Friday, September 9, 2011

Washington Huskies preview vs Hawaii: Flasback to 2007

By Kshell

This Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT the Washington Huskies(1-0) host the Hawaii Warriors(1-0) in a game at Husky Stadium. The Pac-12 Huskies take on the team most pick to win the WAC in the Warriors. The Warriors last week already defeated a Pac-12 team 34-17 against the Colorado Buffaloes. The Huskies survivors of a 30-27 win over the Eastern Washington Eagles are hoping to put up a better effort this week. Huskies third year coach Steve Sarkisian let it be known he wasn't pleased with the Huskies efforts the previous weeks. The Huskies defense the previous week allowed 473 yards passing which is scary considering who they have to play this week when Hawaii comes to town.

This week the Huskies defense will have to improve as they take on Warriors quarterback Bryant Moniz. In the win over Colorado Moniz completed 20 of 33 passes(60.6%) for 178 yards with a touchdown pass. He also ran for 91 yards(6.5 YPC) with three touchdowns. Moniz is a dual threat quarterback who can run and pass. Last season Moniz completed 361-555 passes(65.0%) for 5,040 yards with 39 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. So like Eastern Washington the Warriors will be throwing the ball around the field. The Huskies will have to play much better defensively then they did against the Eagles. One thing that will be going in the Huskies favor is this week unlike last week the Huskies will actually be healthy heading into the contest which should pay huge dividends.

The Huskies this week will have back senior cornerback Quinton Richardson and senior wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. The Huskies will also have Chris Polk close to 100%. Last week Polk was only at 80% which you couldn't tell by his game log. Polk carried the ball 23 times for 122 yards(5.3 YPC). Look for Sarkisian to feed Polk even more this week to control the clock to keep the Hawaii offense off the field. With Kearse back look for Sarkisian to also open up the playbook a little bit and allowe quarterback Keith Price to throw down field some.  With Richardson back in the starting lineup the Huskies will have some experience at cornerback which should prevent some of those touchdowns on third/fourth and longs. The Huskies will have quite the battle on their hands and this is a game that should come down to the end. The last time these two teams played the game did come down to the very end of the game. In this following post I'll flashback to that famous 2007 game and talk about how that loss wasn't even the worst thing to happen to Husky football that weekend.

Washington Huskies(4-8,2-7) at #11 Hawaii Warriors(11-0, 8-0):

The Washington Huskies were coming off a 42-35 loss to cross state rival Washington State Cougars as they were heading into this game. There was plenty of speculation circling around Dawgman, KJR, Seattle Times and other news outlets should this be the last game for Tyrone Willingham. Some believed a loss he would be fired for sure while others believed that Cougars loss had already sealed his fate that he wouldn't be brought back for 2008. Meanwhile the Warriors were enjoying their best season in school history led by quarterback Colt Brennan as the Warriors were hoping they would get an invite to the Sugar Bowl with a win over the Huskies. The atmosphere in Hawaii was unbelievable as the Warriors had everything to play for while the Huskies were playing out their season. Many figured the Warriors would destroy the Huskies. Well at the start of the game it was the Huskies who looked to be like the team who was playing with something on the line.

The game started off great for the Huskies as Louis Rankin took the opening kickoff 41 yards to the Huskies 44 yard line. The Huskies then went on an eight play 56 yard drive which saw freshman quarterback Jake Locker rush for 34 yards on three carries. Locker would cap the drive with an eight yard touchdown run to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead. On the Warriors first possession Brennan was sacked and fumbled the ball giving the Huskies the ball on the Warriors 21 yard line. After being denied three straight runs the Huskies facing a fourth and goal from the one gave the ball to their fullback Luke Kravitz who ran for the touchdown to give the Huskies a 14-0 lead. The Warriors would go three and out again. The Huskies would go on a six play 51 yard touchdown drive. Senior running back Louis Rankin would rush for 39 yards on four carries on that drive. The Huskies would cap the drive with a Kravitz two yard touchdown run. The Warriors were silent as they were trailing 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors in the first quarter on their four possessions had a three and out and three fumbles which the Huskies recovered.

The Warriors would finally get their offense going in the second quarter. The Warriors would go on a 10 play 83 yard touchdown drive. On that drive Brennan would complete all seven pass attempts for 67 yards. Ending with a seven yard touchdown pass to Jason Rivers to pull the Warriors within 21-7. The Huskies would respond to that touchdown by going on a seven play 84 yard touchdown drive. Louis Rankin would rush for a 44 yard run to the Warriors 28 yard line. Then Locker would hit Marcell Reece for a gain of 13 yards to the 15 yard line. He would later hit fullback Paul Homer for a 10 yard pass which was originally ruled a touchdown but after review he was down at the one yard line. Homer would then cap the drive with a one yard touchdown run giving the Huskies a 28-7 lead.

The Warriors down 28-7 in the middle of the second quarter turned to their heisman hopeful quarterback Brennan to try and march the Warriors back into the game. The Warriors would respond to that touchdown by going on a six play 75 yard touchdown drive. On that drive Brennan completed all five of his passes for 75 yards including a 43 yard pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen to the Huskies seven yard line. Brennan would then cap the drive hitting Rivers for a three yard touchdown. The Huskies would punt on six plays allowing the Warriors to have the ball once again. The Warriors would start their drive with a surprising 44 yard run to the Huskies 36 yard line. Then Brennan would take over once again completing all four of his passes for 36 yards. Brennan would finish the drive with a 13 yard touchdown pass to Rivers to cut the lead to 28-21 heading into halftime.

The third quarter featured no scoring as the Huskies missed a field goal and the Warriors missed two field goals. So heading into the fourth quarter the Huskies had led 28-21 but in the Willingham era the Huskies could never close these games. The Warriors in the fourth quarter after the two missed field goals finally executed properly as they went on a six play 73 yard drive. Brennan was four for five passing on that drive for 75 yards including hitting Rivers for a 40 yard touchdown pass to tie the game up at 28-28. The Huskies had blown a 21-0 and 28-7 lead to the Warriors but had one final possession to try and win back this game. The Huskies facing a critical third and 15 from the Warriors 46 yard line saw Locker complete a first down pass in field goal territory. The officials said his foot crossed the line so it was called a penalty loss of down. The replay had shown that Locker did not cross the line but the Huskies were forced to punt the ball away to the Warriors.

The Warriors would go on an eight play 76 yard touchdown drive. On that drive Brennan would complete all six of his passes for 70 yards. Brennan would hit Grice-Mullen for the go ahead score from five yards out with just 49 seconds left. That would be Brennan's fifth touchdown pass of the game. The Huskies now finding themselves trailing 35-28 would have the ball on their own 22 yard line. The freshman Locker would hit tight end Michael Gottlieb for a 25 yard gain down to their own 47 yard line. Then Locker would hit Reece for a 49 yard pass to the Warriors four yard line with 20 seconds left. After Locker was stuffed for a loss of two he would attempt to throw a pass to Reece. Reece would bobble the pass as it was intercepted to clinch the thrilling comeback for the Warriors. The Warriors would go to their first ever BCS bowl game with that win. For the Huskies it made for a long plane trip home.

For the Warriors they were led by Brennan who completed 42 of 50 passes(84.0%) for 442 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. His main receivers were Rivers who had 14 receptions for 167 yards with four touchdowns and Grice-Mullen who had 10 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. In his final game as a Husky Louis Rankin would rush for 145 yards on 21 carries(6.9 YPC) while freshman quarterback Jake Locker would complete 9 of 17(52.6%) of his passes for 142 yards with an interception. Locker would also rush 15 times for 76 yards(5.1 YPC) with a touchdown. This was a typical Willingham loss which saw the Huskies lose to a WAC team despite rushing for 261 yards(5.2 YPC). Many felt this would be the final game that Willingham would coach for the Huskies as he finished last place for the second time in three years and was 11-25(6-20 in Pac-10 play) as Huskies coach. In a shocking move Willingham would be brought back for 2008 and the Huskies would go 0-12. While the Warriors would go on to lose in the Sugar Bowl to the Georgia Bulldogs. Head coach June Jones would bolt for SMU that offseason.

The Huskies will only have players who redshirted that season who are on the current squad so there is no revenge at stake here. Keith Price and Chris Polk amongst others weren't on that roster who lost to Hawaii that night. One thing to remember is that the Huskies are complaining about a win over Eastern Washington which sure beat the days of griping about tough losses all the time which was the case in the Willingham era. That game should teach Husky fans just how far the program has gone but have last week's performance show just how far the Huskies have to go. The Huskies aren't an elite program quite yet but that sure is better than what they were during that era I just described where 21 point leads were not safe at all. When the Huskies were actually surprised they played so well against a WAC team which in itself should have been a major red flag on just how horrible the program had fallen to that point.

In conclusion, the Huskies are taking on a pretty good team this Saturday in Hawaii a team people are predicting to win their conference. Just like in that game the Huskies because they are a BCS conference team should dominate the line of scrimmage. I expect to see plenty of Chris Polk and I expect to see the defensive line to continue to stuff the run while applying some pressure this week. The Huskies with Nebraska coming up can't afford to drop this game to fall to 1-1. The Huskies have won five games in a row and with a win here could win six in a row. The Huskies more importantly to avoid a bowl game would have to go a disasterous 3-7 down the stretch which I don't see happening. This should be a well played football game just like that game I described back in 2007. Hopefully reading that game shows everyone just how far the program has improved over the years under Sarkisian.

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