Quarterback - One of the keys to the game we wrote about was keeping Locker safe for the next nine games and not wasting his health in this one. I am sure Jake has some bruises today but the coaches didn't overexpose him to danger by having him run the ball much. Jake had his chances at times he but continues to stay home and try to pass first and run second. Jake was 21-35 for 237 yards with one rushing TD and most importantly no interceptions against the toughest defense he will see all year.
Running Backs- Chris Polk had 25 carries for 71 tough yards against a team you aren't supposed to be able to run against. What was impressive about Chris was how many yards he gained after contact. He kept his feet moving forward and carried guys with him. He was sure handed and protected the ball all afternoon. Chris also showed that he could catch the ball with three clutch receptions. Paul Homer blocked well all night but was in the game plan as a skill player. The coaches called his number a couple of times. Johri Fogerson reinjured his shoulder but returned tot he game.
James Johnson led the team with seven catches and Jermaine Kearse led the team in clutch receptions that made or break the game. I only saw one drop out of this group all day. Credit that one to Johnson who actually proved to be mortal once in awhile. The Huskies who distributed the ball to nine receivers last week kept it a lot more simple yesterday against the Trojans. Yards after the catch were at a premium in this one. The tough Trojan secondary closed quickly and hit ferociously.
Kavario Middleton had a couple of mistakes that were costly. He took four points off the board when he went out of bounds and re-entered the playing field to catch the ball at the goal line. The penalty pushed UW back five yards and forced them to kick a FG. He also had one over the middle that bounced off his hands that ended a Washington drive forcing a punt. He had a tough night blocking some of the best DE's in the country too. When pressure overtook UW from the edge chances were it was the man that Middleton was supposed to block. Middleton did have two key receptions plus learned some valuable lessons from the experience. He continues to be a work in progress with NFL potential.
Grade C Plus
Locker didn't have as much time as usual. Despite his mobility he was sacked four times and had to scramble for his life at times. I am sure he feels all four of those sacks not to mention the late hits he received this morning. when we started the season we said that the offensive line had to be at least adequate for Washington to have a chance to do anything this year. They have exceeded that expectation in every single game. They went up against a defensive line made up of four players who will be in the NFL some day and they came out winners.
Grade B Plus
It didn't look good for these guys during the first two drives. What came to mind to me was how Oaks Christian marched down the field twice to score to open the game against Skyline. It makes you think the opposition is going to put 50 points on you. USC did pick up 250 yards on the ground but Washington only allowed them in the end zone once yesterday. Give credit to Coach Holt for inserting a speedier lineup which added Talia Chrichton at DE and Everette Thompson at DT. That adjustment was a crucial part of Washington's win because the only picked up 139 yards on the ground the rest of the way! Aaron Corp was harrased all day and while he didn't utter the famous words "All I saw was Purple" he must have felt that way at times. USC was 0-10 on third down conversions for the day! It didn't matter if Washington was running or throwing. The defense came up with the answer all day long and had a knack for big plays.
This may have been one of the best games played by the Washington linebacking unit in a decade. Shame on Ted Miller for ranking them ninth in the conference in his rankings to begin the season. Donald Butler and Mason Foster were just magnificent. Butler one our Pac 10 defensive player of the week award and he will likely be named for Pac 10 and national honore this week. Cort Dennison saw some action yesterday and showed the crowd what the coaches have been sayong all camp. He just makes plays. EJ Savannah broke his hand again but that couldn't keep him out of the game long. He had it rewrapped and was back on the field in no time.
Quinton Richardson lived up to his guarantee with the victory and he was huge in his support of the run. It is nice to have a bigger player back their who can come up and make plays. The Trojans only completed 13 passes all day and only one went for significant yards. Desmond Trufant and Vonzell McDowell saw a lot of action last night. Trufant had a pretty good game when you figure in that he is a true frosh and only was around for half of camp. He will keep getting better every week. He did pick up a pass interference call on what could have been a tipped ball. Other than that he was just fine back there.
Nate Williams played his usual tough game bit whose helmet was that flying into the air most of the game? Justin Glenn showed he belonged yesterday with some helmet removing hits. The extra speed he brings to the defensive backfield has been an excellent adjustment for the Huskies.
Erik Folk had the biggest day of his lfe as he nailed three FG attempts and a PAT. He also did a lot better job getting his kickoffs deeper which helped our coverage units. The coverage units didn't give up a big play all day and the players were flying around the field with reckless abandon. Will Mahan proved he was mortal with a couple bad punts that could have meant trouble in the second half. He balanced that out with a couple of big punts that pinned USC back. Weather had to be a factor for Mahan who picked up some valuable experience punting in a stadium that is more difficult than most.
Sark was a lot more conservative on offense than I expected. That conservatism however helped limit mistakes. The lack of mistakes is what ultimately won this game. Nick Holt almost became the goat of the game when he inadvertantly left the coaches box and brushed an official on a big third down play for the defense. The ensuing penalty eliminated a big Washington stop and kept a USC drive going. That drive ended with a turnover. If it hadn't he wouldn't be feeling very good this morning. Coach Sark commented jokingly after the game that perhaps they should put a leash him on the sidelines.
These coaches get it. It is game three and how many players on the team haven't bought into what these guys are doing yet? If there were any non believers on Friday I can't imagine there are any left today. This staff seemingly is doing everything right. They get 110% effort out of their kids every game. What is really impressive is the improvement in so many area's on the team. Kudo's to Dan Cozzetto for getting a rag tag offensive line ready to play over the last six months. What he has done with these kids is the definition of coaching!