The Good, The Bad and The HuskyAfter every Husky football game this season, I will break down the good, the bad and the Husky. The first two are pretty easy to understand, but the last one is a brilliant play on words where I will describe something that is just so “Husky”. This definition can evolve over time as it would be a good thing in the early 90s, but maybe an unfortunate turn of events lately. If you are a Husky fan, you will know it is just “Husky”.
Let’s pretend you were frozen in carbonite (a.k.a. Han Solo) immediately following the Alamo Bowl last season and it was just Thursday that some lady (similar to Princess Leia dressed as a bounty hunter) pressed the button to “un-freeze” you. That gave you two days to get your vision back, but you were still pretty confused as to life in general. (Obviously you would be confused since you were frozen for months!). Then your buddy says, “Hey Encino Man! The Dawgs are on”. You are thinking: 1) stupid reference and 2) awesome, I get to watch the worst defense ever only two days after being thawed. But then magically the defense wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, it appears there are new coaches, new schemes and a freak athlete playing hybrid safety/nickelback/linebacker. You feel a lot better about still not being able to feel your extremities.
Isn’t this how we all felt on Saturday? Ok, maybe not exactly but pretty close. It was hard to believe this was the Huskies defense. Early and often, the Dawgs sent blitz packages from all over the field. Everyone from LB John Timu to CB Desmond Trufant were getting in on the action in pressuring San Diego State QB Ryan Katz. This led to four sacks by the Dawgs, which matched their total in the Alamo Bowl in last year’s finale. The Huskies recorded seven sacks in the Apple Cup, but only had one against Oregon State, one against USC and zero against Oregon in the three games prior. Thus, the four sacks is a good sign. In many ways, that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Katz was running for his life the entire game, including the last two plays where he rushed for 31 of his 100 yards. (Note: how stupid did Katz look at the end. They needed yards and time to not go off the clock so he started running. It was as if he didn’t want to risk an INT to make his stats look bad so he ran with the ball. I pretty much hate Ryan Katz now).
The 327 yards total given up by the Huskies is their best defensive total since the Colorado game on October 15th of last year (269 total). If Timu, among others, can wrap up a bit better, the Washington D could actually be a strength this season. It seemed that every positive rushing play for San Diego State began with a missed tackle by the Huskies, and many were John Timu (which means he is getting to the ball well). Overall, the defense carried the Huskies which is shocking, especially if you were frozen in carbonite.
With preseason Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Leon McFadden on the other side of the field, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the highly talented and touted Kasen Williams. He made some ridiculous plays as a freshman, and everyone was pretty excited for his progress, but with James Johnson out and Kevin Smith coming off injury, I didn’t think it would be very easy to get him the ball against the Aztecs. Credit Coach Steve Sarkisian for the playcalling and credit Kasen Williams for being even better than I thought. The combination of power and speed was too much for the Aztecs, highlighted by the ridiculous move he put on a defender at about the five yard line, as he shook his way into the end zone. With six catches for 75 yards and a score, Kasen Williams was pretty friggin good on Saturday.
The only Husky receiver who could put Kasen to shame on a night like last Saturday was maybe the Huskies most talented player. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins showed why he is a match up nightmare for opponents with an array of routes run for catches at Century Link. Capitalizing on seam routes, screens where he punked defenders and lining up more often than I expected at the receiver spot, Seferian-Jenkins dominated the game. With nine catches for 82 yards, ASJ put himself on the map as the best tight end in the country. If someone wants to argue with that, show me tape of someone better.
The Running Game
Coming into the 2012 season, the Huskies knew the run game would be a challenge since Chris Polk decided to take his talents to the NFL. Then Deonte Cooper tore his ACL (for a third time) on the first day of camp and then running game came down to two talented, but somewhat little used back ups from a season ago. While Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey showed some great flashes of brilliance in 2011, they did it in supporting roles. Now in 2012, the two youngsters were expected to split carries in assembling a running game to be reckoned with (or at least respected). Welp…..Jesse Callier did not have a single carry last Saturday after injuring his knee. And Sankey’s 3.0 yards per carry on 22 carries won’t be enough either this season.
With Erich Wilson and Willis Wilson backing up Sankey, there is major reason for slight sports panic here folks. If the Dawgs can’t get some production, QB Keith Price’s arm may just fall off. Sankey will have to be the man and he will have to be the man now.
The Huskies tried to alleviate fears of a new kicker and new punter this season by giving them the same number. I am not sure who that alleviates fear, but both Korey Durkee and Travis Coons are wearing #46 this year. I think maybe it will prevent us from booing as often since we won’t be sure which one is which. While Durkee did get two punts downed inside the 20, he didn’t look like a great punter and the protection looked shaky even if nothing was blocked. Coons was even worse with a 47 yard field goal missed and another missed that didn’t count because of a delay of game penalty. He also consistently kicked the ball to the opponents 10 yard line on kickoffs which isn’t good, in case you were wondering.
Additionally, the Dawgs got nothing going in the return game. The Aztecs and Head Coach Rocky Long refused to fulfill our wishes by kicking to frosh Shaq Thompson. Instead, San Diego State kicked to freshman Jaydon Mickens, who returned three times with a long of 19 yards. Without any punt returns, it is safe to say there is something to be desired out of the Dawgs’ special teams right now. In fact, you could say, they aren’t really very special. Get it?
I am not sure why this feels so “Husky”, but it just does. I am sure all teams battle similar injuries, but the Huskies seem to get injuries at important positions early and often. It feels crunchy. Sophomore Ben Riva looked great in the first quarter playing right tackle, but then he fractured his arm. How the hell does an offensive lineman fracture his arm? So weird. Now throw in Jesse Callier tripping over the field turf and injuring his knee and you have to be thinking, “so dam Husky!”. The Seattle Times is now reporting that Jesse Callier is out for the year with an ACL injury. Oh did I mention that Desmond Trufant left the game with an injury also? CRAP. Speaking of Desmond Trufant’s injury…
The Other Corner
While Tre Watson recorded an interception early in the contest, the corner opposite Desmond Trufant struggled in this game. Let’s be honest, Tre Watson didn’t have to do much on that pick. Stupid Katz threw the ball right to him. When Trufant went on, Greg Ducre came on the field and quickly reminded me why I hate watching Greg Ducre play football. Can you remember the last time we had really good corners? Do we have to go back to the Walter Bailey and Dana Hall years? Is it too much to ask to have corners who aren’t 14 yards off their men as they run across the field? Even with the more aggressive scheme, Ducre refuses to participate in the new approach. He likes to play it safe which makes me want to throw up on his safe little face.