One last college goal
Washington's Huard not thinking about NFL yet
Posted: Tuesday December 22, 1998 08:01 PM
HONOLULU (AP) -- Brock Huard wants to go out a winner in his last collegiate game and says the lure of the NFL is not distracting him from focusing on leading Washington past No. 16 Air Force in the Oahu Bowl.
Huard holds Washington career records with 5,742 passing yards and 51 touchdowns, and is considered a top pro prospect.
The 6-5, 225-pound junior is passing up his senior year to try the NFL, making the Christmas Day game at Aloha Stadium against the Falcons (11-1) his last at Washington.
Despite the emotion of the moment, there is no room for sentimental thoughts, Huard said Tuesday before practice.
"It's hard to get real sentimental playing this game ... it's not the nature of the game," he said. "It's a physical game. It's not tennis or golf, it's football. When we get on that plane I want to get on that plane the right way, and that's the time to share and enjoy those very last moments."
Huard considered leaving Washington for the pros after his sophomore season, but decided to come back for this year. It didn't work out as well as he hoped, as Washington (6-5) finished fifth in the Pacific 10 Conference and Huard missed some time to injury.
Still, he finished the season with 1,924 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions despite his partially separated left shoulder and led the Huskies with an average 217 yards of offense a game.
Huard said a lack of maturity led him to stay in school and he's glad he did, despite the disappointments of the season.
"To have gone out last year, I wouldn't have been able to deal with the adversity at the NFL level," Huard said.
Air Force linebacker Craig Thorstenson, a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference selection, said the key to controlling Huard will be to flush him out of the pocket and not give him time to dissect the Falcons' zone defense.
"Their passing attack is real hard to stop," Thorstenson said. "We're making changes so we can adapt to their offense and their style of throwing. We're gonna run at the ball, and we better be able to chase him down and get some pressure ... so he doesn't get to sit back there for 10-12 seconds and pick apart our defense."
Air Force running backs coach Sammy Steinmark believes the extra time that both teams have to prepare for Friday's game will benefit the defenses.
"When you have time to prepare for each other, a lot of time the defenses play better," Steinmark said. "You can't invent a whole lot of new offenses and, if you do, it will get you in trouble anyway."
The big worry for Washington offensive coordinator Scott Lenihan is the ability of the Air Force defense to force turnovers. The Falcons had 16 interceptions this season, returning six for touchdowns.
"That's scary. What they do is they don't make mistakes on their side of the ball, and they can give their offense good field position with turnovers," Lenihan said. "Our biggest goal is to play effectively and efficiently, and prevent turnovers."
Former Air Force center Brad Hutt transferred to Washington after his freshman year and helped anchor a Washington line that allowed just 19 sacks all season, second lowest in the Pac-10.
He said he helps the Husky defense with their work on combating the Air Force triple-option offense, but doesn't really remember much about the offense to be of much assistance.
"It's been a while since I ran that offense," said Hutt, who said he just had a hard time getting used to the military life. He was removed from the team for an honor code violation, but coach Fisher DeBerry helped him find a place at Washington.
"It's ironic I'm wrapping up my football career playing these guys," Hutt said. "It will be fun. That place was obviously not for me. You saw them in their blue uniforms ... I'd rather wear shorts."
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