Poor Buffs fans - their team has been so bad this year that it's not enough to just beat them; no, teams are expected to win by several scores, and even a game that might normally be described as a "blowout" can be subject to grumbling by fans of the opponents if the win isn't humiliating enough for Colorado. Such was the case yesterday for some Husky fans, as a 38-3 win still sparked grumbling when the Huskies led just 7-0 at halftime.
It would appear that the road demons for the Huskies weren't completely purged heading into yesterday as they once again staggered through a sloppy and mistake-filled 1st half of play, at least on the offensive side of the ball. But a fired-up Sark dressed-down the team at halftime and they came out in the 2nd half and made quick work of Colorado. With one more road game on the docket for the regular season, Sark had better hope he's figured out how to get his team ready to play in hostile territory from the opening whistle. On to the grades!
QB: This was another slow start for Keith Price as he had some misfires early on and wasn't in a good rhythm. He missed a wide-open Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone in the 1st quarter and overthrew Kasen Williams long. But he started to pick up his play in the 2nd quarter, and after Sark got in his ear at halftime he got into a really good groove in the 2nd half and finished with a career-high 5 TD passes (which tied a school record shared by Chris Rowland and Jake Locker). He was efficient, finishing 22-29 (75.9%) with no picks, and threw for 248 yards. He stepped inside pressure to buy time and made a great throw while getting hit to put the ball where ASJ could reach it for a TD in the 4th quarter. He also had a terrific play in the 3rd quarter, flipping the ball out to Bishop Sankey just before getting sacked and getting 12 yards in the process. Considering the level of competition, it wasn't quite vintage 2011 KP, but it was another good game for him as he continues to rebound from a tough 1st half of the season. Grade: B+
RB: While Sankey didn't have a monster game as some might have expected given Colorado's defense and the roll he's been on of late, he still picked up 139 yards on 23 carries (6.0 ypc) and added 4 catches for 48 yards. He's not just a strong workhorse runner - he's become a dependable outlet option in the passing game. I think his vision wasn't as good as I've seen it lately in this game, but he also wasn't getting the holes I expected from his OL either, but that's kind of nit-picking when you notch your 3rd consecutive 100+ yard game. Kendyl Taylor had his best game so far as a RB, adding 78 yards on 9 carries (8.7 ypc), including a 44 yarder in the 4th quarter, and recorded his first TD as a Husky on a nice swing pass that he took 23 yards into the end zone. Grade: A-
WR/TE: Not only did Price throw 5 TD passes, each one went to a different receiver. That speaks not only to his ability to distribute the ball yesterday, but the continued growth of the receiving group. It was Kasen's turn to lead the way as ASJ had a relatively quiet game, but we saw another nice game for Jaydon Mickens and DiAndre Campbell, another catch for Evan Hudson has he's squarely claimed the #2 TE position and the first career TD for RS-Sr. Cody Bruns as he caps off a challenging career at the UW with what has to be considered a pretty satisfying ending. It should also be noted that the WR group deserves a lot of credit for the success of the outside running game - Kasen did some good work out there. Grade: A-
OL: For those of us hoping to see a dominant ground game yesterday, the play of the OL came as a slight disappointment. They did well enough obviously, but given how bad Colorado has been all year, it wasn't anything special. They struggled at times to open holes for Sankey, and the rushing numbers were right in line with the average Buff opponent. Pass protection remains an issue as the Buffs recorded a couple of sacks and flushed Price multiple times. It wasn't a bad performance, but given the opponent, there was definitely room for improvement. Grade: C+
DL: This was good showing from a beat-up crew. RB Christian Powell was bottled up most of the game, and often it was the DL plugging gaps and shedding blocks to make the play. Josh Shirley had arguably his best game of the season recording 2 sacks, including the one that forced a fumble that ASJ recovered. Danny Shelton and Semisi Tokolahi didn't light up the stat sheet, but they did good work inside and I saw some flashes from Sione Potoa'e and a solid game for Andrew Hudson. Hopefully they can keep up the momentum next week against a patchwork WSU OL. Grade: A-
LB: You have to love what Travis Feeney is bringing to the position. He was all over the field yesterday, showing off his aggression and athleticism. He could be a real force for this defense before he graduates. Timu was solid too, rarely out of position and wrapping up well. Shaq Thompson showed off his DB skills with a nice jump ball interception early in the game. He and Feeney promise to give the UW two of the most athletic and promising OLB's in the conference in the coming years, and Timu is looking better and better in the middle. Grade: A
Secondary: Another week, another outstanding performance by this crew, and this time without the services of stud CB Desmond Trufant, sitting out as a precaution to ensure he'll be ready to go next week. Marcus Peters and Greg Ducre picked up the slack with excellent coverage and the safeties - Sean Parker, Justin Glenn & Will Shamburger - were excellent in run support too. Again, I hesitate to go overboard in praise given the quality of the opponent - this wasn't West Virginia or Oklahoma State's passing game they totally shut down - but it was a really strong game by them, and bodes well for next week's match-up with the Mike Leach Air Raid attack for WSU. Grade: A
Special Teams: Similar to last week, the special teams play was mediocre in general, as Colorado was winning (slightly) the field position competition and Coons missed what should have been a near automatic 31-yard FG attempt. But a huge play by Kevin Smith on a punt in the 3rd quarter sparked the Huskies as he showed off his basketball background to make an incredible save at the sidelines and keep in play a muffed ball that Will Shamburger was able to secure for a fumble recovery. A heady and athletic play for Smith. Grade: B+
Coaching: A tale to two halves - the Huskies came out (yet again) sloppy in the first half in a road game, and according to Coach Sark they didn't have the energy needed. This has to fall on the coaching staff, and is something they have to figure out to give them a chance when playing strong teams on the road. And then in the 2nd half, they put everything together, so credit the staff for pushing the right buttons at halftime to get things turned-around. I can quibble a bit with Sark's play-calling - I thought he got a little too cute at times and didn't show the faith in the running game he should have, but it's still up to the players to execute. I was more troubled by the continuing trend of costly penalties. I know the conference is flag-happy this year and the Huskies have had their share of questionable and downright bad calls against them, but they are simply making too many stupid mistakes, and that falls on the staff. I'd be remiss though if I didn't also praise the defensive staff and note how well they shut down Colorado - even considering how bad the Buffs are, the numbers they posted yesterday are well-below their season averages on offense. Grade: B