Coach's Corner

Husky Stadium was alive again. The joint was rocking and the Washington defense was rolling. When it was all said and done, the 24-7 win over UCLA was vintage Husky defense and the crowd responded accordingly. If was a masterful job done by the Husky players and directed by defensive coordinator Nick Holt. The statistics told the story.

Here are some of the best ones: One-hundred and sixty three total offensive yards by the Bruins; three interceptions; seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage. After a three-and-out to start the game, the Husky defense gave up 92 yards in 13 plays and a touchdown, surrendering six first downs. It didn't look good. UCLA went thru the Husky defenders like a hot knife through butter. Then everything changed - especially the Husky defense.

Following that first quarter drive, the Huskies stoned the Bruins' offense by shutting them out for the next three quarters and limiting them 68 yards of total offense for the rest of the game. The Huskies not only stopped the run but they almost eliminated the pass by holding UCLA to six-for-25 and three interceptions. The Huskies were so stifling on defense that they were rarely on the field more than a three-and-out. In fact on UCLA's next 12 possessions they only averaged four plays per series. Simply put - they couldn't run and they couldn't pass. Of course, it really helped that UCLA had the worst group of quarterbacks we've seen in years, but take nothing away from the Husky defenders, they played their best defense in a game they had to win.

The win sets up a match against a California Golden Bear team that leads the Pac-10 in total defense. Cal is barely giving up 300 total yards per game and also leads the conference in passing defense. The Husky defense will be hard-pressed to match those numbers, but they don't have to play those guys and the Cal offense - like UCLA - is down to its back-up quarterback.

Holt used a variety of blitzes on run downs and continually put the Bruins in a passing situation, where they were really inept. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel was repeatedly shown on TV losing it on the sidelines and berating his quarterbacks. His team appears to be spinning out of control and, at 4-and-6, will need to win its final two games against ASU and USC to be bowl eligible. Of course, that is the exact same situation that the Huskies are in, but with their resurgent defense they now appear to have a real chance of winning their next game, even if it is on the road.

The Cal Bears are 5-and-5 and need to get one more win themselves to secure a bowl bid, so these extra few days of practice from playing on a Thursday might be just what the Huskies and Jake Locker need to become fully healthy...that and playing this kind of defense.

When you go back through the record book, the only performance yardage-wise over the past decade where Washington dominated with its defense was in their 2004 win over San Jose State - when they held the Spartans' offense to 133 yards. You have to go all the way back to the Jim Lambright era when in 1997, the Huskies shut down USC, holding them to 157 yards in a 27-0 shutout. Yes, those Trojans. That's how rare holding an opponent under 200 yards has been.

As usual, the Husky defense was led by Mason Foster, who is sure to be the Huskies' only all-conference first teamer and a certain NFL draftee. Foster was dominating in the first half, posting 11 of his game high 14 tackles. Up front, Alameda Ta'amu posted seven tackles and held fast the line of scrimmage. Senior safety Nate Williams chipped in 12 tackles and was complimented on the back end by Quinton Richardson, who had one his best performances ever on the corner.

Richardson has progressively gotten better this season and his interception for a touchdown may have been the key play in the whole game from a defensive standpoint. Nate Fellner and Cort Dennison also posted key picks to help the Huskies win the turnover battle by plus-two. All three interceptions resulted in Husky scores, and even though the Bruins also fumbled three times UW was unable to recover any but they so bottled up the run that it didn't make any difference not recovering those fumbles.

It was a complete defensive effort with the front, linebackers, and secondary all working together for the best stop performance of the last decade.

On a night when Washington's offense was a terrible one-for-12 on third down, the defense limited the Bruins to only four-of-16 - 25 percent - forcing them to punt nine times. That's really good defense and that's what they'll need to do to beat the Bears. If somehow if they can bottle up this last defensive performance for their trip to Berkeley, then they just might be heading into Pullman with a bowl game to play for.

Seriously, how good was that defensive performance for you? Didn't it make you flash back to when Washington was a dominant defensive team that regularly attacked quarterbacks and knocked them out of games? How cool was it to see the secondary break on those balls or all those tackles for loss.

It was a classic defensive performance that resulted in a great win for this program.


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