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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 16, 2006 at 9:35 PM

Finally, a big win

OK, so it is just Fresno State. And a slumping Fresno State team at that.
The Bulldogs have now lost six of seven dating to last season, which might have been why Pat Hill could be heard screaming at his team afterward. Reporters walking by on their way to the interview room could hear Hill yelling loudly “third-and-18” — an obvious reference to the third-and-19 play the Huskies converted on their first touchdown drive.
But anyone reading this understands the overall importance of this win and what it could mean for Washington.
The Huskies now host a beatable UCLA team, then play at an Arizona team last seen struggling to beat Stephen F.Austin. Throw in home games against struggling Stanford and Oregon State and that could be six wins and — dare we say it? — a bowl game right there.
The Huskies won today the way they are going to have to win — error-free on offense, solid on defense, with a big special-teams play thrown in.
If the Huskies had lost just one turnover, hadn’t gotten the big special-teams break late, or let Dwayne Wright really run wild, they would have lost.
But they played smart football most of the day — only four penalties, for instance — and other than the first drives of both halves, seemed to bring the intensity needed to win a game like this.
There are almost always things to pick at, and this game is no exception. The five dropped passes were killers, the tackling was shoddy at times, and the running game has to be better.
The running game, however, can be excused partly as a result of Fresno State’s defensive plan. As offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said, the Bulldogs wanted to gang up on the run and make Isaiah Stanback beat them throwing the ball. “And he did,” Lappano said.
Still, that’s a scheme the Huskies are likely to see a lot as long as they continue to struggle to make a lot of big plays in the passing game. They had only one pass play longer than 15 yards all game. They are going to have hit some deep passes at some point to loosen things up.
Defensively, the secondary looked a lot better, and maybe it was because of a subtle coaching change. Secondary coach J.D. Williams coached from the sideline instead of up in the press box to be closer to his players.
But another good sign is that the Huskies apparently suffered only one injury — linebacker E.J. Savannah suffered a thumb injury of unknown severity. CB Dashon Goldson sat the game out, and the good news is that he got a week off while Mesphin Forrester got some confidence by making that big interception at the end. Forrester was in the game because Goldson couldn’t be.
Jason Wells also played his best game as a Husky with nine tackles, including one big hit on special teams.
Was this truly the turning point for the UW program? We obviously won’t really know for a few weeks. What we do know is that a loss would have meant any turning point likley would still be a ways away.

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