Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wilcox leads #22 Washington over Long Beach State 102-75



By Kshell

The 22nd ranked Washington Huskies(4-2) took care of business over the Long Beach State 49ers(3-4) crushing them 102-75 at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies were led by the three point shooting of redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox who hit a career high six three pointers with a career high 20 points on the night. The Huskies also featured a new starting lineup for the first time this season. Lorenzo Romar trying to send a message to Senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning benched him for Aziz N'Diaye. Bryan-Amaning took the message well scoring 14 points on seven for seven shooting on the game with four block shots. It was a good win for the Huskies who saw seven guys score in double figures. The Huskies will now turn their attentions to Texas Tech on Saturday who defeated them last year in overtime.

The Huskies with the new starting lineup came out fast on a 10-2 run to start the game. The Huskies were sharing the ball well and playing great defense. The Huskies had a huge spark off the bench from Bryan-Amaning and C.J. Wilcox. Bryan-Amaning in the first half was dominant scoring 10 points on five for five shooting while Wilcox added 11 points on four of six shooting including three of five from three pointers. The Huskies also played some great defense forcing 12 turnovers which resulted in 14 points as the Huskies led at halftime 44-28.

In the second half the Huskies continued to hit the three point shot. The Huskies for the game hit 14 of 26(53.8%) from three point range. In the second half the Huskies hit 10 three pointers including another three by C.J. Wilcox who finished six of eight from three point range for 20 points. Abdul Gaddy showing his range was three for three on three pointers with 17 points, his backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas didn't shoot well but had a solid all around game scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and having six assists. Venoy Overton had a strong game scoring 10 points, hitting two three pointers dishing out eight assists with three steals. The Huskies would roll outscoring the 49ers 58-47 in the second half to win the game 102-75. Justin Holiday continued his stellar play scoring 11 points on five for seven shooting, with four rebounds and three assists. He has came along ways since his freshman year at Washington. Darnell Gant would continue his strong play as well finishing with 10 points on four for eight shooting, including two for two from three pointers with five rebounds. The Huskies had a great team effort which saw seven guys score in double figures and seven guys play over 20 minutes but not one guy play over 30 minutes.

At the end of the day the Huskies did what they were supposed to do. They took care of business against an inferior opponent. The Huskies have a chance to seek some revenge this Saturday when they play Texas Tech who defeated them last year. The Huskies may have found an ace up their sleeve in C.J. Wilcox who played just three minutes against Michigan State. The Huskies are a great three point shooting team and with Wilcox leading the way they can be very dangerous. Of course the Huskies won't get a chance to prove that against a high calibar team until March but until then they have to keep working on improving their play. The Huskies took care of business and at this point that's all they can do.

Observations:

- Scott Suggs didn't play today as he was hurt. That opened up playing time for C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross. Seeing how Suggs has struggled all year and is a defensive liability this could be a good thing. Ross is a good defensive player and there is a reason why Romar played him at the end of the Michigan State and Kentucky games. In 18 minutes today Ross had six rebounds and three assists but also had zero points. Wilcox was the star today with 20 points as he is a pure shooter. He reminds me of Tre Simmons where with his 6'5" size he won't be a total liability on defense like Ryan Appleby was. Look for Wilcox to be a star for the Huskies sometime in the future. As for this year he could be Romar's ace up his sleeve.

- Abdul Gaddy has a higher NBA ceiling than Isaiah Thomas does. This reminds me of Nate Robinson-Brandon Roy where Robinson was always the star of the team but Roy was the better NBA prospect. Gaddy is just smooth and with his height shoots over his defenders. He rarely does something stupid and right now is a better shooter than Thomas. Thomas is quick and like Robinson could be a nice role player on a team. Gaddy if he turned into an NBA All-Star I wouldn't be surprised one bit. Hopefully he gives UW another year if so he'll be the best player in the Pac-10 next season.




- Matthew Bryan-Amaning looked like a different player. Instead of going up softly to the bucket he was throwing down dunks. It's hard to tell if he played this way because Romar lit a fire under him by benching him or if the competition was weak. I'm going to say it was a mixture of both but he controls the Huskies destiny this season. Aziz N'Diaye is terrific on defense but on offense he is still a liability so the Huskies need Bryan-Amaning to step up.

- Justin Holiday is the most improved player in Huskies history. This guy averaged less than a point a game his freshman year. Now he is the Huskies best all around player. Has a great mid range jump shot, can defend anyone of any size, can hit the corner three, is a great passer and rebounder. There is nothing Holiday can't do and he was the only Husky who raised his game up against Kentucky and Michigan State. Holiday after his freshman year looked lost now he looks like he might be playing in the NBA next year. Have to give Romar credit on the player development of Justin Holiday.

The Huskies have a chance to lick their wounds from the Maui Invitational with some home wins. They go on the road just once for the rest of the non conference schedule when they play on December 11th at Texas A & M. The Huskies should destroy Texas Tech at home and continue with the home blowouts. I'm most curious how they'll do at Texas A & M where they have recently struggled on the road against non conference opponents. The Huskies passed the warm up test which shows they can run the bad teams out of the gym. That will be key come Pac-10 season as the Huskies should run tons of teams out of the gym. I'm still waiting for what the Huskies can do in close games though. Unfortunately we won't get a chance to see that very much this season.

The most anticapted Apple Cup ever; flashback to 1981



By Kshell

This years Apple Cup appears to have the most excitement in years. The reason fans are so excited for this years Apple Cup because for the first time since 2002 the Washington Huskies are looking to go to a bowl game. The Washington State Cougars are looking to play spoiler in this game and deny the Huskies a trip to a bowl much like the Huskies did to the Cougars back in 2006. Now playing just for a bowl game wasn't always the case for excitement in this rivalry. There was once a game that determined who would go to the Rose Bowl between these two teams. At the end of the game one team had lost a big opportunity but still accomplished something it had never done before in 50 years.

I'm talking about the 1981 Apple Cup which is often left out when people talk about Apple Cup games. Probably because the game itself as often the case when a game is hyped wasn't that great. Far as the actual game goes this game probably doesn't even crack the top 15 but this was by far the most important game. The Washington State Cougars entered the Apple Cup in Seattle actually ranked higher and controlled their own destiny. The Cougars needed a win against their cross state rivals to go to their first Rose Bowl since 1931. While the Huskies needed some help, the Huskies needed USC to upset UCLA and beat the Cougars to go to their second straight Rose Bowl and third Rose Bowl in five years. The game had a ton of hype going into it as should be and in the end both teams won in a way.

November 21st, 1981: #14 Washington State 8-1-1(5-1-1) at #17 Washington Huskies 8-2(5-2)

This game had a ton of hype heading into the contest. The Cougars led by coach Jim Walden were seeking their first Rose Bowl berth in 50 years and were trying to clinch it in Seattle. The Cougars also had a seven game losing streak in this Apple Cup series to the Huskies. While the Huskies were hoping to deny the Cougars a chance at the Rose Bowl and with a little help go to the Rose Bowl back to back years for the first time since the 1959 and 1960 seasons.

This was the first time since 1936 when the Huskies defeated the Cougars 40-0 when this game had Rose Bowl implications. In 1936 the winner of that game would advance to the Rose Bowl and the #5 Huskies destroyed the #20 Cougars 40-0. Flash forward 45 years later and the game had Rose Bowl implications once again and both teams were ranked. In front of 60,052(largest crowd for either team regardless of home or away) turned out for this huge game. If this same game had taken place in the last decade ESPN game day would be there as the Cougars were trying to make history.

Led by quarterback Clete Casper the Cougars would take an early 7-3 lead for the bulk of the first half. The Cougars could taste the Roses as they were outplaying their rivals. Then an unfortunate event happened for the Cougars quarterback Clete Casper would get injured in the second quarter. Without their starting quarterback the Cougars couldn't move the ball and would end up turning the ball over six times on the day. You can't expect to beat a good team especially a Don James team turning the ball over that many times. Right before halftime young Sophomore quarterback Steve Pelluer would connect with wide receiver Paul Skansi that appeared would be intercepted. Instead Skansi made a terrific touchdown catch from 15 yard out right before halftime. The Huskies would take a 10-7 lead into halftime.

In the second half the Cougars would march down the field 69 yards but would have to settle on a field goal to tie the score at 10-10. The Huskies had been running the ball all game on the Cougars as freshman running back Jacque Robinson( Nate Robinson's dad for those who don't know) ran for 75 yards in the first half but had two fumbles. James then benched him and went with Ron "cookie" Johnson who the Huskies featured when they went on an 80 yard touchdown drive. The drive ended with Johnson scoring a 23 yard touchdown run to put the Huskies up 17-10. Johnson would finish the game with 103 yards rushing on the day most of which coming in the second half. Chuck Nelson would later add a field goal to give the Huskies a commanding 20-10 lead.

The game was slipping away for the Cougars and then something even worse happened. Not only were the Cougars going to be denied of a Rose Bowl berth with about three minutes left in the game the PA announcer had announced USC had defeated UCLA. For the final three minutes the Husky crowd started to chant "ROSE BOWL!" as Nelson added another field goal to give the Huskies a 23-10 win over their rivals. The Huskies under Don James were going to their third Rose Bowl in a five year span. The Cougars on the other hand had to watch as their rivals celebrate a trip to the Rose Bowl and wonder what could have been?




The aftermath of the game was great for both schools. The Cougars missed a great opportunity but were still going to their first bowl game since 1931. The Cougars would take on the BYU Cougars in the Holiday Bowl. BYU featured quarterback Jim McMahon and his backup Steve Young played a series in the game as well. The BYU Cougars jumped out to a 31-7 lead as Washington State didn't know what hit them. Washington State would battle back and close the game to 38-36 but at the end of the day BYU would hang on for the win. The Cougars would finish the season 8-3-1 which for Washington State back then was a great season. The Washington State Cougars wouldn't be a position for a Rose Bowl berth until 1997.




Meanwhile for the 12th rated Washington Huskies they took on 13th rated Iowa Hawkeyes. The Huskies were actually underdogs in this game according to Vegas. The Huskies led by Jacque Robinson the true freshman who would rush for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson as a true freshman would earn the Rose Bowl MVP and later as a Senior earn Orange Bowl MVP becoming the first player to be MVP in both bowl games. The Huskies would shut out the Hawkeyes 28-0. In fact that is the last Rose Bowl shutout in Rose Bowl history. The Huskies would finish the season 10-2 and ranked 7th in the AP poll and 10th in the coaches. The Huskies the next two years would have a chance at the Rose Bowl again only this time it was the Cougars who knocked them out.

All in all, this was the most anticipated Apple Cup ever. Regardless of the school you happen to root for this is where you want the rivalry to go back to. As a state we don't want games like 2008 to ever happen again. I want to see in my lifetime a game like 1981 where the attention is on this state much like the Civil War has gone for the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. I'm glad this Apple Cup features some excitement but I'm greedy I want to get back to that level of 1981 where winner goes to the Rose Bowl and the loser gets knocked out while having to watch their enemy celebrate. This game wasn't the most exciting Apple Cup but it certainly was the most anticipated Apple Cup of all-time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Who has the better quarterbacks historically? Huskies or Cougars?



By Kshell

When the Washington Huskies(5-6,4-4) travel to Pullman to take on cross state rival Washington State Cougars(2-9,1-7) this Saturday there will be a ton of focus on quarterbacks Jake Locker and Jeff Tuel. Now if you talk to Cougar fans they'll have you believe Tuel is better than Locker but that simply isn't the case at least not now. Tuel has a bright future ahead of him for the Cougars who have produced some good quarterbacks in their time period. While Jake Locker will most likely be the first Husky quarterback drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

With all this talk about quarterbacks that started up a friendly debate on which school has the better quarterbacks? Now I'll admit when it comes to stats WSU wins as their quarterbacks have put up some great statistics. As I know from watching Locker or Cody Pickett statistics don't always tell the story for a quarterback. Like 15 of the last 17 starting quarterbacks for the Huskies have played professionally. The Cougars just can't compete with the Huskies depth and quantity of good quarterbacks. In this following blog post I'll debate with Tory Johnson who is an avid Coug fan who you might see post on Seattle PI's Jim Moores page quite often. Now don't be afraid he is a classy Cougar who loves his Cougars while remaining respectful to the Huskies. I'll let him make his points first then I'll give you reasons why the Huskies have better quarterbacks.

Tory Johnson:

Many people nowadays would say that, if you look at their recent history, Washington State is no longer Quarterback U. It cannot be argued, however, that Washington State earned that title by having a vast array of talent at that position through the years.

Even though I’m showing why Washington State has had the better quarterbacks historically I am, in no way , saying that Washington quarterbacks have been bad (because they’re not). I will just state why Washington State quarterbacks, historically, have been better.

Here is my list of the top 5 Washington State quarterbacks since 1975:

5. Mark Rypien
The first Canadian born quarterback to start in the NFL, Rypien was best known for his accuracy as a deep passer. Rypien may not have had the best pass you’ve ever seen, but he could throw a 50 yard pass more accurately than any quarterback.. He was a two time All-American (1984 & 1985) and was named the PAC-10 best quarterback in 1985. He finished his career at Washington State with 4,573 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a 53.2% completion percentage. His completion percentage ranks 10th all-time.

Rypien was the perfect example of hard work, determination, and strong will.




4. Jack Thompson
Named “The Throwin’ Samoan” by the Spokesman-Review, Thompson racked up 7,818 yards and set PAC-10 records (at the time) for attempts, completions, and touchdowns. When he left for the NFL in 1978 he was deemed the most prolific passer in NCAA history and arguably still is. His senior season he finished ninth in Heisman voting.

In my opinion Thompson is the face of Washington State football and is the bar every quarterback there strives towards.

3. Jason Gesser
His passion to come play at Washington State was so strong he signed his letter of intent without even visiting the campus or seeing the stadium.

Although he wasn’t drafted Gesser finished his college career breaking Jack Thompson’s illustrious records and had the most wins of any quarterback in Washington State history. In 2002 he finished seventh in Heisman voting and was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year.

Jason Gesser and Washington State is one of only two teams to beat Boise State in Boise in the last decade. He played through more injuries than any athlete I have seen in a long time.



2. Ryan Leaf
Leaf was the first quarterback in 67 years to lead the Cougars to a Rose Bowl and helped them win the first PAC-10 championship in school history. That same year he averaged 330 yards per game, was third in Heisman Trophy voting (behind Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning), was selected PAC-10 Player of the Year, named first-team All-American, and finished second in the nation in passer efficiency rating.

Leaf was the #2 pick in the draft (behind Manning) and, although he was a bust in the NFL, his legacy at Washington State will live on forever.




1. Drew Bledsoe
My favorite quarterback of all-time, Bledsoe was best known for his bullet pass. I would swear that a receiver gained five yards just from the ball knocking him back that far. Bledsoe racked up 7,373 yards and 46 touchdowns in only three years. In ‘92 he led the team to a #15 ranking in the AP poll and an invitation to the Copper bowl, where they beat Utah. He set WSU records in single-game passing yards (476), single-season pass completions (241), and single-season passing yards (3,246). He also was named PAC-10 Player of the Year in 1992.

He was drafted first in the 1993 NFL draft and, with the impressive career he had, leaves Seahawk fans to wonder what would have been if the Patriots let him fall to second.

My honorable mention would have to be Collin Henderson. While this is tongue-in-cheek, Collin had a passer rating and completion percentage that most quarterbacks would be envious of. He finished 11-12 with 6 touchdown passes.

Kshell:

I'm here to convince you that the Huskies have the better quarterbacks. When you look at my top Husky quarterbacks list since 1975 you'll notice one thing about them. They were all winners and four of my five guys won Rose Bowl MVP's. You see at Washington going to the Rose Bowl isn't good enough but winning the Rose Bowl is what truly matters. I'll also show off the depth in my honorable mention list at the names who didn't crack the top five.

Here is my top five Husky quarterbacks since 1975 that I'm sure will get some fans to disagree with me.

5. Chris Chandler
Don James once called Chris Chandler the greatest athlete he had ever coached. James also said there is no one player he regrets most by not putting enough talent around him than Chris Chandler. Chandler is the only guy on my list who never won a Rose Bowl MVP. Chandler played at Washington from 1984-87 and as a sophomore beat out Senior starter Hugh Millen in the middle of the season.

In Chandlers first career start he led the Huskies down the field on a 98 yard drive to defeat the USC Trojans 20-17. Chandler in his career at Washington finished third all-time in total yardage at 4,442 yards. He also threw for 32 touchdowns in his career at Washington where he won the 1988 Senior Bowl MVP in his last game as a student athlete. Chandler finished his career with 4,360 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and also ran for seven touchdowns. Don't think Chandler was a loser either because he didn't go to a Rose Bowl Chandler finished his career with a record of 17-8-2 with a 2-1 record in bowl games. Chandler is also the only Husky quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl when he led the lowly Atlanta Falcons to their first ever Super Bowl in the 1998 season when they upset 15-1 Minnesota Vikings.

4. Mark Brunell
If it wasn't for a tragic injury in a spring game Brunell could possibly be #1 on this list as is he'll have to settle for #4. Brunell took over as starting quarterback as a Sophomore on a loaded 1990 team. All Brunell did was guide the team to a 10-2 record and a 5th national ranking. Brunell was also Rose Bowl MVP as a Sophomore defeating Iowa 46-34. During his Sophomore year Brunell threw for 16 touchdown passes to 9 interceptions.

Heading into the 1991 season Brunell and everyone else was coming back so it was expected the Huskies would contend for a National Championship. Then in the spring game Brunell went down with a knee injury and many felt his season was over. Not many schools could overcome losing a Rose Bowl MVP at quarterback but James was a great recruiter had highly touted backup Billy Joe Hobert waiting in the wings. Hobert who I'll talk about later took over the starting job and won the National Championship in 1991. As for Brunell in a miracle he would return for the third game. It was so emotional players were crying in the huddle. Brunell would have the signature moment in the 1992 Rose Bowl 34-14 win over Michigan hitting Mario Bailey for a touchdown pass.

In 1992 many people would forget before the Billy Joe Hobert scandal had broken out Brunell had beat out Hobert for the starting job after the fifth game. Brunell would finish his career in his third straight Rose Bowl this time a loss to Michigan 38-31. If the Huskies had won Brunell would have won another Rose Bowl MVP as he threw for 308 yards on the day. Brunell would become the all-time leading passer in Rose Bowl history. Brunell would finish with a 14-5(.736%) record in games he started while at the University of Washington. He threw for 3,734 with 25 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He also ran for 710 yards with 19 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Brunell would later enjoy a lengthy NFL career that is still going on as he is the backup quarterback for the Jets. For his NFL career he has thrown for 31,935 yards, 182 touchdowns to 107 interceptions. He has made three pro bowls including the 1997 MVP and led the expansion Jaguars to the AFC Championship game in their second year of existence and fifth year of existence. Brunell will always go down as a great Husky and before that knee injury he was like Michael Vick on the field with his running. If not for that knee injury he possibly could have been a three time Rose Bowl MVP and a first round pick.




3. Billy Joe Hobert
My most controversial pick so far. Remember just like with Tory picking Ryan Leaf this list is about what you did on the field for that school. When you think of Billy Joe Hobert you think of winner and it's that simple. Billy Joe Hobert went 17-0 as starting quarterback for the Huskies. It does seem a bit weird how I don't have Hobert #1 with a 17-0 record as starting quarterback.

When the Huskies landed Hobert he was a highly touted recruit from Puyallup, Washington. It also appeared with Brunell being one year older than him that Hobert would never see the field. In fact Hobert thought about transferring after the 1990 season when Brunell cemented himself as the starting quarterback. After a tragic injury happened in the 1991 spring game Hobert took over as starting quarterback. He led the Huskies to a 12-0 season and a National Championship where he won the Rose Bowl MVP along with Steve Emtman.

I put Hobert third because he was on the greatest collection of talent the Huskies have ever had. He was allowed to have bad games like against USC where the Huskies only won 14-3. No other quarterback had as much support as Hobert did. Now Hobert is in the top three because he had the fire and passion while at Washington. His signature game was in 1991 in his second career start at Nebraska in Lincoln. With the Huskies trailing 21-9 a young sophomore quarterback screamed at his teammates "WE WILL NOT LOSE THIS F***ING GAME!" that is when Hobert made his legend. He put on a passing clinic and hit a crucial fourth and nine pass to Orlando McKay. Hobert would throw a touchdown pass, run for two touchdown passes that game.

I can't talk about Hobert without talking about 1992. Hobert was benched after five games to Mark Brunell. Hobert was playing poorly possibly because he got a big head in the offseason, maybe he knew a storm was coming but either way he wasn't playing well. After the Huskies had defeated Stanford 41-7 in which Hobert busted a 42 yard touchdown run he was kicked off the team. Hobert was an underrated athlete by the way as he could run, had a rocket arm and was the teams punter early in the 1991 season. Once Hobert was dismissed from the team the Huskies finished the year 1-3 after winning 22 games in a row. The Huskies would be placed on probation, two year bowl ban, loss of 10 scholarships for two seasons, and worst of all Don James retired out of protest.

It it wasn't for those unfortunate sanctions Hobert would be a legend. He is often the fall guy for why Washington football fell apart and that simply isn't the case. Blame the adults in this situation not a 21 year old kid. Hobert would be drafted in the third round after being forced to leave a Junior. Hobert could never find success in the NFL but I rank him third. In his Huskies career he finished with 3,028 yards passing with 27 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions. He also ran for 290 yards with eight touchdowns. He won the only National Championship that most fans recognize. He was the MVP of the bowl game that won the Huskies a national title that has to count for something.

2. Warren Moon
The most successful quarterback for either school is Warren Moon. He is the only quarterback in pro football's hall of fame and if not for racism would be the all-time passing leader in NFL history. Since this is a list about what they did at Washington though he is ranked 2nd as the NFL stats are nice but don't go a whole ways on this list.

Warren Moon thanked Don James at his Hall of Fame speech because James believed in him when nobody else did. You see Moon wasn't a polished quarterback in the 1970's and back then the belief was black people weren't smart enough to be quarterback. James was the only coach who gave Moon a shot at quarterback. Moon wasn't successful his first two years going 11-11 and started off his Senior year 1-3. The fans were booing Moon and wanted him and James out of town ASAP. You think Sarkisian and Locker take heat now? That was nothing compared to the stories I've heard back then.

Then everything changed for the Huskies as they finished the year Pac-10 champions. Moon had led the Huskies to their first Rose Bowl in 13 seasons. He was trying to win their first Rose Bowl in 16 seasons. In that Rose Bowl against heavy favorite Michigan who was ranked fourth in the nation Moon threw for a touchdown and ran for two more in the stunning 27-20 upset of the Wolverines. Warren Moon just like the previous two guys on my list was named Rose Bowl MVP. That win cemented Don James was the right man for the job and under James the Huskies would win six Pac-10 championship, four Rose Bowls, one Orange Bowl and one National Championship. Moon was the man who started it all and he was reward was being not drafted by the NFL.

Moon would have to wait for the NFL but would go to the CFL where he would win five Grey Cups including two Grey Cup MVPs, one CFL MVP and throw for 21,228 yards with 144 touchdowns to just 77 interceptions. To prove that wasn't a fluke when he finally got a chance to play in the NFL where he mostly starred for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings he threw for 49,325 yards and 350 touchdowns. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls winning the Pro Bowl MVP with the Seattle Seahawks at 41 years old in 1998 becoming oldest player to win the games MVP. Moon was also a three time all-pro quarterback in 1988-90.

Yes Moon was a great pro and is the symbol of Don James football. Without Moon breaking out in 1977 good chance James is fired and the Huskies never go on their 25 year run of excellence which saw them win five Rose Bowls and eight Pac-10 titles. Warren Moon never forgets where he came from either always thanking Don James and the Huskies for believing in him when nobody else did.




1. Marques Tuiasosopo
He didn't put up the greatest stats in his college career only passing for 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions his Senior year. So you must be asking with average stats like that why is he is number one out of all these great quarterbacks?

He is number one because he willed an average team to an 11-1 record finished ranked third in the nation. Tuiasosopo nicknamed the "warrior" by Keith Jackson was the ultimate team leader. Tuiasosopo during his Senior year at Washington led seven fourth quarter wins. He wouldn't let his team quit ever. During the Stanford game when Curtis Williams was in the hospitital and nobody had any clue if he was going to survive Tuiasosopo was there to bark orders. He led the team on an 80 yard drive in just three plays in under 40 seconds for the win.

Tuiasosopo made his name as a true freshman when he threw 270 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-14 loss to eventual National Champions Nebraska Cornhuskers. The following year Tuiasosopo filled in for the injured Brock Huard and was 2-0 as a starter which was huge as the Huskies went just 6-6 on the year. As a Junior Tuiasosopo led the team to a Holiday Bowl appearance taking second place in the Pac-10. Against Pac-10 champion Stanford, he threw for over 300 yards and ran for over 200 yards becoming the first and so far to date only player to ever do that in a single game. Then his Senior year he beat future Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees in the Rose Bowl and won Rose Bowl MVP in a 34-24 win over Purdue.

When I think of Tuiasosopo I think of winner as he went 20-7(.740%) in his career as a starter. He was also a good player as well finishing eighth in the heisman his Senior year and was named Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 2000. Tuiasosopo when he graduated was the all-time yardage leader in Husky history, second in passing yards behind Brock Huard and led all quarterbacks in rushing yards which was later broken by Jake Locker. Tuiasosopo would later be a second round pick in the NFL draft but wouldn't enjoy much success. He finished his career with 5,501 yards passing, 31 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,379 yards with 20 touchdowns.  He is my number one Husky quarterback because he took an average team who would have zero future pro bowlers on the roster to the third national ranking. He defeated Miami Hurricans and Oregon State that year giving them their only losses. When I think of Tuiasosopo I think of winner and that is what Husky football is all about.

Honorable Mentions:
HB: Cody Picket- All-time passing leader in Husky history with 10,220 yards and 55 touchdown passes. Went 3-0 in the apple cup

HB: Brock Huard- When he left Washington was the All-time passing leader in yards. Is currently second in passing touchdowns all-time with 53. Went 19-11 as a starting quarterback. Was a third round draft pick.

HB: Damon Haurd- When he graduated he was the All-time passing leader in yards. Went 21-12-1 as a starting quarterback. Went 2-1 in Apple Cups.

HB: Jake Locker- Statistically one of the great Husky quarterbacks. Due to lack of wins he makes honorable mention. As a PASSER he needs four touchdown passes to become the all-time leader in Husky history. As a rusher he already has the most combined touchdowns in Washington history


At the end of the day the Huskies have the depth. I'm also leaving out such guys like Steve Pelluer, Tom Flick, Cary Conklin, and Hugh Millen. All guys who played in a Rose Bowl or Orange Bowl and enjoyed some time in the NFL. The Huskies quarterbacks have another thing over Cougar quarterbacks which is Rose Bowl wins and Apple Cup wins. On Tory's list the Cougars quarterbacks combined won three applecups as starting quarterbacks while the Huskies quarterbacks won nine apple cups to just two losses. Both schools have had great tradition in producing quarterbacks though and this Saturday features another pair that both schools can be proud of. This is why rivalry week is so special so we can debate on which school is better at what. I won't attempt to debate who parties the best though we all know WSU is ranked first at that. Hey gotta be number one at something right?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chiefs offense to much for Seahawks in 42-24 win



By Kshell

The Kansas City Chiefs(7-4) offense proved to be to much for the Seattle Seahawks(5-6) crushing the Seahawks 42-24 at Qwest Field. The Seahawks have now been blow out two home games in a row and have lost four out of five weeks now. The Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe couldn't be stopped all game long. The Chiefs could throw to Bowe whenever they wanted and could run the ball as well. The Chiefs overcame some special teams errors early on and put out 503 yards total offense on the Seahawks defense. The Seahawks offense still can't run the ball and Matt Hasselbeck turned the ball over three times. The Seahawks have also lost their division lead as the Rams won and own the tiebreaker.

The Chiefs didn't waste on offense scoring on their first possession of the game. The Chiefs had drove down the field 72 yards in just seven plays ending with a Matt Cassel would hit Dwayne Bowe for a seven yard touchdown pass. The Seahawks on their first possession elected to go for it on fourth and one and decided to throw a fade pass to Golden Tate which the pass was incomplete. The Chiefs would drive down the field in eight plays but would be force to kick a field goal. The Seahawks would block the field goal but again go three and out.

The Seahawks would finally force the Chiefs to punt and the Seahawks special teams would help the team yet again. The Seahawks would block the punt then Earl Thomas would pick up the ball and return it 10 yards for a touchdown to tie the score up at 7-7. The Chiefs would respond by going on a 15 play 74 yard drive ending with defensive tackle Shaun Smith running it in on third and goal from the one yard line. Smith would later record a sack becoming the first player since William "Refridgerator" Perry did that for the Chicago Bears in the 1980's. After the Seahawks would be stopped once again the Chiefs would go on an eight play 80 yard drive when Cassel would hit a wide open Bowe for a 36 yard touchdown pass to give the Chiefs a 21-7 lead.

The Seahawks would force a fumble right before halftime and settle on an Olindo Mare 43 yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-10 at halftime. The score didn't do the game justice as the Chiefs ran 43 plays to the Seahawks 23 plays. The Chiefs had gained 272 to the Seahawks gained just 60 yards. The first half brought back memories of the Giants 41-7 win over the Seahawks. The Seahawks offense would finally get something going in the second half though.

In the second half the Seahawks would start off with a bang. Matt Hasselbeck would hit Ben Obomanu for a 52 yard pass to the Chiefs 19 yard line. After a six yard penalty Hasselbeck would hit tight end Chris Baker for a 13 yard touchdown to cut the lead to 21-17. The Seahawks despite being dominated all game long had finally pulled within one score. After the Seahawks stopped the Chiefs on the first two possessions the offense couldn't give the Seahawks their first lead. At the end of the third quarter the Chiefs led 21-17 but would erupt in the fourth quarter.

The Chiefs would go on an 11 play 71 yard drive which would end in a Jamaal Charles three yard touchdown run on third and one which would see him break two tackles to put the Chiefs up 28-17. Then on the Seahawks next possession Derek Johnson would get a sack on Matt Hasselbeck and strip him of the ball. The Chiefs would have the ball on the Seahawks 22 yard line and would score when Cassel would connect with Bowe for the third time from nine yards out to give the Chiefs a commanding 35-17 lead.

The Seahawks would repond when Hasselbeck would hit Obomanu for an 86 touchdown pass that saw Obomanu wide open. That would cut the lead to 35-24. Unfortunatly for the Seahawks they still couldn't stop the Chiefs offense as the Chiefs would go on a 10 play 80 yard drive which would end with Cassel throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the game this time to Tony Moeaki from six yards out. The Chiefs would take a 42-24 lead and eventually win the game 42-24.

The Seahawks defense couldn't get enough stops when it was all said and done. The Chiefs Matt Cassel who was playing against his old college coach in Pete Carroll completed 22 of 32 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns. His main target was Dwayne Bowe who would have 13 receptions for 170 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs also ran the ball well with Charles gaining 173 yards on just 22 carries(7.9 YPC) with a touchdown while Thomas Jones ran for 68 yards on 20 carries. The Seahawks once again were a one dimensional offense.

The Seahawks had to rely on the passing game once again as the running game was non existent. Marshawn Lynch has been a total disappointment since arriving in Seattle rushing for 20 yards on just seven carries(2.9 YPC) while Justin Forsett had three carries for two yards on the game. Up until the final drive Forsett had just one carry the whole game. He needs to see more carries that is for sure. The Seahawks had to rely on Matt Hasselbeck who didn't have a bad game but wasn't particularly sharp either. Hasselbeck would finish with 20 of 37 passing for 282 yards with two touchdowns but two interceptions and a fumble. Hasselbeck main weapon on the season Mike Williams was ruled inactive prior to the game so Hasselbeck found tall receiver Ben Obamonu who had five receptions for 159 yards and a touchdown. Hasselbeck also has a new third down receiver in Brandon Stokley who had five receptions for 51 yards.

The Seahawks find themselves in a 5-6 hole but fortunately for them the division is pretty bad so they are still tied for first place. The Seahawks take on the 1-10 Carolina Panthers next week at home in a game the Seahawks should win. The Seahawks still play at the 49ers and host the St.Louis Rams last game of the year. Pete Carroll was working the magic earlier in the year when the Seahawks were 4-2 but lately the running game has been extremely terrible while the defense has been poor. The Seahawks in their last five games have lost 33-3,41-7, won 36-18, lost 34-19 and now today 42-24. The Seahawks have five games left to try and raise another division championship banner. It starts next week at home against a very winnable opponent.

Observations:

- The Seahawks going into this week were just one of three teams(Dolphins and Lions the other) to not have a single 100 yard rusher in a game. The Seahawks have gotton nothing from Marshawn Lynch this season. Lynch for the Seahawks has 273 yards rushing on 88 carries which is just 3.1 YPC and averaging just 39 yards rushing a game. The Seahawks need to find a running game to help Matt Hasselbeck out.

- The Seahawks rush defense was tough before Red Bryant got hurt. Since his injury the Raiders, Giants, Saints and now Chiefs ran all over the Seahawks. The Seahawks used to stuff to run then bring the pressure on third and longs. The Seahawks defense can longer do that which makes it very difficult to get stops. The Seahawks secondary is kind of weak with the exception of Earl Thomas so no pressure means opposing quarterbacks will light the Seahawks up.

- The Seahawks special teams has been terrific this year. With Leon Washington's returns on kickoffs and punt returns and now the coverage teams has been great as well. Today the Seahawks blocked a field goal and a punt. The Seahawks coverage units were great as well using runningbacks Forsett and Leon Washington running down their to make tackles.

- The Seahawks are now 1-3 against the AFC this year. Last year the Seahawks went 1-3 against the AFC while going 1-3 against the AFC the previous year as well. Thankfully for the Seahawks they moved to the NFC as the AFC has taken it to them. In fact the last time the Seahawks won on the AFC against the AFC was in 2006 at Denver.

All in all the Seahawks are still tied for first place. They may have a losing record but with five games left still control their own destiny to make the postseason. They must avoid what happened last year when they were 5-7 and lost four games in a row to finish the season. Pete Carroll inherited a tough situation but he is making the best of it but nobody will remember that if the Seahawks collapse. Win next week at home against Carolina and gain some confidence. Remember at the start of the year if someone told you Seahawks would be tied for the division lead with five weeks left you would take that.

Washington defeats Cal on final play 16-13



By Kshell

With the Washington Huskies trailing the California Golden Bears 13-10 from the California one yard line Steve Sarkisian showed some guts by going for the win. Instead of kicking the field goal and sending the game into overtime Sarkisian let the clock wind down to one second left. After Sarkisian called the final timeout he huddled up his team and the Huskies responded with Chris Polk scoring a rushing touchdown with no time left to give the Huskies a 16-13 win. The Huskies(5-6,4-4) moved to within one win of reaching their first bowl game since 2002. While the loss eliminated California(5-7,3-6) from bowl contention and first losing season under Jeff Tedford.

Both teams had been struggling to move the ball all game long. In the first half the Huskies were shutout while California scored a controversial field goal when Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 53 yard field goal with no time left in the first half. The field goal was controversial because it had appeared there was no time left on the clock. California had led this ugly half with a 3-0 lead. Jake Locker was having problems moving the ball but that would change on two passes in the second half.

The Huskies would finally get on the board in the second half on a very fortunate play. Locker electing to not run despite the wide open space would throw a pass intended for D'Andre Goodwin who covered well by the Cal defender. Instead of an interception the ball would bounce to Goodwin who would run for 80 yards to give the Huskies a 7-3 lead. That touchdown pass was the 54th of Jake Lockers career at Washington putting him just one behind leader Cody Pickett. Pickett was also the starting quarterback last time Washington played in a bowl game.




The Huskies would give up the 7-3 lead on their next offensive series when on third and 20 Jake Locker would get sacked then fumble as Cameron Jordan would rumble for a 21 yard touchdown recovery. Cal would take the lead on that play 10-7 but the Huskies would quickly respond. Jesse Callier would take the kickoff 57 yards to set up the Huskies field goal by Erik Folk from 37 yards out to tie the score up at 10-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Golden Bears would go on their first good drive of the game led by Shane Vereen. Vereen would rush for 106 on 23 carries on the day. The Bears would end the drive with a Tavecchio 47 yard field goal to give them the 13-10 lead. The Huskies defense led by the great Mason Foster kept stopping California which set up one final drive for Jake Locker. Locker would have one last chance to keep the Huskies bowl hopes alive and like he did against Oregon State and USC he would deliver.

On the final drive after Locker had completed two passes to set up a third and two on their own 29. The Huskies called a "wild cat" play which had Locker lined up at receiver and Chris Polk take the snap from shotgun where he would rush for a gain of five yards to give the Huskies a first down. On the very next play Locker would throw a long beautiful pass pass to Jermaine Kearse where Kearse made a nice catch on for 46 yards. That play put the Huskies in field goal position at the California 20 yard line. Callier would rush for five yards on the next play to the Cal 15, then Locker out of the shotgun would rush for 14 yards on his next two carries to the California one yard line. After back to back failed quarterback sneaks that set up a fourth and goal from the one yard line Sarkisian decided to go for the win. Rushing behind true freshman Colin Porter Polk jumped into the end zone for the 16-13 win. That would be the Huskies third win of the season on the games final play.



The Huskies didn't look very good on offense but they got the job done when the game mattered most. Jake Locker would finish the game 17 of 27 passing for 237 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Chris Polk would carry the ball just 18 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Senior D'Andre Goodwin has had a great bounce back season and would have five receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies defense also held California quarterback Brock Mansion to 12 of 23 passing for 92 yards and an interception by Quinton Richardson. The Huskies defense allowed just six points all game and seven the previous week.

The Huskies are finding ways to win this year which is unlike the previous years. The Huskies have won three games this year on the final play of the game. Last year you saw the Huskies lose three heartbreakers but ever since the BYU game the Huskies are winning the close games. The Huskies are also 4-4 in Pac-10 play last time they did that was in 2003. The Huskies when they were down 3-6 have stepped up and made this Apple Cup matter and I'll credit the coaching staff for keeping this team together. The offense and mainly Locker passing still having their problems but the defense is carrying the team allowing just 13 points the last two games. The Huskies have rallied and now are just a win away in the Apple Cup from their first bowl game since 2002. Considering where this team was at three weeks ago this has been quite the turnaround.

Observations:

- Jake Locker isn't playing his best ball right now. Locker legacy is improving with each and every win. Locker needs to be running more like he was out of the shotgun towards the end of the game. This last game could be huge for Locker's legacy at Washington regardless of his stats a win he will go down as the guy who turned the program around. He gave up millions to come back for his Senior year for games just like next week. With a loss regarldess of his stats Locker will go down as a disappointment. Locker is one touchdown pass away from tieing Cody Pickett passing touchdown record at Washington.

- Chris Polk needs to get more carries. He had just 18 carries despite Locker's struggles. Polk is a bruising back who was a top recruit coming out of high school. The Huskies offensive line actually is pretty decent at run blocking, they struggle with pass blocking which is another reason the Huskies should be featuring the run. With Pullman already having six inches of snow the Huskies need to feature Polk and rushing game next week.

- Mason Foster is having another great season. Foster has been a tackling machine while at Washington and will go down as one of the best outside linebackers in Huskies history. Foster could win Pac-10 defensive player of the year. I'm glad Sarkisian brought him to Pac-10 media day because Foster is a great Husky and with Locker being a Senior I've felt has been somewhat overshadowed. Foster will be playing on Sunday's for years to come and is the Huskies best OLB since Marquis Cooper.

- Sarkisian needs to realize he isn't at USC and ditch the Quarterback sneak on the goaline. Last year that lost the game for the Huskies against Notre Dame, and this year against USC Locker got hurt on a play. While against California the game wasn't lost because of Polk's fourth and one touchdown. Polk should have ran the ball on second and goal and for sure on third and goal. The result worked out for Sarkisian and hopefully he finally learns from his mistakes and until Porter and Kohler are older just ditch that play from the playbook.

- D'Andre Goodwin has had a great comeback Senior season. Last year he caught just 14 passes after catching 69 as a sophomore. This year Goodwin has 39 receptions for 471 yards and four touchdowns. He is second on the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns behind Jermaine Kearse. Hopefully James Johnson takes notice and instead of transfering just works harder next season. Goodwin has shown good leadership for Huskies down the road that regardless of where you are listed on the depth chart you can move up the ranks.

All in all, this was a huge win for the Steve Sarkisian era. Sarkisian unlike Willingham went for the win instead of overtime. As Husky fans remember in 2006 after the miracle hail marry catch intsead of going for two Willingham went for the tie and overtime where the Huskies lost. Sarkisian gets that from Pete Carroll that agressive go for it attitude. This was a big win for Sarksian and Locker which hopefully propels them greater things. Hopefully down the road we look at that Chris Polk touchdown run like basketball fans look at Nate Robinson's shot against Oregon State. The Huskies must win one more and it won't be easy against the Washington State Cougars who have had three weeks to prepare for this game. The Huskies will be favored and are one win away from a bowl game which was the goal. This win has a chance to be even more memorable if the Huskies take care of business. Just remember Sarkisian had the guts to go for it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Washington Huskies take on California Golden Bears; flashback to 2009 win



By Kshell

When the Washington Huskies(4-6,3-4) travel down to Berkley to take on the California Golden Bears(5-6,3-5) this Saturday, a bowl berth will be at stake. If the Huskies win they will, of course, have to win the following week in Pullman, where they are already getting snow. If the California Golden Bears win they'll be bowl eligible at 6-6. Regardless of the outcome, this will be Jeff Tedford's worst regular season since he has arrived at Cal back in 2002. These two teams don't have much history against each other so I'll instead focus on last season's game.

The Huskies have had some memorable wins against California in years past that I'll briefly touch on. Back in 1991, the Huskies traveled down to California in a battle of two undefeated teams which saw the Huskies win 24-17. Beno Bryant would score a long rushing touchdown on a draw play of over 70 yards for the game winning score. That would be the only game all season where the Huskies would win by single digits. Another memorable win was also in Berkley just two years later as the Huskies rallied from a 23-10 deficit behind Damon Huard, who had thrown four interceptions earlier in the game, but connected on two touchdown passes including a five yarder to Mark Bruener to give the Huskies a 24-23 win. In fact, the Huskies went from 1977-2001 without losing to California. Things would change once Tedford would arrive. Tedford, who is 6-2 all-time against the Huskies, including some blowout wins in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008 when California beat the Huskies by over 30 points. That all changed last season when the Huskies upset the Cal Bears on Senior Night. I'll talk about my first experience in the student section at a Huskies game.

December 5th, 2009: #19 California(8-3,5-3) at Washington(4-7,3-5)

This would mark the second consecutive year where the Huskies would end their season against the California Golden Bears instead of the traditional Apple Cup against the Washington State Cougars. The Huskies would honor their seniors on this particularly cold night, but what was on the fans' minds, this game, was would this be Jake Locker's final game in a Husky uniform?

Heading into the game there was speculation that Jake Locker would turn pro after the season and become the first player selected in the NFL draft despite having a career record of 7-20 at the time. There was a nervous tension in the crowd because of the Locker subplot which had controlled the game.

As I was driving to the game with a friend I was talking about how we could be witnessing Locker's last game as a Husky. I also told my friend, California is the most unpredictable team in the nation and if Cal destroyed Washington by 30 or lost by 30 I wouldn't be surprised either way. I was also talking to my friend about the previous game which we had both attended against Washington State. I was talking about how I wish Steve Sarkisian would let Jake run more like he finally did the previous week.

When we finally arrived at the stadium my friend and I met up with his sister and her friend to sneak into the student section. (Since Cal isn't a big time opponent it was quite easy to sneak into the student section.) Those were the best seats I had ever sat in and was a great atmosphere with a ton of "Stay Jake" signs in the student section. I was quite alarmed at the fact of how little the fans in the student section actually knew about the Huskies. They way overrated Jake Locker, but thought I was talking French to them when I was talking about some of the early 1990s teams.

Then the game began and the Huskies were honoring their seniors - like Donald Butler and Daniel Teo-Nesheim. That is when I was thinking 2010 should be special if Locker comes back since the Huskies were returning a ton of guys. The game had finally started and unlike the previous week against Washington State, California appeared to have a real offense. California drove down the field but missed a field goal. The Huskies, with Locker, possibly making his last start, took over.

On the very first play of the game, little-known receiver Cody Bruns was in motion, took the hand off, then threw a 38-yard pass to an open Jermaine Kearse. The crowd had erupted on that completion as Sarkisian showed some trickery for the first time all year. I pointed out that Bruns was out there so I figured something was up. Good thing I wasn't coaching for California. On the next play, Locker, on a play action, pass fired a beautiful pass to Jermaine Kearse for a 40-yard touchdown pass to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead.



The Golden Bears, led by quarterback Kevin Riley, drove down the field again, but this time made the field goal, cutting the lead to 7-3 heading into the second quarter. In the second quarter, Sarkisian finally unleashed Locker's legs. The Huskies didn't have much of a running game in the first half as Chris Polk was getting shut down. Locker was continuing to hit Kearse in the first half, as Kearse finished the game, and the first half, with seven receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies would score a touchdown in the second quarter when Locker ran one up the middle for a 19-yard score. That is when the "One more year!" chants began. Then on the next possession, down at the goal line, Sarkisian finally called a shotgun run with Locker and scored a 2-yard touchdown to give the Huskies a commanding 21-3 lead at halftime. The crowd was pumped, but I was still scared since the Huskies didn't exactly have the best defense.



The second half began with the Huskies offense continuing to click on all cylinders as Locker moved the Huskies down the field then hit Devin Aguilar, to the right, on a fade route for 21-yard touchdown pass to give the Huskies a 28-3 lead. The crowd started the "one more year" chant some more. California would respond with a touchdown of their own, by Riley to Nyan Boateng for a 22-yard pass, to cut the lead to 28-10. I was still nervous about the outcome of the game as California was the more talented team. The Huskies would score again when Locker would pass for his third touchdown of the game (and fifth overall touchdown) to Aguilar down the middle from 13 yards out to give the Huskies a commanding 35-10 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Husky that was honored as the Husky legend was former linebacker John Fiala, who played for the Huskies in the mid 1990s. I bring up Fiala because my high school wrestling coach had coached Fiala and always told me stories about him. My coach, to this day, told me Fiala was the greatest wrestler he had ever coached. In the student section, the players walk up the aisle so I got to shake Fiala's hand. Made for a good story when I ran into my old coach at one of my high school's wrestling match.

As for the fourth quarter, the Huskies were drilling the Golden Bears so whenever Locker did anything at all the crowd kept chanting one more year. The defense kept harassing the Bears all game as Cort Dennison recorded two sacks as outside linebacker that game. The young sophomore looked really impressive and gave me hope for the following season. Then Daniel Teo-Nesheim recorded a sack and became the Huskies all-time sack leader in school history. A record that had snuck up on me as I was shocked. I mean, with the great pass rushers like Steve Emtman, Jason Chorak, Donald Jones, Reggie Rogers and Ron Holmes, I was surprised, but thrilled that Teo-Nesheim was the all-time leader. The Huskies would score once more on a Chris Polk 10-yard rushing touchdown to take the lead 42-10.

The only drama left in the game was how loud of an ovation Locker would receive when he was pulled. Locker was finally replaced in the middle of a series with a standing ovation from the crowd as the whole crowd - not just the student section - started to chant "ONE MORE YEAR! ONE MORE YEAR!" Then, when the PA announcer announced Ronnie Fouch was replacing him as quarterback, this fan in front of me goes, "Oh! No! Not Ronnie Fouch - he sucks! NO MORE YEARS! NO MORE YEARS!" Which I'll admit. I started to chant as well. The students had no clue what was going on for the most part though. A bunch of drunks who think Locker is a god and not perspective. Then my friend's sister's friend left at halftime on a Saturday night to go work on homework. I was in complete shock and couldn't understand what had happened there. Yet, with the exception of this game, those fans get better seats than me at most games for about 1/10th of the price.

The Huskies won the game 42-10 and finished a 5-game turnaround, going 5-7, after going 0-12 the previous year. Locker would have his best game, statistically, as a Husky, passing 19 of 23 (82.6%) for 248 yards and three touchdown passes. He also ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Locker had a terrific game along with Chris Polk who ran for 94 yards and a touchdown. On Husky Honks, the post-game radio talk show, the conversation was about Locker coming back. They had passed out team posters and I was pumped about our future. I remember telling my friend, "This will be remembered as the team who turned the program around." On Husky Honks, I remember Softy, Millen and Baird saying this time next year(2010) going 5-7 won't be acceptable if Locker comes back.

Well, Locker ended up coming back and passing up millions. Locker had looked so great that day and the team had finished the year, winning 72-10 the final two games. Possibly the fans just had an unrealistic expectations for the 2010 season. Another possibility is in those two games Locker ran for close to 200 yards, while this year he has had just 262 yards rushing on the season. Locker, in the final two games, had three rushing touchdowns while this year has had just four. For whatever reason, Sarkisian didn't allow Locker to run as he did the final two games of last season. Instead of unleashing Locker he has held him back even more. Locker wasn't running against Arizona State or BYU before the rib injury had or hadn't happened, depending who you talk to.

The Huskies find themselves in a 4-6 hole and must beat California and Washington State on the road. When I left Husky Stadium that cold December night I thought that was the berth of Husky football once again. I let Willingham fool me after the UCLA win in 2006 and I hope Sarkisian didn't fool me with those two wins to close out the 2009 season. If the Huskies close out this season with two more wins Sarkisian will appear to have this program in the right direction. If the Huskies get blown out against California or worse yet ... lose their final two games, then it appears the Huskies had failed once again to hire the right coach. These last two games can determine Sarkisian's, and most important, Husky football's fate.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2nd ranked Michigan State beats11th Washington in third place game 76-71



By Kshell

The #11 Washington Huskies(3-2) drop another close contest to an elite program like #2 Michigan State(4-1) 76-71 in the Maui Invitational. This tournament was a chance for the Huskies to make a name for themselves across the country instead they are left flying home wondering what if? The Huskies blew a 44-34 halftime lead as the three point shot disappeared for the second straight game. In a close contest once again the Huskies just couldn't come up with that big shot to give them that big win.

The Huskies just like yesterday against Kentucky started off slow in the first half. The Huskies found themselves trailing 20-11 before going on a run ignited by Senior Co-Captain Justin Holiday who stole a pass for a layup, made another bucket then had a dunk plus free throw and the Huskies tied the score up at 22-22. The Huskies would continue to go on their run with Darnell Gant hitting another three pointer while scoring seven points in the first half. Then Isaiah Thomas would lead the Huskies with 10 points in the first half as the Huskies forced 16 turnovers on Michigan State. The Huskies took a commanding 44-34 lead at halftime as it was looking like they were finally going to get a win over an elite program. Well that is why we play two halves and unfortunately for Huskies fans the second half was a disaster.

The second half the Spartans wasted no time cutting into the Huskies lead cutting it to 46-42. The teams traded baskets back and forth after that. A turning point was when Washington was up 50-49 and Isaiah Thomas was fouled shooting a three pointer but made just one free throw, the Spartans then hit a three pointer to take the lead. The game would go back and forth as Justin Holiday hit a three pointer to give the Huskies their final lead of the game 64-62 with about five minutes to go in the game. At the end of the day Michigan State hit some huge shots including a three pointer by Durrell Summers to give the Spartans a 72-68 lead. After Isaiah Thomas scored a layup to cut the lead to 72-70 the Huskies turned up the defense and forced a turnover. The Huskies were down by two with just 24 seconds remaining after a timeout had 13 seconds. The game then came down to Matthew Bryan-Amaning who was fouled with 13 seconds to go. Bryan-Amaning sank the first free throw but then he missed the second free throw. Michigan State made both free throws and the Huskies game basically ended when C.J. Wilcox who had played just three minutes all game and playing for the first time all second half air balled a three pointer. The Huskies would leave Maui 1-2 with two games they let slip away.

Now the Huskies must find a way to regroup. That shouldn't be a problem as the Huskies came out and battled Michigan State. The facts are the Huskies lost to two really good teams in the last 24 hours. Another fact is that the Huskies continue to struggle against top notch competition. The Huskies still haven't beaten a non conference ranked opponent on a road game or neutral court since November of 2004 when the Huskies won the Great Alaska Shootout. Ever since then the Huskies have mostly been blown out or find ways to lose. The Huskies unfortunately because the Pac-10 is viewed as being weak won't get another chance until March. The Huskies season is far from over in fact it has just begun but these last 24 hours was a big missed opportunity.

Observations:

- Although Abdul Gaddy didn't play great today I like it better when he is in the game. Gaddy finished with just eight points and one assist but there is a flow to our offense. While with Overton and Thomas on the court at the same time it turns into street ball and non stop erratic play.

- When is Matthew Bryan-Amaning finally going to step his game up? I know statistically he had a good game with 5-10 shooting,5-7 FT's with with 15 points and six rebounds. My eyes say otherwise as he missed five close range shots and still isn't a presence in the paint unlike Aziz N'Diaye. I don't get why Romar didn't play N'Diaye more than just 15 minutes where he had five rebounds. N'Diaye isn't a great scorer but he forces teams to shoot from the outside.

- Where has the three point shot gone? The Huskies were 42-89 from three point range first three days. The last two games they have been just 9 of 32(28%). Instead of hitting on average 14 three pointers a game the Huskies hit just 4.5 a game the last two days. The Huskies must find a way to get points and not become reliant on fast break points or three point shots.

- The Huskies struggle against the elite opponents out of conference. The Huskies have found a way to be the elite of the Pac-10 but must find a way to be an elite team in the country. The Huskies have lost over the years to such powerful programs as Lousiville, UCONN, Syracuse, Pittsburgh twice, Kansas, Florida, West Virginia, Kentucky and now Michigan State. The Huskies if they want to get to that elite level must start winning these games not just competing.

- Isaiah Thomas had a horrible 24 hour stretch scoring just 13 points on 4-11 shooting. Thomas has shot 8-25(32.0%) from the field including 1-7(14.3%) from three point range and hitting just 9-17(52.9%) from the free throw line. Overall a poor shooting two days for Thomas against two elite teams. Unfortunately for Thomas and the rest of the team this was their last chance until March to make a statement nationally.

All in all, the Huskies must keep things in perspective. They can still win the Pac-10 championship which is the goal, they can still make the sweet 16 which is always the goal as well. The Huskies must improve on their half court offense which has been the biggest weakness of Lorenzo Romar. Romar is a great recruiter and his players develop really well but his lack of a half court offense all these years has killed the Huskies in games like today. The Huskies will get a week off before they play Long Beach State then they will get a rematch against Texas Tech on Saturday December 4th. The Huskies have a long ways to go before they reach elite status.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

9th ranked Kentucky Wildcats win grudge match over 11th Washington Huskies 74-67



By Kshell

In game that had an NCAA Tournament feel to it due to the bad blood over the Terrence Jones recruitment saw #9 Kentucky Wildcats(4-0) defeat the #11 Washington Huskies(3-1) 74-67 in a back and forth game. This game was a rough game with plenty of tension on both sides but at the end of the day the Wildcats rebounding was to much for the Huskies out rebounding the Huskies 45-32 including 17 offensive rebounds. The Huskies three point shooting which has been hot all season long was missing today shooting just three for 17(17.6%) on the game. Take away Darnell Gant who had hit just one three pointer in his entire career before today the Huskies were one for 15(6.6%). Freshman Brandon Knight proved to be to much for the Huskies scoring 24 points on 10 for 17 shooting. The Huskies must regroup in time for tomorrow's third place game against #2 Michigan State. The Huskies will be kicking themselves tonight knowing they let a winnable game slip through their hands.

The Huskies ran into a buzz saw right off the bat after being up 6-2 the Wildcats went on a 18-0 run that seemed to last a lifetime. The Wildcats early on were looking like they were going to win in a blowout as they were up 20-6 and with Knight scoring nine points. That is when Lorenzo Romar pulled Matthew Bryan-Amaning for red shirt sophomore transfer Aziz N'Diaye who sparked a run without scoring a single bucket. N'Diaye changed the game by blocking shots in the paint which led to quick Washington scores. N'Diaye was also grabbing rebounds and along with Darnell Gant hitting two three pointers the Huskies had pulled within 23-22. The Huskies in fact led at halftime 35-34 after trailing by 14 points. At halftime Gant who had scored a career high with 10 points was the Huskies leading scorer. Isaiah Thomas was just one for six and Matthew Bryan-Amaning was just two for eight shooting at halftime. The second half would provide the same story as the Wildcats would pull away.

In the second half the Huskies could never find that three point shot. The Huskies would only hit one three pointer in the second half. The Huskies also couldn't get anything from their two best players Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning who were combined 7-25(28.0%) from the field, 6-12(50.0%) from free throws while committing seven turnovers in combined 51 minutes of play. The game had some crucial turning points like when the Huskies called timeout down by five then Venoy Overton who is a senior committed a terrible foul against Kentucky. The play was reviewed but the call was correct, Kentucky would hit both free throws and then retain possession so the Huskies would be down by nine. With the game tied at 52-52 Isaiah Thomas was fouled and missed both free throws, a couple of other times Thomas was wide open for three and couldn't knock it down. At the end of the day the Huskies couldn't hit the shots while Kentucky got several second chance points in the 74-67 win.

The Kentucky Wildcats bigs stepped it up inside and that was the difference in the game. Freshman Terrence Jones who I'm sure you have all heard about by now so I won't talk about him anymore had 16 points on 4 for 13 shooting but had 17 rebounds. The other big Josh Harrellson added nine points and 14 rebounds including seven offensive rebounds. Outside of Aziz N'Diaye who collected 10 rebounds and Justin Holiday who grabbed seven rebounds just got no rebounding at all. Starting center Matthew Bryan-Amaning had just two rebounds all game. The Wildcats Brandon Knight score 24 points on 10 for 17 shooting but committed eight turnovers. He still won the battle against Isaiah Thomas who scored just 13 points on 4 for 14 shooting including 5 for 10 at the foul line.

The Washington Huskies had very few players step up today. Aziz N'Diaye was the player of the game with five points, 10 rebounds and five block shots. Darnell Gant who got in foul trouble in the second half hardly played but he provided a spark for the Huskies in the first half with 10 points as well as Justin Holiday who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Both Gant and Holiday played good defense holding Terrence Jones to 4 of 13 shooting.

The Huskies won't have much time to lick their wounds. Tomorrow in the third place game at the Maui Invitational the Huskies will face the #2 Michigan State Spartans at 2 p.m. PT on ESPN 2. The Huskies will have another tough test and must prove they can finally win these games. Not since 2005 when the Huskies were a #1 seed have the Huskies proven they can beat a good opponent away from Hec Ed in a non conference showdown. It is one thing to compete but it is another thing to finally close the deal. Win or lose this wasn't going to change the Huskies season come March but it would be nice to finally win against nationally known programs. The Huskies will get a chance tomorrow but must get better play from their top two players to have any chance.

Observations:

- I'll start with the positive which is Aziz N'Diaye. I kept hearing how he was a difference maker on defense but I was resistant. After seeing Aziz I'm confident by the end of the year he will be our best big man and could end up starting over Matthew Bryan-Amaning if he keeps this up. Aziz now has 10 blocks in four games while grabbing 30 rebounds in four games. His scoring will increase as the season continues and when he is in the game nobody drives the paint.

- Yesterday I bragged up the Huskies three point shooting and everyone was off tonight. Thomas was 0-4, Holiday 0-1, Suggs 0-2, Gaddy 0-1, Wilcox 1-2 and Ross didn't attempt a three pointer. The Huskies hopefully tomorrow will shoot better than 3 for 17.

- Matthew Bryan-Amaning was not productive today as he shot 3 for 11 while committing five turnovers and grabbing just two rebounds in two rebounds. This Maui Invitational he has been pretty unproductive. In 22 minutes he personally wasted 13 possessions with missed shots and turnovers. Just because Bryan-Amaning has the ball down low doesn't mean he has to shoot it every single time.

- Venoy Overton still doesn't look 100% yet. He was getting burned often in the first half by Brandon Knight but he did play well in the second half. Overton ended up with eight points and two steals. Overton still had a horrible time to lose his composure, he may have been frustrated but he can't lose his composure like that. Overton plays with a ton of emotion and was getting hit hard most of the game but still has to overcome that.

- Romar has to trust Abdul Gaddy more at the end of games. He played well on defense and was smooth today scoring eight points, four assists to two turnovers and three steals. The team does best when he has the ball there seems to be a calmness about it when he has the ball. With Overton and Thomas it's non stop driving to the hole and expected to be bailed out by calls. With Gaddy there is a smoothness in his game that I'm liking a lot.

- Justin Holiday and Darnell Gant both had great games. Both were asked to guard Terrence Jones who will be a top five pick in next years NBA draft. Gant showed why he is valuable he can play good defense on future lottery picks(James Harden) while continuing to hit the jumper. Holiday has improved a ton where whenever he made a jumper I would jump off my couch now I expect over 10 points a game from him. These two guys are in year four in this program have improved a ton since they day they arrived on campus.

Well the Huskies took a loss today but it's not the end of the world. The Huskies must continue to prove they can play in these games and most importantly win these games. After the Huskies play in this tournament they won't face a teams this good again until the NCAA tournament. If the Huskies wish to get over that sweet 16 hump they must prove to themselves they can win games like tonight. Tomorrow against Michigan State provides another great opportunity for this program to make a statement nationally.

Monday, November 22, 2010

11th ranked Washington Huskies runs Bennett's Cavaliers out of the gym 106-63



By Kshell

When a team is truly a great team it often doesn't matter who the opponent is they are playing. Today was the case as the 11th ranked Washington Huskies(3-0) blew out the Virginia Cavaliers(2-2) 106-63 which was never a game. The Huskies led at halftime 55-31 and were to much for the Cavaliers hitting 17 of 26(65.4%) from three point range. The Huskies showed off their versatility today with 11 guys scoring and seven different guys hitting at least one three pointer. The Huskies showed today they can beat you inside and outside while still playing great defense. The Huskies passed the first test of round one in the Maui Invitational today. The Huskies have no time to celebrate as they take on 9th ranked Kentucky Wildcats who feature Terrence Jones. First I'll talk about this game and there was plenty to talk about.

Unlike previous years the Huskies left no doubt as to who was the better team early on. The Huskies in previous years under Lorenzo Romar have had problems in the non conference schedule but today they buried the Cavaliers from the start. The Huskies started off by draining their first eight three pointers they attempted in the half. The Huskies after leading 16-13 went on a 21-4 run which saw red shirt freshman C.J. Wilcox drain back to back three pointers to put the game away early. The Huskies also had great play from Isaiah Thomas who scored 14 points in the first half helping the Huskies take the lead 55-31 at halftime. The Huskies Matthew Bryan-Amaning received two quick fouls but unlike years past the Huskies had someone who can come in Aziz N'Diaye who changed the game. The Cavaliers were no longer scoring inside and were forced to shoot from the outside. The Cavaliers also had eight turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game as the Huskies ran and ran. The Huskies didn't let up at all in the second half either.



The Huskies continued their hot shooting in the second half hitting 9 of 17(52.9%) from three pointers. The Huskies outscored the Cavaliers 51-32 in the second half to beat a Tony Bennett coached team 106-63. For those who remember Bennett coached at Washington State and began his career going 5-0 against Romar but has now lost three in a row. The Huskies for the game shot 58% and 65.4% from three point range while holding the Cavaliers to 37.9% shooting and 25% from three pointers. The Huskies also out rebounded the Cavaliers 38-33 while forcing 17 turnovers where as the Huskies had just nine turnovers. The Huskies also shared the ball with 22 assists as 11 different players scored including nine guys scoring seven points or more. It was a total team effort as the Huskies won 106-63 as the Huskies are a very deep team this season.

The Huskies were led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists and shot 7 for 11 including three for five from three point range. The next leading scoring was red shirt freshman C.J. Wilcox who scored a career high to date 17 points in just 15 minutes on six for nine shooting including four of six from three pointers. Wilcox also added four assists. Other stars were Justin Holiday who added 11 points, nine rebounds and six steals. Abdul Gaddy continues to show his improvement scoring 12 points on six of nine shooting while dishing out six assists to just one turnover. Freshman Terrence Ross added 12 points on four of five shooting from three point land. Yes indeed it was a balanced performance from these Huskies. Tomorrow they'll have a true test against Kentucky and Terrence Jones.

As everyone has already talked about the Huskies will face off against Terrence Jones who Huskies fans envisioned would be on their team. Jones from Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon who was teammates with Terrence Ross both had committed to Washington. Then Jones changed his mind later that night and eventually went to Kentucky. That created a ton of buzz and hostility between the two schools. Jones after putting on the Huskies hat decided to go elsewhere. Jones is probably Kentucky's best player and had he went to Washington the Huskies would be ranked in the top five right now and a final four favorite. Having said that the Huskies are still a really good team and must get over the Jones decommittment. I think the Huskies are still talented enough to get to the final four and despite what you might hear they really want to beat Terrence Jones tomorrow and the snake known as John Calipari.

Observations:

- This Huskies team has no weaknesses at all. They can beat you inside and they can beat you outside. Seven different guys including a walk-on and Darnell Gant hit three pointers today. That makes nine players out of 12 guys on the roster who have hit three pointers including eight of 10 scholarship players. The Huskies also force a ton of turnovers as they feature both Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton. The Huskies are a tough team to score on in the paint with Matthew Bryan-Ammaning and Aziz N'Diaye. The Huskies I'm sure will lose games this year even in Pac-10 play but for teams to beat Washington they'll have to play their top game.

- Abdul Gaddy is a different player this year which makes Washington dangerous. That is a fact which was missing from last season. Last year there was tons of hype surrounded by Gaddy but he disappointed with just a 3.9 PPG average. He was often a liability last season. He also was the youngest starter in all of college basketball. Gaddy this year has scored in double figures three games in a row while dishing out over five assists in all three games. Compared to last year where Gaddy had just four games where he scored over 10 points and just four games over five assists. He can drive the hole now and hit outside shots. With the emergence of Gaddy that means when Thomas sits down the Huskies still have Overton and Gaddy in the back court which is still the best back court in the Pac-10.

- The Huskies continued to have the same starting lineup the previous two games. Abdul Gaddy started at guard(12 points, 6 assists), Isaiah Thomas(18 points, 6 rebs, 4 assists), at forwards Justin Holiday(11 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals), Darnell Gant(7 points, 4 rebounds and his first career three pointer) and in the middle Matthew Bryan-Ammaning(8 points,4 rebounds). The Bench provided 50 points with Wilcox leading the way with 17 points.




- The Huskies have great shooters. Last couple of years since Ryan Appleby graduated the Huskies haven't had much outside shooting. Now with Thomas improving his three point shot along with Gaddy and Holiday the Huskies are dangerous. The Huskies also have Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross who have shown they can hit three pointers as well. The Huskies on the season are 42 of 89(47.1%) from three point range. Thomas is 8 for 13(61.5%), Holiday is 5 for 11(45.4%), Ross is 6-14(42.8%), Wilcox is 9-17(52.9%),Gaddy 4-8(50.0%) and Suggs is 7-16(43.7%). As you can see the Huskies are a terrific outside shooting team shooting close to 50% as a team from three point range while having six guys shoot over 40% from threes and averaging over a three pointer a game. The Huskies have four guys who are making over two three pointers a game.

- The Huskies can beat you from the outside so they must be weak inside right? This is why the Huskies are scary they are tough inside. Matthew Bryan-Ammaning is averaging 16.7 PPG with 9.0 rebounds with two block shots. His backup Aziz N'Diaye is averaging 8.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 1.7 blocks per game. The Huskies can beat you inside and beat you outside there doesn't appear to be a weakness on offense.

Well the Huskies have less than 24 hours to enjoy this win and take on Kentucky. The Huskies under Romar have beat good programs in years past but have never beaten a national program like Kentucky. Kentucky is ranked in the top 10 and there a name that growing up you have heard of. This should be a good test for the Huskies to see how good they really are. This is a big game not because of the Terrence Jones story but because this is a game that features the 11th ranked team against the 9th ranked team who is a national powerhouse. This is a chance for the Huskies to tell the rest of the country they are for real this year. With the balance on this team I think the Huskies should aim higher than raising a third consecutive Pac-10 championship banner.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Drew Brees leads Saints over Seahawks 34-19



By Kshell

In a game which saw plenty of passing today as both starting quarterbacks combined to pass for 748 yards saw Drew Brees emerge as the winner. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints(7-3) won the game 34-19 over the Seattle Seahawks(5-5) simply because the Saints were scoring touchdowns while the Seahawks settled for four field goals. Drew Brees proved to be a bit much for the Seahawks passing for 382 yards and four touchdowns. The Saints unlike the Seahawks also had some balance out rushing the Seahawks 112-58. New Orleans erupted scoring touchdowns on five consecutive drives which spanned at the end of the first quarter through the start of the third quarter.

The Seahawks afer three and outing the Saints began on offense which would feature Matt Hasselbeck and the passing game. Hasselbeck coming off a season high of 333 yards the previous week would top that total this week. On the drive facing a second and 18 from their own 22 Hasselbeck would hit Mike Williams for a 68 yard gain. On the play Williams was caught from behind hurting his ankle. The Seahawks would have to settle for a 20 yard field goal by Olindo Mare.The Saints would respond by featuring the run on their next possession. The Saints would go on a 12 play 80 yard drive which would feature running back Chris Ivory running for 42 yards on eight carries including a one yard touchdown run. The Saints would lead after the first quarter 7-3.

The Seahawks would respond to that touchdown with another long pass from Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck would hit Ben Obomanu for a 42 yard pass. Once again though the Seahawks would have to settle for another Olindo Mare field goal this time from 43 yards out. That would cut the lead to 7-6 but the Saints would respond yet again. The Saints would go on a 10 play 80 yard drive which would be capped by Drew Brees hitting Marques Colston for a 23 yard touchdown as Colston split the Seahawks defenders. The Saints went on a nine play drive covering 42 yards which was capped by another Brees touchdown pass to Robert Meacham on a play action pass from three yards out giving the Saints a 21-6 lead.

The Seahawks would respond to the Saints score by going on long drive themselves. The Seahawks would go on a 12 play 69 yard drive where Hasselbeck was 8 for 10 passing for 63 yards passing. Hasselbeck would hit Obomanu for a two yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 21-13. The Saints would respond which was helped by a questionable third down roughing the passer call. After receiving that gift first down the Saints would march down the field where Brees would hit Colston for Colston's second touchdown pass of the game from 22 yards out. The Saints place holder would drop the ball like Tony Romo and just miss getting the two point conversation as the Saints would lead 27-13.

The Seahawks behind Hasselbeck would give the Seahawks a position to score a touchdown. After Hasselbeck hit two passes for 37 yards the Seahawks would start committing bad penalties which would move them from the Saints 23 yard line to the Saints 43 yard line. Hasselbeck would hit Stockley for 18 yards to set up another field goal by Mare from 43 yards out. The Seahawks would cut the lead to 27-16 at halftime. Both teams were moving the ball through the air just the only difference was the Saints had a running game while the Seahawks didn't.

The Saints would march down the field on their opening possession moving 80 yards in just six plays. Drew Brees would hit passes of 19 and 17 yards out then would hit Meachem from 32 yards out for Brees fourth touchdown pass of the game to give the Saints a 34-16 lead. The Seahawks would settle for another short field goal by Mare in the fourth quarter to cut the lead 34-19. The Saints would go on to win the game 34-19 behind Drew Brees who finished the game 29 of 43 for 382 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Marques Colston was hard to cover and finished with eight receptions for 113 yards with two touchdowns. The Seahawks passing game matched the Saints but the running game was a no show.

The Seahawks passing attack was led by veteran Matt Hasselbeck who was 32 of 44 for 366 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Hasselbeck had a rating of 104.9 and has thrown for 699 yards the last two weeks showing signs of the old pro bowl version of himself. Mike Williams would have another monster game for the Seahawks catching six passes for 109 yards on the day. The downside to the Seahawks was Marshawn Lynch who had 36 yards rushing on seven carries but would fumble twice and drop two passes. Lynch after his first two games with the Seahawks has been a bust.

The Seahawks fall to 5-5 but good news for them they are in the NFC West and remain in first place. Pete Carroll most importantly has found a way to rejunivate Matt Hasselbecks career. While under Mora Hasselbeck regressed he is playing his best ball in a long time under Carroll. In four of the last five games Hasselbeck has looked really sharp for the Seahawks. As long as Hasselbeck is playing this well I fully expect the Seahawks to be the favorites to win the division. The Seahawks now return home as they'll have four of their next six games at home at Qwest Field where they are 3-1.

Observations:

- Marshawn Lynch has been a dissapointment since the Seahawks gave up a fourth rounder and a sixth for him. Lynch in his last four games has ran for 120 yards(30.0 YPG) on 40 carries(3.0 YPC) while rushing for just one touchdown and two fumbles. Lynch has also stolen carries from the much faster Justin Forsett. The Seahawks need to find a running game to help Matt Hasselbeck out.

- Matt Hasselbeck is playing some great football right now. This is the first time he threw for back to back 300 yard games since last year on November 8th against the Lions(329) and November 15th against the Cardinals(315). First time he has had back to back games where his quarterback rating was above 100 since the end of the 2005 season where he posted ratings of 127.2 in week 14 vs the 49ers, 147.7 vs Titans in week 15, 131.7 vs Colts in week 16, 104.2 vs Packers in Week 17. Then he continued that run in the playoffs with 100.6 vs Redskins and 118.0 vs the Panthers. Come on Carroll lets resign Hasselbeck soon.

- The Seahawks pass defense has been pretty rough against decent quarterbacks. You saw Eli Manning torch the Seahawks and now Drew Brees. The good news for the Seahawks their next six quarterbacks are Matt Cassell, random Panthers quarterback, Troy Smith, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman, and Sam Bradford. With the exception of Ryan the rest are eithre bad or unproven. The Seahawks return home and that should help.

- The Seahawks are counting on Olindo Mare way to much this year in the red zone. Mare has kicked 9 for 10 on field goals in the last two games alone. The Seahawks must find a way to score touchdowns in the red zone and not field goals. The Seahawks drove the ball just as much as the Saints did today the only difference was the Saints scored five touchdowns while the Seahawks scored one touchdown and four field goals.

At the end of the day I'm encouraged by this loss. I don't believe in moral victories and the defense has a ton of work to do. I say this because the Seahawks passing offense has come alive. When Matt Hasselbeck is playing like the Hasselbeck of old the Seahawks are by far the best team in the NFC West. Another good news for the Seahawks is they are in the NFC West. Someone has to win this division and even host a playoff game. The Seahawks are 5-5 with four out of six left at home. I look for the Seahawks to win the division still at 9-7 especially if Hasselbeck keeps playing the way he has been playing.