an eternal pose, his two index fingers pointing to the sky while standing over a fallen quarterback.

That happened 25 years ago today.

Emtman, the star defensive end, had 10 tackles, four for losses, in the Huskies’ 54-0 romp over Arizona at Husky Stadium on Oct. 5, 1991, perhaps the most dominant defensive performance in a season full of them.

“It doesn’t give you a chance to breathe,” Arizona coach Dick Tomey said of UW’s defense.

After the game, someone mentioned to Emtman the idea of him as a Heisman Trophy candidate. He scoffed at the idea in early October, but in early December he wound up finishing higher than any Husky player before (or since) him in the Heisman balloting: fourth place.

Continuing our weekly look-back at the ’91 national-championship season, here’s The Seattle Times coverage from that game:


Published: Oct. 6, 1991

Seattle Times columnist

Steve Emtman scoffed.

“The Heisman Trophy?” he said, repeating a question. “Hey, that’s a joke.”

When can a defensive lineman be more interesting to watch than a running back, more dominant than a quarterback, stronger than a pickup truck and more relentless than the IRS? When it’s Steve Emtman.

Washington’s 54-0 lumping of Arizona yesterday at Husky Stadium might have caused cable viewers to click to other channels, but it proved for this team, anyway, defense can often be more exciting than offense.

Emtman is right. A defensive player never will win the Heisman Trophy. If Kenny Easley couldn’t when he was a safety at UCLA — he was also a kickoff and punt-return nightmare for the opposition — then no one will.

“I said before the game no one has blocked Emtman in two years,” said Dick Tomey, the Arizona coach. “We think we’ve got the schemes to handle him and he is in our backfield the first two plays of the game.”

Talk about intimidation.

Emtman, who had 10 tackles — four for losses — stormed through the Arizona offense to wrestle quarterback George Malauulu to the ground for losses on the Wildcats first two possessions.

Just before the third, Malauulu looked across the line of scrimmage, saw Emtman pawing the turf, and called time out. Only two minutes into the game, and the white flag was unfolded.

On a day when Billy Joe Hobert was lost to a painful neck injury and wasn’t doing much anyway, the defense was the offense.

It might never have been better.

“All I can think about is that defense,” Tomey said.

“Washington is a fantastic team; they have it all, but the defense is the best I’ve seen since I’ve been at Arizona.

“The only player I can compare Emtman to is Junior Seau at USC, both dominant players you can’t block. But this Washington defense is more suffocating than those USC defenses. It doesn’t give you a chance to breathe.”

The Husky defense, in four games, has caused 20 turnovers, including seven yesterday against the Wildcats, five jarring fumbles, and two interceptions. Remarkably, it has allowed seven second-half points all season, only the 2-yard drive by Nebraska after Beno Bryant fumbled a punt.

Last year the Rose Bowl berth was on the line as Washington rang up the Wildcats, 54-10.

Nothing was on the line this week except that inexorable drive to an undefeated season. Washington was favored by 29 points, but the offense looked as if it might be having its problems. Indeed, the Wildcats were blitzing and clawing and doing anything they could to disrupt it.

This was a young and bruised Arizona team, but one that beat Stanford and lost on a last-minute field goal to Cal.

Once Emtman terrorized Malauulu, the stage was set, and onto it stepped a long line of Husky defenders: Donald Jones, Andy Mason, James Clifford, Chico Fraley, Walter Bailey, Tommie Smith, Shane Pahukoa, all making athletic, offensive plays.

It has been commonplace for Mario Bailey to do something spectacular, and he did again yesterday. He was gymnast and ballet dancer. One touchdown came when he caught the ball from Mark Brunell over the middle, faked a spin move one way, came back the other and then slipped past two Arizona defenders en route to a 30-yard play.

Later, he dove for a Brunell pass, caught it with one hand and pulled it into his body as he hit the turf for a 23-yard score.

Of course, anyone who was there couldn’t forget the second-half running of freshman Napoleon Kaufman, who bounced outside, zipped inside, slipped off two tacklers for 19 of the most amazing yards you’ve ever seen. Later, he ran 9 yards for his second touchdown of the season. His 71 yards in nine carries was second only to the 93 in 10 carries by Bryant.

“If he had quickness, he’d be a pretty good back,” said Don James, acting about as light-hearted as he gets after a game.

But the defense was just as athletic, as spectacular.

James wanted better pass defense. He wanted to get Tommie Smith, one of his best athletes, in the starting lineup. So he moved Smith to strong safety. The Huskies might never have had two better athletes at safety: Pahukoa and Smith.

Smith swept in from the leftside to cause one fumble by Malauulu, Pahukoa another.

When it was over, the Wildcats, who ran the ball for 421 yards last week against Long Beach State and were averaging 230 a game, were held to a net 30. It wasn’t as if they didn’t try to run the ball, or that the losses were sacks. Indeed, of Arizona’s 39 rushing attempts, 19 went for a loss.

As always, it starts with Emtman. You double team him or die.

From then on it moves next to Jones, the senior defensive end, who churns up field on every play. He gets in someone’s way, usually the quarterback. In the third quarter, Jones shook a fumble loose. He also had two sacks.

From there it depends on the situation.

“It’s depth,” said Jim Lambright, the defensive coordinator.

“We keep rolling guys in there. Brett Collins for Jaime Fields, Hillary Butler for Chico Fraley, James Clifford for David Hoffmann, William Doctor for Walter Bailey, D’Marco Farr for Tyrone Rodgers.

In fact, Clifford seems to be getting better each week after missing last season with a knee injury. In the second quarter, he intercepted a pass over the middle intended for the tight end and ran the ball not unlike he did as the blocking back for Greg Lewis at Ingraham High School.

Then there was Walter Bailey, criticized for his play against Stanford and Nebraska, tipping a pass thrown in the flat, coming up with it and racing 24 yards for a score.

The Husky defense will give up a few yards passing. But it never gives up trying. It attacks, strong-safety blitz, free-safety blitz, both linebackers coming, both dropping back, the rush from the outside, you just never know.

“We know what’s coming and they don’t,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

And sooner or later they made a play most offenses can only hope to make.

Headline: CATS CAN’T TOUCH DAWGS: UW defense feasts on Arizona turnovers

Published: Oct. 6, 1991

Seattle Times staff reporter

What Steve Emtman started, Napoleon Kaufman finished yesterday as unbeaten Washington turned a variety of Arizona turnovers into a 54-0 victory over the Wildcats at Husky Stadium.

Emtman set the defensive tone early by dropping quarterback George Malauulu for losses on Arizona’s first two plays. For the Wildcats, it all went downhill from there. The Huskies recovered five fumbles and intercepted two passes in denying Arizona any chance of escaping its role as 29-point underdog.

“The dominant area that really gave us a chance today was the defense,” said Coach Don James, whose Huskies scored their fourth straight victory this season, sixth straight going back to last season and 17th in their last 19 games.

Wildcat Coach Dick Tomey agreed that the turnovers were decisive.

“If you hang onto the football, you have some chance,” Tomey said. “If you don’t, you have no chance.”

It was Arizona’s worst road loss ever and the first time the Wildcats had been shut out in 210 regular-season games, since a 31-0 loss to Arizona State in 1971.

Kaufman? After the outcome of the Pac-10 Conference game had been decided, the freshman showed why so many nice things were said about him when he was being recruited from Lompoc, Calif. As the No.

3 tailback, he carried nine times for 71 often-spectacular yards and scored the game’s last touchdown.

“If the guy had any quickness, he’d be a pretty good back,” quipped James.

Between Emtman’s tone-setting and Kaufman’s icing, the Huskies did nothing to damage their status as No. 3 in the Associated Press poll by dominating the Wildcats (1-2 in the Pac-10, 2-3 overall) for the second year in a row. It was 54-10 last year.

By the end of the first quarter yesterday, it was 7-0 — Jay Barry had scored on a 13-yard run to cap a 34-yard, five-play series made possible when Andy Mason recovered a fumble — and Arizona had minus-13 yards rushing.

By halftime it was 34-0 – Washington scored 27 points in 8:24 of the second period – and the Huskies had all but sewed up the victory before 72,495 fans on a warm, sunny day.

En route, however, they suffered a damaged quarterback. While scoring Washington’s second touchdown, from inches out on fourth down early in the second quarter, Billy Joe Hobert suffered nerve damage as a consequence of running into a Wildcat.

“I hit a guy head-on and my neck snapped,” Hobert said. “My right side went numb.”

Hobert returned later in the quarter and was in charge in the third quarter when he went down again, never to return, having completed five of 15 passes for 72 yards. His status for next week’s game against Toledo was not immediately known.

The injury created an opportunity for junior Mark Brunell, last year’s starting quarterback who lost his job when he suffered a knee injury in spring practice. Wearing a brace on his right knee, Brunell threw his first touchdown passes since the Rose Bowl victory over Iowa when he combined with inventive Mario Bailey for 29 and 23 yards.

“I enjoyed it. I was thankful that I got an opportunity to play,” said Brunell, who completed five of seven passes for 93 yards.

Among Washington’s big plays in the second quarter were interceptions by James Clifford and Walter Bailey and D’Marco Farr’s interception of a fumble. Farr’s play ended Arizona’s only serious scoring threat of the first half.

Clifford, inside linebacker who missed all last season with a knee injury after leading the Pac-10 in tackles in 1989, intercepted a Malauulu pass intended for tight end Richard Griffith, who had the Husky defense beaten.

Clifford intervened at the Wildcat 25 and returned the ball to the 12. Seven plays later, fullback Matt Jones plunged one yard for a touchdown, and it was 28-0.

Two plays after that, Walter Bailey (no relation to Mario) tipped a Malauulu pass intended for Terry Vaughn on a sideline route, and pulled it in at the Wildcat 24. He dashed into the end zone with 4 minutes to play in the half to make it 34-0.

His 29-yard play in the second quarter began when he caught an over-the-middle throw from Brunell with his back to the end zone at the Arizona 12. From there he spun around and slipped two tackle attempts en route to scoring.

“I tried to make an outside move and come back in and I almost slipped,” Bailey said in recalling the first touchdown. “The next thing I know, I’m in the end zone. I was real surprised.”

Bailey scored his third-quarter touchdown by executing football’s equivalent of a half-gainer in the end zone. Just when it appeared Brunell’s pass was destined to land incomplete in the end zone, Bailey lay out behind the defender and pulled in the ball.

He made the play despite pass interference by the defender.

“The ball kind of stuck to my hand,” said Bailey, who finished with five catches for 89 yards.

“I give all the credit to the defense,” Bailey said. “The defense played their butts off.”

With the score 48-0 late in the third quarter, it was time for Kaufman, the No. 3 tailback behind Beno Bryant and Barry.

On his first carry, Kaufman appeared trapped for a loss on a run around right end. But he reversed his field and ran back to his left, then into the middle of the line.

As the crowd got into it, Kaufman bounced off potential tacklers and wasn’t stopped until he tripped himself 19 yards later.

“I don’t know how I started tripping up,” Kaufman said. “I guess I was too excited. I think that’s what it was. I didn’t see anyone ahead of me. It was like `I’m gone, `I’m gone.’ ”

Kaufman scored his second college touchdown with 8:25 to play when he capped a 46-yard, six-play drive by scoring on a nine-yard run around right end.