Notes in and around the Press Box

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Stanford was good, I knew that much. I predicted earlier in the week that the Cardinal would pull away from UW late. I didn't realize that "late" would be the second quarter. The Huskies could do ZERO, NADA, absolutely NOTHING to slow down the Stanford offensive juggernaut that rushed for over 400 yards and absolutely abuse the Husky defense by hanging 65 points on them.

Washington could only answer back with 21 points of their own. After two long Chris Polk touchdown runs, the Cardinal defense went into lock down mode and the gig was up. It was a complete and utter butt whooping by the home team, who proved they are a top five team with no doubt.

I have never seen an offense average 10 yards per rush before, on 44 carries!
Odds and ends…….YES. Washington did, in fact, offer the coaching job to Jeff Tedford. I never really knew this for certain until my pre-game meeting today with someone that would've known this. Ultimately the job went to Tyrone Will….er, won't finish saying his name who shall not be mentioned, but suffice it to say that Tedford was contacted by the UW about the job and an offer was forthcoming. Ultimately the job offer was turned down when Washington wouldn't offer enough coin, and we all know what went down. But looking back on things, are you glad that Tedford isn't here and that Sarkisian is the head man at Washington? I sure am.

This was my second trip to Stanford as a journalist, and both trips were terrible. The last time I was in the Stanford press box the Huskies won a thriller in the pouring rain, going 80 yards in three plays as the clock went to zero. It culminated in a Marques Tuiasosopo to Justin Robbins touchdown. But the thing I remember most about that game was watching Stanford running back Kerry Carter get tackled by the late Curtis Williams. It was a horrific experience, watching Williams go down face first after colliding helmet-to-helmet.

One shocker to me about today was that this beautiful new stadium was only 2/3 full at kickoff. For two ranked teams, that is sad. Even if it is Stanford stadium, these seats should've been full of bodies. Based on how difficult the parking was, I was expecting a full house. It wasn't. A lot of empty red seats around the field.

Stanford does not have a head coach…..True statement. They have a Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football, and that would be David Shaw.

Senior Jermaine Kearse dropped yet another big one in the first quarter with the Huskies driving to answer Stanford's opening TD. Price hit him right in the chest with a look-in dart that bounced off the senior's chest to the turf. Instead of converting a second and 12, it lead to a Husky punt and ensuing Stanford field goal to push the Cardinal ahead to 10-0. Kearse dropped two others in this game, but that first one was a real killer at the time.

Washington's second drive was almost a do or die, and Keith Price came through with some very accurate passing, and a big league broken tackle by Kevin Smith. Also, Smith was the one who set Polk free on the 46-yard touchdown run by Chris Polk. It was nice to see a Husky team respond to early adversity. It was a shame that they couldn't keep up with the Cardinal, but usually when the other team rushes for FOUR HUNDRED yards, you aren't going to be able to win. Today, the Huskies didn't.

Probably missed this, but on the first play of the second quarter, Andrew Luck saw the strange UW LB alignment and immediately barked out an audible. Seeing the same thing as Luck did, Sarkisian ran onto the field to call time out. Although the Cardinal would score two plays later anyways, it was refreshing to see a UW coach with such insight. Yeah, I know. I'm searching for positives and reaching into the bottom of the depths, but that is why I take notes during a game.

On Washington's second touchdown, a Chris Polk 61-yard run, once he got through the hole Senio Kelemete opened for him, he would've been stopped for about a nine yard gain by Stanford's all everything Delano Howell on a normal day. However Howell was a scratch and his replacement, Sophomore Devon Carrington, took about the worst possible angle you could take on a running back, and Polk ran the rest of the 52 yards untouched. I'm betting Carrington is glad he doesn't play for Washington, where he would get his defensive coordinator lambasted with comments about why he took such a terrible angle.

The holding penalty on Kevin Smith was not good. Not a good call at all. And it caused the Huskies to lose out on a potential touchdown that would've brought the game to 24-21. Instead the Huskies wound up taking a sack and then Folk banged a 46-yard field goal attempt off the right upright, no good. That call hurt. Stanford would roll down the field and score on a 19-yard Luck to Terrell pass that pretty much made the game a downhill affair from there.

The 62-yard Michael Thomas pick six-off Keith Price was one of the only times this year I've seen Keith Price lock onto a receiver and not recognize the coverage was press. He assumed that Kearse would be open because of the diversion in front of him, but the Cardinal safety correctly identified that Price was going to go underneath the out pattern and hit Kearse. He jumped the route and the rest was ugly.

Two plays didn't make the difference in the game, but they certainly killed any chances the Huskies had of getting any momentum going. The holding penalty on Kevin Smith to negate what looked to be a sure touchdown in the first half while the game was still close, and the pick-six of course. That was just too much to overcome when your defensive line is getting rolled all half. You can't afford two gaffes like that, even if one fell to the official.

Sean Parker has become the Huskies best safety, it's evident. He is the strongest safety in coverage and against the run in terms of taking a decent angle. Justin Glenn struggled this game and Nate Fellner REALLY had a difficult game.

When Sione Potoa'e tripped up Andrew Luck with 3:51 to go in the third quarter, it marked the first time a Husky had touched the Cardinal QB behind the line of scrimmage all game. The tripping resulted in an incomplete pass.

On special teams, it is apparent that Kevin Smith is a much stronger return guy than Jesse Callier. Smith is quicker to the lanes that are open, more decisive in his cuts, and generally more dangerous than Callier with the ball. When Kasen Williams is healthy, I have to wonder if Sark will try him and Smith together back deep on kickoffs. Callier just doesn't look dangerous back there anymore. I will add that I wrote that before Kevin Smith fumbled, but I stand by these words.

At least the Husky fans kept their senses of humor. When Sean Parker came on a delayed blitz and hit Andrew Luck while he was throwing, the Husky contingent in the corner of the stadium let fly with a huge roar. They couldn't believe their eyes – and neither could Luck. He looked at Parker, absolutely shocked to see him there.

At the 1:25 mark of the fourth quarter, watching third string Cardinal tailback Anthony Wilkerson rush for the final touchdown was so disheartening. SIXTY-FIVE points, and SIX-HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN total yards, 446 on the ground, pretty much say it all. The calls for Nick Holt's head will continue to grow louder unless he can prove this game was an anomaly. Statistically it was not one of the Huskies' defenses' finest moments. The last time I remember a team running so roughshod through a Husky defense I was also in the press box. It was in 2001 when Miami ran up 60+ on Rick Neuheisel. For a team that prides itself against stopping the run, Washington fell as flat as flat can fall.

Sarkisian got rather edgy and short with the press a few weeks ago after people were challenging the defensive strategy of Washington. How do you think he's gonna respond this week when the criticisms will return once again after giving up 600+ and 60+ points? It should be an interesting week.

Washington is now 5-2 overall, 3-1 in conference. Those numbers in themselves are very respectable, and somewhat on par. However after such crooked numbers being posted on their defense, is that 5-2 (3-1) mark inflated? Or was the Stanford game a statistical anomaly? Can any other team put those kinds of numbers up on Washington? Oregon certainly has the capacity to do just that, but their offensive line isn't Stanford's. I am not sure Arizona or Oregon State have the talent and physical nature to do it, but those two programs certainly had to grin when they saw the film of this game. Washington's defensive was stapled, mutilated, folded, spindled, shredded, and thrown out with the kitty litter. I fully expect Arizona to put up 350 yards of passing and over 400 total yards on the Huskies next week, but I do think that if Keith Price can come back somewhat healthy, Washington will score enough to win at home against the Wildcats.

?The first plays from scrimmage on offense for both teams tonight should've probably told me more than they did at the time. Stanford ran a reverse that totally fooled the Husky defense and went for 45 yards. Washington, on the other hand, ran a slow-developing pass play that Keith Price held on to for too long and took an 8-yard sack. That 53 yard discrepancy in the first plays kind of foretold what was going to happen.

For anyone that thought Stanford was going to miss a beat in coaching when Harbaugh left, they are doing just fine under David Shaw. He has the Cardinal playing physical, nasty in the trenches, and exciting football and close to error free. It remains to be seen how well he can recruit, because that is one area where Harbaugh excelled. Look at the talent this team has in the trenches. But will their be life after Luck? That is where Shaw is going to prove himself or fall down.

The campus at Stanford is really pretty. I was to the game early enough to where I could walk around and see the many facilities, and it is impressive. It has very much a club feel to it, because no one lives around here. You drive up on campus and there are no busy streets around, no large buildings near, and a lot of bicyclists. The aquatics center is amazing, the track is gorgeous, Maples Pavilion is slick, and the new football stadium is a terrific upgrade over their old world cup style soccer stadium before. All in all, this place has a lot of real recruiting advantages now, and not just because the kids that go here are all geniuses. It really is a pretty place to go to school. It might not be a huge football school because the crowd is pretty subdued, but the accoutrements are to be appreciated.

It really was a shame today because the Huskies were well represented by their fan base. Washington had easily 10,000 fans here to witness that abberation. Some were embarrassing, particularly the four young "gentlemen" dressed in Husky jerseys and yelling at the tops of their lungs at the nice Stanford tailgaters. One of these guys drops his unopened Pabst Blue Ribbon out of his back pocket while he's jawing at these Stanford folks. Well, one of the Cardinal backers, walks up, looks at the PBR can, picks it up and hands it to the guy, telling him, "Hmmm…..I believe this must belong to you." The Husky fan looked at him dumbfounded, takes the PBR, and then ambled off directionless through the parking lot to go open his beer and very likely douse himself with the shaken up contents. It was classic, and kind of embarrassing if you were a Husky fan.


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