Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Price scores seven touchdowns as Huskies lose Alamo Bowl 67-56 to Baylor
In a wild game that shattered most Alamo Bowl records the #12 Baylor Bears(10-3,6-3) outlasted the Washington Huskies(7-6,5-4) 67-56 in a game that set defenses back for decades. The Bears were led by running back Terrance Ganaway who rushed for 200 yards and five touchdowns as the Bears overcame a 42-24 deficit to the Huskies. In the loss Huskies sophomore quarterback Keith Price shined throwing for 438 yards with four passing touchdowns while also rushing for 39 yards with three more rushing touchdowns. This was a fantastic game as both offenses couldn't be stopped. For Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian this season ended much different than last season as the Huskies closed last year out winning four games in a row. Instead the Huskies after starting off 5-1 ended the year losing five of their final seven ball games. In the process three defensive coaches including defensive coordinator Nick Holt were let go.
Starting from their own 33 yard like Griffin was able to march the Bears down for a field goal as he went three for five passing for 42 yards. The Huskies led at halftime 35-21. For the Bears they had 18 first downs while gaining 343 yards while going four for nine on third downs but went three for four on fourth downs. They were led by their heisman trophy quarterback Griffin who was 18-24 passing for 192 yards with a touchdown while rushing for 46 yards with another touchdown. The Huskies had 17 first downs while gaining 313 yards while going six for eight on third downs while converting their only fourth down. Price led the Huskies going 12-18 passing for 179 yards with two touchdowns while rushing for 27 yards with two more touchdowns. Polk ran for 107 yards with a touchdown while catching a pass for six yards. Aguilar had three receptions for 47 yards with a touchdown while Kearse had two receptions for 45 yards. The first half had 59 combined points and the second half would feature even more scoring.
Starting on their own 26 yard line the Bears took over on offense. Reese their leading receiver ran for 23 yards to their own 49 yard line. Facing a third and seven from the Huskies 48 yard line Griffin completed a 23 yard pass to Levi Norwood down to the Huskies 25 yard line. Salubi rushed to the right for 24 yards down to the Huskies one yard line. Ganaway would rush for his second of many touchdowns from one yard out cutting the lead to 49-46 as this game was still in the third quarter.
All in all, offense sells tickets but defense wins championships. The offensive output for this game and for this season was incredible. Until the Huskies are playing good defense though they'll forever remain playing in second tier bowl games in the Sarkisian era. What a contrast from a year ago for Sarkisian who saw his team end the season winning four straight games then carried that momentum into this year with the 5-1 start. Now the Huskies ended the year losing five of their last seven(only two wins were against 4-8 Arizona and WSU) showing that progress is harder than many had hoped in year three. The Huskies this year went 7-1 against non ranked teams but were 0-5 against ranked opponents showing they are above the half nots but quite ready to join the halves company quite yet. When the Huskies start playing some defense it won't matter what their quarterback does as they'll be winning more ball games. What Sarkisian has going in Seattle is quite exciting but sometimes boring football like the SEC plays is better since that is winning football.
For his sophomore year Price finishes the year having thrown for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. To be exact Price set the single season record for highest completion percentage completing 66.9% of his passes for 3,063 yards(8.5 YPA) with 33 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions while rushing for three touchdowns in the process. Price set single season records for QB rating, completion percentage and touchdowns thrown while having a 3:1 ratio in the process. Price is already fifth in Huskies history for most passing touchdowns and is only 18 away from Jake Lockers school record of 53. Locker overall had 80 touchdowns in his career while Price is already at 38 so he has a chance to surprass Locker's total touchdown record as well since he has two more years remaining. Price going into this year was thought to be the weakness while next year he'll have plenty of hype and must deal with teams game planning to stop just him.
For Jermaine Kearse who ranks in the top two in every major receiving category at Washington he finished his career with five receptions for 198 yards with a touchdown. He had a long 80 yard touchdown reception along with another 60 yard reception. Kearse was a big play receiver for the Huskies and that is how he should be remembered. He had a step back as he was clearly Locker's favorite receiver, due to more talent and Price spreading the ball around his numbers suffered a bit. For Kearse he finished the season leading the team with 47 receptions, leading the team with 699 yards and leading the team with seven touchdowns. This was the third straight year Kearse led the team in all three categories as he'll be missed. These two receivers came in when the program went 0-12 and now are leaving the program in good hands as they set the bar very high.
Kasen Williams who only had three receptions for 19 yards dazzled all the fans with that long 46 yard punt return. Williams who started the season off slow finished the year terrific. He finished fourth on the team in receptions with 36, fourth in yards with 427 and tied for second with six touchdowns. These two five star recruits showed everyone why they were rated so high. As sophomores look for both guys to develope more consistency week in and week out as Price evolves as an even better passer.
For the year Polk finished with 1,488 yards(5.1 YPC) rushing with 12 rushing touchdowns. Polk also added 31 receptions for 332 yards with four touchdowns this season giving him over 1,800 total yards of offense with 16 touchdowns. For his Huskies career he finishes with 4,049 yards rushing(5.1 YPC) with 26 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 79 passes for for 683 yards with four touchdowns all in just 40 career games meaning he averaged over 100 yards rushing per game in his career. Polk will leave behind a strong legacy as he and Kaufman are the only backs to ever rush for over 1,000 yards three straight seasons. Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey have bigger shoes to fill in Polk than Price did with Locker in my opinion. You just don't replace a guy of Polk's calibar who was the first Husky offensive player to be named first team all Pac-12 since Reggie Williams in 2003.
Sarkisian is heading into a critical year four and he knows it. He just fired his friends Nick Holt, Mike Cox and Jeff Mills. Despite an offense that made great strides this season the defense regressed so poorly that the offense was overshadowed. Sarkisian hired two quality coaches today from Tennessee in Justin Wilcox(former Oregon Ducks player, Boise State and Tennesse Defensive Coordinator) showing he is serious about changing the culture of his defense. Sarkisian although not on the hot seat quite yet could find himself there if he were to have a disaster season and continue to get blown out mixed in with a loss to the wrong teams. The honeymoon period is over for Sarkisian and the Husky fans now is time to work on the marriage and in this case work on his coaching legacy at Washington.
In conclusion, this was a terrible way to end the season and a sad way to waste such an incredible performance by Keith Price. In a game that featured high draft picks in Robert Griffin III and Chris Polk it was Keith Price who was the best player on the field. Instead of this game being remembered as the Keith Price game this will be referred to as the Nick Holt game. This was the final straw in the Holt era at Washington as Sarkisian was left with no choice to make a change. The Huskies must find a way to play good defense. With an average defense this year the Huskies go 10-3 instead they remain at 7-6 which was rock bottom in the Rick Neuheisel and Jim Lambright days. The Huskies blew a great opportunity to make some noise against the 12th team in the nation on ESPN in a highly rated bowl game. Instead the defense like they have all season long let them down once again. Hopefully next year I'll be recapping some games where the defense is making strides and actually making some plays. For now the Huskies have to settle on being that exciting offense that has no defense. Basically the Huskies are the Texas Tech Red Raiders under Mike Leach which is okay for those on the other side of the mountains. That isn't okay for those on this side as the Huskies are sick of going 7-6, next year should be fun with Price having two more seasons left.