Coach's Corner

The Huskies started out like a house-a-fire: A great opening drive on a crisp Seattle evening had ended with a careless fumble. Not to be denied, the Huskies came right back, only this time finished it with a touchdown. Then another touchdown and another one, and all of sudden it was 21-0 and there was still 10 minutes left in the second quarter. It had the makings of a rout.

Could this really be happening?

The yardage board read Washington 250, Oregon State 50. This was too good to be true. What was going on? How was it that this team - who started every game slowly - all of a sudden come out of the blocks smoking hot? It was their energy. You could see it in their warm ups. You could feel it on the sideline. They were jumping around and yelling and just plain having fun. They had something to prove. They brought an energy into the game and from the get-go were right up in the Beavers' faces.

Oregon State had come out of the tunnel and went thru their warm-up in a very business like manner, but with little intensity. They acted like they owned the Huskies. They didn't seem to respect them and probably thought the Huskies would back down when hit in the mouth. After all, that's what they've done for years, but this team of Huskies opened up and went toe-to-toe with the big bad Beavers. They were rocking them and there was no backing down.

The Beavers had given up an interception to help the Huskies build the lead (only their second one of the whole year) and it had led directly to a UW touchdown. Unfortunately, after the lead had shrunk to 21-7, Washington gave up its own interception. Five straight plays to Jacquizz Rodgers and just like that it was 21-14.

The crowd went quiet and most of those in orange took the opportunity to become loud and involved. All the momentum from the early lead seemed to be drifting away and things became rather subdued.

Everyone in the stands went to the break worried but still believing the Huskies had comfortably outplayed the visitors. They had because their energy level was there from the very start. They sincerely believed they were going to win the football game and it showed on the sidelines.

Coach Sark had his play card to settle him down and give him something to hold on to, but otherwise he was in full motion. So was Nick Holt, who must have been drinking lots of diet coke, because he was literally non-stop. Meandering through the sideline area with his readers hanging on the tip of his nose, Holt was like a spinning top - avoiding bumps, but giving them when he felt like it.

So was defensive back coach, Demetrice Martin, who is probably the leader of the pack when it comes to the rah-rah on the defensive side of the ball, and wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, who is the master of the jump bump celebration. Of course that's because they're both so young and energetic ( I could never get past high-fiving, myself).

But really, it's a team wide thing. I watched both benches for body language and there was energy on the Huskies side and seriousness on the Beavers side. They had been put into shock. They were the team who got hit in the mouth. They were the team behind 21-0, but to their credit they had climbed back into it by halftime at 21-14.

After the break is when it turned into a slugfest, and when the Beavers came out of the locker room and proceeded to march 76 yards in seven plays for another score, bang! The whole lead had evaporated. It really went silent in Husky Stadium, but not on the Husky sideline. The intensity went up and they settled in for the rest of the game. Back and forth the two teams went, with nobody scoring. The Husky defense somehow found a way to stop every Beaver drive for the rest of the game. They stopped two drives via interception, giving them three picks on the night. They forced six punts and posted three sacks. Most importantly, they pitched a shutout in the forth quarter.

As the defense grew stronger with each stop, so did the crowd. The energy began to flow again through the whole stadium and back and forth between the defense and the crowd. They were feeding off of each other and the noise level began to go up with each defensive play. It was what Husky football is really all about, and has been for as long as I can remember. The team and the coaches had brought an energy with them and the crowd responded by going crazy with each play.

It was like all the way through overtime. It was Washington's relentless energy against Oregon State's will. It was the irresistible force versus the immovable object. It went right down to one play, and Cort Dennison stepped into the spotlight and snuffed out the Beavers' last chance to win it.

After it was over, it was easy to see why UW won: The stars played like stars. Jake Locker was super, minus the three turnovers. He ran when it was important to and he threw for five touchdowns, tying a school record. End of discussion. If he can keep doing that, Washington is only going to win.

Chris Polk was his own tough self, always churning, always spinning, always driving for that extra yard. Turning loss plays into two-yard gainers, catching the football and turning up field, he gained his 105 yards the hard way. He earned every yard. He didn't outrush Jacqizz Rodgers, but the Huskies outrushed the Beavers 189 to 147 anyway.

Then there was Jermaine Kearse; all he did was set a school scoring record for touchdown passes with four. He made a statement and stood out like the star he is. He and D'Andre Goodwin, who caught six passes for 75 yards, stepped up big time as go-to receivers. They were stars.

Those four were complimented by a host of others, including this year's frosh sensation, Jesse Callier, who added five carries for 20 yards, a catch for six more, and three returns for 58 yards. Jordan Polk, Marlion Barnett, and Cody Bruns all caught passes that moved the chains.

The three linebackers - Mason Foster, Cort Dennison, and Victor Aiyewa - had their best game collectively this season. Along with Nate Williams, they were the top tacklers on the team. The defense simply took turns making stop after stop. It was a group filled with energy and they played with passion. The crowd felt it, and when that last play went incomplete the house erupted. Fans streamed out of Husky Stadium cheering and singing, "Whose House? Dawgs' House!" and "Go….Huskies!" all the way to the parking lots and beyond.

It will take that same inner energy and effort this weekend against Arizona. The 'Cats, despite being a top-15 team nationally, look beatable because they lost their starting quarterback, Nick Foles. The Huskies will have to be road warriors. They will have to bring their own energy and keep it alive on their sideline because they won't have the crowd to help them along. This time the crowd will be decidedly against them. They only need to follow the same script: Hang in there and keep it close and give yourself a chance to win it at the end.

It's a plan that has worked before. Top Stories