Grading the game

It's time to pull out the grade book for yesterday's game against Stanford. There aren't a lot of positives when you lose 34-14 and give up 350 yards on the ground. I will say that they looked quite a bit better than California. This is a year of parity in the conference and whoever wins the title may just have 2-3 losses by the time it all shakes out.

Home field advantage is going to be key in most games. Good thing Washington plays only four conference road games this season. The good news is the most talented teams with the exception of Stanford will be visiting Husky Stadium. Remaining conference road games against  ASU, Oregon State, and UCLA are all in the winnable category.


Quarterback

Jake Locker was off on Saturday and it may have been his worst overall day as a Husky. There have been times he couldn't throw and there have been times he was shut down on the run. He has also made his share of mistakes over the past three years. This game was different because nothing ever really seemed to click for him. The run should have been there because he has dominated Stanford in the past with it but it just wasn't in the game plan. I didn't see a lot of spark in Jake on Saturday and that concerns me. He was still 16/31 for 191 yards but the playmaking ability we saw the last three games simply was not there. The three turnovers were just killers.

I don't think the NFL draft talk effected him that much because he is a pretty level headed kid. I do think that after this perfomance most of that talk will quiet down. Like I said earlier this week he has a lot of work to do to be a starting QB in the NFL. Jake came back to earth this week and I look for him to rebound with a good performance against Notre Dame.

Grade D

Running Back

Chris Polk had 75 yards on 19 carries going into the gut of a very physical defense. One thing that comes to mind is why they don't run a guy with his speed wide more times when the middle is clogged up? Chris also caught three passes out of the backfield. UW seems hell bent on making Polk a workhorse.

Grade B

Wide Receivers

They had an off game against a very suspect secondary. Washington isn't stretching the field and attempting to go long which is the coaching staffs call. Obviously they know a lot more about the teams capabilities than we do. Kavario Middleton was terrible and I hate to call any kid terrible. It looked like he was taking plays off and loafing which will be a huge no-no in the film room on Monday. His blocking needs a lot of work. Word to wise to Kavario...hit the weight room this winter. We have a nice group of WR's but they didn't play the way they had in the first three games which hurt Locker. The loss for the week of Devin Aguilar is larger than most expect. He may not be the leading receiver on the team but he sets the tone with experience and work ethic. We missed his downfield blocking.

Grade C

Offensive Line

After three pretty good games where they over achieved they ran into a bunch of better athletes who outplayed them on almost every single down. Stanford's front three-four dominated our offensive line. It wasn't like Stanford was doing anything tricky. They were never forced to blitz which didn't open up holes for our passing game to exploit. They just beat our guys up all night which is a testament to the way they practice every week. Physical guys playing physical guys in practice usually leads to physical games on Saturday. I am not going to write these guys off after a bad game but they need to step it up if UW is going to win six games this season.

Grade D

Defensive line

Washington threw a lot of different combinations at Stanford on Saturday and nothing seemd to work that well. Everrette Thompson however may have won himself a starting job at defensive tackle the rest of the season because the line works better when he is in there. The story here is Stanford simply made their blocks and our defensive lineman were not able to come off those blocks in time to make the play. Expect Holt to spend a lot of time in the film room today trying to figure out what went wrong and if he has the pieces to correct it.

UW has to fix this or teams are just going to run the ball at them the rest of the season. UW was exposed yesterday. Will Charlie Weis be smart enough to run the ball 40 times on Saturday? Don't count on it if you are an Irish fan. The obvious seems to escape Charlie Weis.

Grade D

Linebackers

These guys were off this week and seemed a step or two slower than they did against USC which is understandable because last weeks game was so physical. Cort Dennison is making a move on the outside in place of EJ Savannah. EJ is a little beat up and the coaches haven't liked the way he has free lanced so far this season. EJ missed most of the second half with an injury. These guys made a lot of tackles on Saturday which is a product of the defensive line not making as many as they should have.

Grade C

Secondary

Stanford only threw the ball 14 times on Saturday so the secondaries job was mainly run support. Since Stanford ran for 350 yards you really can't say the run support was all that great. Rough to blame the secondary for it since it seemed the lousy defensive day started up front on the line. Bottom line the Stanford running back shouldn't be in the secondary.

Grade C

Special Teams

Who made the call to kick it to Chris Owusu to start the game? What happened to the LSU pooch kick which stopped the nations top kick returner from making an impact? Put that one on the heads of the coaching staff. Washington had plenty of attempts to return the ball and didn't get anywhere on Saturday. The team with the best depth and most physical play usually wins this portion of the game. Put it on the board for Stanford.

Grade F

Coaching

I think Sarkisian was way to conservative in his play calling. When the pro set wasn't working he didn't try hard enough to spread the field to give his team a break and use Jakes ability to pass on the run. Some of his calls don't make a lot of sense. To be fair when there is poor execution even the best play call can look terrible. I would like to see him get Chris Polk out around the end more. UW didn't have any push up the middle last night and he kept trying to go there too many times. Another big question is why he is not calling more designed running plays for Jake against a team he has run well against? Obviously keeping him healthy is a priority but he needs to use Jake on the run more often.

Defensively Coach Holt who was a genius last week couldn't put together the adjustments to slow down Stanford's running game. Tough to hold the coach accountable when it is obvious that his players are being bulied from a physical standpoint. The defense didn't get much help from a sputtering offense that turned the ball over three times, scored only 7 points, and held onto the ball only for a third of the game.

Have to throw an F out to Johnny Nansen for allowing the ball to be kicked to Chris Owusu to start the game. nothing jumpstarts a team like an instant touchdown on the opening kickoff.

This was just one of those games when we ran into a better team on the wrong day. You can look for people to blame or just concede that Stanford was the better team and we just didn't match up well with them on Saturday. I don't think emotion was the problem either. We simple were outplayed by a better team that executed better.

Grade C

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