The 5 p.m. start meant for some tight deadlines, and a morning flight looms. So I don’t have time at the moment for the usual position-by-position analysis.
Not that such an endeavor may lend much insight after this game, anyway. The general take on this one is pretty obvious — the Huskies were manhandled on defense by one of the better offensive lines in recent Pac-12 history. And the offense had what was probably its worst day since the opener against Eastern.
The offense had its moments, but it was going to need to be perfect to stay in the game — a hard task, to be sure — and it wasn’t able to do that. Then, once the game got out of hand, the offense seemed to fall in line with the rest of the team and didn’t get much done in the second half. Chris Polk would obviously get a more-than passing grade for this game. So would Austin Seferian-Jenkins. And Keith Price would get an A for effort — he’s gotte hurt a few times this year, but he got knocked around a lot Saturday and kept coming back for more. And maybe there’s a player or two whose contributions were more subtle who might deserve some praise.
But otherwise, this was pretty much a butt-whuppin’ — to use the technical term — from start to finish.
The offensive line was beaten around most of the day — take out Polk’s two long runs and UW had 65 yards rushing on 24 attempts, and Price was running for his life a lot of the night. And the receivers have been better, especially Jermaine Kearse, who charitably had three drops.
Obviously, I’d doubt anyone on the defense grades out well. The front seven got pushed around, and the defensive backs either weren’t in position too often or missed a few too many tackles. And it’s not like the pass defense was great — Andrew Luck was 16-21 and two incompletions were just misreads or bad throws on his part.
The sad reality is that what was thought to be a real strength of the Huskies — their run defense — looks to be mostly a result of playing that part of the game well against teams that aren’t that good at running. Against two teams that are good at running, UW has allowed 755 yards. And another unfortunate reality for UW is that so far, whatever a team is good at offensively it has usually been able to do. Eastern, Hawaii, Cal and Utah all threw for 300 or more yards on UW, while Nebraska and Stanford each ran for more than 300. Only woeful Colorado — not good at anything at the moment — was really shut down by the Huskies.
Even the special teams, a season-long strength of the Huskies, was a little of a disappointment. Erik Folk missed a key field goal — got some bad luck, obviously, with the bounce off the goal post — and the Huskies had an unbelivable 12 kickoff returns (I thought that was a misprint when I first read it) but didn’t get much out of most of them. The 12 kickoff returns is a school record — and obviously an unhappy one at that — “bettering” the 10 that UW had in 1973 when it lost 62-13 to UCLA. The 285 kickoff return yards was also a school record, but that came on an average of 23.8 per return that was less than Stanford’s 24.2 on its four returns.
There are going to be lots of questions about the direction of the defense. But the reality is that big-picture decisions in college football usually aren’t made until a season ends. UW’s focus now will turn to Arizona.
And this is a team that could still pretty easily end up with eight wins, which just about anyone would have considered a success before the season. Certainly, the heady feeling of the last week — the hope among a lot of fans that this was a team that could maybe contend for a Pac-12 title — is dimmed quite a bit now. Stanford showed UW it still has work to do to get back to that level — the Huskies at the moment appear to be the best of the mid-range Pac-12 teams, but obviously a few steps behind the good ones. And that might make fans a little queasy with Oregon and then a game at USC coming in the next three weeks — the Trojans appear to be finding themselves, so that game looks a lot tougher now.
Still, this is a team that has a lot to play for the rest of the way. We’ll see how it responds.
Now for some post-game links. …
— Here’s the notebook with items on the interception at the end of the half and Chris Polk.
— Times columnist Jerry Brewer says UW’s defense will keep it second tier.
— And the stats if you want them.
— Also, the 2 Minute Drill with some of the unfortunate defensive stats.
— Here’s the report from ESPN.com’s Ted Miller.
— Some “Quick Hits” on the game from CBSSports.com.
— Another CBSSports.com writer says maybe Stanford is really that good (certainly, that’s the optimistic thought for UW fans right now).
All for now.