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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 6, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Grading the game — WSU

Sorry for the delay in the weekly grades, but the late night, travel and covering the bowl announcements made for a long day as it was. But hopefully better late than never, here are some grades.
QUARTERBACK: Jake Locker had one big error on the interception in the second quarter that helped turn what might have been a rout into a close game. And he also had whatever happened on that fumbled fourth-and-one. Those are the negatives. The positive is that UW doesn’t win this game without him. He didn’t run a ton, but picked up some key yards and did enough to force WSU to have to account for him on every play, which helps open things up elsewhere. And he threw some big passes when he needed to, notably the TD to Jermaine Kearse at the end. GRADE: B.
RUNNING BACKS: Chris Polk turned in simply the best game by a UW running back in years, especially considering the circumstances. WSU has maybe the worst run defense in the country, so that should be noted when assessing the game plan. But Polk made the Cougars look even worse with good vision and tough running. Jesse Callier was involved in the fumble, and only had two carries, but also caught three passes. GRADE: A.
RECEIVERS: Kearse had one of his best days with six catches for 178 yards, with three plays that helped turn the game — the last TD, the catch on the fake punt and the slant turned into a score in the third quarter. Given the circumstances, it rivaled Oregon State as his best game. Running so much meant there weren’t a lot of passes so no one else did much statistically. UW coach Steve Sarkisian, however, cited the blocking of the receivers on the edge as a key in helping Polk break some of his runs. GRADE: A.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The 571 yards was a season high as was the 315 rushing. And Locker was never sacked. All evidence of an OL that dominated. Again, the caveat is that WSU is not very good up front. But the Huskies did what they should do against an undermanned front. And UW is now up to 164.2 rushing yards per game, highest for the Huskies since 2000 other than 2007, when Locker was a freshman and entrusted with running a lot more than he does now. Give credit to Senio Kelemete for a gutty effort playing the entire game on a sprained ankle. GRADE: A.
DEFENSIVE LINE: The Huskies choked off WSU’s running game and harrased QB Jeff Tuel all day, and that started with a consistent push up front. However, UW either seemed to tire or just not play quite as well at the end as the Cougars went on those two long fourth-quarter marches. Ends Everrette Thompson and Hau’oli Jamora seemed particularly effective. The biggest disappointment of the game is the injury to Semisi Tokolahi that will keep him out for the bowl game. GRADE: B.
LINEBACKERS: Another good game out of this group, which had 3.5 sacks, with Mason Foster leading the way with 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Victor Aiyewa also had the big stop on fourth down on the WSU possession following the Locker fumble, as well as a key tackle earlier in that drive that prevented a possible first down. Cort Dennison added nine tackles. GRADE: A-minus.
SECONDARY: Some of the excitement over the improvement in this area the last part of the season might have to be tempered a little bit after seeing the way the Cougars marched up and down the field in the second half — QB Jeff Tuel was 16-20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. To be sure, there were a few great plays in there WSU made under good coverage —- don’t underestimate the ability of Tuel and WSU’s top three WRs, probably the most Pac-10-worthy aspect of that team. But certainly, there’s a little ammo there for those who thought the solid play in some of the other recent games was due more to playing backup QBs and bad passing teams. Nate Fellner might have had the best game of the DBs with nine tackles and an interception, though he dropped two other potential picks. GRADE: C.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Good coverage, good punting and good kickoffs (Erik Folk had just his second touchback of the season) as UW had the upper hand in field position most of the day — WSU’s average drive start was the 15 in the first half and the 22 for the game. And the perfectly executed fake punt was a key play at a time when the Cougars seemed to be gaining some confidence. The return games, however, remain a concern. And a tip of the cap to William Chandler for handling the holds after the injury to Cody Bruns. GRADE: B.
COACHING: Obviously a few calls that can be debated. Sarkisian said on the radio this morning he went for the fourth-and-goal because he thought the way WSU was moving the ball it would take more than a 10-point lead to win the game. And it seemed like it would have been a huge victory for WSU to not go for the later fourth down, on which UW initially hesitated before calling time and eventually going for it. But also remember the fake punt call, which stole a touchdown for the Huskies, and the overall game plan was certainly sound. And big picture, the coaching staff got this team off the mat after the fall to 3-6, from which few outside figured the team would recover. GRADE: B.

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