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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 12, 2011 at 10:09 PM

USC post-game analysis

Pretty much an afternoon to forget for the Washington Huskies here in Los Angeles Saturday.

The game did at least prove one thing, however — at the moment, the Huskies aren’t a Top 25 team.

What the Huskies are, well, that may still be something to be determined.

UW could still finish 9-4 this year, and the disappointment of some of these blowouts against what are the best teams on Washington’s schedule would be tempered.

But the four games against ranked teams are hard to ignore when assessing where UW is as a program right now.

Washington has been outscored in those games 190-93 and outgained on the ground 1,239-446. The latter total makes it clear where UW most needs to improve before rejoining the elite of college football — up front, on both sides of the ball.

Not that there aren’t other issues, but right now that seems the most glaring.

Here are some other thoughts on each position:

QUARTERBACK: A tough day for Keith Price, his first of the season without a touchdown pass and four more sacks. He rarely had time to throw and when he did, didn’t always have receivers open. Some tougher defenses, the hits he’s taken, and his injuries appeared to be adding up a bit. Nick Montana got some extensive playing time and threw his first touchdown pass. But he also threw a couple of passes that could have been intercepted.

RUNNING BACK: As the coaches like to say, tough sledding for any of the UW backs today. I’d imagine they intended to get the ball to Chris Polk a lot more than nine times. But the early deficit and lack of success running forced UW to throw and go away from Polk’s running. Bishop Sankey got some decent work but a lot came after the game was decided. No one else was real involved as UW had just 24 rushing attempts, the fewest of the season.

RECEIVER: A tough day here, as well, as USC’s secondary seemed to have the Huskies locked up on those times when Price had enough time to throw. The highighlights were five catches and another touchdown for Kasen Williams and four catches for Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who finally got involved more. But he also couldn’t hold on to what was one of the key plays of the game. Jermaine Kearse had just two catches, his fewest since the Hawaii game, and Devin Aguilar one, his fewest since the opener.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Obviously not a good day here. UW talked this week of increased competition and being more willing to make changes. But the same five started and went the entire first half before Micah Hatchie replaced Erik Kohler at right tackle in the third quarter. That was the only change the Huskies made, but Sarkisian said the Huskies will be even more willing to experiment this week after UW could neither mount a rushing attack nor protect the passer. As he said later “there were some issues up front.” UW has had some issues up front at times all season — remember the inability to just run out the clock against Eastern and Hawaii — but the line played well enough in that middle-season stretch when the offense was clicking. But it’s gotten exposed some now that the competition has stiffened. Two games to get it fixed.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Not a bad day for this group starting out, at least up the middle against the run, as the Huskies made it tough for USC for the first 20 minutes or so. Seemed like Alameda Ta’amu again played well, and Sione Potoa’e got some of his most significant playing time and also seemed to do some good things. Danny Shelton also had some good moments, it seemed. It wasn’t quite as promising off the edge as the Huskies got a rush a few times but not real consistently — Josh Shirley and Andrew Hudson basically split time at the other end spot opposite Everrette Thompson.

LINEBACKER: Kind of like the line, seemed like this area played okay early. But then there were some missed tackles on some of the big plays, as well as getting out of position at times. It was mostly the starters who saw the action other than a few series for Jamaal Kearse, who saw his most extensive time in a few weeks.

SECONDARY: Kind of a mixed bag with this group as the secondary did a decent job covering the receivers at times — who would have thought they’d hold Robert Woods to two catches for five yards? On the other hand, Matt Barkley completed 18-28 passes and flat out missed on about 3-4 others, so not like USC didn’t have some success — the Trojans only threw two passes in the fourth quarter. And as was the case with the other position groups, a few too many missed tackles here and getting swept out of position at other times.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A bad day for this area with special teams mistakes leading directly to 14 USC points during the time when the game swung for good in the direction of the Trojans. There was an obvious assignment breakdown on the fake punt that allowed the punter to run easily for 35 yards, and the kickoff returned seemed to be an issue of both losing containment and tackling. The kickers themselves were actually fine as Erik Folk made his only attempt and Kiel Rasp had his best day of the season averaging 52.2 yards per kick on eight attempts. But small consolation on this day.

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