if you are an old timer or at least have access to some old game film you could have sworn that Jake Locker channeled the spirit of Husky Hall of Fame QB Bob Schloredt last night. Jake was responsible for 90% of Washington's offense on a night when mistakes seemed to have Washington headed for certain defeat. This won't go down as Jakes best game of his career but it just might be the most important. He made the plays when it counted as Washington scored 36 points last night and only entered the red zone once.
Chris Polk was dinged up early when apparently his shoulder popped out of place. He returned to the game and finished with only 34 total yards against the toughest rushing defense in the Pac 10. What limited his production more than anything was the fact that Washington only had had the ball around 20 minutes last night and Jake Locker carried the load from beginning to end. Demetrius Bronson had his first extended action of the season because Johri Fogerson was out with the flu. Paul Homer didn't have carry or a reception but he had a great game making block after block.
Grade C plus
Jake Locker was on target most of the night but I counted at least three drops that would have resulted in big plays. James Johnson was mysteriously absent. He met up with some tough hombre's at CB. Devin Aguilar was last nights star with two big TD catches.
Grade C Plus
Kavario Middleton continues to impress with his pass catching ability. Chris Izbicki also made an important catch. Four catches out of this group and a clutch TD catch by Middleton in the fourth quarter wipes out whatever inconsistencies the unit is having blocking
Grade B Plus
Arizona pretty much shut everything down last night other than Jake Locker. To be fair Arizona also controlled the ball on offense all night which limited what the Huskies could do with the ball. Overall they couldn't get much blocked against a very good Arizona front seven. Greg Christine is likely out for the season with a broken fibula. That means Nick Wood is the the new starter at OG. Depth could be a problem going down the line. Cozzetto needs to get a couple more players ready for the rotation. Keep an eye on Senio Kelemete...he he keeps geting better.
Darrion Jones had his best night as a Husky but Washington still could not get enough pressure on Nick Foles. They did however shut down the Arizona running game for most of the night. That factor limited Arizona to four FG's on five red zone drives. In retrospect that was the difference in this game. Daniel Teo Nesheim had a good game this evening and a crucial sack on the final drive that prevented Arizona from driving into FG range to send the game to overtime. Everrette Thompson continues to make an impact on the inside. We will see more of him there with Jones healthy on the outside. Alameda Ta'amu continues to struggle and it makes you think that perhaps he should move over to the offensive side of things this spring because he doesn't seem to have the speed to be effective in this defense.
Donald Butler and Mason Foster were monsters out there all night. When a defense is out on the field for fourty minutes bad things happen but when it mattered these guys made big plays. None was bigger than Mason Foster's interception and touchdown return. EJ Savannah returned to the game and had a solid night. Stopping the run is what gave Washington a chance to win this one. The linebacking trio were instrumental in helping do that.
Grade B plus
When a QB starting only his second game torches you for over 350 yards it is easy to get on the secondary for their perfomance. What most people don't factor in was the absence of pressure on the QB by the defensive line. Another thing they aren't factoring in was the coaching staff's inability to adjust to a bubble screen that tore Washington up for most of the second half. Victor Aiyewa had some nice hits out there but a silly personal foul kept an Arizona drive going and changed the complexion of the game. That drive gave Arizona a lot of confidence. Greg Walker was improved but an Arizona TD pass went right through his hands on the goal line. A little bit of adjustment and that should have been batted down or intercepted. Nate Fellner showed why the Husky coaches have so much confidence in him. He had a solid debut. Desmond Trufant is just money. He is the best looking UW CB I have seen in over a decade. Quinton Richardson struggled again but had a great open field tackle which prevented a game changing gain. I would actually like to grade these guys higher because a lot of things happened that were out of their control such as depth, alignment, and pass rush.
Will Mahan's muff of a snap was a disaster for Washington in the third quarter.A dropped kick off and poor coverage were all part of a nightmare scenario that started in the third quarter. As Steve Sarkisian said maybe my half time speech wasn't that good. Washington somehow survived the ugly third quarter. Excluding the third quarter the Huskies improved in a lot of area's. The kick coverage was the best we have seen in some time. We even were able to generate better yardage in the return game which helped out an offense that needed all the help it could get. If you take away the third quarter it was the best UW has been all year in special teams. Paul Homer's 17 yard return was one of the bigger plays of the game.
Grade C Minus
Nick Holt failed to adjust to the bubble screen last night. Only on the last series did the Husky LB's take chances on their own to stop it. Mark that down as savvy play for Foster and Butler and not an adjustment by the coaching staff. Steve Sarkisian's play calling wasn't great in the third quarter. He came out and called three long passes which were shades of Willingham and Lappano. That three and out series was a big part of a disastorous third quarter which almost cost Washington the game.
"We were limited in the secondary coming into the game," Sarkisian said. "It was pretty evident with Nate Williams being out and Justin Glenn being out. So we had a hard time getting into some nickel and dime packages. We ended up having to play base defense versus them and they were going to four-wide sets, so they knew we were in zone defense. We obviously couldn't play man-to-man with 'backers on wideouts. It presented a huge challenge for us to be able to deploy everybody to cover down on everything."
On the positive side Sarkisan unleashed Jake Locker from the onset. The scouting report said Arizona had problems with mobile QB's and Sark didn't ignore it. While we criticize the early calls in the third quarter his decision to unleash Jake tonight is a big part of the victory.
I was surprised that UW elected not to go with an onsides kick after the Locker to Middleton TD pass. We hadn't stopped Arizona on defense all night so like an Oregon game a few years ago it seemed the defense didn't have much left in the tank. That gutty call and confidence in his defense helped win the game.
Whenever you win a big game like this you deserve an A. Lets face it...Arizona was the better team,,,they had more tools...but this team found a way to win because they never gave up.
Grade A Minus