Huskies rebounded nicely after lousy stretch

Updated: October 20, 2003, 10:31 PM ET

SEATTLE -- Forget those old Washington Huskies who struggled and looked awful doing it. Quarterback Cody Pickett and his teammates feel they've straightened out their troubles in time for a big showdown against No. 5 Southern California.

The Huskies (4-3, 2-1 Pac-10) endured one of the worst six-quarter stretches in school history earlier this month. They were outscored 39-0 in the second half of a 46-16 loss at UCLA, then lost 28-17 at home to Nevada.

That's yesterday's news, the Huskies insist. By the time Washington's players boarded the bus to Corvallis, Ore., for last weekend's 38-17 win at Oregon State, their woes were long forgotten.

"It had to be out of our system before that," Pickett said Monday. "You can't dwell on the past. If you do that, you're not going to go anywhere. We put that all behind us."

Charles Frederick had a fantastic game at Oregon State, catching nine passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a punt 86 yards for a TD and finished with a school-record 371 all-purpose yards.

Hugh McElhenny had 362 all-purpose yards against Washington State in 1950.

"I believe we're back on track," said Frederick, named the Pac-10's offensive player of the week Monday. "We're going to keep on going. We just need to eliminate the mental mistakes, try to keep executing, go hard and have fun."

Washington regrouped in time to face visiting USC (6-1, 2-1) on Saturday. The Trojans are coming off a 31-point victory at Notre Dame, but the Huskies have won seven of the past 11 meetings between the schools.

"I'm going to keep reminding them about what needs to be done," Washington coach Keith Gilbertson said. "But we always do that. We didn't decide just last week that, 'Oh, by the way, we should probably work hard and respect our opponent and practice well during the week."

Still, it's amazing what a clever motivational ploy does for the Huskies, who capitalized on Gilbertson's "60 for 60" theme. The coach wanted his 60 road players to go all-out for 60 minutes last weekend.

"It was something we all took a lot of pride in," defensive lineman Terry Johnson said. "It was fun to see guys rallying behind something."

One year ago, former coach Rick Neuheisel created the fictional Northwest championship to give his players something to target after the Huskies lost their third straight game to fall to 4-5.

They closed the 2002 regular season with victories over Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State to avert the Washington program's first losing record since 1976.

Gilbertson downplayed last week's motivational efforts, saying football is mostly mental. He felt he was just doing his job after two embarrassing losses put the Huskies into a deep funk.

"You face up to it and try to figure out a plan to get out of it," Gilbertson said. "I really don't know any other solution, other than just plain hard work. It comes down to hard work and trying hard."

Along with Frederick's play, one of the biggest factors in Washington's victory was a defensive adjustment. Gilbertson and his assistants moved Johnson from tackle to end, hoping to put more pressure on the side of the pocket.

"I was just thinking, 'I hope I can do well," Johnson recalled. "It's not like I was moving from D-line to O-line. I'm just glad I could help out. I'll do whatever it takes."

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