Friday, September 7, 2012
Huskies take on LSU; flashback to the start of the Sark era
When the Washington Huskies(1-0) travel down to take on #3 LSU Tigers(1-0) this Saturday it will bring back some memories of the 2009 season. This is Steve Sarkisian's fourth season with the Huskies but back in 2009 he was taking over a program that had just gone 0-12. He was taking over a program that had gone 12-47 the previous five seasons which is a tough task in itself. To begin his career he was taking on the 11th ranked LSU Tigers who had won a national championship just two years prior and would play in the national championship game two years later. This was a big game on ESPN as Sarkisian was looking to start his Huskies career off with a bang by upsetting the Tigers. In a game which nobody gave the Huskies a chance including Husky fans they almost pulled off the upset. By the end of the game the Huskies would lose 31-23 despite out gaining the Tigers. The Huskies out played the Tigers and Sarkisian received a standing ovation despite losing this game. In this following post I'll flash back to when the Sarkisian era had began.
#11 LSU Tigers at Washington Huskies- September 5th, 2009:
Facing a second and 10 from the 15 yard line medical redshirt freshman Chris Polk had a gain of 10 yards to the 25 yard line. On second and 10 Polk would rush for nine yards to the 34 yard line. Locker on the third and one would rush for two yards to the 36 yard line. Facing a third and 12 Locker would complete his first pass in the Sarkisian era as he would hit Johri Fogerson on the screen pass and Fogerson would run for 51 yards down the Tigers 15 yard line. After a five yard penalty then a Polk run of three yards setting up a second and 12 from the 17 yard line Locker hit then true freshman James Johnson on the right sideline. Johnson made his man missed then ran to the outside as he crossed the end zone for the touchdown. The place went wild as the true freshman made quite the splash with his first career catch.
The Tigers would quickly settle down the excitement as they would march to the Huskies three yard line where they had a first and goal. I remember the Huskies crowd really got into it as the Huskies defense held the Tigers to a field goal. The Tigers had gone on a 12 play 62 yard drive cutting the score to 7-3 as the Huskies had upset on their mind. On the second drive of the Sarkisian era it was a complete disaster as on the first play from their own 25 yard line Locker was picked off by linebacker Jacob Cutrera who ran it back for the 25 yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 10-7 lead.
The Huskies proving they weren't like the 0-12 team before them didn't quit. Starting from their own 27 yard line Chris Polk would bust a run for 33 yards to the Tigers 40 yard line. On third and 14 from the 44 yard line Locker would hit sophomore Devin Aguilar for a gain of 17 yards down to the Tigers 27 yard line. After a Locker completion to Johnson to move the chains to the 16 yard line the Huskies were in business. From the 17 yard line Polk would rush for 12 yards down the Tigers five yard line setting up a first and goal. On the ensuing play Polk would fumble as Patrick Peterson would recover the fumble.
After a quick three and out and a Fogerson 18 yard punt return to the Tigers 24 yard line the Huskies were back in business. After gaining only eight yards the Huskies had to settle for an Erik Folk 34 yard field goal to tie the game up at 10-10 in the second quarter. LSU would drive to the Huskies 19 yard line before junior linebacker Mason Foster forced the fumble then recovered the fumble ending the drive. The Huskies offense would then drive to the Tigers 40 yard line before stalling out.
The Huskies due to a penalty started on their own 8 yard line. Polk would begin the drive with a 12 yard run to the 20 yard line. Locker ran for six yards to their own 26 yard line as the Tigers took a timeout. Fogerson ran for three yards to the 29 yard line as the Tigers again took a timeout. With a third and one with 40 seconds left Fogerson would rush for five yards to move the chains. On the following play Locker would connect deep to Aguilar for a gain of 46 yards to the Tigers 20 yard line. On the following play on a wheel route Locker would hit Fogerson for a touchdown only Fogerson couldn't hang on. The Huskies would have to settle for a Folk 37 yard field goal as time expired. The Tigers led at halftime 17-13 as the Huskies offense was moving the ball pretty easily against the SEC defense.
With the ball on their own 36 yard line Locker would complete a seven yard pass to Fogerson to the 43 yard line. Polk would rush for five yards for the first down to the 48 yard line. Polk would rush for three yards then Locker for three more setting up a third and four from the 46 yard line. Locker would rush for five yards picking up the key first down to the Tigers 41 yard line. After a penalty the Huskies offense would once again stall in the red zone having to settle for a 42 yard field goal attempt by Folk which he missed. Huskies defense would force a three an out as their offense would take over once again.
For Jefferson that was his third and final touchdown pass of the game. For the Tigers this appeared to be the game clincher as they had a square from a team who had gone winless the year before. The Tigers had to earn this victory but the Huskies proved although out of the game they still had plenty of fight in them as they wouldn't go away so easily.
The Huskies would finish the game on a 10 play drive going 81 yards as Locker would hit tight end Kavario Middleton for the nine yard touchdown with no time left. After Folk made the extra point the Tigers would win the game 31-23. For Locker on that drive he was 7-10 passing for 86 yards with a touchdown. Locker hit Polk on back to back passes for 17 yards each on that drive. For the Huskies losing is always disappointing but there was something special about this one as the program finally gave the fans something to be excited about for the first time in well ever.
They were led by Jake Locker who was 25-45 passing for 321 yards with two touchdowns and a costly interception that was ran back. An emerging start came out of that game in freshman wide out James Johnson who caught six passes for 63 yards with a touchdown. Tight end Kavario Middleton who was supposed to be what Austin Seferian-Jenkins is now had five receptions for 45 yards with a touchdown. Devin Aguilar caught four passes for 76 yards. In the run game Chris Polk ran for 90 yards on 21 carries good for 4.3 YPC while adding two receptions for 34 yards. Locker ran 12 times for 51 yards good for 4.2 YPC. Fogerson had 11 yards rushing with two receptions for 58 yards. Mason Foster on defense had eight tackles with a forced fumble. While new kicker Erik Folk made three for four from field goals.
No matter what happens to Sarkisian as head coach I'll never forget the enthusiastic feeling I had for this program after this loss. Only time in my life I was feeling good after a Husky football loss as this team a year removed from 0-12 had just gone toe to toe with the #11 team in the nation and two weeks later defeat the #3 team in the nation. Just like in 2009 nobody is giving the Huskies a chance to keep this game close and maybe they are right. Hopefully like 2009 Sarkisian can unleash the passing attack which most SEC teams don't face much. Either way this was a special night for the Huskies and even though they lost they gave the program something to be proud of. The Huskies had nothing to be proud of the previous five seasons but they knew that day that the long days of suffering were about over. That day is when the Sarkisian era had finally began!