Don James Reflects on Boise Game and Dazzling New Husky Stadium

Before the game began, Don James took a seat alongside his friend and former UW athletic director Mike Lude. These two men, who once worked in tandem for years, are responsible for so much of Washington's storied football legacy. Last Saturday night, they watched the birth of a new era, as a golden sunset graced the western horizon before giving way to bright stadium lights shining down upon this sparkling new venue.     

They also watched Washington rack up 592 yards of offense en route to a 38-6 win over #19 Boise State.

"It was a perfect day with the weather, crowd and the new stadium -- and a good opponent," Don James said. "There was something that I hated and never wanted to hear anybody say when I was coaching, and that was that this particular game was a must-win game. And I wouldn't quarrel with Sark if he got mad if someone said it to him. But I personally thought it was a must win for them. With all the things going on and the fact they lost to (Boise) in the last game (in the 2012 Vegas Bowl).      

"It was a great victory for us, and we've got two weeks to get ready for Illinois now," James said. "With our receiving corps, and our tight end, and we've got an excellent running back, and if we get the kind of quarterback play that we got out of (Keith) Price in 2011 and in this first game, I think it bodes well. But you know, we're going to get into some pretty good games later on... When we get Arizona, and get into league play, it's going to heat up."

James was asked for a key to the victory.

"I think there were some things that had to happen," he said. "We had to get the ball to (Kasen) Williams. It didn't seem like we were ever going to throw to him. We finally did in the third quarter. Kasen is a great receiver and he could do something with the ball. Sure, we had a guy (Mickens) who caught 9 passes. But we've got to get the ball to Williams and to (Bishop) Sankey and to (Austin Seferian) Jenkins, when he gets back."

James felt the Husky defense needs to get sturdier up front in the middle. But overall, he liked what he saw.  

"(Boise has) a good offense," he said. "They've got some good receivers and a good running back. We didn't seem to be missing a whole lot of tackles and we didn't seem to be out of place. Sure, they completed some balls and made some yards. But I don't think we were really vulnerable at all. We knew who we had to cover."

Washington next plays at  Illinois on September 14th. But with one game at newly remodeled Husky Stadium in the books, James was asked if he wishes he had any of its amenities back in his day. 

"We didn't have any of those things," he said. "Our assistant coaches had to scratch around looking for meeting rooms. They were looking for hallways that didn't have a lot of people. We had a small classroom in the Graves Building. And we never had an indoor facility ever. We got the conference rooms in the tunnel, which was great for the offense and defense to meet.

"But they've now got everything," he said. "What they did in the east end zone, there's permanent seating in that deal down there at the bottom. You feel like you're on the field down there. The west end zone is incredible. Weight room, locker room, equipment room, meeting rooms, coaches offices... and they even have a room up there for pro scouts to come in and look at film and watch the game. Those are good seats."   

But some vestige of the past remains. In a break in the action during the Boise game, Mike Lude got up from his seat and made his way down toward the field. There was apparently someone to whom he wanted to say hello.

"Mike recently turned 91," James said. "He was pretty impressed with everything. He headed down there to talk to somebody I guess. One usher wasn't going to let him onto the field and he had to go get his boss. Mike said to him, `I was the athletic director here for fifteen years.'

"And then Mike pointed up and said, `Hey, I built that north upper deck.'"