Sunday, October 2, 2011
Polk helps lead Huskies to dominant second half winning 31-14 over Utah
The Washington Huskies(4-1,2-0) led by Chris Polk rushing for a season high 189 yards dominated the second half in beating the Utah Utes(2-2,0-2) 31-14 on the road. The Huskies scored 24 unanswered points including 21 in the fourth quarter to silent the Utes crowd. The Huskies in the third quarter had almost 200 yards of total offense compared to just 23 yards for the Utes. Polk had 105 yards rushing in the third quarter alone while Keith Price continued his streak of throwing for at least three touchdown passes in a game to five. Price would finish the game throwing for 226 yards with three touchdowns. The line of scrimmage was dominated by the Huskies as they ran for 185 yards compared to just 17 for the Utes. The Huskies survived a rough first half then took advantage of the second half. For a defense who has been bashed on they have put together six straight good quarters of football. The game couldn't have started off any better for the Huskies who are hoping to take this momentum past the bye week.
All in all, the Huskies improve to 4-1 and 2-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2006 season. Heading into the bye week at 4-1 is huge for this team as they are about to face a tough part in their schedule. The team is improving each and every week which has been nice to see. The best part about the win today was all the second half adjustments which you never saw from the previous coaching staff. The Huskies in the second half dominated the line of scrimmage which was beautiful to watch as a fan who suffered through the Willingham era. The Huskies defense in Pac-12 play has looked pretty good as well. This was a great team win for the Huskies as their offense continues to shred their opponents for 34 points per game average led by Price and Polk. Sarkisian has this program heading in the right direction and you are seeing the young players making big plays for him as well.
For the season Price has completed 97-142(68.3%) of his passes for 1,209 yards(8.5 YPA) through five games. He has also thrown for 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions on the season. In all five games this year Price has thrown for at least three touchdown passes. Price has been very accurate when the Huskies need big throws. Price is also making plays with his mobility avoiding sacks then turning that into a big gain. With Price you can't focus on one receiver either as he is always finding the open man. Sarkisian called him out at halftime and Price answered the challenge showing that he is going to be a keeper for the Huskies for years to come.
- When a kid plays high school football he has aspirations to play for his home team. For Cort Dennison he played high school football in Salt Lake, Utah yet wasn't even offered a scholarship by the Utah Utes. Dennison was only a two-star recruit coming out of high school. The Utes passed on both Dennison and Price so this was a big game for both. Price stepped up in the second half proving the Utes offered the wrong quarterback the scholarship.
While Dennison and his other 10 guys on the field shut down the Utes offense. The defense caused five turnovers while keeping the Huskies in the game in the first half. The Huskies have allowed just 17 points in their last six quarters which is some major improvement from the start of the season. The Huskies shut down John White who had 35 yards rushing on 14 carries(2.5 YPC). The Huskies forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes. This game had to feel great for Dennison to return to his home city to walk away with a victory while the defense played terrific.
- Chris Polk has had a solid season but to date has yet to have a break out game. Well today he had just that with 189 yards on 29 carries both are season highs. Polk like Price was shut down in the first half. In the second half though Polk ran for 145 yards on just 17 carries(8.5 YPC). With Polk rushing for all those yards including 105 in the third quarter alone that allowed Price to hit some key play action passes. The Huskies also controlled the time of possession in the second half as well. Polk for the year now has four 100+ yard rushing performances and has went over 100 totals yards in every game this season. For Polk that is the 15th time in his Huskies career he went over 100 yards. He is just two games shy of tying Napoleon Kaufman for most 100 yard games. Polk also moved past Joe Steele for second all-time in Huskies history with rushing yards as he went over 3,000 career yards.
For the season Polk has carried the ball 116 times for 603 yards(5.2 YPC) with three rushing touchdowns. Polk also has 10 receptions for 128 yards with a touchdown as well. Polk is big time for the Huskies as he is a powerful back who has improved on his speed. His 49 yard run to open the second half set the tone for the entire second half. The Huskies offensive line after playing so terribly in the first half played terrific in the second half. The line of scrimmage was controlled by the Huskies and Polk set the tone for a terrific win. Polk is easily one of the greatest running backs to ever play for the Huskies and he is adding to his legend this season.
- I felt this game was a strange game for Sarkisian. His play calling was some head scratchers which reverted back to last season. Having said that his second half game adjustments was key. Given that this was a road game which the Huskies were underdogs that was the best second half I've seen from the Huskies in a decade. Sarkisian is silencing his critics with each and every victory. Sarkisian is now 16-14 as Huskies head coach the most he has ever been over .500 while at Washington a program who was 12-47 the previous five years including 0-12 right before he took over. His offense is averaging 34 points per game and despite losing a quarterback to the NFL the passing attack has actually improved. Sarkisian has stockpiled some good recruits as the Huskies have several young key players making plays.
In conclusion, this was a very big win for the Huskies program. This win illustrates that this team is a program on the rise. This win will probably put the Huskies in the top 25 rankings which they were ranked for only one week in the 2009 season and prior to that the 2003 season. This wasn't the biggest win in the Sarkisian era but this was certainly the most impressive win in the Sarkisian era. The Huskies won by a blowout on the road considering their last three road wins were by a combined 11 points winning by 17 is pretty impressive. The Huskies will head into the bye week then take on Colorado at home in two weeks. The Huskies are 4-1 looking to be 5-1 for the first time since 2001. The Huskies haven't been 3-0 in conference play since the 1997 season. For Sarkisian and Nick Holt this win has to feel pretty good as their critics were silenced this week. For the Huskies it feels good to be watching quality football once again as they have won eight of their last nine games dating back to last season.