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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 24, 2007 at 10:00 PM

Grading the game

My early game story is here if you want the details of what happened today. (More stories with quotes and other details will be posted a little later, but that means I’ll save a lot of the notes and quotes and all that for then and not repeat it here).
Still, the general theme from the UW side after this one should be pretty obvious — complete and utter disappointment.
“It sucks, man,” said UW defensive tackle Jordan Reffett, who had sounded so confident of victory earlier in the week. “There’s nothing else I can really say.”
UW coaches and players pointed to a few mixups on the final WSU TD. One person theorized that the Huskies had called a defensive audible based on how WSU was lined up but that not everyone had heard it, though no player or coach confirmed that.
“I think it might have been a miscommunication,” said linebacker E.J. Savannah. “I don’t think someone played it right but that’s just one play and a game is not decided by one play. But it just came down to that, though.”
The defense is obviously where the Huskies will get the bulk of their criticism after this one as the Huskies allowed 509 total yards making this the fifth time this season UW has allowed 500 or more yards in a game.
UW is allowing 438.8 yards per game for the season and almost assured now of setting a school record — the previous is 419 in 2005, the first season for Tyrone Willingham as head coach and Kent Baer as defensive coordinator.
Asked bluntly afterward if he thinks his staff is capable of putting together good defensive game plans, Willingham said “Yes, I think we can” then saying that the team had to do a better job of taking advantage of opportunities to create turnovers. “We’ve got to do a better job as coaches of helping our guys; our guys have to do a better job of trying to create and make those plays when we have the opportunity to make them.”
Much of what Baer said is being handled by columnist Jerry Brewer so I’ll not repeat that here and you can check for it online in a little while.
With that preamble, here are the grades:
QUARTERBACK: UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano launched into a hearty defense of Jake Locker afterward from reporters asking about Locker’s accuracy issues. His point was that Locker did so much to keep the Huskies in the game that he should be excused for a few bad throws, especially considering he hadn’t played last week or practiced at all the week before. Willingham said that “when it got tough, he dug in and did absolutely the best that he could.” Obviously, his running was out of this world tonight and he finally set the Pac-10 record for rushing yards by a QB —- he has 910 for the season. And while 12-35 sounds bad, at least six of his throws were dropped — a somewhat ominous note heading into the future considering five senior WRs will graduate off this group. Also, both of his interceptions come with asterisks — one bounced off Michael
and should have been caught, and the other came on the last play of the game I’m siding with Lappano on this one. I thought Locker played a really good game, docking him slightly for some of the missed throws. GRADE: B-plus.
RUNNING BACK: The Cougars obviously decided to stop the run to force Locker to throw, and used a lot of run blitzes designed to contain Louis Rankin. It worked quite a bit as Rankin had the kind of game he’s had a lot this season — 72 yards on 23 carries, 3.1 per carry. Brandon Johnson fell back to earth, as well, with seven yards on four carries. Luke Kravitz had some good short-yardage runs. GRADE: B.
WIDE RECEIVER: Anthony Russo had a decent game with 101 yards and Marcel Reece had one big TD catch. But there were at least six drops and Corey Williams had a critical fumble. The Gottlieb drop that turned into a pick also was crucial, changing the momentum hugely at the time. The receivers also had trouble getting open at some key times against a secondary that really isn’t all that great. GRADE: C-minus.
OFFENSIVE LINE: After looking so dominating against Cal the line didn’t get quite the same kind of push against a WSU defense that came into game ranked eighth in the conference. UW had 90 yards on 31 carries from the running backs and the Huskies didn’t seem to know where the blitz was coming from a lot of the time. Still, the line also did enough to put up 35 points, which normally would be enough to win a game. GRADE: B.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Daniel Te’o-Nesheim played a real nice game with nine tackles, four for a loss, and two sacks. But outside of that, it was a spotty effort as the Huskies often gave Alex Brink all day to throw and after shutting down WSU’s run early, Christopher Ivory ended up as the leading rusher in the game with 114 yards. Jordan Reffett and Greyson Gunheim combined for just four tackles — two each. GRADE: C-minus.
LINEBACKERS: E.J. Savannah led all tacklers with 11, but also seemed out of position at times. The LBs also didn’t make any really big plays, unlike WSU’s Andy Mattingly, who was the best LB on the field throughout the game. Mattingly, with three passes broken up, an interception, and a forced fumble, turned in the kind of game that the Huskies need from one of their LBs. GRADE: C-minus.
SECONDARY: You have to give Brink a lot of credit — he is the leading career passer in the history of a school known for producing good passers. So you knew coming in that WSU would hit some big throws. Still, a lot of these seemed a bit too easy today. The secondary, like the rest of the defense, seems to play well for about a few plays, then just take a play off that results in something big for the opponent. The end result is that Brink threw for five touchdowns and didn’t throw an interception a week after throwing six picks against Oregon State. He surely played better, but he also surely wasn’t playing a defense that was as good, either. Darin Harris looks like the guilty party on the last play, but hard to tell who was supposed to cover who — if the Huskies profess that they didn’t know what was going on, I sure can’t figure it out here. GRADE: D.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Amazingly, the Huskies almost won the game here. Rankin had the long KO return to start the game, Ryan Perkins had two big FGs, Jared Ballman punted well (47.2 yards per) and kept Michael Bumpus away from doing anything, and the Huskies consistently started in good field position — which makes the loss all the more galling on their side. GRADE: A-minus.
COACHING: A week after the Huskies finally appeared headed in the right direction for good, this seemed to be a step right back to where they were. Once again, Locker ran around and did a lot of good things to keep them in it, but the offense seemed sporadic and erratic with too many mistakes and missed opportunities. And the defense obviously again showed some huge holes. The team seemed to play really hard so emotion and intensity and all that didn’t seem an issue — there didn’t appear to be any letdown from last week. But the Huskies didn’t have any answers for a Cougar offense that hadn’t been that productive in any other road game this season. And ultimately, this is a team that will finish in at least a tie for last place in what is the third year for Tyrone Willingham, who is 11-24 at UW. GRADE: C-minus.



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