Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jake Locker and fellow Seniors go out with 24-7 win in final home game

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(4-6,3-4) for the second straight season won on Senior night 24-7 over the UCLA Bruins(4-6,2-5). The Huskies won despite a slow game from senior quarterback Jake Locker. Steve Sarkisian decided to feature the running game and control the game by gaining 252 yards rushing. The Huskies won by 17 despite less than 70 yards passing on the game. The Huskies played Don James football today which was run the ball and play good defense. It was a satisfying win for the Huskies over old head coach Rick Neuheisel as they kept their bowl hopes alive.

The Huskies were playing on a special Thursday night game and decided to have a black out theme. First time in school history they had ever worn the black jerseys. Given the way the defense played today they might be busting those jersey's out for next season. The Huskies began the game pretty slow allowing UCLA on their second possession to drive 13 plays for 92 yards which featured 11 runs. The drive ended when Johnathan Franklin took a hand off to the right and busted it 31 yards for the touchdown run. The Bruins had averaged 195 rushing yards a game against the Huskies who gave up over 220 yards rushing a game were looking to take advantage of the Huskies poor rush issues. Little did anyone know that would be the only drive the Huskies would allow all game long.

The Huskies defense would respond on the next series. It was looking ugly for the Huskies after Locker threw an interception to give UCLA the ball in great field position. After getting a stop UCLA missed a 44 yard field goal to keep the score at 7-0. The Huskies would drive down the field but Erik Folk would miss a 53 yard field goal. After forcing another three and out the Huskies would get the ball back. Locker would hit Devin Aguilar for a 22 yard pass to the UCLA 39 yard line. After a pass interference call placing the ball on the UCLA 24 yard line, Chris Polk would rush for nine yards. After two more runs and a pass completion to Jermaine Kearse the Huskies had second and goal from the three yard line. Not messing around Sarkisian called a shotgun roll out with Locker as he ran in the touchdown from three yards out to tie the game up at 7-7.

The Huskies would head into halftime tied at 7-7 despite the poor showing by the offense. In the second half Sarkisian actually made some nice adjustments. He featured the running game more and the defense continued to stuff the UCLA running game. What helped stopping the run was the poor play of UCLA quarterbacks. The Huskies took the opening drive nine plays for 68 yards which saw Polk rush for 20 yards on four carries and Jesse Callier rush for 30 yards on two carries. The Huskies did settle for a 27 yard field goal by Erik Folk to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Huskies defense continued to stuff the Bruins where they didn't cross the 50 yard line all second half.

In the fourth quarter with the Huskies leading 10-7, with less than seven minutes to go Junior Quinton Richardson intercepted the pass and returned Darius Bell pass 28 yards for a touchdown giving the Huskies a commanding 17-7 lead. Bell was replacing ineffective Richard Brehaut who was knocked out by Nate Williams. Brehaut was just 5 for 14 passing for 42 yards and an interception to Cort Dennison. Bell wasn't much better not completing a single pass in three pass attempts including the interception that basically put the game away.

On the following possession Neuheisel put in another quarterback Clayton Tunney who wasn't much better. In fact Tunney was one for eight passing for just 13 yards and threw an interception to Nate Fellner on his first series as quarterback. The Huskies again continued to smash the ball down the Bruins throat with Polk rushing for four yards then Callier busted a 37 yard run down to the UCLA two yard line. The Huskies then called my favorite short yardage play where Callier lines up as tailback and Polk is the fullback and the Huskies fed Polk the ball for the easy two yard touchdown run giving the Huskies a commanding 24-7 lead.

The Huskies defense which was led by Senior Mason Foster who had 14 tackles, three of which went for loss stuffed the Bruins. The Bruins had negative 28 yards in the fourth quarter and held the Bruins to just 46 yards of offense in the last three quarters. UCLA ran the ball 36 times for 108 yards which is just 3.0 YPC. The passing game of the Bruins was even worse throwing for a combined 6-25 for 55 yards passing and three interceptions one which was returned for a touchdown. The Huskies defense played by far their best game of the Nick Holt era. The Huskies shut down Johnathan Franklin holding him to 53 yards on 18 carries(2.9 YPC) with the lone touchdown. The Huskies got great interceptions from Cort Dennison, Quinton Richardson and Nate Fellner. The offense did just enough to win.

The offense still isn't that explosive offense we all had expected. Today the offense got the job done playing field position and running the football. They had to run the football as Jake Locker in his last game at Husky Stadium didn't play very well. Locker was just 10 for 21 for 68 yards passing with an interception. Locker only had nine yards rushing but did score a touchdown. The stars of the offense was Chris Polk who had 138 yards rushing on 26 carries(5.3 YPC) for a touchdown while his backup freshman Jesse Callier had 107 yards rushing on just 10 attempts(10.7 YPC). When the Huskies feature Chris Polk they win games.

The Huskies did what they had to do today which is find a way to win. Jake Locker has had several games in his career where he put up great numbers and the team lost which he was blamed. So I find it a twist of irony Locker has a poor game but the team wins so he is getting praise. I'm sure Jake will take this game over all those other games any day. The Huskies now must find a way to win two straight road games including at California a place they haven't won at since 2001. The Huskies at least with this win stretch the season out for another week. Great way to send the Seniors out who are trying to turn this program around.


- I can't stop raving about the play of the defense. They get bashed on a lot and they deserve it most of the time. Tonight was a different story what a way to end their Husky Stadium careers. Foster who is second in all of college football in tackles with 14 tackles, three for a loss. Cort Dennison had a great interception 30 yards down the field getting in front of the receiver. Victor Aiyewa played another good game, Quinton Richardson had one of his better games as a husky with the interception for a return while playing good pass defense. Nate Williams was laying the wood I have no complaints about our defense for the first time in a very long time.

- When the Huskies run the ball they win. Instead of featuring Jake Locker who isn't having the Senior season we all expected they should be featuring Chris Polk and Jesse Callier. On the season Polk has 868 yards rushing while rushing for a 4.8 YPC average with five rushing touchdowns. Callier has 402 yards rushing with a 6.2 YPC average. When the Huskies run the ball they won't lose. Games they feature the pass early on always equals a loss. If Sarkisian had featured those two against BYU and Arizona State the Huskies are 6-4 instead of 4-6.

- I'm surprised that an offense in year three under Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow was this pathetic. I figured by year three the Bruins would have an passing attack by now. In fact Neuheisel is now 15-20 as Bruins head coach. Is it possible that Neuheisel could be fired at seasons end? He is known for his offenses but since he has been at UCLA the offense has been horible all season long.

- The offense has a long ways to go to beat California on the road. Jake Locker despite the reputation by Steve Sarkisian appears to have regressed. Locker has had great games against Syracuse, USC and Oregon State. He has had average games against BYU, Arizona and Arizona State. He has been awful against Nebraska, Stanford and now UCLA. Hopefully Locker can turn it around the final two games because running the ball was nice he'll need to hit some third passes to keep the chains going.

- The Huskies swept the LA schools for the first time since 1996. When Don James took over as head coach in 1975 the Huskies had only swept the LA schools in 1975, 1985 and 1996. The Huskies were awarded a forfeit win over UCLA in 1977 so technically that is also a sweep. Point is that it's very rare to sweep the LA schools. With the conference schedule changing the Huskies won't get a chance to sweep the LA schools again and in fact won't play UCLA until 2013.

- The Huskies won for the second straight year on Senior night. In fact here are the past coaches on Senior night Sarkisian is now 2-0 in Senior night games, Willingham was 0-4, Gilbertson 1-1, Neuheisel was 4-0, Lambright was 4-2, and James was 13-4-1.

The Huskies should enjoy this win and I'm happy for these Seniors. They haven't won a ton of games while at Washington but still have a chance to reach a bowl game. This is the latest in the season the Huskies have had a shot at a bowl game since 2006. The Huskies will have to improve a lot on offense to beat the California Golden Bears down in Berkley. The Huskies last year on Senior night smashed the Bears 42-10 as Locker accounted for five touchdowns on the game. The Huskies looked terrific with those black uniforms out there today and hope to continue that level of play on the road. Great win for the Huskies and here is hoping they can finish the season like they did last year which is beat California and Washington State. Congrats on the win Seniors you deserve it!

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