UW Football Season Recap: Part 1

As I sit here and watch the recording of the UW-Stanford game for quite possibly the 4th time, I think to myself 1) Thank God Josh Nunes was at QB for the Cardinal that game, 2) We probably threw 50% of our passes behind the line of scrimmage this year, and 3) This season may have not been what we really thought it was. What do I mean by that, you might ask? “We beat two top ten teams, one of which won the Rose Bowl!”

This season was a mixed bag, to say the very least. The elation of knocking off top-ten ranked Stanford and Oregon State, to the dejection of getting decimated by Arizona and blowing a 18-point lead in the Apple Cup. This is probably why I have found this article to be such a struggle to write. What route do I take? Was this season a success? Was it a failure? The sour taste that still lingers with the result of the final two games may make me lean towards the latter.

I think we can all agree that the season did not finish the way we had hoped for. What was easily the worst loss for Steve Sarkisian since joining the Huskies in 2009, to a heartbreaking two point thriller down in Vegas, it was a tough pill to swallow at the end. But what went wrong? Why couldn’t the Dawgs reach that benchmark eight win club? Especially against the lowly Cougars!

A lot of the blame can be attributed to the offense. Keith Price of 2011 was nowhere to be found this year. Honestly, I can’t even remember a single half where we saw that form out of #17. He struggled mightily all season, throwing 14 less touchdowns than a year ago and seeing his QB rating plummet from 161.9 to 122.4. He displayed close to zero confidence on the field, and gave the ball up in crucial situations, most of them being plays that left you scratching your head wondering what you had just witnessed. I will concede, the loss of Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar proved to be very significant to the effectiveness of Price this season, but good QBs are able to overcome those obstacles, especially when you have arguably the best tight end in the country and a wide receiver that can play with the best of them in this conference. We expected Keith to be the leader and playmaker that we saw him become a year ago and it never came to fruition. This is unquestionably the most glaring reason as to why they Huskies finished this season with a 7-6 record and recorded some pretty dismal losses on the way.

On a more positive note, surprisingly the running game didn’t really miss a beat. We all assumed it would be near to impossible to fill the hole that Chris Polk left after a magnificent career in the Purple and Gold, but Bishop Sankey filled those shoes quite nicely. Early season-ending injuries to Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper squashed the “running back-by-committee” approach that the Huskies were planning to unveil. But Bish handled the added workload like a seasoned vet. Amassing 1,439 rushing yards (an amazing 5.0 ypc) to go along with 16 touchdowns behind a makeshift line, it was nothing short of incredible. He carried the offense multiple times this season and unquestionably gets my vote for offensive player of the year.

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Mackey Malarkey

Remember the days of Little League. The days where sunflower seeds were our currency. The days where you were only cool if you wore high socks. The days where we spent as much time perfecting the bend of our cap as we did our ability on the field. But with all that, there was something that always bothered me: All Stars.

It wasn’t the fact that I should have made the team. I was the Chone Figgins of my league when it came to batting. I lived at the bottom of the order for years and never really saw any improvement. I made my bread in the field, though. Third base. Hot corner. Ever heard of it? But that is beside the point. Every year there would be an all star team compiled of the best players in the league, and for the most part this was true. But every year I could not help but notice that almost every coach’s son made the team. Even the ones that just flat out sucked. I was always bothered by this, and was happy to see that go as I left Little League in fifth grade and went on to bigger and better things (not really).

On Wednesday morning I woke up and heard some news; news that could not help but remind me of those tainted all star teams of Little League. How outside forces and not on-field production and skill affected the selection. This news I speak of is the 2012 Mackey Award, handed out each season in college football to the best TE in the country.

Let’s do a quick exercise. I am going to list three candidates’ stat lines, without divulging their names or team, and you decide for yourself who should have won:

Player A: 66 receptions, 837 yards, 6 touchdowns

Player B: 66 receptions, 791 yards, 6 touchdowns

Player C: 44 receptions, 624 yards, 4 touchdowns

I think we would all agree that Player A had the best year, with Player B a close second, and Player C a fair distance behind the two (Here’s where my Little League analogy begins to make sense, I promise).

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UW vs. SDSU Game Recap

Well the season is off and running and there is a lot to talk about so let’s get right to it!

The Huskies began the season with a win, beating the San Diego State Aztecs by the score of 21-12. Something I thought I wouldn’t say for quite some time, but the Husky defense looked much better than the high octane offense that us Dawg fans have grown accustomed to. But a win is a win, so we’re all smiles here at SS&O.

The Offense:

It was somewhat a mixed bag to take away from the game Saturday night. I think we can all agree that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the real deal. I understand that he was extremely good as a freshman last season, but he is now the focal point of the offensive game plan, alongside Kasen Williams. ASJ hauled in nine receptions for a total of 91 yards. It took at least two defenders just to take him down. He will demand a load of respect from defenses from now on, and if they fail to notice his capabilities, he will punish them repeatedly.

Kasen also had a nice game, making six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. On that scoring play I thought Sark was excellent with the play call, using Williams in the backfield and motioning him out into the flats to set up the screen. It was great how Kasen hid himself from the defense by crouching behind the Huskies O-line, making it hard for the Aztecs to adjust once he was put in motion. Williams did have a catch negated in the first half due to an offensive pass interference call (to the displeasure of the Husky faithful), but after watching the replay, the zebras got it right. He created clear separation from the defensive back by using both arms to push off.

The rushing attack for the Huskies wasn’t anything great, but it had its moments. The boys in purple suffered a setback when Jesse Callier went down with an apparent knee injury. It seemed as though he just got tripped up on his own after receiving a catch. He is scheduled to have an MRI and hopefully it won’t be anything that keeps him out for too long. In his stead, Bishop Sankey assumed the bulk of the rushing load, carrying 22 times for a total of 66 yards and a score. Erich Wilson II saw a few carries as well, breaking one of them for 17 yards. Still not really who you want as your number two back if we find Callier to be out for an extended period of time, but good for him as well as Willis Wilson for getting some meaningful carries in there.

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UW Football Bye Week Report Card

The first five games for the UW football team warrant a variety of adjectives. After escaping embarrassment against Eastern the word was “scary”. After Hawaii torched UW’s secondary the word was “vulnerable”. If an FCS team and a WAC team could rip the secondary to shreds like an issue of Skyline High School’s “The Forum”, who knew what kind of damage could be done by some of the offenses lurking on UW’s schedule. No one felt comfortable heading into Lincoln, Nebraska as the Dawgs took on a top ten team in a notoriously raucous environment. Another embarrassing performance by the defense later and the Dawgs lost 51-38 and gave up more than 300 yards on the ground to the Cornhuskers. A report card at that juncture of the season would have been much more bleak than this one will be.

Alas, the Dawgs came home for some home cooking against Cal for their first Pac-12 test. The UW defense performed stunningly in the second half and closed the game by stopping Cal at the goal line to ice the game, winning 31-23 and moving to 3-1 heading into a tough road test against Utah.

Or so we thought.

The Huskies came into Salt Lake City against the Utes (who really don’t deserve to win until I know what the hell a “Ute” is) and took care of business. The pregame chatter heading into the game centered around Utah’s pro style offense led by prolific RB John White IV and dynamic QB Jordan Wynn. Well, White ended up with zero rushing yards in the second half and Wynn was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury. The UW defense simply was out to make plays from the very beginning. The first play of the game was a forced fumble on the kickoff picked up by Jamaal Kearse for a touchdown. That set the pace for what would be a long day for Utes’ fans as the team was held to a grand total of 17 rush yards and turned the ball over three times. Keith Price stole the show again with another 3 TD passes, which is Price’s fifth straight game with at least 3 TD’s through the air. Chris Polk absolutely battered Utah’s defense, going off for 189 yards to demoralize them in the second half. The Dawgs came out with a dominating 31-14 victory, only made so close by a Utah touchdown with 0:07 seconds left on the clock. Coach Steve Sarkisian called the game one of the biggest wins in his tenure at UW due to the dominating performance defensively and the commitment to running the ball on offense to finish games.

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UW vs. Hawaii Game Recap

The opening week game against Eastern Washington put questions in a lot of Husky fans minds (nevermind that Eastern lost 30-17 at South Dakota last week). But the questions were valid. The play calling looked timid, the pass defense looked like my 7th Grade Flag Football team could play better, and it took a great play by Desmond Trufant just to seal the victory against an undeniably inferior team.

You can't handle the Truf

The Hawaii game answered a couple of those questions. First of all, the offense came out firing against the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii. No toes in the water offense, Coach Steve Sarkisian went right at Hawaii. The first offensive play of the game for Huskies tells the entire story. A play-action pass with the first read being the deep ball over the middle, but Price checked down to hit a wide open Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a 30 yard gain. Sark and Price didn’t stop there, hitting ASJ on a seam route over the middle for a 47 yard gain down to the 2 yard line where Chris Polk ran it in for a touchdown on the next play. The next two Washington possessions continued the trend of a more agressive offense trying to win instead of trying not to lose. UW scored on a Jermaine Kearse touchdown to make it 14-0 to cap off a 95 yard drive. Kearse caught a slant and took it all the way to the house for a 20 yard touchdown, making it a 21-0 first quarter lead for the Huskies. This offensive onslaught that was being put on display prompted me to tweet “Goodbye haters, UW is back” from the student section. Exactly what haters I was referring to is still a mystery.

But regardless, UW was rolling at that point. And the above picture gives me the opportunity to talk about the helmets that UW chose to wore for the game. They were phenomenal. The Dawgs came out of the tunnel for warmups wearing their customary gold helmets, but when they came out of the tunnel for gametime wearing the new whites, they looked unbelievable. But the reason behind the helmets was even more important with the “W” logo on the helmets in red, white and blue it was designed to honor the victims and heros of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and it did a fine job of that.

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