Saturday, September 29, 2012

Super Sophs lead Huskies upset over #8 Stanford 17-13

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(3-1,1-0) upset the #8 Stanford Cardinal(3-1,1-1) 17-13 as the fans rushed the field in excitement at Century Link Field. Last year the Huskies defense allowed 65 points to the Cardinal while this year the Huskies defense held them out of the end zone while allowing only 65 yards rushing. The Huskies were led by a pair of super sophomores in wide receiver Kasen Williams who had a career high 10 receptions for 129 yards with the game winning touchdown. Another sophomore standout was running back Bishop Sankey who ran for a career high 144 yards with a touchdown against the nations #3 rush defense. This was indeed a huge win in the Steve Sarkisian era as the Huskies had been outscored 106-21 the last two years against Stanford.

The game started off slow as the Huskies started the game off by three and outing the Cardinal. The Cardinal would then three and out the Huskies. The Cardinal would begin on their own 38 facing a second and 10 when Josh Nunes would complete a 12 yard pass to Ty Montgomery to the 50 yard line. Facing a third and two from the 42 yard line Nunes would hit his tight end Zach Ertz for a gain of 24 yards. The Huskies defense would then get tough forcing the Cardinal to settle for a Jordan Williamson 31 yard field goal to give the Cardinal a 3-0 lead.

It got worse for the Huskies as they had to begin from their own 11 yard line after a poor kickoff return. Price began the drive by hitting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a gain of seven yards over the middle. On the following play Price would hit Kasen Williams for a gain of six yards as the Huskies began using the hurry up offense. Price would hit Williams again for seven yards. On second and three Price would rush for a gain of 10 yards to their own 41 yard line. Sankey would rush for nine yards to the 50 yard line. With first and 10 from the Cardinal 46 yard line true freshman wide receiver Kendyl Taylor was at running back as he carried twice for four yards. The Huskies would stall on a Williams dropped pass. On the following play was a low snap to new punter Travis Coons(also the field goal kicker), Coons had to pick it up and punt it from his left foot which he downed Stanford on the 14 yard line.

The Huskies defense would three and out the Cardinal offense forcing them to punt as they took over on their own 49 yard line. After two straight incomplete passes by Price he connected on a beautifully thrown ball to Williams for a gain of 36 yards down to the Cardinal 16 yard line. The play would be reviewed as the replay would show Williams got the one foot in bounds. The Huskies offense would stall as Price would get sacked for a loss of nine yards. Travis Coons then would kick a 43 yard field goal which was a career high for him in his young career at Washington to tie the score at 3-3. The Huskies defense would force three straight three and outs on the Cardinal offense after that but unfortunately the Huskies offense kept stalling around midfield.

Stanford would take over on their own 18 with 4:39 left in the half. Stepfan Taylor would begin the drive with a gain of seven yards to the 25 yard line.  Nunes would throw an incomplete pass setting up a third and three. Nunes would make up for it as he burned true freshman Shaq Thompson hitting Ertz for a gain of 35 yards to the Huskies 40 yard line. After a Taylor run of five yards on second down set up a third and five from the 35 yard line. Nunes would complete an 18 yard pass to Levine Toilolo on a jump ball. The ball was poked away but since pass interference was also called on Justin Glenn the missed call only cost the Huskies three extra yards. The next play Nunes went to the end zone but it was incomplete. Taylor would rush for three yards to the Huskies 14 yard line. Facing a third and seven Nunes would hit Taylor but he was stopped well short of the first down. Facing a fourth and three from the 10 yard line the Cardinal decided to kick the field goal. Williamson would drill the 28 yard field goal to give the Cardinal a 6-3 lead at halftime.

The Huskies would start the half going three and out after completing an 11 yard pass to Kendyl Taylor. Travis Coons would have a 50 yard punt with no return as the Cardinal would begin from their own 18 yard line. Nunes would hit Ertz for a gain of 14 yards to the Cardinal 34 yard line. Facing a third and seven from their own 37 the Huskies forced their first turnover. Josh Shirley came in with the sack from behind Nunes and stripped the ball as Andrew Hudson recovered giving the Huskies offense the ball on the Cardinal 35 yard line. Price would throw an incomplete pass, Sankey would rush for two yards setting up a third and eight. Price would throw another incompletion and the Huskies decided to go for it. Price would hit DiAndre Campbell for a gain of three yards which was well short of a first down. The Huskies blew their golden opportunity.

The Cardinal up 6-3 tried to steal momentum away as they drove to the Huskies 47 yard line before the defense once again got tough forcing a punt. The Huskies offense would three and out after a costly penalty by Williams. The Huskies defense would three and out Stanford forcing a punt.

Then two bad breaks went against the Huskies as Marvin Hall returned the 23 yards to their own 47 yard line. It was a bad break because Hall had ran for a touchdown but like he did against Portland State he barely stepped out of bounds. Instead of leading 10-6 the Huskies still trailed 6-3. Then on the following play Price attempting a screen to Taylor was picked off by defensive end Trent Murphy as he read the play perfectly. Murphy then sprint in for a 47 yard interception touchdown return giving the Cardinal a 13-3 with 3:24 left in the quarter. With the way the Huskies offense was playing that appeared to be the dagger in this game.

The Huskies would face a critical offensive series as the crowd started to feel nervous. Starting from their own 19 yard line facing a second and 10 Price would connect with Sankey on a screen for eight yards setting up a third and two from their own 27 yard line. Sankey would rush for three yards getting the first down at the 30 yard line. Price would be sacked for a loss of seven the next play. On second and 17 Price would hit Williams for a gain of six setting up third and 11. Price again would hit Williams for a gain of 10 as Williams ran his route short of the first down. The Huskies were facing a fourth and one from their own 39 yard line. This was the first of two critical decisions by Sarkisian. Sarkisian decided to go for it as time was winding down in the quarter. The Huskies quickly snapped the ball with one second left in the quarter as they handed it to Sankey who got the first down. Then Sankey made the safety miss and was gone for the 61 yard touchdown his longest run of his career. That pulled the Huskies to within 13-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

After a John Timu sack on third down the Cardinal were forced to punt to the Huskies. With nine minutes to go in the game the Huskies would take over from their own 35 yard line. Sankey would start the drive with a gain of three yards. Price would complete a short three yard pass to Jaydon Mickens setting up a third and four from their own 41 yard line. Price would hit Seferian-Jenkins for three and a half yards setting up fourth and one from their own 44 yard line.

Another critical decision by Sarkisan as his defense was playing great and there was still over seven minutes left. Instead Sarkisian went for it and gave the ball to Dezden Petty for his only carry of the game. Petty gained two yards to their own 46 yard line for the first down. Sankey would rush for six yards then rush for five more for another first down to the Cardinal 43 yard line. On second down Price hit Williams on a quick wide receiver screen for a gain of eight yards to the 35 yard line. On third and two Price liked the coverage he saw audible from a run to another quick screen to the right to Williams. Williams got the first down as he stiff armed his man then fumbled the ball in the air slightly around the 20 yard line as he retained it and still was going. Williams then cross the goal line and fumbled after he had crossed the goal line. After the review it showed Williams crossed as he had made his biggest play as a Husky so far in his career as the Huskies finally led 17-13 with 4:53 left in the game.

The Cardinal would take over on their own 34 yard line needing a touchdown as a field goal would do them no good. Nunes would immediately hit Ertz for a gain of 15 yards to the 49 yard line. On second down Nunes hit Ertz again for nine yards to the Huskies 42 yard line setting up a third and one. Nunes would fumble the ball but Ryan Hewitt would pick it up for two yards for the first down. After a five yard penalty Nunes would complete two short passes setting up a fourth and four from the Washington 34 yard line with two minutes left in the game. Nunes would attempt to lob it up to 6'8" Toilolo as he was being covered by Desmond Trufant. Trufant would intercept the pass at the Stanford eight yard line.

The Huskies would still need a first down as the Cardinal had two timeouts. The first run to Sankey went nowhere as Stanford called timeout. Sankey would rush for six yards to their own 14 yard line setting up a third and four as Stanford called their last timeout. Price went up with the hard count and Stanford jumped offsides giving the Huskies five yards which was good enough for a first down. The Huskies simply kneel'd down after that running out the clock as they upset the 8th ranked team in the country and the fans stormed the field.

The Huskies defense was the story in this win as the Cardinal offense who has scored 140 points on the Huskies the last thee years were shut down. The Cardinal were held to 65 yards rushing and 5-18 on third downs. Quarterback Josh Nunes in his first career road start was dreadful. Nunes was 18-37 passing(48.6%) for 170 yards(4.6 YPA) with the game deciding interception. His main target was Zach Ertz who caught six passes for 106 yards. Stepfan Taylor who has killed the Huskies in the past was shut down as he had just 75 yards rushing on 21 carries(3.6 YPC). His longest run of the game was just seven yards. Last year Stanford had 10 runs of 15 yards or more. Stanford only had 235 yards total offense and was held out of the end zone. Thomas Tutogi led the Huskies in tackles with 10, John Timu had six tackles with a sack. Josh Shirley recorded a sack and forced fumble while Desmond Trufant had the game deciding interception.

The Huskies offense had their own struggles but they came through when they had to. Keith Price battled all day as his young offensive line got him battered all game long. Price finished 19-37(51.4%) passing for 177 yards(4.8 YPA) with the game winning touchdown pass and interception. His main target was Kasen Williams who caught 10 passes for 129 yards(12.9 YPC) with a touchdown. Price also connected with Kendyl Taylor who had a catch for 11 yards while rushing for nine yards on four carries. Seferian-Jenkins was held in check with only two catches for 10 yards.  Jaydon Mickens had two receptions for eight yards while DiAndre Campbell had two receptions for 10 yards.

Bishop Sankey would rush for 144 yards on 20 carries(7.2 YPC) with a touchdown. He also had two receptions for nine yards. This was a break out game for Sankey who ran for 64 yards in the first half and ran for 80 yards in the second half. The Huskies had 136 yards rushing on the #3 ranked rushing defense in the nation as Sankey has ran for back to back 100 yard games.

This was a big win for this program as they finally got that big win under their belt. Sarkisian defeated #3 USC 16-13 in his first year but since then was 0-4 against top 10 teams. In fact Sarkisian had lost six straight games to ranked opponents allowing an average of 49.2 points per game and was 1-9 in his last 10 games losing by 28.2 points. The Huskies were hoping to reverse that bad trend which they did as they won this game with defense. The Huskies beat a team who has bullied them the last three seasons as they are hoping this win can show growth in the program. The Huskies played with heart and never gave up which is a sign that perhaps things are looking up. The Huskies won a big game finally on a big national network game which is the biggest selling point this program can make.


- This was the breakout game from Kasen Williams that was long overdue. In his 16th career game at Washington Williams recorded his first career 100 yard game. Williams was the only receiver to have more than 12 yards receiving and more than two receptions as he was the entire passing game against Stanford. Williams finished with a career high 10 receptions for a career high 129 yards receiving with the game winning touchdown.

For the year now Williams has 25 receptions for 292 yards(11.7 YPC) with three touchdowns. Williams made some explosive plays as well with the 36 yard reception setting up a field goal and a 35 yard game winning touchdown. This year Williams is on pace for 75 receptions and 876 yards receiving with nine touchdowns which is pretty good for only a sophomore. Williams came up big as he is so strong and physical he is unstoppable on those quick wide receiver screens.

- Another true sophomore who enjoyed a breakout game was running back Bishop Sankey. The Cardinal defense held the USC Trojans to 26 yards rushing on 24 carries in their upset win. They were the #3 rush defense in the country. Instead Sankey had a career game with 20 carries for 144 yards(7.2 YPC) with a touchdown. He also had two receptions for nine yards. Sankey ran hard all game long and showed his burst of speed on fourth and one when he busted that 61 yard touchdown to give the Huskies momentum.

Sankey on the year now has 329 yards rushing on 64 carries(5.1 YPC) with four touchdowns. He also has six receptions for 39 yards(6.5 YPC). Sankey is on pace for 987 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns this year. He came into the year not as the starter but when Jesse Callier went down he became the starter. In his first career start at LSU he got shut down. Since then he has put up back to back 100 yard plus rushing games as he running with some confidence now. Sankey is making Husky fans glad that he ditched the Washington State Cougars last minute to join the Huskies.

- Senior corner back Desmond Trufant had a huge game for the Huskies. The Tacoma native and younger brother of Marcus Trufant is having an outstanding season. Trufant saved the day with the fourth down interception on a play that he probably gets burned on in years past.

Heading into the year Trufant had a lot of hype primarily due to his last name. Well he is earning that as he is clearly the best corner in the conference. Sarkisian called him the best corner this conference has seen in the last 12 years. Due to Trufant's shutdown play the Huskies defense is allowed to put him on an island out there which means they can blitz more. That also allows the Huskies to cheat against the run because defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox knows Trufant isn't going to get burned. Trufant has came a long ways in his four years at Washington and watching him grow has been terrific!

- Justin Wilcox proved he is worth the money.  Mixed and matched a lot. Had the balls to sit our best front seven player in Josh Shirley on 1st and 2nd downs and played OLB Travis Feeney at Free Safety as well. He was mixing and matching his defense perfectly. Give this guy another year or two and this Defense will be legit I'm sure of it.

He had a bunch of different looks something the Huskies defense hasn't even tried since Jim Lambright was running the defense.  He put safety Sean Parker at corner a lot. Shaq Thompson was all over the field stopping the run in the backfield. Danny Shelton plugged up the middle. It was nice seeing the defense play so well against Stanford who had ran for over 1,000 yards on the ground against the Huskies the last three seasons. The defense won the game by forcing seven three and outs.

- Regards to the storming of the field controversy here is my take.

Those who favor it will argue that it was against a top 10 team

Those who oppose will argue it is freaking Stanford.

Both valid.

The Verdict: Yes for those who are older than 25 it was embarrassing seeing us rush the field vs Stanford. The thing is the students 18-22 years old only know of Stanford as the big bad bully's and UW as well bad. Stanford was a top 10 team and had kicked our ass three years in a row in embarrassing fashion.

So I rule that UW was in the right to storm the field but let's not make a habit of this in the future.

- I felt Travis Coons had a really good game for the Huskies. He nailed a 43 yard field goal to tie up at 3 in the first quarter. Plus he is now the teams punter and had a great game.

Coons punted the ball nine times for a 38.9 average with a long of 53 yards. He had three punts go inside the 20 yard line. Coons showed last week how versatile he can be when he completed that fourth down pass on the fake punt. This week he made a 43 yard field goal, handled the punting duties terrific as the Huskies won the field position battle and he even had a touchback on the kickoff. Coons had a rough first game with the Huskies but since then has made a field goal each week as the Junior is proving the Huskies once again have a reliable kicking game.

- Keith Price once again struggled as for the third straight week he threw for under 200 yards. Price was 19-37 passing for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception. In the defense of Price he is missing his second and third best wide receivers. He is also missing three starting offensive lineman meaning he has no time in the pocket.

Price did show the intangibles though which is what you look for in a good starting quarterback. On the game winning touchdown pass the play call was a designed run but  Price liked the coverage and called an audible. That is where he quickly got the ball out to his play makers hands as Williams busted the pass into a 35 yard game winning touchdown. Later in the game Price used a hard count to draw the Stanford defender offsides which clinched the win for the Huskies. He also experienced his first fourth quarter comeback of his career.

For the year 75-127 passing(59.1%) for 737 yards(5.8 YPA) with five touchdowns to two interceptions. Those are well below his expectations as a quarterback. Hopefully he can get it going soon and the offensive line can give him some time so he can finally complete longer passers. It would be nice for Price if Kevin Smith also came back to give him another weapon besides Williams and Seferian-Jenkins.

- What a week it has been for Seattle? First the arena news passed meaning we are getting the Sonics back plus NHL. Then the Seahawks won against the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on a miracle hail marry catch by Golden Tate. Then the Huskies completed it by upsetting #8 Stanford Cardinal 17-13 in a game where their offense did nothing for the first 44:50 of the game.

Storming the field was great and I was glad the students did that. Gave me a chance to feel young again as I haven't stormed a field since my high school days back in 2004. After the craziness of storming quickly died down it was nice just walking around on the stadium chatting with my friends. To be able to walk on an NFL stadium where Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have played on was pretty special.

Being at this game I'll never forget the feeling.  The crowd was dead first half but boy was the atmosphere electric in the second half. My voice is still lost from this game. I was so glad the Huskies pulled this win off and was so happy to see so many Husky fans with pride yet again as we all walked around the field to soak this whole moment in.

- This was a huge win for fourth year head coach Steve Sarkisian. He was fully aware that his program was at a crossroads. He was tense before the game talking to NOBODY not even his coaches was alone. Then A.D. Scott Woodward pulled him aside to chat with him to relax Sarkisian as he smiled.

For Sarkisian this game was won by the defense as the offense didn't do much. However, the two critical calls of the game Sarkisian went aggressive and it paid off. Both touchdown drives were scored when Sarkisian went for it on fourth down in his own territory. Both times on fourth and short Sark trust his running game which heading into the game ranked 104th in the nation against the #3 rush defense which isn't a good recipe. Both times the Huskies converted the first down and scored touchdowns. For Sarkisian who I'm a big critic of he deserves all the credit for those two critical calls which ultimately won the game.

This is the kind of win can change the program for the better. The Huskies sit at 3-1 with two more ranked opponents in the next two weeks. That is why this win was so critical. On paper the Huskies close the season with the two worst teams in the conference although both are on the road. The Huskies are hoping that this is the year they finally take that next step as a program after finishing 7-6 the last two seasons. With wins over top 10 teams that is how you take that next step. With playing good defense which the Huskies have done holding their opponents to 14 points or less in three games this year something they did only once all of last year. The Huskies are starting to develop a running game as well which is how you take the next step. Hopefully this win wasn't the highlight of the season instead it was something much more. Hopefully this win was the start of the turnaround for the program from being average to a good program in this conference. It was a magical night at Century Link Field for the second time in a four day span and I'm happy I was there to witness the game in person.

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