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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 3, 2010 at 5:11 AM

Grading the game

It didn’t take long until the question emerged in the press corps — how big a win was that for the Huskies Saturday?
The biggest since the last time UW won a game in Los Angeles, the 2001 Rose Bowl? Maybe. What would have been bigger? The 2001, 2002 or 2003 Apple Cups? The 2002 win at Oregon?
What will make it bigger is if the Huskies use it as a launching pad to a meaningful season. And it barely needs to be said that 2-2 right now looks a heck of a lot better than 1-3. Now with two straight home games against Arizona State and Oregon State, the Huskies have a great chance to get a couple games above .500 before the Arizona-Stanford-Oregon trio at the end of the month. And it also barely needs to be said that a bowl game looks a lot more doable now. If Saturday leads to that, then it maybe really will turn out to be the biggest win in almost a decade.
Now, onto the grades.
QUARTERBACK: Hard to imagine Jake Locker playing any better. This was the kind of game that everyone expected to see. He ran, he threw well, he operated the offense with confidence. It was the second 300-100 game of his career (the other coming against Arizona in 2007). The task now is to tack on a few more before his career runs out. GRADE: A.
RUNNING BACK: Chris Polk had a quietly productive day until he ripped off one of the most important runs in recent UW history, the 26-yarder up the middle to help set up the final field goal. He finished with 92 y ards on just 13 carries. Jesse Callier, used almost solely on the fly sweep plays, had 20 yards on eight carries. Nothing to complain about here. GRADE: A.
RECEIVER: In one of the few negatives on the offense, there were a few too many drops, a couple off which could have really loomed critical. But the Huskies made the catches when they really counted, such as the third-and-18 to Cody Bruns or the fourth down to D’Andre Goodwin on the final drive. Eight different receivers caught passes, five three or more, as UW had its best distribution of the season. GRADE: B-minus.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Bottom line is 537 yards and one sack against a team noted for defense — even if it’s obvious this USC defense is nowhere near the level of recent past. Other than a play or two here or there, the Huskies stuck with the same five — Senio Kelemete, Erik Kohler, Drew Schaefer, Ryan Tolar and Cody Habben. GRADE: A.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Here’s where the angst begins, as UW won despite allowing 298 rushing yards — how often do you see that happen? The Huskies seemed to get pushed around up front much of the night as the Trojans averaged 7.6 yards per rush. And Matt Barkley usually had more than enough time to throw in completing 14-20 passes. It didn’t help that UW’s plans for a new-look defensive line were waylaid early when Cameron Elisara suffered a stinger and was sidelined. UW tried a number of different players at end to get a push, but never really got a consistent rush. Talia Crichton made a nice play to force a fumble, however, and Everrette Thompson got the lone sack. The win heightens the grades everywhere, but the play of the line remains a concern. GRADE: C-minus.
LINEBACKERS: Mason Foster looked like his old self after a subpar game against Nebraska, with 10 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and a fumble recovery. UW went with the same trio throughout with Cort Dennison back in the middle and Victor Aiyewa on the strongside. But overall, same holds true here as for the line — the play here will have to get better moving forward as you can expect that everyone will try to run on the Huskies the way Nebraska and USC did. GRADE: B-minus.
SECONDARY: Another area where the win makes everything look a little better. As noted, Barkley was 14-20 and a couple other incompletions were just bad throws. He didn’t lack for open receivers. Quintin Richardson found himself on the sideline for a little while after whiffing a tackle on a corner blitz. And there were a few other missed tackles in this area aside from the coverage issues. Another area that has to continue to get better. GRADE: C.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Once again, UW gave up a couple ot decent-length returns, though overall, it was probably the best coverage of the season. Kevin Smith emerged as the team’s main returner, getting all six KO returns, with a long of 27. The kicking, however, was great with Erik Folk making all four field goal attempts, including another game-winner. GRADE: B-plus.
COACHING: Fans have questioned Steve Sarkisian’s play-calling at times. But nothing to question about this one as he put together a great offensive game plan — a moving pocket, getting Locker out on the run to make plays with his arm or legs (something to which USC never seemed to really adjust). And the team obviously responded to the challenge laid down shortly after the Nebraska game that any lack of effort wouldn’t be tolerated. Sarkisian insisted that the Nebraska game was just a blip on the radar and not an indication of things going awry. For today, anyway, it looks like everything is back on track. GRADE: A.

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