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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 23, 2006 at 10:13 PM

An even bigger win

A week ago, we were calling the Fresno State win a big one. This, obviously, is even bigger.
How the Huskies got it is just as big. Sure, there are all kinds of things to nitpick at — the rushing game, the special-teams gaffes, lack of a pass rush, etc.
But this team is showing an amazing gumption to figure out how to get it done even when things aren’t going right. The last time we’ve seen that around here was in the 2000-2001 seasons, also the last time there was really anything worth getting excited about.
“This is a whole different team from those other teams,” said UW quarterback Isaiah Stanback. “The past doesn’t matter and it was up to us to change that.”
To me, the key to the game was the defensive play in the first half in not letting the Bruins score touchdowns all those times they got close.
In fact, the biggest play of the game might have been the corner blitz by Roy Lewis that resulted in an 8-yard sack after Stanback had lost a fumble with UW down 16-0. That moved UCLA out of field position and the Huskies then responded with the 92-yard drive before halftime that got them back in the game.
Some other thoughts:
— This was the first time all year the Huskies won the second half, outscoring UCLA 22-3. Maybe that means the coaches are beginning to have a better understanding of their personnel and what it can do.
— Sure, the Huskies couldn’t run. But the ability to figure out a way to win anyway says a lot. A mark of a good team is being able to find another way to move the ball when the opponent focuses on shutting down one specific thing.
— As I wrote earlier, my biggest miscalculation was Ben Olson. He didn’t look very confident at all in what was his first career road start, and the UCLA coaches seemed to have no confidence in letting him do much of anything.
— The UW defense held UCLA to 4 of 16 on third-down conversions. That’s a huge improvement from a year ago when the Huskies had so much trouble getting off the field.
— Stanback’s three TD passes were a career high and more proof that he is becoming an all-around quarterback. These are easily the two best games he’s played back-to-back as a Husky.
— UW had just three penalties, and having few penalties is something that has always been a trademark of Willingham teams, which seems more proof of how the players are buying into his system.
— Now all the Huskies have to do to get a bowl bid is win their three remaining home games against Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon State. And after today, that seems very reasonable.

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