When asked last Tuesday what winning four consecutive Apple Cups would mean, Nick Harris smiled, considered the question and said all the right things.
“Obviously that would be a blessing,” said Harris, UW’s notoriously vocal senior center. “But we’ve got to focus on going out there and executing, making plays and winning. You can ask me that after the game and maybe I’ll answer it differently, but I think for now we’re working on just trying to get better every day and making sure we go out there and we’re ready to play.”
Friday, the Huskies were ready, and so was their 6-foot-1, 302-pounder. A day prior to UW’s decisive 31-13 victory over Washington State, Harris wrote five simple words in black permanent marker on his white undershirt:
“WE DON’T LOSE TO COUGS.”
He even crossed out the word “Cougs,” for extra emphasis. The four-year starter said after the victory that “I wore it this morning, and I wore it in the game, and I’m wearing it now. I’ll probably wash it, because it’s pretty sweaty. If I could I’d wear it all night. I might make a new one.”
Sweaty or not, the shirt said plenty. But Harris said even more.
“It’s just truth,” he continued, with his face smothered in eye-black, when asked for the inspiration behind his impromptu fashion statement. “It’s no inspiration. It’s just truth. I’m a truthful person. I like to keep it real, and that’s kind of what I did on my shirt.
“I haven’t lost. We don’t lose. Nobody in that locker room has lost to the Cougars. It’s just truth. That’s the way it is.”
That’s the way it is, and the way it has been for seven consecutive seasons. Washington has won 10 of the past 11 Apple Cups.
And Harris — an Inglewood, Calif., product — certainly understands what that means.
“It means a lot, for sure,” he said. “It’s a big-time rivalry. It means a lot for this city. It means a lot for the state. It means a lot for the alumni.
“That’s kind of what my mentality was. It’s bigger than just the dudes on the team. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than the seniors. We’ve got a lot of people representing that ‘W,’ and that’s the kind of mentality I went in with, and we came out with a win.”
UW’s tight end tandem pays dividends
The Cougars couldn’t cover Washington’s tight ends Friday. Junior Hunter Bryant led UW with six catches for 96 yards, while sophomore Cade Otton added three catches for 46 yards and drew a critical pass interference penalty on a third-and-13 play that extended an eventual touchdown drive in the second quarter.
When asked why Washington’s tight ends were so successful, coach Chris Petersen said: “Well, we’ve got good tight ends. It starts with that. When you’ve got good players at certain positions, you need to figure out ways to get them the ball.”
The Huskies have gotten Bryant the ball an awful lot this season. The 6-2, 239-pound junior’s 52 catches (for a team-high 825 yards, 15.9 yards per reception and three touchdowns) are the second-most in program history.
- After he ran for 85 yards and 5.3 yards a carry Friday, UW junior running back Salvon Ahmed finished the regular season with exactly 1,000 rushing yards, to go along with 5.5 yards a carry and nine touchdowns.
- Redshirt sophomore Henry Bainivalu made his first career start Friday, in place of injured right guard Jaxson Kirkland. Petersen said Kirkland, who appeared to injure his leg last weekend in the defeat against Colorado, was close to being able to play. “Probably if it was pro football, I don’t know, he might play,” Petersen said. “But not in college football. We’ll get him back hopefully for the bowl.”