It's time of course to take a sober look back at last nights game to see if I have a different view of things now that the Woodfords, and anger have worn out. The funny thing is I really don't. Here are a few key area's to talk about from last night's game.
1. Fatigue....The Husky Defense was on the field way too much last night. They did a good job holding UCLA to only 10 points in the first half, but never ran aggressive schemes against a gimpy QB when they were fresh. They never really pressured Cowan much in the first half. Offensively the Huskies couldn't find any rhythm in the first half which ended up wearing out our defense.
2. Defensive Adjustments....The Husky Defense came out flat in the second half. They didn't make any adjustments, and UCLA started picking on the corners by taking advantage of the ten yard cushion. UCLA's first drive of the third quarter was basically uncontested as they drove the length of the field to take a 7 point lead. Talk about taking what you are given, the Bruins did it on this drive.
3. Play Calling....As I said earlier the Husky offense couldn't find any rhythm early last night. UW wasn't taking what UCLA was giving them. the Bruins were blitz happy last night, and what was open was intermediate routes down the middle. where is the TE, where is the FB? The Huskies hit Paul Homer for a big gainer that was called back in the second half. That was a good example of what the Bruins were giving UW if they had figured out how to take advantage of it. When you score 31 points it should be enough to win. When you are tied 10-10 at the half you are still a good position to win. However all that offensive inefficiency on the first half kept the defense on the field way too long.
4. Extremely Bad Play Call....You can pin the 60 yard interception return for a TD by UCLA in the third quarter directly on Tim Lappano. That was an extremely dangerous pass play to call against a UCLA defense that had been getting penetration all night. It was a low percentage pass thrown cross field by Jake Locker who had been running the other direction which didn't allow him to get his feet properly set. Tough play for any QB, especially a RS. At that point it was 24-10, and most of us figured that we were done, but surprisingly enough we almost turned the game around right after that point.
4. The Big Turnaround....Lady luck smiled on the Huskies when they intercepted a pass and brought it back to the Bruin twenty. Jake hits a strike to the endzone and it is suddenly 24-17, and Lappano has finally found some rythym in his play calling. The TD was a big shot in the arm for the offense. Defensively it was a big play for the Dawgs, and UCLA QB Pat Cowan was injured on the play and had to leave the game. It was right at this point that UW finally had UCLA where they wanted them.
5. Not Seizing the Advantage....On the very next series UCLA brings in the only QB left on their roster, a non scholarship RS frosh with no experience, as I said last night, you are talking Felix Sweetman. Kent Baer and UW has to know what is coming at them for the rest of the game, they are not going to let this kid pass much. UCLA is going to run the ball. You also have to factor in that the Husky defense is tired from being on the field all night. What does Coach Baer do? He lines the team up in what looked like a goal line defense without back end support. Chris Markey pops a 72 yard TD run and UCLA leads 31-17. All UW had to do at this point was be conservative as they had been all night, and play it safe. The defensive alignment was just terrible on that play....but the game still wasn't over.
Why didn't UW make the RS frosh QB win this game? Big plays happen, but this was just ridiculous, why line up that way? UW was just asking for trouble and they got it immediately.
6. The Middle....UW responds with their best drive of the football game, and the Huskies are finally showing they have rhythm. Jake Locker is passing the ball well. The 63 yard strike to Russo is a thing of beauty as UW is now taking advantage of the Bruin blitz. UW is finally taking advantage of what the Bruins have been giving them all night. UCLA leads 31-24 and we still have a chance to put these guys away.
7. Special Teams....DJ used to say that special teams are 1/3 of the game. I can't remember the last time time UW has won a game with their special teams. On the kickoff UW finally puts itself out of the game by kicking a line drive that was caught on the run at the 15 by Sprint Champion Matt Slater who returned the ball for an 85 yard TD. You know your guys are fatigued, why not have the kicker go for the corner? Why not have him squiggle it so the return threat is negated? UW didn't think of that, and suddenly it was 38-24 UCLA.
8. Big Plays...UCLA used the big play all night to beat Washington. sure they dominated statistically as UW was unable to stop the pass, or rush, but UW had a good chance to win this one if they could stop the big plays.
A. Halfback pass for TD
B. Interception return for 60 yard TD
C. 72 yard run by Chris Markey with UCLA out of scholarship QB's.
D. 85 yard kick off return
That is 28 points given up on four plays, and there is no way you are going to be able to overcome that. You give up big plays because you blow coverage, don't prepare well, or you are running the wrong scheme. UW was guilty of that all night. Take away just a couple of those big plays, and Washington wins this football game despite struggling on offense, and being fatigued on defense.
9. Coaching....I wouldn't say that either team had an edge in coaching last night, but give Dorrell credit where credit is due for the way his team came out to start the second half. That first drive they put together was the result of making adjustments in the locker room at half. UW on the other hand didn't make any defensive adjustments to counter it. How about Bob Simmons and special teams? The guy is zero for 2 1/2 years leading Husky special teams, he has to go. Lappano wasn't on his game, but he did make the adjustments that allowed the Huskies to have a chance to win and put 31 points on the board. If Baer and Simmons were doing their jobs that should have been more than enough.
10. Woodfords Special Reserve....My wife brought home a surprise for me last night from Costco, and I have to say that I went through a good portion of the bottle watching the game. I would have to say that she, and that bottle where the MVP's from last nights game. The Huskies are a lot better than they played last night. Jake Locker is going to be a Heisman candidate before it is all said, and done. As for Ty Willingham the jury is still out, but he is starting to run out of time, and in my opinion he may not be around for the dedication ceremony of the new Husky Stadium.