NU's Washington awaits second chance to face Woods

Updated: August 27, 2003, 2:27 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- No doubt, Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington got schooled by Rashaun Woods last year.

The Oklahoma State All-America wide receiver had 11 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys' 24-21 victory over the Cornhuskers.

Almost all of Woods' receptions came against the freshman Washington.

"I was so upset after the game," Washington said.

Following the longstanding policy of former defensive backs coach George Darlington, Washington lined up exclusively at his assigned position on the left side while DeJuan Groce, the Cornhuskers' top cover corner, stayed on the right.

Woods regularly split out to Washington's side, and quarterback Josh Fields picked on him unmercifully.

"Last year they didn't flip their corners on me," Woods said, "and we took advantage of their young guy. I guess he is the young guy again, but he has more experience. I don't think how they line their corners up is going to change things at all."

Washington gets another shot at Woods on Saturday when the No. 24 Cowboys visit Memorial Stadium for the season opener.

Washington chalks up last year's experience as a lesson learned during a baptism by fire that saw him also guard the likes of Penn State's Bryant Johnson and Texas' Roy Williams.

This time, new defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders promises to give Washington some help.

Sanders wouldn't get into specifics, but Woods said he has an idea of what's coming.

"I don't expect to see much man coverage, especially on my side of the ball," Woods said. "I expect to see a lot of zoning and double coverage."

Sanders said one of the keys is for the Huskers to get a strong pass rush on Fields.

"We can't go into the game saying it's just Rashaun versus Fabian," Sanders said. "All 11 guys have to help. It doesn't matter if you have Deion Sanders and Darrell Green, if you give Fields four seconds to throw, he'll pick them apart."

Washington may not be Sanders or Green, who are regarded as two of the finest corners to play the game, but he is the top cover man in a Nebraska secondary that gave up the ninth-most yards in the Big 12 last season.

Sanders said he also has confidence in Pat Ricketts and Lornell McPherson, the co-No. 1 corners on the right side, and in free safeties Josh Bullocks and Jerrell Pippens and strong safeties Philip Bland and Daniel Bullocks.

"Our safeties are as good as any in the conference," Sanders said. "I'll put my stock on those four."

Washington knows he will have to go it alone at times against Woods, who is within 126 yards of moving ahead of Hart Lee Dykes as OSU's all-time leading receiver.

"It's going to be a lot to swallow," Washington said. "I can handle the challenge. He beat some of the best corners in the country last year, and I think it's going to be a good matchup.

Woods finished last season with 107 catches for 1,695 yards and 17 touchdowns -- all Big 12 records. He had 100-yard outings in nine of 13 games, including a 226-yard game against Oklahoma.

Washington set NU freshman records for pass breakups, with a team-leading 13, and interceptions, with four.

"I'm a lot better than I was last year" Washington said. "He's going to have to be a little better than he was."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index