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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 3, 2009 at 10:23 PM

Grading the game

As I’m writing this up, finally at our Indianapolis hotel, I’m watching Idaho play tough with Colorado State. And if the Vandals hold on, consider this — UW’s five opponents would be 21-4.
Another of the numbers that prove that while the loss today was painful, the big picture is much brighter than it has been in years.
On to the grades:
QUARTERBACK: Jake Locker took this loss as hard as any in his career, asking not to speak to the media afterward and being among the first out of the locker room and heading to the bus. Chris Polk said it was because Locker felt as if he personally cost the team the game. The numbers don’t bear that out. Locker was 22-40 for 281 yards with at least three passes dropped. He also ran a season-high 16 times for 33 yards (including three sacks and all those sneaks). He had the fumble in the first half, and he didn’t convert on a few of those sneaks. And what the coaches may conclude was his biggest error of the night was not throwing the ball away on the second-down sack in overtime. But this loss was hardly all on Locker. GRADE: B.
RUNNING BACK: Polk continues to impress, turning in his best performance as a Husky both statistically and artistically. Hard to believe now there were ever questions whether Polk could be a tough runner. And he’s now made it through a stretch of five pretty rugged games and shows no signs of slowing down. Johri Fogerson had a penalty but also caught a couple of passes. Otherwise, once again no other TBs saw any action. GRADE: A-minus.
RECEIVERS: Mostly good as the Huskies made some key plays — the two long catches before halftime, James Johnson’s catch to set up the tying field goal, Kavario Middleton’s on fourth down on the drive that put UW up five late among those that come to mind. But there were also a few drops, notably Jermaine Kearse’s in overtime that bring the grade down a little bit. Overall, though, Kearse had a big day with a career-high eight catches for a career-high 94 yards, on the field almost all the time after he was on the sidelines a bit more than expected last week. Only four WRs saw action and it was mostly Kearse, Johnson and D’Andre Goodwin with Devin Aguilar still out. GRADE: B.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Interesting move on the line in this game that will end up getting a little overlooked as Nick Wood played the second half at left guard in place of Greg Christine. Wood actually came in for good on the last possession of the first half, and from that point on the offense moved better — UW had 289 yards after halftime. Unfortunately, the line couldn’t win a few mano a mano battles when it really mattered on all of those goal line plays. You can debate how a few of those unfolded — the call itself and whether UW plays were in the end zone. But there were enough attempts there that the line had chances to just blow the Irish off the line and leave no doubt, which unfortunately for the Huskies didn’t happen. GRADE: C. (Whoops, this was the grade intended),
DEFENSIVE LINE: A week after there was much concern over UW’s run defense the Huskies stiffened considerably, holding Notre Dame to just 108 yards and 3.7 per carry. Unfortunately, the pass rush troubles continued as the Huskies rarely were able to get much pressure with a four-man rush, often bringing Mason Foster or another LB or defensive back. Even that only worked periodically as Jimmy Clausen often had all day to throw. Effort certainly wasn’t the issue, and the coaches also again tried a lot of different combinations — De’Shon Matthews saw some of his most significant action and finished with two tackles. But overall, just not enough production in this area. GRADE: C.
LINEBACKERS: A better game from this group this week despite the absence of E.J. Savannah as replacement Cort Dennison tied for the team lead in tackles with eight, Donald Butler had an interception and Foster, as noted, was as effective as anyone providing pressure on Clausen. Josh Gage also had some good moments and looks improved from a year ago. And the run defense, as noted above, was better this week. GRADE: B.
SECONDARY: A mixed bag. Desmond Trufant lived up to the prediction of Nick Holt earlier in the week that he simply hoped everyone on the defense would play as well as he would. Trufant had the TD on the lateral, two pass breakups and a tackle for a loss. But anytime the defense allows 422 yards there are issues in the secondary. There was some shoddy tackling on a few of the long catches by Golden Tate, admittedly one of the tougher receivers in the nation to corral in the open field, and too many open receivers. Fair to say, however, that it’s hard to blame Quinton Richardson too much for the tying touchdown since that’s simply a matchup UW had no answer for against a 6-foot-6 tight end. Also fair to note that UW played much of the second half with two backup safeties with Justin Glenn out for likely quite a while with a broken fibula and Nate Williams with a concussion. The play of the secondary, and the injury to Glenn, definitely raise some issues going forward, though ND is probably the best passing team the Huskies will face all season. GRADE: C.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Huskies tried something new to get some better kickoff returns, installing walk-on RB Cole Sager as an up back to add some blocking. It worked a little bit as there were a couple of decent returns early. But Notre Dame won the kickoff battle overall, if slightly (though worth noting two tackles for Nathan Fellner on the KO team). No punt returns for either team. And spotless FG kicking for both teams. Erik Folk hit the big FG at the end of regulation and made 3-3 on the day and is now 9-10 for the season, further answering any questions there were about him in that department. GRADE: B.
COACHING: Sure, you can question some of the play-calling of those goal-line situations. The big picture is that Sarkisian and staff have done a good enough job that there were even goal-line situations worth debating afterward instead of a decisive loss, as many anticipated going in and definitely would have been predicting two months ago. You could also maybe debate going for it on the fourth-and-one in the third quarter when the Huskies were up five — an FG would have put them up eight. But going for it fits with Sarkisian’s “aggressive” mantra that has helped the team immesurably. And when the dust clears on this one, the big picture will re-emerge that this program is headed in the right direction. Also, don’t discount the job they did in getting the players turned back around after the disappointing loss a week ago. GRADE: B-plus.



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