Huskies win!

A week ago, I wrote that the Huskies would lose their next three games. I stand to be corrected because, last night, Steve Sarkisian‘s team played its best defense of the year, showed grit and determination that seems to appear every other game, and stunned No. 24 Oregon State after two overtime periods.

I did not think the Huskies defense could stop Jacquizz Rodgers and the Beavers’ running game. I haven’t seen the Huskies defense stop a good runner all season. And Rodgers is one of the best. It just stood to reason.

But call me ecstatically surprised.

My old friend Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times wrote last night that quarterback Jake Locker was legendary, that Locker saved the season, that all the Locker hype came to tangibility. Despite a red-zone fumble and being at the helm of complete offensive stall the entire second half, Locker did shine in overtime. He also had a couple drive-extending runs on third downs that were quite impressive.

But the game ball does not go to Locker and his five touchdown passes. The game ball goes to the defense — namely defensive coordinator Nick Holt.

Defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu had the best game of his college career against Oregon State. (Photo by Dean Rutz/Seattle Times)

Holt is a fiery, wild-eyed, intense football coach. And whatever he is doing worked last night. This defense is young. The defensive line is disappointingly soft. It misses tackles (see Nebraska), makes assignment errors (thinking about BYU), and has about a seven-year engrained history of absolutely stinking.

But last night, the defense played like a group with a purpose. It played like it was inspired to do well, to prove something, to shed the history of being terrible.

It showed up in the play of Alameda Ta’amu. It showed up in the break-out performances of Victor Aiyewa and freshman Hau’oli Jamora. It showed up in the last-ditch, nothing-but-effort of linebacker Cort Dennison to break up a pass that would’ve been two points and a Beavers victory.

In the first half, the Huskies defense came out with passion. To me, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Rodgers got going — and he did. I honestly thought that was it. I watched a three-touchdown lead disappear.

But Holt held his guys together. Almost suddenly, the Huskies were in the backfield. There were forcing punts. They were creating turnovers — hello, Sean Parker! Welcome to Montlake!

I can’t mention the defense without praising Mason Foster. Foster  is the pulse of the team. He does not stop. He keeps fighting. If Holt kept the  group together and is the brains of the operation, Fosters is the motor of it.

And what the operation did last night was nothing short of fabulous.

Now, back to Locker… Locker would not be doing what he is doing nearly as effectively if it weren’t for Chris Polk. The Huskies racked up nearly 500 yards last night. Polk rushed for 105 of them. He gets yards when it seems there are none to get. He drags defenders along with him. He puts his foot in the ground and propels himself forward. It is so fun to watch because he makes something that is so hard look so easy. I am thoroughly impressed with Polk.

Jermaine Kearse had four touchdowns, including this game winner in the second overtime period. (Photo by Dean Rutz/Seattle Times)

Of course, receiver Jermaine Kearse deserves ample praise. Four touchdowns, 146 yards. What else can you say other than — he should be doing this. There is no place for drops. I understand getting drilled and not holding on to the ball, but drops for the sake of drops is ridiculous. If the ball is in his range (ala Locker’s accuracy), he should be able to bring in more than he doesn’t.

A week ago, I wrote the Huskies would lost their next three games. They pulled one out and it was awesome. They have an opportunity now, too, as they head to Arizona next Saturday to face the Wildcats, who lost quarterback Nick Foles to a sprained knee. THAT is lucky for UW.

So, what must they do? Let’s start with lose the every-other-game schizophrenia. Let’s start with striving for more. This has been a major problem. The Huskies get a big win, then fall back on their laurels. But WHAT laurels? Washington simply isn’t there yet. This is a program still in a hole. Every time this team stops digging, the dirt will fall in around it. Thus, it simply can’t stop digging. It has to keep at it — and at it with urgency and vigor.

OK, gang, the Steelers game is about to start, so I’ve got to wrap this up. But, CHEERS to Nick Holt and the Huskies. I can’t wait for Saturday. (But, PLEASE, no more overtime… the game ended at 2 a.m. … that’s too late for this ol’ woman!)

 

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2 responses to “Huskies win!

  1. It was soooo cool. At times, it seemed like old times! I love your writing, you should be here, on a regular basis. No one else says it like you do. I’m thinking about Deeder and Joey, running, running, running. And you, cheering your Steelers on to victory? Hugs~~~~~

  2. Jake Locker had the fourth-best passing performance of his remarkable career, completing 21 of 35 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns, against one interception. His PE on the game was 170.07. His five touchdown passes were the most of his career and tied a school record.

    Having to buttress a makeshift offensive line that was overwhelmed at times, Locker ran 12 times for 60 yards, bulling his way through the contact zone or legging it to the outside for valuable yardage, and, when needed, sprinting laterally to throw on the run, something he does as well as a lot of pros, and, most certainly, when running to his left.

    With a legendary performance against USC two weeks ago, Locker, on the night, was “legendary,” once more, having overcome the effects of the severe cold and bruised quad, both factors hampering his performance in the ASU game.

    But Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse made his mark, too, hauling in a school record four touchdown passes.

    The indomitable Chris Polk, who fights for every yard, especially after initial contact, posted 105 yards on 25 carries.

    OSU’s Jacquizz Rodgers had 140 yards on 32 carries with three TDs. He also caught four passes for 49 yards and a TD.

    Although the Huskies hold a 58-33-4 lead in the series, the Beavers had won the last six in a row, including four at Husky Stadium, all since 2004. That streak has ended.

    The Huskies keep their bowl hopes alive with this victory, needing three more wins to go to a bowl. They should be favored to win the UCLA (home) and WSU (away) games. So that’s two more, say. Other than Oregon, they have a puncher’s chance to win one of the other three. The punchers: Locker, Polk, Kearse and an improving defense. The punchees: Arizona (away), Stanford (home), and Cal (away).

    Commenting on the Huskies’ struggles after taking a 21-0 lead, coach Steve Sarkisian said, “We couldn’t get out of our own way on offense for a minute there. We had four false starts, a delay of game penalty. It wasn’t so much about them we were just putting ourselves in bad down and distance situations.”

    For example, in the second quarter on a third and 18 from the Huskies’ 26, Jordan Poyer intercepted Jake Locker, and the the Beavers had the ball on the Washington 35, from where they took five plays, aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty, to score a touchdown and narrow the lead to 21-14.

    For any quarterback, throwing on third and long locked in his own territory is like drawing to an inside straight. Why not call a draw play, coach, and give your QB some support?

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