We all were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after the USC game. Some of us even thought we had come out on the other side of the tunnel. Well...word on the street is we are still in the tunnel and that bright light we saw was actually a freight train by the name of Toby Gerhart who put together a career high of 200 yards on 27 carries on Saturday night.
Gerhart is a decent back but he doesn't conjure up images of greatness in anyones mind. Washington's defense made him look great on Saturday by being out of position, not tackling well, and simply being out worked by a very physical Stanford defensive line. Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat describes Gerhart this way.
He is not as fast as a sprinter or as pretty as a ballet dancer or as lyrical as a poet. He’s just a good, hard runner — exactly what he’s supposed to be. He gets the ball and runs forward — no deception — and when it seems all those defenders adhering to him are about to nail him, he moves an inch or two and falls in behind his blocker and finds a crease or a tiny lane — whatever you want to call it — and somehow it’s him and the linebackers and maybe the defensive backs and they grab him, but grabbing him hurts and he drags them a while on his back and legs — you imagine the sound of grunting — and he falls down, but not before he’s got gobs of yards. And he does that again and again and again. Run, hurt, fall down.
In my preview I figured that Gerhart would get his 100 yards. I felt if UW limited him to around 100 yards on thirty carries it would switch the burden of winning the game over to QB Andrew Luck. The funny thing that happened on the way to the forum was Gephart had his 100 done by early in the second quarter and finished with 200 for the game. In addition to Gephart the Cardinal were able to find another 100 and some odd on the ground which controlled the clock to Stanford's advantage the entire game.
Washington had faced three pretty good running teams previously. They did very well against LSU and Idaho. They had a poor first quarter against USC but rebounded with three strong quarters. Washington didn't have the answers in this one and it produced four quarters of bad run defense. We all waited for Washington adjust but it didn't happen. This game may not have been about making the proper adjustments. It was about getting your ass kicked by a physical offensive line.
Amazingly enough Stanford only scored 34 points during the evening. That should have given Jake Locker enough leeway to pull it out or at least make it interesting for his team. What Jake came up with was three turnovers and enough passes off the mark to render his first round 2010 draft status moot. The Washington offense only scored seven points. Going into this game the plan should have been to attack a questionable Stanford secondary. The offensive line didn't give Jake enough time or Chris Polk enough room to get anything going. When there was time Jake didn't deliver the ball where it needed to be.
The offensive game plan was pretty conservative. I questioned it for awhile last week but why mention it after a 16-13 win over what may have been the best team in the country. This week is the time for questions. Washington kept going to the same hole too many times on running plays. They didn't attempt to spread out the field and let Jake throw on the run when the pressure up the middle was hampering the pro set. It wasn't Steve Sarkisian's greatest moment as a play caller. We didn't see them try to stretch the field horizontally or vertically to loosen up the Stanford defense. We didn't see them use Jake's legs effectively to counter the problems Polk was having running up the middle.
Jake was simply off on Saturday but he didn't get a lot of help from his receivers in terms of getting open or coming back for the ball. For some reason the entire offensive unit was out of sync most of the night. The turnovers of course are unexcusable but the lack of running was surprising and makes me think he has become a bit gun shy. Jake staying healthy for the long haul is the most important thing for this team but he needs to flash his wheels more on a night when things aren't working. Tough to say if that is a coaching decision or a Jake decision.
In the end of course it really isn't the play calling. It is the simple execution of running the plays that were called correctly. Washington was a couple of steps slow on both sides of the ball last night. Obviously the USC game took a lot out of them physically and mentally. The Dawgs only had so much left in the tank for this one. The minute they kicked the ball directly to Chris Owusu to start the game you knew the entire team wasn't going to exactly click on Saturday night.
When games like this happen, and they will continue to happen until Washington upgrades its overall talent base, it is simply time to regroup, watch film, and prepare to fight a better battle the next weekend. Most of us would have been thrilled in the pre-season to be 2-2 at this point. This team still has a good chance to win four more games this season and become bowl eligible.
Bad Stat of the Week
The weekly NCAA stats released Sunday had UW ranked last in the Pac-10 and 106th in the nation in run defense, allowing 195.75 yards per game and 5.8 per attempt.
Quote of the Week
"It's hard because you need more bodies, but you've got to play with what you have," Holt said. "So we've got to get what we have better because we can't make new ones. It's hard to see where the breakdown was all the time. But we just got blocked and stayed blocked and didn't do a very good job up front. The front four and the linebackers are getting blocked, and it starts up front."
Second best quote of the Week
"We needed to help our defense more and keep them off the field and we weren't able to that tonight,"
Ancient quote of the Week
“I don’t miss football. Sleep comes easily now, and I get up when I choose. The pressure, and it was terrific, is gone now. Sometimes I think football has gotten out of hand. I prefer the old-fashioned way when the game was played not so much for the gate receipts, but for itself.” ---- Gil Dobie
Around the Pac Ten
Parity is the Pac 10 Conference keyword this week. Anyone can beat anyone on a given week. No game was more surprising than Oregon's domination of California at Autzen Stadium. The Bears were exposed big time in this one. we all knew it had the makings of a trap game but nobody predicted domination.
It has been a long time since a two or three loss team won the conference but this could be that type of year. Home field advantage is going to be a deciding factor in a lot of games this season.
Oregon 42 California 3
Jeremiah Masoli threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon's 42-3 upset of sixth-ranked California on Saturday. He completed 21 of 25 passes for the Ducks who had 524 yards in total offense! The former Heisman front runner Jahvid Best was held to only 55 yards and the Duck defense only allowed the Bears 206 total yards.
Georgia 20 Arizona State 17
The Bulldogs appeared headed for an easy one, racing to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, but they committed three turnovers after halftime, two of which led to touchdowns for Arizona State. The Sun Devils led 17-14 heading to the fourth quarter after Jarrell Holman returned an interception 47 yards for a score. With the score tied at 17 Georgia blocked an ASU FG attempt which would have given the Sun Devils the lead with 5:30 remaining. Georgia drove back down the field and Blair Walsh kicked a 37-yard field goal for the Bulldogs as time ran out.
Arizona 37 Oregon State 32
Nick Foles passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns in his first start and the Arizona Wildcats shrugged off the loss of leading rusher Nic Grigsby to beat Oregon State 37-32 Saturday in the Pac-10 opener for both teams. Two turnovers for the Beavers ended up being the deciding factor in the game on offense. Defensively OSU couldn't stop a team with a new starting QB stripped of its two best complimentary tools. The Beavers are 109th in the country in passing defense.
USC 27 Washington State 6
Matt Barkley threw two long touchdown passes in 9 seconds during the first quarter on the way to 247 yards passing, and USC rebounded from its latest upset loss with a 27-6 win over Washington State. I don't think anyone in LA would have been happy with less than 40 points. The whispering about the Trojan offense wil continue another week.
Pac 10 Power Ratings
1.Stanford...The Cardinal are on top of the conference standings and the way they dominated Washington indicates they will be hanging around there the rest of the season. They have too many holes to run the slate but if teams can't slow down their running attack they are going to lose to these guys. Up next is UCLA at home. Can they draw 40,000 next week?
2. USC...The Trojans have some problems on offense and most of us were surprised by the low score of the WSU game. USC still has the best overall talent in the conference but they may lose a few more games this season. Next up is Cal on the road in a game that has lost some of its early season luster. We are talking must win for both schools.
3. Oregon...Who saw this one coming? Everyone had the Ducks ranked near the bottom of the conference till this weeks dominating win over California. The Ducks seemed to put it all together on both sides of the ball for the first time this season which is bad news for conference opponents. They have an exhibition game at home this week against WSU.
4. Arizona...Nice way to bounce back on the road after a tough loss in the Midwest. No way on paper the Wildcats win this game but they did. Oregon State made Nick Foles look like a Heisman candidate. The Widcats get a week off to prepare for a key game on the road against Washington.
5. California...Nobody saw this coming but I haven't been impressed with Cal's QB play or their defense. The Ducks stopped Jahvid Best and the Bears folded like an accordion. Cal has to avoid falling into an emotional slide that has plauged them the last couple of years. They get USC at home this weekend. Win it and they can salvage the season. Lose it and that emotional slide may be tough to prevent.
6. Washington...One week you are on top of the college football world and the next week you are back in the proverbial toilet. There will be better days for the Huskies. Fans have to keep in mind that there is a lot of parity in the conference this season. Washington isn't is bad as they looked on Saturday and they aren't as good as they looked like against USC. Next up is a Notre Dame team that is struggling but still finding a way to win games. Will Charlie Weis be smart enough to run the ball 40 times?
7. Arizona State...We found out that the Sun Devils can go on the road and compete in a big game against an intersectional rival. Beating that rival is a completely different thing. A blocked field goal kept ASU from pulling off an upset. Lets see how they do against Oregon State before we start moving them back into the first division.
8. UCLA...The Bruins had a bye this week while waiting to get beaten by Stanford this upcoming weekend.
9. Oregon State...Allowing Arizona to score 37 points on you at home is proof that the Beavers are rebuilding and not reloading on defense. Up next is ASU in Tempe. The Beaver offense needs to stop making mistakes and the defense simply has to start stopping someone.
10. Washington State...Holding the Trojans to under 30 points at home is a moral victory. The Coug's face Oregon next in Autzen in a season that should be named the Trail of Tears.
Pac Ten Offensive Player of the Week
TE Ed Dickson from Oregon - Dickson caught 11 passes for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Pac Ten Defensive Player of the Week
The entire Oregon defense for holding Cal to only three points.
Husky Offensive Player of the Week
Jermaine Kearse continues to make clutch catches in an otherwise uninspired game for the Washington offense.
Husky Defensive Player of the Week
This is a real tough one. I think we will pass until next week. Chances are it was not one of the defensive lineman.