Well, this won’t take much time.
After a game like that, every position group (coaches included) gets an F.
There are some individuals that don’t deserve F’s — Mason Foster had 18 tackles; Jermaine Kearse caught four passes and seemed like one of the few guys really showing some life on offense; and Kiel Rasp had another solid day punting. There’s probably a few others who will grade out well that it’s hard to notice in such an overall mess. And the special teams as a whole didn’t have any disasters, so maybe that would be the one position area that didn’t hurt UW today (though it didn’t do much to help anything, either).
But 41-0 is what it is — the first shutout at Husky Stadium in 34 years, the fewest yards in any game in 37 years, and the second straight game where the defense gave up 300 or more yards in the first half.
Unfortunately, loyal UW fans have seen more than their share of bad performances at home the last few years. But this one was maybe the most inexplicable. In the 2006 Stanford game, the only two remaining QBs took turns getting knocked out of the game and there was the whole Suddenly Senior deal that cast a pall over everything. And all the bad games in 2008 barely need any explaining.
Obviously, Stanford’s better than Washington. And just as obviously, people such as myself who thought the game might be close misjudged just how much better Stanford is than Washington right now — give me an F for thinking this one might be competitive. The Cardinal were light years better in the trenches, and if you ever needed evidence that the real key to football is blocking and tackling, this game was it.
But Stanford’s not THAT much better than Washington. UW beat USC on the road four weeks ago, and Stanford barely beat USC at home three weeks ago. On paper, UW ought to be a lot more competitive than it was tonight.
Obviously, UW didn’t match up as well with Stanford as it did USC or Oregon State. USC’s more finesse, and UW was able to figure out a way to take advantage of some weaknesses the Trojans had. Oregon State’s injury issues, notably the loss of James Rodgers, surely helped contribute to the team’s slow start that night.
Stanford, meanwhile, is physical and smart and healthy after a bye week and a game against WSU when it rested a few key players. And on this day, the Cardinal almost never seemed to make a mistake.
But again, this shouldn’t have been 41-0. Especially at home.
And while the defense was obviously overmatched, it’s the offense that’s the real quandry right now. Sure, they had to start two true freshmen OL today. But that’s also by choice, with former starters Cody Habben and Greg Christine starting the game healthy enough (as far as we know, anyway) but on the bench. And James Johnson’s injury and the lack of a tight end can’t make THAT much of a difference.
UW has now gone 97 minutes and 55 seconds since its last point, and has been outscored 68-0 in that time.
And since the 21-0 onslaught in the first 20 minutes against Oregon State, UW has scored just 14 points in regulation — a span of 160 minutes. UW scored its last two TDs against OSU in overtime with the ball placed on the 25 to start the possession. Not to discount those, but it’s a little different than mounting a scoring drive during the regular run of the game.
The one thing you thought you knew about this team heading into the season was that it would be able to score points on anybody, with a fifth-year, potential high-draft choice QB returning, an above average running back (and an above average newcomer at that same spot), an overall good receiving corps, and a veteran offensive line (as I detailed during the summer, UW’s OL this year had more returning starts than any Husky OL in two decades).
Frankly, in July if you’d said Stanford would score 41 and gain 470 yards, as it did today, that wouldn’t have necessarily surprised me. But that UW wouldn’t ever mount one drive that turned into a legitimate scoring threat? That obviously is a shock.
Stanford gave up 52 points to Oregon, 35 to USC and even 28 to Washington State (21 in what was basically garbage time, but it’s not like there wasn’t a lot of garbage time today as well).
This was a total systemic failure in a game that loomed large in the hopes of getting to a bowl.
I realize that to some of you it seems laughable to even bring up a bowl game now. But given the nature of college football and the Pac-10, you never know.
Obviously, the odds are against it. UW has won one road game in three years and now finishes with three of four on the road. If the Huskies lose at Oregon Saturday — and it’s just as obviously hard to see anything else happening at the moment — they’d have to sweep the last three just to get to 6-6 (which would probably be good enough to get to a bowl).
That’s not impossible given the opponents — UCLA’s also a mess and the game’s at home (not that that seems to matter much right now); Washington State’s won one Pac-10 game in three years (though yes, we all know who that was against) and if today is evidence really doesn’t appear to be getting much better; and Cal’s likely now without its starting QB for the rest of the year and may be the most up-and-down team in college football.
But today also indicated that anything is probably just as possible in the other direction for the Huskies. If you want to be real cynical about it, you could decide that UW is one dropped pass and one overthrown pass away from being 1-7 right now.
On the last Saturday of October, the enthusiasm of August was completely extinguished. And November now looms ominously.