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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

September 28, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Insta-thoughts on the big Husky upset . . .

Just got back from CenturyLink Field, where Washington made it two memorable nights this week for local football fans.

— It was the best kind of victory for Washington, accomplished when you’re short-handed, and no doubt Steve Sarkisian is ecstatic over the way some reserves performed in the absence of starters. There’s hardly any reward like the kind you get when you can go back and tell players you’re not down and out just because you lose people. And imagine what it does for the confidence of the fill-in guys, especially on the offensive line.

— When is a completed pass for the offense actually good for the defense? Here’s my theory: It actually hurt Stanford when Josh Nunes’ pass to Ty Montgomery — initially ruled incomplete at the UW 34 with about two minutes left and Stanford down 17-13 — was overturned, giving the Cardinal a fourth-and-4 there instead of fourth-and-11 at the UW 41. If it’s not a catch and I’m David Shaw, I’m probably not going to go for it, especially with Nunes at quarterback. Pooch a punt and use the two timeouts, and you’d have a chance to get the ball back in Washington territory with a minute left. Instead, as it happened, the completion went just far enough for Shaw, the Stanford coach, to opt to go for it on fourth down. Of course, the whole issue became moot anyway, when Desmond Trufant intercepted Nunes’ pass on the UW 8, which effectively made it like a Stanford punt. But the ensuing offsides penalty by Stanford before the Huskies could get off a third down ensured the upset.

— The fourth-down pass by Nunes to 6-8 tight end Levine Toilolo down the sidelines was a really poor call, unless Shaw knows something I don’t — like Nunes throws a great fade. It’s a low-percentage throw with Nunes doing the chucking, even with Toilolo’s height. If I’ve got Andrew Luck throwing it, fine. Not with Nunes. Why not just a “stick” route, or a delay for 5-6 yards across the middle?

— I wonder what Nick Holt is doing tonight.

— Stanford cornerback Terrence Brown had a really difficult night. He whiffed in trying to corral Bishop Sankey as he broke to the second level on the 61-yard touchdown run and was shed by Kasen Williams at the line of scrimmage on Williams’ 35-yard scoring play down the sidelines. (And touted linebacker Chase Thomas, who didn’t go hard in closing toward Williams on the missed tackle by Brown, isn’t going to want to look at that video Friday). Brown also missed on an attempted tackle of Williams in the first half on a play that went for a first down in front of the Stanford bench.

— Nunes’ play was clearly sub-par. And he’s hurt by Stanford’s lack of speed on the outside. Montgomery had a chance to help Nunes with a potential touchdown catch on a deep ball, and let it go through his hands.

— The night was a great testament to Washington’s patience. When Stanford got ahead 13-3, I don’t think there were 100 people in the stadium that thought Washington could score two touchdowns; I certainly wasn’t one of those 100. The Huskies hadn’t come close to the end zone at that point. But they kept probing and cashed in on the Sankey touchdown, and at that point, the possibility of an upset was ripe.

— Everybody outside the state of Oregon now has a loss this season, and it isn’t even October yet.

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