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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 27, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Sunday morning thoughts, links and notes

A few thoughts, links and notes on the day after. …

I’ll start with a few thoughts on the game. …

— The Huskies appeared to really streamline the rotation last night, mostly rolling out the same players other than in a few situations. Only seven defensive lineman played and among those who didn’t were Sione Potoa’e and Lawrence Lagfuaina, as the Huskies found a combination they liked up front with Danny Shelton and Alameda Ta’amu. As Steve Sarkisian talked about afterward, they made a subtle shift there at times with Shelton over the nose and Ta’amu at what is called “three-technique” meaning on the outside shoulder of the guard. That made it harder for WSU to locate Ta’amu for double teams and was one of the reasons he was so dominant. Andrew Hudson rotated in quite a bit situationally and Semisi Tokolahi and Talia Crichton played a little bit. But that was it.

As far as I could tell, only four linebackers played — the three starters and Jamaal Kearse. And the secondary was real static as well with the two safeties going all the way and the cornerbacks changing only situationally.

The offensive line was also the same throughout, and even the skill guys seemed to have a lesser rotation — no reason to take Kasen Williams off the field, obviously. (Bishop Sankey didn’t play, for instance, as Chris Polk and Jesse Callier handled all the tailbackk duties) One thing we did see was a lot more of Evan Hudson in some two-tight end sets, something the Huskies also did a bit of last year, as well.

Obviously, much of it worked last night. The 434 yards were the most since the Arizona game (489). The 382 yards allowed were actually one more than against Oregon but otherwise were the fewst since the Colorado game (269) and the fourth-fewest of the year. WSU’s 38 yards rushing were the fewest since the 36 of Arizona and fourth-fewest of the season, as well.

The seven sacks were obviously the most, almost half of UW’s season total of 17 coming into the game. The previous high in sacks was four against Colorado. UW’s 12 tackles-for-a-loss were also a season high. (Princeton Fuimaono had a career-high four and Ta’amu and Josh Shirley — the latter playing his best game by far — each had 2.5).

As Sarkisian said later, the defense could be more aggressive because UW was almost always ahead and could be more easily predict that the Cougars were going to throw in a number of situations. There also simply isn’t as much of a threat of the run with WSU as there is with a lot of other teams —- there are reasons WSU is likely firing its coach in the next day or two. But it felt like a step in the right direction for the defense — the bowl game will be an even better indicator.

Offensively, we saw the difference in a healthier — if not healthy — Keith Price as well as Kasen Williams, who had that nasty high ankle sprain at mid-season that surely prevented the kind of breakout we saw last night from happening earlier. As Sarkisian noted, the Huskies wanted to get back to making some big plays in the passing game and they did, averaging 13.9 yards per completion. That was also the best since — you guessed it — the Arizona game (18.2). The only other one better was the Cal game (15.3). UW had averaged 9.8, 9.9 and 7.8 in the previous three games. Again, WSU is far from the best defense the Huskies have faced. But it all looked better than it had the previous three weeks.

And the special teams also got in the act with the punt block for a touchdown — the first punt block of any kind in the Sarkisian era and first for a touchdown since the 2006 Apple Cup.

It was the kind of game the Huskies needed to feel good about themselves heading into a bowl game, which will offer a more difficult opponent and likely yet another chance to test themselves on a bigger stage.

Now, a few links. …

— Here’s all of our coverage, including our report that Paul Wulff is likely out as WSU coach in the next day or so; Steve Kelley’s column that the future looks bright for UW; Jerry Brewer’s column on the Huskies rediscovering their joy; the notebook, leading with an item on Price and the school TD record; and the 2-Minute Drill.

— Here’s UW’s updated NCAA stats page. UW actually fell to 115th in passing defense, now allowing 283.75 yards per game. UW moved up markedly in sacks, however, to 56th. And Price is up to 13th in passing efficiency at 157.91, on pace to break Brock Huard’s record of 153.8 in 1997 (bowl games count in stats).

— There will be a replay of the game Monday at noon on Versus, though it’s a two-hour version so condensed a little bit.

— Here’s all the coverage from GoHuskies.com which includes links to official quotes and other stuff.

Vince Grippi with his day-after post that has all the relevant links from a WSU perspective.

— Price got a helmet sticker from Ted Miller.

— As for which bowl UW will go to, as noted last night, If fully expect the Alamo or the Holiday. The wildcard is if for some reason Stanford fell out of the BCS and fell to the Alamo. Otherwise, it appears the Alamo’s choice would be Cal or UW. This story indicates the Alamo Bowl is taking a harder look at Cal than it had been. But the Alamo Bowl also sent its top official to the Apple Cup, so obviously there is real interest in that bowl in the Huskies. Utah might also be in the mix. If the Alamo didn’t work out for UW, the Holiday would appear next in line. Few seem to think UW would end up anywhere other than those two.

— Miller also writes about the apparently imminent firings of three conference coaches — Wulff, UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel, and Arizona State’s Dennis Erickson. Given the previous firing of Arizona’s Mike Stoops, that could be a change of one-third of the head coaching jobs in the conference this year — not sure if/when there have been more but can’t have happened often.

— Here’s the LA Times story on the likely firing of Neuheisel.

— Is Butch Jones of Cincinnati a possible candidate at UCLA?

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com says the Pac-12 title game is a farce.

— Finally, here are highlights from Kyle McCormick:

[do action=”custom_iframe” width=”600″ height=”400″ url=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/nmQd1ZXmtIw”][/do]

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