I’m not sure what was pounding harder: the Seattle rain against the Husky Stadium turf or the banging of big UW lineman against the overmatched Coug lines of scrimmage. Regardless, the Huskies laid on a beating for the ages against Mike Leach and his Washington State Cougars and won the 110th Apple Cup 41-14.
It was physical domination on both sides of the ball all night long. The UW defensive line was particularly effective in regularly mounting pressure off of three and four man rushes out of the Huskies’ dime package. WSU refused to run the ball and QB Luke Falk had nowhere to go with the ball most of the night. The all-time leading passer in conference history finished the night just 38-56 for 371 yards (6.6 ypa), 1 TD and 3 INTs.
Offensively, UW emphasized power and the run game. RB Myles Gaskin had an excellent game exploiting the holes that UW’s offensive line and two tight end sets regular blew open against the so-called #SpeedD of WSU. Washington had 181 yards and 3 TDs out of the rushing attack in the first half alone. They would finish with 303 yards and 5 TDs for the game. WSU had averaged less than 130 yards per game rushing surrendered all season.
It wasn’t all great for UW. The snake-bitten Huskies suffered key injuries to seniors Dante Pettis and Lavon Coleman early in the first quarter. Those injuries opened the door for younger players WR Ty Jones and RB Salvon Ahmed to get more snaps in the normal offense. Both ended up having their best games as Huskies.
David Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal are the indirect beneficiaries of UW’s win tonight. They will now go on to play USC in the PAC 12 Championship. Both WSU and UW are bowl eligible and will have their post season fates decided in a little over a week.
The Huskies close out their regular season with their second straight 10+win campaign. It is only the fourth time in the history of the program that they’ve had consecutive double-digit win seasons and the first time since the 1990 and 1991 seasons. UW has never had three such seasons in a row.
Earlier in the day, I posted a commentary on the duality of the Apple Cup and what tonight’s game could mean to UW. Needless to say, I’m satisfied that order has been restored to the chaotic universe and that all is right with the world. Thank God for that.
RB Myles Gaskin (25 rushes, 192 yards, 4 TDs)
DL Vita Vea (2 tckls, .5 sack, .5 TFL, countless line disruptions)
CB Byron Murphy (5 tackles, 3 PBUs)
S Zeke Turner (6 tackles, 1 INT)
LB Ben Burr-Kirven (7 tackles, 1 INT)
Offensive Line (honorable distinction: Coleman Shelton)
TE Will Dissly (just a bunch of bad-ass blocking)
RB Salvon Ahmed (8 rushes, 80 yards, 1 catch, 10 yards)
Let’s chew on some dots.
Apple Cup Dots
- Happy Bob Rondeau day! By official proclamation, November 25th was so designated in honor of Bob Rondeau’s last time calling an Apple Cup.
- And a tip of the cap to all of UW’s seniors. It was tough seeing both Pettis and Coleman go down. But it was equally as rewarding to see RB Ralph Kinne get in there at the end and to whip off a couple of nice looking runs. This senior class was the centerpiece of the UW rebuild and own a special place in the heart of UW fans.
- It’s hard to understate just how dominating UW was in the first half when the game was effectively decided. The defense had four sacks, forced three turnovers and had forced WSU into a negative 3 yards per rush attempt. Offensively, they averaged over seven yards a rush on 25 attempts and ran 39 plays to WSU’s 27.
- All the chatter coming into the game was how good Hercules Mata’afa was and how much damage he was going to do to the UW offense. How fitting that the most overrated PAC 12 DPOY candidate of the season didn’t get his name called until he was thrown out of the game for a brutal targeting against Jake Browning in the third quarter.
- We just haven’t talked enough about Ryan Bowman this year. He, again, made the most of his snaps including an early, momentum-establishing sack on Falk in the first quarter.
- Speaking of which, UW was able to generate remarkable pressure out of base three and four man rushes most of the night. It was a classic Pete Kwiatkowski outside in gameplan and really put into the focus the huge advantage that UW’s d-ilne has over most offensive lines in the PAC. Vita Vea was particularly dominating, typically taking on WSU’s left guard and tackle.
Have not seen a D-lineman like #Washington’s Vita Vea in person this year. It’s amazing to see a 340-pound man who can move like this. he’s absolutely abusing these Wazzu OLs.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 26, 2017
- I don’t think UW ran its first blitz until the second quarter after UW had pinned WSU against their one yard line. Of course, Falk burned it with a chunk pass play to Tavares Martin. It was a while before we saw the second one. In fact, I can’t even recall the next one until LB Keishawn Bierria blitzed late in the fourth.
- JoJo McIntosh’s first quarter interception of Luke Falk not only killed what was one of WSU’s best drives of the game, but it sustained a lesser known streak. UW has not allowed WSU a first quarter touchdown in any Apple Cup during the Mike Leach era.
- Salvon Ahmed is really good. He has a way of “getting skinny” and then blowing past would-be tacklers.
- Ty Jones had his most productive day as a UW receiver both in terms of receptions and targets. He also had a nice recovery on WSU’s onside kick attempt. Get used to seeing Jake Browning throwing the back-shoulder route to Jones ... it’ll be a staple next year for the one UW receiver with the kind of catch radius to make that an effective play.
- I wonder if Mike Leach will ever learn that he’s got to be able to run the ball against a defense that only puts three men on the line and drops eight into coverage. The Cougs only ran the ball out of a handoff four times in the game. One of those resulted in WSU’s only touchdown of the game.
- If you were one of those UW fans worried about the secondary after two rough weeks in a row, I’m guessing that this game answered some questions. Granted, UW played most of the night with six DBs in the game. But they had very little trouble executing their defense as a unit or in dealing with one-on-one matchups against Coug receivers. The safeties - McIntosh and Turner - really popped while Myles Bryant seemed to be everywhere out of his nickel position.
- UW is really going to miss Luke Falk. The Huskies have picked Falk off eight times over his WSU career including three tonight. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I do believe that is a UW record against any single opposing QB.
- How classless is Mike Leach? The WSU head coach decided to burn his timeouts at the end of a decided game in order to do what, exactly, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted to embarrass his players a little more by giving them another possession. That had the net effect of giving the media types more air time to burn talking about how great UW is. Great strategy coach.
- ... and, how about a tip of the rain-soaked cap to kicker Tristan Vizcaino. The senior set a season-high with a 44 yarder in the first half that not only split the uprights right down the middle but would have likely been good from 54 yards. He’s had a rough go to the season, but it was good to see him come out of it on a high note.
That’s all I’ve got for tonight. Go and be nice to some Cougs tonight. I think they might need a hug.