Monday, October 24, 2011

#7 Stanford thrashes #22 Washington 65-21 to remain undefeated!

By Kshell

The #7 Stanford Cardinal(7-0,5-0) for the second straight season defeated the #22 Washington Huskies(5-2,3-1) by over 40 points as they won 65-21. This is the type of loss that has raised plenty of eyebrows at Montlake as the Huskies defense allowed a staggering 615 yards of total offense including 446 on the ground. The Cardinal rushing attacked averaged 9.3 yards per play and 10.1 yards per carry average. The Cardinal had two guys rush for over 100 yards and a third break 90 yards. Heisman trophy candidate Andrew Luck didn't need to do much as he threw for only 169 yards but did complete 76.2% of his passes with two touchdowns. This was a good all around butt kicking as the Huskies received a harsh smack of reality check. This was also the first time the Huskies were held under 30 points and quarterback Keith Price's six game streak of at least three touchdown passes was snapped as well. The Cardinal offense punted once the entire game which was late in the fourth quarter as they have beaten the Huskies 106-21 the last two seasons.

The game started off beautifully for the Cardinal as they won the toss they chose to receive. Starting on their own 24 yard line the Cardinal ran a reverse to Chris Owusu for a gain of 45 yards to the Huskies 31 yard line. After a short run Stepfan Taylor busted a 17 yard run to the Huskies 13 yard line. A five yard penalty set the Cardinal back to the 18 yard line when Andrew Luck finally attempted a pass as he completed back to back passes for 16 yards to the Huskies two yard line. That is when the Cardinal  gave the ball to their fullback Jeremy Stewart for the two yard touchdown to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. On defense the Cardinal after allowing a third down pushed the Huskies offense back forcing the Huskies to punt. The Huskies knew they were in for a buzz saw as their offense couldn't protect Keith Price while defensively the Huskies were pushed back despite having a potential first round pick in Alameda Ta'amu at defensive tackle. The Huskies were forced to punt the ball to the Cardinal offense as they took over on their own 27 yard line leading 7-0. That was the first time the Huskies had trailed in nine quarters.

On this drive the Cardinal decided to feature Luck which almost cost them. Luck started the drive by hitting Griff Whalen for a gain of 32 yards to the Huskies 41 yard line. Luck then hit Owusu for a gain of 12 yards to the Huskies 29 yard line. Luck on the next pass almost gave the Huskies a gift but they couldn't take advantage. There was a miscommunication as Luck threw the ball in the right endzone with just Desmond Trufant there who dropped the interception. Luck would complete an eight yard pass to Owusu to set up a third and two. Luck hit his tight end but Huskies safety Sean Parker knocked the ball out of his hands preventing the long pass. The Cardinal would settle for a Jordan Williamson 39 yard field goal giving the Cardinal a 10-0 lead and for the season had outscored their opponents 60-0 in the first quarter. The Huskies were suddenly facing a must score if they had any chance at keeping this a game.

The Huskies offense like they had done all season long would respond. Price facing the rush would hit Chris Polk for a gain of two yards giving Polk three receptions early in the game. He would hit Jermaine Kearse for a gain of five yards as the Huskies faced a critical third and three from their own 27 yard line. Price completed a pass to Devin Aguilar that was short of the first down but Aguilar trucked his defender then ran for a gain of 13 yards to their own 40 yard line. Back to back runs went nowhere setting up a third and six as Price would hit Aguilar again for a key first down for a gain of 10 yards. After Price threw an incomplete pass Steve Sarkisian had a great play call as the Cardinal kept blitzing. The Huskies called a draw play to Chris Polk who busted it for a 46 yard touchdown untouched to cut the lead to 10-7. That was the first score the Cardinal had allowed all season long in the first quarter.

The Cardinal would respond to the Huskies score with a score of their own. Starting from their own 20 yard line the Cardinal would pound Taylor for a gain of four yards. Tyler Gafney busted a 24 yard run to their own 48 yard line. After a short run Gafney busted another long run of 30 yards to the Huskies 21 yard line as the Cardinal were just pounding the ball on the Huskies all game long. After two short gains the Cardinal were facing a third and four from the Huskies 15 yard line. The Huskies sent Trufant on a blitz as Whalen was wide open for a gain of 14 yards as Justin Glenn saved the touchdown stopping him at the one yard line. Luck would finish the drive with a beautiful pass over the head of Greg Ducre to all-american candidate tight end Cody Fleener for a one yard touchdown to give the Cardinal a 17-7 lead over the Huskies. Once again the Huskies offense had to respond or this game would turn into a blowout.

The Huskies once again were facing a must score as the Cardinal looked like they were not going to be stopped. After a penalty by the Cardinal the Huskies began on their own 31 yard line. They continued to go with Polk who ran for eight yards to the Cardinal 39 yard line. Then another draw to Polk who busted it 61 yards untouched for the touchdown. With that touchdown the Huskies pulled within 17-14 as this game appeared to be a shootout. For Polkhe went over 100 yards for the 17th time in his career for the Huskies which tied him with Napoleon Kaufman for most 100 yard rushing performances in Huskies history. The Huskies have had plenty of great running backs led by Kaufman so that was a big accomplishment. The Huskies unfortunately wouldn't get any closer in this game as the Cardinal quickly stole the momentum right back.

The Cardinal with the ball on their own 30 yard line up only 17-14 decided to not mess around. Calling a simple run play to Taylor who busted it to the outside then went all the way for the 70 yard touchdown. That play was one of many devastating plays that turned this game towards the eventual blowout as the Cardinal led 24-14. The Cardinal at that point in the game was dominated the Huskies defensive line. Once again the Huskies offense had to respond to the challenge and try to answer the Cardinal score with a score of their own. Starting from their own 21 yard line Price hit Austin Seferian-Jenkins over the middle for a gain of 20 yards to their own 41 yard line. He then completed a seven yard pass to Kasen Williams and followed that up with a 17 yard completion to Kearse on the right to the Cardinal 35. Facing a third and 10 the Huskies called on the draw play as Polk ran for 11 yards for the first down. That is when the Huskies offense due to a questionable penalty started to stall. They would have to settle on an Erik Folk 46 yard field goal attempt which hit the goal post and was no good. The Cardinal offense would take advantage of the the Huskies missed opportunity.

Taking over from their own 28 yard line the Cardinal had a ball control offensive possession. After two short runs by Taylor setting up a crucial third and four the Huskies allowed a five yard run to Luck for a first down. Taylor would rush for eight yards then for 24 yards to the Huskies 29 yard line. Facing another third and four from the Huskies 23 yard line Luck would complete a pass to Owusu for a gain of five yards to move the chains. Luck then completed a pass to Zach Ertz for a gain of 14 yards down the middle to the Huskies four yard line. On the next play Luck would throw his second touchdown pass of the game to Drew Terrell from five yards out to give the Cardinal a 31-14 lead. With under four minutes left in the half and with having the ball first in the second half the Huskies weren't quiet yet out of the game. The Cardinal though would put the Huskies down for good on the following drive.

The Huskies were facing another must score and had a nice head start as Kevin Smith ran the kickoff 36 yards to their own 37 yard line. Polk would rush for eight yards then rush for another eight yards as the Huskies were in Cardinal territory. Price would hit Seferian-Jenkins for a gain of nine yards to the Cardinal 38 yard line. On second and one the Huskies tried Polk up the middle but he was blown up for a three yard loss. On third and four the game would turn into a laugher as Price didn't see an open Aguilar instead trying to force the ball into Kearse which was picked off by Michael Thomas for a 61 yard interception for a touchdown to give the Cardinal a commanding 38-14 lead. The Huskies still had a minute left before the half ended as Price tried to salvage the game still. Price hit Seferian-Jenkins for a gain of 11 yards to the Huskies 36. Polk ran for three yards which set up a Price completion to Seferian-Jenkins for a gain of 28 yards but the Huskies also committed a 15 yard penalty. Price hit Seferian-Jenkins again for a gain of nine yards to the Cardinal 39 yard line. With one play left Price completed the hail marry well short of the endzone to Aguilar for a gain of 30 yards as the half ended. The Cardinal outscored the Huskies 28-7 in the second quarter. Despite being only outgained 356-316 in the first half the Huskies had trailed by 24 points. The Cardinal were led by Luck who was 11-13 passing for 109 yards with two touchdowns and a strong rushing attack led by Taylor who had 130 yards rushing on just eight carries including a touchdown. The Huskies saw Price make that costly mistake but played solid going 17-24 for 186 yards with the interception. Seferian-Jenkins had five receptions for 77 yards while Aguilar had four receptions for 58 yards. The Huskies were led by Polk who had 143 yards rushing on just 10 carries with two touchdowns while catching three passes. The second half would see more Cardinal scoring as the Huskies defense had no answer.

The second half which the Cardinal are so successful at put the Huskies away. The offense went three and out to begin the second half punting the ball to the Cardinal offense. The Cardinal took the ball out of Luck's hands and still scored a touchdown. The drive began with a four yard run to Taylor, then a five yard run to Anthony Wilkerson setting up a third and one. The Cardinal called a fullback dive which went for three yards. Gaffney rushed up the middle for a gain of 16 yards to the Huskies 36 yard line. Gaffney followed up that run with 32 yard run to the Huskies four yard line. Gaffney finished off the drive with a four yard touchdown run to give the Cardinal a 45-14 lead. The Huskies offense continued to sputter in the second half as they went three and out once again. The Cardinal would then go on an 11 play 52 yard drive but would have to settle for a field goal as they led 48-14 over the Huskies. The Huskies offense went three and out once again as they punted the ball back to Stanford. The Huskies finally forced a Cardinal punt for the first and only time all game long.

The Huskies offense had one last drive in them for pride.  After Kasen Williams returned the punt 12 yards to their own 32 yard line is when Price would finish off his last drive of the game. After a short completion facing a second and 15 Price hit Aguilar for a gain of 15 yards. Facing another second and long Price hit Kearse for a gain of 29 yards to the Cardinal 20 yard line. Price hit James Johnson for a gain of 12 yards to the eight yard line. Facing a third and goal from the three Price would hit Kearse who bobbled the ball and ended up dropping the ball. After a Cardinal penalty the Huskies had new life as Price hit third tight end Evan Hudson for his first career reception which was a two yard touchdown pass which cut the score to 48-21. For Price that would be his final pass of the game as he was getting drilled all game long.

The Cardinal were hell bent on running up the score this game as Luck played into the fourth quarter and they were throwing passes to the endzone at the end of the fourth quarter. The Cardinal would tack on some more points. After a run the Cardinal had the ball on their own 40 yard line when Luck hit Whalen for a gain of 18 yards. Luck completed two more passes for 26 yards to the Huskies 18 yard line. Wilkerson finished the drive with an 18 yard touchdown run giving the Cardinal a 55-21 lead. Kevin Smith would fumble the kickoff as the Cardinal recovered settling on a field goal to go up 58-21. Nick Montana would come in for Price as the game was a blowout. Montana would throw an interception setting up yet another score for the Cardinal. Wilkerson on the final drive carried the ball seven times for 58 yards including his 38 yard touchdown run two minutes left in the game to give the Cardinal a 65-21 lead.

The Huskies loss was very demoralizing as it was impressive for the Cardinal. The Cardinal saw Luck complete 16-21(76.2%) of his passes for 169 yards(8.0 YPA) with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Luck also ran for 23 yards. His favorite target was Whalen who had four receptions for 76 yards. The Cardinal rushing attack was too much for the Huskies. Stepfan Taylor led the rushing attack with 138 yards on 10 carries(13.8 YPC) with a touchdown. Tyler Gaffney added 117 yards on the ground on just nine carries(13.0 YPC) with a touchdown. Anthony Wilkerson ran for 93 yards on 14 carries(6.6 YPC) with two touchdowns. For the Huskies Keith Price has seen better days but didn't play bad. Price completed 23 of 36 passes(63.9%) for 247 yards(6.9 YPA) with a touchdown and a costly interception. His main targets were Austin Seferian-Jenkins who had five receptions for 77 yards. Devin Aguilar added five receptions for 71 yards while Jermaine Kearse had four for 52 yards receiving. The Huskies rushing game was actually pretty good led by Chris Polk who ran for 144 yards on 15 carries(9.6 YPC) with two touchdowns. Then in garbage time true freshman Bishop Sankey ran for 31 yards on five carries(6.2 YPC). The Huskies loss feels like more than just one game but it is just that one game.

All in all, this is a devastating loss to the Huskies program who appeared ready for such games like this. Instead for Sarkisian it is looking more and more that he is going to have to make a tough decision regarding his friend Nick Holt in the offseason. The Huskies defense appears to be getting worse the longer Holt is there. The Huskies were hoping to make a statement this game instead they just showed how far away they really are. The Huskies are still a bowl team but the Stanford Cardinal proved there is a huge difference between a middle of the road bowl team and a national championship team. Those are the facts the Cardinal are competing for a national title while the Huskies are three years removed from 0-12. Losses like this are completely unacceptable as it shows the Huskies still have a long ways to go.


- This was Price's worst game as a Husky quarterback this season. Shows how well he's played when he throws for 247 yards and completes 63.9% of his passes against a good defense. Price was under pressure all game long as it was pretty obvious early in the game that Stanford was dominating both lines of scrimmage. Still the game was somewhat in balance at 31-14 when Price didn't see an open Aguilar instead throwing the pick six. If the Huskies let's say trail 31-21 or 31-17 at halftime maybe this doesn't turn into quite the blowout.

 I still think Price played well enough for the Huskies to win. You aren't going to beat anyone giving up 65 points I don't care who your quarterback is. Price saw his three touchdown a game streak snapped but is still have a great season. For the year Price is completing 68.4% of his throws for 1,713 yards(8.3 YPA) with 22 touchdowns to five interceptions on the season. Not bad for a sophomore quarterback who many picked as the worst quarterback in the Pac-12 heading into the season.

- I do like the fact that the Huskies finally have a tight end to throw the ball to. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is only a true freshman but is going to be a future probowl tight end in the NFL bank on it. This guy will be a first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft after he leaves his junior year. For the game Seferian-Jenkins had five receptions for 77 yards as he was catching passes over the middle, breaking tackles and using his speed. On the first Polk touchdown run Seferian-Jenkins had a key block which set that touchdown run up. Seferian-Jenkins has had the biggest impact freshman season for the Huskies since Reggie Williams in 2001 by far.

He'll be a freshman all-american and make some sort of all pac-12 team this year. For the season Seferian-Jenkins has 20 receptions for 321 yards(16.0 YPC) with four touchdowns. He is on pace for 34 receptions for 550 yards receiving and 6.9 touchdowns this season not counting the bowl game. Seferian-Jenkins has became a big part of this offense and as he gets older look for him to be the Huskies leading receiver.

- Chris Polk is awesome and the Huskies are going to miss him next year. I know Polk is a junior but he's had big games on the national spotlight this year against Stanford and Nebraska. He has shown he is an everydown back too as he has the speed to bust off long runs, the power to earn those tough yards plus he can catch passes out of the backfield. Against a Stanford defense which had allowed only 52 yards rushing a game Polk ran for 144 yards on just 15 carries. Had the game been close he could have gone off for 200 yards. For the year Polk has ran over 100 yards in six of the seven games. The one game he didn't was against California where he had 85 yards receiving so he has yet to have a game where he wasn't over 100 yards all-purpose.

Polk also tied legendary running back Napoleon Kaufman for most 100 yard rushing performances in Huskies history. He has still has five more games left(one against the Cougars who can't stop anyone from rushing) so he'll certainly break Kaufman's record. For the year Polk has ran for 844 yards(5.7 YPC) with five rushing touchdowns. He also has 14 receptions for 149 yards(10.6 YPC) with two touchdowns. Polk is on pace to rush for 1,446 yards in the regular season and including the bowl game 1,567 yards which is an incredible season. Polk is easily in the Huskies top five running backs of all-time and I personally would put him third only behind Kaufman(most exciting Husky ever) and Hugh  McElhenny(all-time great). The Huskies have had plenty of great running backs and Polk deserves to be high up on that list.

- The Huskies defense in year three shouldn't be allowing 65 points including 446 on the ground. Teams who are passing teams are throwing for over 300 yards on the Huskies at will. The two teams who run the ball well like Nebraska and Stanford have embarassed the Huskies. At what point does Sarkisian realize that Nick Holt simply isn't that good? It could be Sarkisian isn't recruiting well enough on defense either way the defense has been a problem and has gotten worse each year. Here are some stats that I got from KJR's Mitch in the Morning that I'll post up.

Huskies Defense in the Holt era:
Pts per game allowed: 2009 - 26.66, 2010 - 31.16, 2011 - 33.71
Yards per game allowed: 2009 - 389.5, 2010 - 401.17, 2011 - 431.28 (thru 7 games).
 Sacks per game: 2009 - 2.5, 2010 - 2.33, 2011 - 1.86 (thru 7 games)

As you can clearly see the Huskies defense is allowing more points and yardage each season while recording less sacks. I know the team has lost NFL players such as Donald Butler and Mason Foster the last two years I understand that. Still the team has Cort Dennison and Alameda Ta'amu not to mention other highly recruited players. With the exception of Sean Parker the Sarkisian/Holt guys on defense have yet to do anything. I think if the Huskies want to reach the next level they have to seriously sit down and think hard if Holt is the right guy or not.

- For Steve Sarkisian this was tough loss. In year three I figured these type of blowout losses were over and done with. Last year the Huskies lost four games by over 30 points and until this loss the Huskies only other loss was a competitive loss to Nebraska. I do like that after losses Sarkisian always puts the blame on him instead of the players which is nice to see. His offense is still playing at a high level as they moved the ball on the Stanford defense. The Huskies offense has moved the ball on all their opponents this year just couldn't score this game was the only problem.

I'd say overall Sarkisian is doing a fantastic job as the Huskies are still 5-2. If the Huskies just win the games they are supposed to they'll go 8-4 and just pull off one upset that is 9-3 heading into the bowl game. I think a year after losing Jake Locker most fans would take 8-4 or 9-3 just three years removed form 0-12. The defense has allowed over 20 points in six of the seven games and over 30 points in three games. Shows how successful Sarkisian's offense is that they are 5-2 with such a rough defense.

In conclusion, the Huskies aren't ready for primetime games. Someday they could be as their offense I feel is ready the defense though is years away. The Cardinal scored 65 points with Andrew Luck not having to do much but game manage. So even if Luck didn't play I suspect the Cardinal would have won in a blowout anyways. The Huskies simply can't let this loss lose them the next game against Arizona. Under Sarkisian after the six game mark the Huskies have gone on losing streaks of four games in year one then three games in year two. The Huskies lost the first game after the sixth game hopefully that trend ends this Saturday. A loss on Saturday can be devastating with Oregon and USC on the road looming. For the Huskies the offense is solid but unless the defense gets fixed in a hurry they are years away from seriously competing for a Rose Bowl. The Cardinal for the third straight year punched the Huskies in the mouth and left them without any bite. Back to back years the Cardinal put the Huskies at "rock bottom". Last year the team won four of the next five games after losing 41-0 to the Cardinal. We'll find out a lot about this Huskies team this Saturday night at home against the Arizona Wildcats.

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