Archive for the ‘NCAA Football’ Category

Oregon State Leftovers

October 20, 2010 2 comments

After a week off, I am back to do a little dissecting of Washington’s big win against Oregon State. I was actually at Husky Stadium for the game, which was as exciting and loud as I can remember. The see-saw of emotions I had experienced was greater than a bi-polar Brittany Spears, from 21 point lead, to an Oregon State team that came roaring back to tie the game, to a 4th quarter that became a defensive slug fest, which finally led to a double overtime victory for the Washington Huskies. By the end of the game I had lost my voice and was physically exhausted, but happy beyond words. With a game that could have left me with vomit in my mouth, instead delivered a sweet satisfying flavor.

Quarterback– On this particular night, Jake was fairly sharp, throwing for 286 yards and 5 touchdowns. Locker’s judgement was not always spot on, as he threw for one interception and had two fumbles. On a night like that will have everyone forgetting his mistakes, as he was clutch in overtime and made some really special throws. Number 10 also finished the night with 60 yards rushing, which is probably where he should be for the Huskies to win

Wide Receivers– With exception to a few drops and a couple of false starts by James Johnson, the receiving core had a great night. Jermaine Kearse was particularly exceptional, with 9 catches for 146 yards and set a Husky record with 4 touchdowns. While Jermaine may have Kearsed the Beavers, everyone got into the act and D’Andre Goodwin had another solid night with 6 catches.

Running Backs– Chris Polk, who we may as well call Mr. YAC, had another special night with 25 carries for 105 yards, 74 of which came after contact. Jesse Callier also contributed with 20 yards on 5 carries. The running back position continues to be the most consistent position on the team and no disrespect to Mr. Locker, but Chris is easily the teams best player right now. I am really looking forward to Chris being able to gain more of his yards after contact in the secondary, as the offensive line continues to improve.

Offensive Line– This was a workmen’s like night for the big guys, as they did enough to open some holes for Chris Polk and held a stout defensive line from rattling Jack Locker too much. All was not perfect, as Jake Locker’s jersey was dirtied a couple of times and on a critical 4th and 1, the line had zero push and Chris Polk ended with a 3 yard loss. Also, a few penalties had stalled potential drives. But when the offense amasses 475 yards against a very good Beavers defense, the offensive line did something right.

Defensive Line– Even though Jacquizz Rodgers had 140 yards and three touchdowns, the defensive line had it’s best performance of the season. Hau’oli Jamora had a breakout game with a big sack of Ryan Katz and had a few tackles for loss. Also with a sack was Talia Chrichton. The d-line could have been more stout on the run, but the 147 yards allowed was their lowest output since the Syracuse game. Alameda Ta’amu had a decent game, but missed a sure quarterback sack at one point.

Linebackers– Mason Foster and company were everywhere on Saturday night and had played inspired football. Foster had twelve 12 tackles, Victor Aiyewa added another 7, and Cort Dennison had flashed in front of Joe Halahuni to break the tight-end’s concentration, who’s dropped pass sealed the game for the Huskies. The linebackers continue to be the backbone of Nick Holt’s defense, and will continue to be called upon all season long.

Secondary– A three interception performance, had the secondary playing very well on a cold night. Ryan Katz really wasn’t on his game, but the secondary took advantage and Nate Williams had 12 tackles to limit what Ryan could do in the air. James Rodgers, Katz’ biggest receiving weapon, was missing, which probably aided the Dawgs and in a tight game, his presence may have changed the outcome, but he wasn’t running in the secondary and the Huskies have added a W in the win column.

Special Teams– Punter, Kiel Rasp, had another great night with an average of 48 yards per kick, but Erik Folk missed a 45 yard field goal, which is uncommon, and the Dawgs were out gained in both the return and kick off game. Not a horrible night, but really nothing to talk about, which is probably a good thing.

Coaching– Other that  a few questionable calls and some puzzling clock management to end the second half, the coaches had a fantastic gameplan on both sides of the ball. Sarkisian had scripted a fantastic opening for Jake Locker and the offense to open a surprising 21-0 lead, but the wheels came off of the bus a bit, which helped let the Beavers back into the game. Sark did a good job of keeping the offense engaged enough until overtime and then life really sparked back into them. Nick Holt’s defense looked awfully good on Saturday, and may have finally found themselves. Will they continue to play solid ball? We’ll find out when the Dawgs play the Wildcats in Tucson this weekend. Overall, this was a well prepared team and both sides of the ball played well at the same time; something that has been rare this season.

The Huskies gained their first victory over the Oregon State Beavers in six years and this was the same team that had given the Dawgs their worst beat down of the season a year ago. Now they will have to duplicate this performance next week in order to upset a very good Arizona team. Without Nick Foles, Sarkisian’s squad may just have a chance.


Expect to Win: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

In August, the Washington Huskies received a BIG commitment from the BIG Gig Harbor wide receiver, Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Although Austin may play wide receiver in high school, with his 6-7 258 pound frame, he will most definitely play at tight-end when he suites up for the Huskies. And as a tight-end, ASJ will make a welcome addition, as the position has been invisible within Steve Sarkisian’s offense. With a large frame, such as Austin’s, one would think that he may be a lumbering hulk, however, he is fleet of foot as he runs a self-described 4.63 40 yard dash. ” I like my speed. I think few people can run me down when I get into the open field, which I proved this week; I had a catch from the 29 and took it to the house and no one caught me.” And being a wide receiver in high school he also considers his hands and route running as strengths. With a man this talented one may wonder if he has any weaknesses at all, but Austin sees what he will need to improve before he becomes another in a long line of great Huskies tight-ends, “My weakness is probably my blocking. I’m probably not the best blocker. I have the strength to do it, I just need to learn the technique.” Since Seferian-Jenkins can already bench press 300 pounds, so it is safe to say that he will be just fine in the blocking department.

The Huskies will be happy to have Austin making the tight-end position a threat once again, but  Steve Sarkisian had to battle off hefty competition from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and the entire PAC 10. In the end, Washington and Texas fought tooth and nail before Seferian-Jenkins made his decision to stay close to home. Many fans want to know exactly how close it was between these two great programs. “It was pretty close. It was close as it could get. The tipping point was for my mom to actually watch me play. Playing professional football, you know, it’s a dream of mine and I have a chance to achieve it. I can go pro anywhere, that’s how I figured it, and what really mattered most to me was my family and the people that care about me. I just felt comfortable with talking with Coach Sarkisian about everything, I talked to him as soon as I got back (from Texas) and I just decided to be a Husky.” And Austin’s relationship with Steve Sarkisian and the rest of the staff didn’t hurt either, “Just the honesty I liked. He told me what I needed to work on, what I’m good at. They’re just honest people; they are going to chew you out but at the same time they are going to give you positive reinforcement. So when I saw that at practice, I don’t know, I just liked it.”

Austin’s Gig Harbor team is having a great season so far, “We are doing good. We are 5 and 1 and we got senior night this coming week and we are going to be playing Olympia. They are undefeated in league play and are undefeated just like us. It will be a test for us to see if we can stack up and see if we are league championship material.” With Gig Harbor rolling, Austin has played a big part in the team’s success, “I have 30 catches, I think, and 4 touchdowns.” But with his competitive nature, the big tight-end isn’t satisfied, “It’s alright. Yeah, I want twice as many catches and three times as many touchdowns.” This talented athlete, who also plays outside linebacker, is also anxious in competing on the basketball court for UW, “I get to play basketball at Washington too. That’s what I want to do, as well. Yeah, I will be playing basketball at the U.”

Steve Sarkisian has placed the mantra, “expect to win,” on the program, but have struggled to consistently live up to that billing. And with the Huskies struggling this season, Austin firmly believes that the Huskies will be on the national spotlight once again and wasn’t afraid to say so during his public commitment to Washington, “It was a statement that just needed to be made. I think that people that are committing to the Washington Huskies don’t want to be 0 and 12, want to lose games; we are commiting to win games and championships and Rosebowls. All the staff members up there they want to win championships. They don’t want to come in at second place. It’s always about competing and competing to your best ability. And when you have good athletes,  good players, and people competing at the highest level you’re going to be successful and win championships. And with a great coaching staff, that Washington happens to provide, it’s gonna happen.”

Washington has shown to be lacking the highest level of talent that PAC 10 championships are made of, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins let Husky fans know, during his announcement, that he would be bringing a few more five-star players with him, and while it may be coincidence, or not, that Kasen Williams committed to the Dawgs the week after, Austin continues to talk to the top talent that the Huskies will need to be competitive, “I just talk to people that are interested. I talk to James Sample, Vili Moala, DeAnthony Thomas, Greg Townsend, Antwuan Woods, Danny Shelton, those types of guys. I talk to them every once in a while. They all have a little bit of interest, but nothing is over until signing day.” And while Seferian-Jenkins may be giving the “talent” out there an ear full from time to time, he is also keeping tabs with some of the current commits and current players on the team, “I talk to Dexter Charles, Tani Tupou, I talk to Josh Shirley, who is on the team, and I talk to Kasen sometimes, but besides that I don’t really talk to any others.”

When Austin isn’t dominating on the football field, he likes to hang out with friends, play around on Facebook, watch movies, and play video games, specifically Civilization 3. “You can create anything you want, really, I mean, you can create your own army, not only that, but you can own a certain part of the world, and you get to conquer things, and that’s what I am about. They are really addictive” So Austin doesn’t just like to dominate on the football field, but needs to get his conquering fix on his off time.

The big tight-end isn’t worried about getting to the next level, and he knows that his hard work and preparation will get him to the University of Washington sooner than later. “I’m just going to continue doing what I am doing, keep working on my speed, keep working on lifting, and just working on my studies so I can get up there in March. Just keep doing what I’ve done to get me there. So nothing is really going to change, except for that I will be done playing high school football in a couple of weeks. I think that if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll be fine and I’m not really worried about the transition and I think that everyone has a different transition to the game. I know it’s gonna be faster, but I will be able to deal with it. I’m not too worried about it.” And with March quickly approaching, he wants Husky fans to know that he is looking forward to his time in purple and gold. “I can’t wait to be their next year. I am excited!” I will speak for all Dawg fans, who are anxiously awaiting the tight-end position to mean something, by saying that we are excited too!

Swami Sez: Arizona State at Washington

October 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Washington won perhaps their most important game in two years by defeating the Trojans for the second game in a row and winning their first road game in two years. The Dawgs will be gunning for two wins in a row when the Arizona Sun Devils step into Husky Stadium. But this matchup may not be a walk in the park as Dennis the Menace has his Devils playing well. After falling short the past three games, what has yet to be answered is if Dennis Erickson will be able to put everything together in time for a Saturday night victory, or if three crushing losses will have the super glue to ASU’s season coming apart. Fortunately, I believe it will be the later. If this game was on the road, I believe the Devils may have an outside shot, but on the road against a Husky squad with renewed confidence, I see the wheels coming off the Devil’s cart by the fourth quarter.

Arizona State has shown a salty defense, however, with Vontaze Burfect minding his manners, which means he will have only personal foul, and a young team that is as fragile as I can remember, I see Jake Locker and the Huskies running taking control late in the contest. Also, with a Bill Miller defense that is prone to giving up big plays, look for Jermaine Kearse to rebound from the dropsies, last week, to break away for a couple of scorchers. Once the defense is softened, the short passing routes over the middle and the running game will slowly take hold, wearing down an already beat up defensive unit. Erik Kohler will eventually have to get back onto the field and perform well after suffering the flu, but he will and the line, as a whole, will play adequately. Jake Locker will have a solid performance with 265 yards passing, 85 yards on the ground, and 3 touchdowns. And Polk and Callier will run over Burfect for 165 yards and a touchdown.

With another potent offense lining up against the Huskies defense, I see no breaks in site for Holt’s group, but I do see a lot of bending as the trench Dawgs will once again show their rotating door ways, but Steven Threet will give up a turnover or two and will not have enough in the tank to out do Jake Locker.

On special teams, the Huskies will give up a few decent returns, but the theme of improved play will continue, and Erik “Folk Hero” will be money, hitting two field goals.

In the end, the homefield advantage and a Husky team that is riding a renewed sense of optimism, will eventually where down Dennis Erickson’s Sun Devils in an exciting 34-24 victory.

Swami Sez……


34-24 Dawgs

Ramblings of a Husky Girl: Keys to ASU

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Wow. The USC game was incredible!! As a fan, that’s the kind of game that stresses you out during the game, reduces you to jumping to up and down in front of the television and screaming obscenities and then leaves you lying on the floor exhausted, happy with the memories that carry you through the off season.

I’ve watched it several times in the last couple days. (Unfortunately for me, the TV did not record the last nine minutes of the football game. There, it’s officially proven that women should not operate the remote control.) What I saw was a startling amount of difference between the ‘Cuse and the USC wins, which highlight some key factors to winning versus ASU.

Offensive Team Play: Overall, the offense played better as whole; there was cohesiveness and communication. One example was during the last touchdown drive. As Jake was standing in the collapsing pocket, Cody Bruns came away from his route to get to the first down marker and make a big catch. He knew his QB was in trouble and put himself in a spot where he could make the play and get the first down. I think Sark’s game plan was spot on: start fast, get the offense comfortable and let them play their game.

Key to ASU: Wide receivers and the O-line. We saw a lot of big plays by the wide receivers, but they need to remember the 5-10 yard plays as well. Eight dropped passes in unacceptable. Catch the ball first, and then run. The O-line also needs to find a way to move the pocket while minimizing the risk of Vontaze Burfict getting into our backfield. If I were a betting person, I’d put money down that Tolar decks him sometime during the game when Burfict takes a cheap shot on Jake during the game.

Improved Special Teams: Remember the days when we stepped up to take a field goal kick; the stadium would let out a collective groan because we all knew it was going to be bad? Those days are gone. I love Erik Folk. What a great performance. If someone does make a “Folk Yeah” t-shirt, I will definitely be purchasing one.

The real question about special teams was the punting squad. It was real messy versus Syracuse. Missed tackles, break down in coverage; this was a big question mark for me. They did fine against USC, but it helps when we only have to punt once. Kiel Rasp, a walk on, is ranked number 12 for his performance so far this year.

Key to ASU: ASU has two blocked punts on the year. The protection needs to be there from the Dawgs, as well as some hang time from Rasp so the players have time to get into position and make big tackles.

What’s the word I’m looking for? Beat-them-down-ness: I think the USC team just got tired at the end of the game. With fewer scholarship players than most teams, they don’t have the personnel to rotate in and out of the game, nor do they have live tackling in practice because they can’t risk their scholarship players getting hurt. On top of that, when the other team pieces together some long drives, the defense gets beat down. Versus Syracuse, we had some good drives and then big plays which messed with their defenses’ collective brain.

Key to ASU: As much as we say Washington is a young team, ASU is pretty young too. They only have five returning starters from their defense last year. I think that if we jump start early with our offense, we will have a good chance to make them miss.

And as always, Jake Locker: I wish it wasn’t this way, but when Jake has a big game, the team has a big game. Sark’s game plan for him last week was great. Keep it up!

Vegas has picked Washington to win by 1.5. I’m thinking and hoping and praying that we use this spotlight and win by 10.

Go Dawgs!

Week 6 Pac-10 Predictions

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Last week I was 50% on my picks, and it is something that I am not to proud of.  I can’t believe I didn’t actually pick the Beavers beating ASU, what was I thinking???  The other game that I missed was an easy on to miss with UW winning at USC.  I should have gone with my heart.  This is week 6 in the Pac-10 and we have a full slate of games, a couple that could really begin to define team’s seasons.  Here are my picks:

UCLA at CAL: This is a game of two middle teams of the Pac.  On one hand I have no idea what to think of UCLA, they beat Texas on the road but then they can’t put the Cougs away till the very end of the game.  On the other side, CAL is just not what they have been in the past.  I would like to see CAL pull this one off, but I think UCLA will continue their winning ways beating CAL 21-17.

Oregon at WSU:  The big controversy this week is the fact that the game will not be televised.  I was actually wanting to watch this game too!  The Cougs looked respectable in Pasadena last week, but the Ducks are coming off a big win against Stanford.  The current line on this game is Oregon by 37!  That is a big line, but honestly I don’t think it is big enough.  I see the Ducks rolling over the Cougs, 56-3.

Oregon State at Arizona: I can’t believe that Arizona is now ranked #9 in the nation and no one is really spending any time talking about them.  They beat a good in in Iowa a few weeks ago, and they look to continue their winning ways against Oregon State.  The Beavers are coming off a good win against ASU, but I think the Wildcats will be to much to handle.  Oregon State will keep this close for the 1st half, but I see the Wildcats passing all over the Beavers in the 2nd half.  I see Arizona 35-14.

USC at Stanford: This is always a great match-up, and the previous years have not disappointed.  USC is coming off a tough loss at home to UW and are looking to get the rebound.  However I don’t see this happening.  USC isn’t the team that they once were and this is really the beginning of a couple average seasons for Kiffin and the Trojans.  Stanford on the other hand has a great team this year.  Granted they did just lose to the Ducks, and gave up a 21-3 lead.  The big question will be if Stanford can roll all over the Trojans at home.  I can’t think of a bigger game for the Tree’s this year.  I think Stanford will win 28-17.

Arizona St. at Washington: Arizona St. is coming into this game with a 2-2 record and 0-2 in the Pac.  They were picked to finish 9th in the conference.  Washington is also coming into this game with a 2-2 record, but 1-0 in the conference.  Washington needs to win this game and avoid the “big letdown” after a huge win on the road.  They are also at home for the next two games.  I really think that this game can be the start of something big for the Huskies.  Arizona St on the other hand is looking to prove themselves to the other teams in the Pac-10.  They need this win on the road.  I think the Huskies will be fired up and end up winning another close game 24-22.

Categories: NCAA Football, Sports

Mr. Big: Danny Shelton Checks In

October 8, 2010 4 comments

With the Washington Huskies having difficulty stopping the run, it is apparent that the line is in serious need of an upgrade and one of Sarkisian’s biggest recruiting targets, both literally and figuratively, is just down highway 167 in Auburn’s mammoth four star defensive tackle, Danny Shelton.

Danny Shelton, not only plays defensive tackle, but is a load at right tackle, but if he had his options, which he does, he would prefer to play on the defensive side of the ball at the next level. “You get to strip the ball, sometimes then you get to scoop and score. You don’t get to do that as an offensive lineman. And on defense, you get to pick off the ball, if your good enough, if you have hands for it.” And he likes the physicality on the defensive side of the ball, however, it sounds as if the real hitting is as an offensive lineman, “The real big hits are on offense, when I block I look for players that are just blocking around or just chasing the ball carrier, and then I can crack block. And that’s what I like about blocking on offense.”

After a successful junior year that ended with a 34-21 loss to Skyview and an 11-1 record, Danny seems to be getting a lot of attention from offensive coordinators, along with PAC 10 coaches,  “Every team started, my junior year, they started to try to triple team me, doing whatever to try to keep me out of the play.” And with the all of the recruiting attention, he not only is focused on bringing the Auburn Trojans back to a championship game, but is also looking forward to the next level. So what universities is Danny considering attending for next fall, “UW and Oregon at the top, and then UCLA and Cal.”

So not only are UW and Oregon bitter rivals on the football field, but also for this highly coveted recruit. So what is Danny digging about the Huskies, “I like the coaches and I like the players that they have. They are so close that I get to go to some of their games and am friends with one of the player’s family.” So who is he close to on the team? “Everette Thompson. His cousins play with me. One who’s a senior with me, he plays middle linebacker and fullback, and we have another one that’s a junior, and he plays outside linebacker and fullback.” He also likes defensive coordinator, Nick Holt, “He’s a solid coach, um, he reminds me of some of my coaches, the way he talks, and off the field he’s pretty cool to hang out with.”

And what does he like about Oregon? “I like their defense. I remember going up there for junior day, watching them practice and do some drills and became friends with some of them and I felt like I could fit in with them.” Big Danny is also friends with a current University of Oregon player who also matriculated from Auburn. “They have a kid from Auburn Riverside. When I went down for Junior Day I got to meet him and I got to stay over at his place. He’s my head coach’s son in law’s brother.”

Big Danny, who works pretty hard to build to his 6’3″ 300 pound frame, “I work out everyday. Every weekday. It’s one of my classes,” also enjoys hanging out with friends and spending time with family. And when it comes to family, Danny’s Samoan roots my also have an influence on his decision. Asked if his roots could be a factor, Danny Shelton replied, “That would make me feel comfortable, being a Samoan.” So while fans may think Steve Sarkiasan had better have a few luaus lined up in Husky Stadium, he most likely won’t need to as there is a fairly good-sized Samoan population on the football team.

When competition is tight, it’s that extra bit of effort that often delivers on the recruiting front. So who’s pushing the hardest for the big defensive tackle, “I don’t know….actually, probably UW.” So if effort is the deciding factor, then we may be seeing a BIG tweet from Steve Sarkisian this February.

USC Leftovers

October 4, 2010 2 comments

Husky fans everywhere, except for the “I hate Sark” crowd, are proud to be Dawg fans and now there is a fresh spark of optimism floating around Montlake. And beating the 18th ranked team in the country, on the road no less, puts a fresh salve on the wounds of the depressing 56-21 loss at home to a dominating Nebraska team. The Washington offense was unstoppable, and made just enough plays to overcome a defense that still doesn’t know how to tackle. There are still a lot that needs to be repaired heading into the remainder of the PAC 10 season, but signs are pointing to improved play in almost every aspect of the game. Leftovers are sure tasty after the USC game. So let’s dive in!

Quarterback– Jake Locker needed to have a big game to win in the Colosseum, and he delivered one of his most impressive performances of his career with 310 yards in the air, a touchdown pass, and 110 yards rushing. He was every bit of the Heisman Trophy candidate that fans were hoping to see after a subpar performance two weeks ago. He made good reads, he made clutch throws near the end, and he ran like a gazelle in the secondary. This is the Locker that will give analysts and NFL scouts some sense of ease. However, Locker did miss a few easy throws and when it was apparent that he was going to be wrapped up on a significant gain, instead of securing the ball, Jake allowed Shareece Wright to poke the ball out, ending in a questionable touch back. Also, Jake occasionally appeared passive in moments of the first half, but did show that competitive fire that he sometimes lacks. Locker played well in the pocket and exceptional out of it, but still appeared a little uneasy, at times, in the pocket. It’s always easy to pick someone’s game apart, but in the end, Locker was clutch and kept fighting despite the myriad of dropped passes.

Offensive Line– The line played its best game since they mauled the Cal Bears 42-10 last year, by controlling the line of scrimmage against the Trojans on Saturday night. Jake Locker had plenty of time to throw, as he was sacked only once, and the running game performed well; speaking to the performance of the offensive line. The results were a huge upgrade over the Nebraska debacle, but at the same time no one will confuse USC’s defensive line with that of the Cornhusker’s. Regardless, they played very well and were quietly the key to victory. Without such execution in the trenches, Polk doesn’t find a hole that releases him for 26 yards in the fourth quarter, or Locker wouldn’t have time to connect with D’Andre Goodwin on a 4th and 11. They weren’t perfect, since Locker had to escape the pocket a hand full of times and Erik Kohler was knocked on his keister twice in one series. A few glitches, however, will not overshadow the entire body of work, but up next will come an aggressive Arizona State team who are hungry for a victory after coming close to winning in the last three contests. ASU’s linebackers, led by Vontaze Burfect, are a far more physical group and will challenge the offensive front. They will bring pressure. So the question is, “will the trench Dawgs be able to hold back the ASU pass rush?”

Wide ReceiverSaturday was a mixed bag for the Huskies wideouts, with receivers open all over the field and catching enough of Locker’s rockets to account for 310 passing yards, however, there were several dropped balls, which skewed Locker’s numbers. Despite the drops, Saturday was still a good day for the receiving core, and on a 4th and 11 late in the fourth quarter, D’Andre Goodwin made a clutch 18 yard reception to continue UW’s game winning drive. The tight ends, however, were absent besides one touchdown pass, and I still would like to see what Hartvigson and Barnett are capable of, but the position may still not be ready to contribute significantly in the passing game.

Running Backs– Saturday was a great day for the running game with 222 yards on the ground, and yes, I’m including Locker in this category due to the fact that he was essentially a running back with his designed runs totaling 110 yards. Chris Polk ended the day with 92 yards on just 13 carries and Jessie Callier was effective in the fly sweep with 20 yards on 8 carries. Polk and Callier are becoming a good one two punch, with Polk being able to pound the ball in the middle and Callier being a possible playmaker with his quickness. Next week may be a tougher challenge, or at least a more painful one, but I am more than comfortable that this group can get the job done.

Special Teams– While there were still some hiccups in the coverage, special teams were still greatly improved over the first 3 games, and in enduring some horrific moments, the Huskies may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Erik Folk’s 4 field goals, including the game winner as time expired, overshadowed a 55 yard kick off return by Robert Woods, and with Kevin Smith proving to be solid in the return game, Husky fans can start to breath a little easier.

Defensive Line– Saturday’s performance may not have been good for Huskies fans, but was fantastic for the USC stat sheet and for potential recruits who are dreaming of significant playing time as freshman. The Huskies were simply out manned the entire game, and with a bend but don’t brake philosophy, the defensive line broke all game long to finally stiffen in the tail end of USC’s final drive. The big boys pad level was too high, even after Holt made that an emphasis after the Nebraska loss, but talent deficiencies are probably the main issues with this front four. The linemen are simply not explosive enough to get off the line with any sort of momentum and have difficulties shedding blocks, tackling, and reaching the quarterback. And what made things even more challenging is that starting defensive tackle, Cameron Elisara, went out of the game in the first quarter with a neck stinger. Cameron has struggled greatly, over his career, with neck stingers, and it has remained to be seen if the latest stinger will affect his status for this Saturday. The depth on the d-line is razor-thin and no more injuries can be sustained. Another alarming observation is the speed, or lack thereof, on the end. Without such speed, the quarterback can just sit back, relax, and make a cup of Joe before hitting a wide open receiver. There are a lot of questions on the line, and there are no answers to be seen.

Linebackers– This was the best group on the defense on Saturday night, but that’s not saying a whole lot. Mason Foster had a good game, but still had a few missed tackles, and the rest of the guys were just OK, with some missed assignments and missed tackles. The defensive line didn’t make life easy, with o-lineman reaching the second level easily to make the block, but when they had an opportunity to wrap up USC running back, Allen Bradford, they were simply overpowered. The linebackers are another group that needs to improve before we can see the opposing team held under 20 points.

Secondary– Desmond Trufant had a bounce back game, but overall, the secondary showed their warts with Matt Barkley connecting on 14-20 passes. This doesn’t even reflect a few errant throws, one would have been a touchdown. Once again, the secondary wasn’t helped with the lack of pressure, which gave Barkley far too much time to throw. Also, a whiff on Matt Barkley by Quinton Richardson, wasted a potential sack and allowed Matt Barkley to connect to his wideout on a deep pass. Missed tackles remain a theme here, as it does for the defense as a whole.

Coaching– This was one of Sarkisian’s best gameplans, as he simplified the play book for Jake Locker and the Huskies’ offense to gain confidence. Sark also gave Locker time to throw by moving the pocket and by calling a lot of bootlegs. The fly sweep was also called a lot, and was very effect in gaining yards on he edge and also helped soften up the middle for Polk. The coaches used the bye week well, as the offense was more prepared and confident than they have been all season, and special teams coach, Johnny Nansen, cleaned up a lot of the coverage deficiencies on special teams. Tackling, on the other hand, remains a bugaboo for Nick Holt’s defense and it remains to be seen if the problem is the coaching or the talent.

Overall, Saturday was a great day to be a Dawg, and despite some issues on the defense, most of us won’t be complaining too much with a W under the Huskies’ belt. Bring on Arizona State!