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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM

UW-USC post-game position review

coonspunt.jpg

Here are some brief thoughts on tonight’s game looking at each UW position group after tonight’s frustrating 24-14 loss to USC, typified by the blocked punt (above in a Dean Rutz photo) that led to a Trojan touchdown:

QUARTERBACK: Keith Price battled, and for a time looked like his old self, such as completing 16 straight passes — that’s one of the encouraging signs of this one, that Price was able to get into that kind of rhythm for a time, even if many of the passes were high percentage. But the four turnovers were deadly (even if not all his fault). The calls for someone else at this spot are not realistic — there’s no one else ready, and in a lot of ways, Price’s struggles are merely the most visible reflection of those of the rest of the offense. And no one is harder on Price than Price himself — maybe too hard. Still, he has to find a way to curb the turnovers.

RUNNING BACK: Against what Steve Sarkisian said was a better defensive line than UW faced last week, Bishop Sankey saw his 100-yard game streak end at three. But it seemed hard to fault Sankey much as he simply had nowhere to go much of the time, finishing with 54 yards on 14 carries. Kendyl Taylor got a lot of action alongside Sankey and appears to be the No. 2 option now in the backfield, and had 11 yards on three carries. Jonathan Amosa caught one pass for nine yards. But no one else in the backfield touched the ball.

RECEIVER/TIGHT END: UW shook things up a little bit with Jaydon Mickens and Cody Bruns getting the starts alongside Kasen Williams. Neither made a huge impact, though, Mickens with just 11 yards on four receptions as USC wasn’t fooled much by those lateral passes. Bruns had minus-one yard on his only catch. Williams had trouble getting open matched up much of the night against Nickell Robey, one of the top CBs in the Pac-12, and had just two catches for 22 yards, though he was open deep once in the fourth quarter and Price’s pass just missed him. Considering the opponent, DiAndre Campbell had what might have been his best game with three catches for 45 yards. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was quiet early but broke out late to finish with a team-high five catches for a team-high 83 yards. UW needs to keep that going next week (and he said afterward he is fine, physically). Michael Hartvigson had one catch for four yards. Otherwise, not much impact from the second tight end spot.

OFFENSIVE LINE: UW went with the same line as the last three weeks to start — Micah Hatchie, Dexter Charles, Drew Schaefer, Shane Brostek and James Atoe. But it was a real struggle in the first half, and Brostek — who had a costly holding penalty early — was replaced in the second half with Atoe moving to guard and Mike Criste coming in at tackle. That worked better at times but Sarkisian said it will be evaluated again this week. Ben Riva suited up but didn’t play. But the fact he suited up indicates he’s that much closer to returning — maybe next week at Arizona. Erik Kohler watched the game on crutches, more apparent proof not to expect him anytime soon.

DEFENSIVE LINE: The Huskies shook things up here, as well, going with Josh Banks and Danny Shelton at tackles with Talia Crichton and Andrew Hudson at ends. That had Josh Shirley used almost exclusively as a situational pass rusher, and he did some good things in that role late, notably the fourth-down sack of Barkley. USC’s early running success suggests the line had some issues, though like the rest of the defense, it got better as the game wore on. Banks had four tackles and one for a loss and Shelton had two tackles-for-loss. Hudson and Crichton each had two sacks but nothing for a loss. No one else on the line recorded a stat.

LINEBACKER: UW went with John Timu, Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney to start. Thomas Tutogi also played quite a bit. But as Josh Wilcox noted after the game, this is the time of year where he has begun to learn his personnel and who can do what, and that apparently means streamlining the rotations. Other than those four, no one else saw much time at linebacker (Nate Fellner didn’t play at all, though possibly there’s an injury there we don’t know about). Feeney had another solid day with eight tackles and a sack.

SECONDARY: The most deceptive stat line of the game is Desmond Trufant’s one tackle and one pass breakup. Trufant was spectacular in this game in helping hold Marqise Lee to two catches — eight below his average, which is second in the nation. Trufant lived up to the billing. Marcus Peters started at the other cornerback spot and appears to have taken over that role, He had the big interception early when it looked like the Huskies were in danger of being run out of the building before the first quarter ended, though his nine tackles make clear he was on the receiving end of a lot more receptions. Justin Glenn and Sean Parker started at safety and saw almost all the time there.

SPECIAL TEAMS: There were some decent things in the return game. But the blocked punt for a touchdown and the missed field goal that could have cut the score to 24-17 late in the third quarter undo any of the good in this area. Sarkisian blamed protection areas on the front (and not the three-man shield in front of the punter) for the issues on the block. The positive was the returns of Mickens, who appeared close to breaking a couple of kickoffs. And Bruns expertly executed a punt return for 27 yards in the late going.

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