Friday, November 18, 2011
Trojans embarrass Huskies 40-17 in Sarkisian's return to old stomping grounds
The USC Trojans(8-2,5-2) made sure there was no last second game winning field goals by Erik Folk as the Trojans destroyed the Washington Huskies(6-4,4-3) 40-17. Steve Sarkisian who had previously been 2-0 against the team he coached for many years had one of his worst losses as a head coach with all things considered. The Trojans dominated this game as they rushed for 252 yards while the Huskies offense which features Chris Polk was held to just 42 yards rushing as a team. For the third straight week Keith Price has struggled and was injured during the game which leaves him out for the following week. This was yet another bad blowout loss for Sarkisian's Huskies who have been outscored 74-34 the last two weeks after starting off the season 6-2.
With the score cutdown to 30-10 the Trojans made sure this game was still going to be a blowout. Starting from their own 20 yard line after a one yard run by McNeal is when the game went back to being ugly. McNeal busted it 79 yards untouched for the touchdown to give the Trojans back their commanding lead of 37-10. The Huskies offense would go three and out the next three drives while two drives later the Trojans went on a 15 play, 61 yard drive which took up over seven and a half minutes resulting in a field goal to go up 40-10 over the Huskies. This game turned ugly when many including myself expected a good close game. The Huskies as if things couldn't get any worse lost starting quarterback Keith Price during the game due to injury while the Trojans made damn well sure this game wasn't going to be a repeat of the last two years. The Trojans took care of business over the Huskies with big plays and I'm sure Nick Holt was re-thinking his statement on whether he would rather face them than Oregon. The Trojans put the hurting on the Huskies and the only left in this game was to see how Nick Montana the son of Joe Montana would handle the quarterback position in mop up duty.
For the Huskies they have had better days no doubt. Keith Price finished 12-16(75.0%) for 125 yards(7.8 YPA) while being sacked four times. His backup Nick Montana had mixed results as Montana was 9-15(60.0%) for 73 yards(4.9 YPA) with his first career touchdown pass. The rushing game was nowhere to be seen as Chris Polk was held to season lows in carries with nine and yards with 36(4.0 YPC) while rushing for a touchdown. Bishop Sankey ran for 22 yards on four carries(5.5 YPC) and Kevin Smith ran once for six yards. The receiving game was featured by the youngsters led by Smith who had one catch for 53 yards. Then Seferian-Jenkins broke out of his slump with four receptions for 48 yards. Kasen Williams added five receptions for 44 yards with a touchdown. Sankey also had four receptions on the game as well. This was a horrible loss for the Huskies program hoping their days of returning to glory would start now.
All in all, these type of losses need to end for Sarkisian like ASAP. The Huskies have had a horrible habit of getting blown out quite a bit despite being a decent team. I'm aware there are growing pains but these type of losses need to stop. The high powered offense has looked beyond average the last two weeks which might have some to do with their opponent. Despite the sanctions the Trojans are a good team which features two top three picks in the NFL draft next year plus many other NFL players. The Huskies for the second straight week found out they are a long ways away from competing for Rose Bowls.
Price has had a bad habit the last two weeks of constantly checking the ball down which is the smart play. By checking the ball down all the time though the Huskies are scoring points which ultimately as the quarterback is your job. For the year though Price is having a great season as he is completing 67.2% of his passes for 2,258 yards(7.9 YPA) with 25 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He has been sacked 25 times including 10 in the last two games alone. Due to all those sacks Price will have to miss this next game and hopefully he'll be able to return for the apple cup.
- Chris Polk had just nine carries for 36 yards with a touchdown while catching just one pass for zero yards. Why Sarkisian neglected to use his best weapon on the road has been the mystery. Polk is a speed back who has proven to get better as the game goes on. With Price getting hit on practically every play why not pound Polk more to ease the pressure off of Price?
Polk for the year is still having one of the great seasons for a Huskies running back and judging by the poor rush defenses he faces the next two weeks he should be adding quite a bit to his totals. For the year Polk has ran for 1,132 yards(5.2 YPC) with 10 touchdowns. He has also caught 25 passes for 280 yards with three touchdowns. Sarkisian needs to feature his best weapon or the Huskies are going to have a disappointing end to a once promising season.
- The play of Kasen Williams lately has been nice to see. Williams the last three weeks has stepped his game up and appears to have figured out the playbook. That also could be due to Montana playing more as well as those two seemed to have good chemistry. Williams the last three weeks has caught 13 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns. For the season Williams now has 25 receptions for 280 yards with four touchdowns. So as you can see he has improved quite a bit as the season has worn on.
The other true freshman on the team are doing pretty well too. I'll start with Austin Seferian-Jenkins who broke out of his slump with four receptions fo 48 yards. On the year Seferian-Jenkins has 26 receptions for 383 yards with four touchdowns. The other true freshman who is having a nice year on offense is Bishop Sankey who appears to have passed up Jesse Callier as the number two back and always seems to bust one long run a game. For the year Sankey has ran for 175 yards(6.7 YPC) with a touchdown. The last five weeks Sankey has ran for 154 yards(7.7 YPC) with a touchdown. Sankey for the year has also caught five passes.
For the year Montana is 13-20(65.0%) for 147 yards(7.4 YPA) with a touchdown and an interception. Montana has shown the last two weeks where he went 10-16 for 126 yards with a touchdown that he is more than capable of filling in for the injured Keith Price. Montana is only a redshirt freshman and while fans expect him to be like his dad that is completely unfair. Let's allow Montana to play his whole career before passing judgement.
Sarkisian needs to avoid these blowouts if he really is going to be the guy for this program for decades to come. Any coach can coach this team for the short term which Willingham proved. It takes a great coach to last for a decade plus with one school. I believe Sarkisian is more than capable of being that guy but he needs to stop letting his team get blown out so often.
In conclusion, this is your classic game where you throw the game tape away as the Huskies simply gave up once again. The offense looks to be struggling while the defense continues to be overmatched in year three of this coaching staff's regime. Unless things change Sarkisian will be faced with some tough decisions on his coaching staff but I'll get into that later in the year. Sarkisian still can salvage the season as the Huskies will be heavy favorites the next two games. Since Don James retired at the end of the 1992 season the Huskies have won only won eight games in the regular season just twice and eight games three times overall. The Huskies can still do that with wins the next two weeks which any fan including myself would take. The Huskies failed the big test once again so to make up for it they have to ace the quizzes the next two weeks.