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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 16, 2008 at 12:15 AM

UCLA post-game

Ultimately, after the apparently misguided hype (guilty as charged) over the return of Rick Neuheisel, it turned out to be just another game.
And another loss.
And maybe part of the problem is that the Huskies treated it as just that — another game.
In a quote handed out by the UW sports information staff after the game, UW senior tight end Michael Gottlieb said coach Tyrone Willingham told his players not to get too riled up for the game.
“Coach really didn’t want us to get too emotional,” Gottlieb said. “He wanted us to approach it like it was any other game, so I tried to choke back the emotions a little. I was a little emotional, a little sentimental, but for the most part, I just tried to approach it like it was any other game.”
Maybe the Huskies — given that they had lost 11 games in a row coming in — should have just let it rip, instead. What did they have to lose?
But evidently told to be emotionless before the game, the Huskies seemed to play emotionless during the game against a UCLA team that admitted afterward that the Neuheisel angle actually mattered a little bit to them.
“It was a great win for coach Neuheisel,” said UCLA running back Khalil Bell. “We knew it was going to be a hostile environment, but we took them out of it and got this one for coach.”
And good for the Bruins. Somebody needed to be playing for something.
While the defense looked a little more lively at times, this was as bad an offensive performance as has been seen in years.
UW gained just 135 yards, the fewest since getting 113 in a shutout at USC in 2004 (UW actually got 161 in the infamous Suddenly Senior loss to Stanford in 2006).
“We didn’t run it, throw it, tackle it, catch it or do it in a matter that would put us in a position to be successful,” Willingham said later. “We came into the game knowing that we had to produce a run game to give our offense a chance and we could not do that.”
The complete ineptitude again led some to wonder if the Huskies might have been better off not having Willingham coach these last five games.
He again defended the move, pointing out that it was the school that asked him to stay on.
“I think our team is still functioning, or tryinig to function, to be successful,” Willingham said. “I was reminded by our football team that a few years ago, they went through something very much like this. And they said the seniors quit. And I don’t think our seniors have quit. I don’t think our football team has quit. I think they’re still trying and they’re still putting forth the effort to be successful.”
All of that is debatable, as well as making Willingham slightly guilty of throwing his predecessor, Keith Gilbertson, under the bus.
The 2004 team may have gone 1-10, but it also almost won the Apple Cup against a lot better Cougar team than this year’s before losing 28-25. That team also gained 412 yards against the best Cal Bear team in the last 30 years or so two weeks after Gilbertson was fired.
So I guess I’d hate to see how bad this team would be if it weren’t still apparently playing so hard.
The preamble aside, here are the grades:
QUARTERBACK — Another horrid night for Ronnie Fouch, who took another step backward. Hard to see that this is doing him much good right now. He’s now down to 43.6 percent completion percentage for the season — Jake Locker was at 53.8 before getting hurt. GRADE: F.
RUNNING BACK Brandon Johnson started in place of the injured Terrance Dailey and was probably the best offensive player the Huskies had, running hard all night and gaining 75 yards on 20 carries. Dailey got one ill-advised carry and fumbled. GRADE: C.
RECEIVER — A really bad night in the passing game with no reception longer than 13 yards. UCLA decided to double-team D’Andre Goodwin but no one else could take advantage. Even worse news — Cody Bruns re-injured his hamstring meaning that right now, he has wasted his redshirt season for three catches and the two passes last week. GRADE: D.
OFFENSIVE LINE — A concussion to Ben Ossai in the first half caused some shuffling up front with Skyler Fancher filling in and seeing his first significant playing time, and the Bruins took advantage. They blitzed quite a bit, more than the Huskies thought, and had Fouch on the run all night. And the running game was again anemic, managing just 96 yards on 30 carries — UCLA came into the game allowing 190 per game. Another disappointing performance. GRADE: D.
DEFENSIVE LINE — Everrette Thompson got the start up front and played well, getting a sack and three tackles-for-a-loss. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim had another nice game with two sacks and Alameda Ta’amu had six tackles. And Johnie Kirton provided a lot of energy. All in all, one of the better performances up front as UCLA managed just 3.1 yards per carry. GRADE: B.
LINEBACKERS — Not a bad night here, either, other than a few missed tackles. Trenton Tuiasosopo had two big plays in the passing game — the interception and the hit that led to another one. Mason Foster led the team with 11 tackles, and two for a loss and Donald Butler also had 1.5 tackles for a loss. GRADE: B-minus.
SECONDARY — One of the better games by this unit as well with two interceptions from the secondary and for the first time all season, not a single touchdown pass allowed. Nate Williams seemed particularly active with nine tackles. GRADE: B-minus.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Nothing too harmful here — UCLA’s one long punt return came on the last play of the first half and didn’t result in anything. The Huskies again got a long return, this one from Quinton Richardson. And Jared Ballman had one of his better days punting. A second straight week with a performance in this area that was mostly a plus. GRADE: B-plus.
COACHING — The team showed a little spark early on. But this was another second-half collapse, and right now, this is bordering on one of the worst offenses in team history — UW is averaging 263.5 yards per game, the lowest since 1967. And as mentioned above, maybe Willingham should let the Huskies get a little emotional for once. Hard to see how it could make things worse. GRADE: F.

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