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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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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Husky Spring Game Recap

Exactly four months from today (May 1st) is when the Washington Huskies take to the gridiron at CenturyLink Field to face the Aztecs of San Diego State. Now, four months may seem like a long time, but they will come much quicker than you think. What will the 2012 Huskies look like this season? Well, we got a first glimpse at them on last Saturday, April 28th, at the annual UW Spring Game.

In what was quite a surprise, the Defense was the side that impressed, beating the offense 36-10. The scoring system was not what you would expect (3 pts for a defensive stop, etc.),  but that’s beside the point. The offense couldn’t get anything going against the new look defense.

In regards to the offense, there are several things I noticed. First was the play of the offensive line: awful. The Huskies lost senior left tackle, and captain, Senio Kelemete to the draft, right tackle Colin Porter to career ending shoulder injuries, and left guard Colin Tanigawa was out for this game due to a knee injury he sustained last season against Oregon State. Therefore, I’ll cut them some slack this time around, but things must improve. Due to the poor line play, the Huskies only rushed for 20 yards on 35 attempts for the game. Save yourself the time doing the math on that yards-per-carry, it’s just flat out terrible. Bishop Sankey led all ball carriers with 34 yards on 11 carries. Jesse Callier handled only 2 carries for 4 yards, but was limited due to injury earlier this spring. There seems to be a glaring need of power running for this group, so don’t be surprised if you see prized recruit Shaq Thompson get a carry here and there each game to mix up the tempo on offense.

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UW vs. Nebraska Game Recap

Last Saturday’s game at Nebraska had a little bit of everything: big plays, turnovers, questionable calls…and a whole lot of red. It’s easy to say the game was a disappointment, and don’t get me wrong, I carry that same sour taste that all of you have, but there are a lot of positives to take away from it. Let’s keep in mind that only three short years ago we were suffering through the worst season in school history with a coach that was completely oblivious. In the past 2 seasons and a couple games, Sark has a 14-14 record and everything points towards improvement on that mark.  I believe that Saturday showed us several reasons why we are headed in that direction.

Keith Price is a gamer. He’s a leader. He’s a fighter. And he can throw one hell of a ball. “The Price is Right” has been nothing short of impressive so far this season and his stats reflect it. Keith has thrown for 691 yards, completing 64% of his passes, and has an impressive 11-3 TD/INT ratio. He is currently tied for the most passing touchdowns in the country and now holds the record for most touchdowns thrown over three games in school history. He also won us over doing the little things that you won’t find on the stat sheet. His “escapability” and elusiveness is outstanding, continuously being flushed out of the pocket by Husker defenders, Price was able to avoid the sack time and time again and find an open receiver downfield. Some may point out the two interceptions as his faults, but take a look at the tape. Both weren’t ill advised. He had ASJ open on a corner route; he just threw it a little short which allowed Lavonte David to jump on it for Nebraska. His second interception that was picked off by senior safety Austin Cassidy was at the end of the game where he had to air it out to give the Dawgs a sliver of a chance. Yes, it wasn’t a great throw, but it wasn’t a Favre-like interception where you sit there afterwards asking yourself what this guy was possibly thinking when he let it fly. Keith has surprised almost all of us Husky fans. It’s refreshing to finally have a true passing quarterback (no discredit to Jake) and you can’t help root for the guy. His contagious smile, never-say-die attitude, and toughness have grown amongst his peers and he is now an unquestioned leader for the Dawgs. I think it’s time to put the quarterback battle to rest. We’ve found our man and there’s nowhere but up from here on out.

Chris Polk continued his dominance on the ground against a very capable Nebraska front seven. At the end of the day the Huskies tailback had amassed 130 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. A 5.9 yard-per-carry average against a perennial run stopping defense and I’m actually not that surprised. It just goes to show you how good he really is. He will continue to be the rock this team needs and will call upon him often.

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