The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 6

With the holidays upon us, Dawgman.com is counting down the top plays of the season, with the No. 1 play to finish out the year. So who is next on the list? A great play from a great Washington player - their only first team All-Pac-12 and All-American - and one that helped seal a critical UW win over a top-10 program.

Heading into the 2012 season the defense was expected to be the biggest unknown but they did have some veteran players returning, including senior corner Desmond Trufant. The 6-foot, 190-pound Trufant - who would end his UW career with 47 starts, was one of Steve Sarkisian's key signings for the 2009 recruiting class, and he paid Sark back ten-fold by being a consistent presence in the Huskies' secondary.

New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and new defensive coaches Tosh Lupoi, Peter Sirmon and Keith Heyward, completely transformed a defense that was truly anemic in 2011. One of the position groups affected the most was the secondary, who went from being ranked in the 90's to the top-25 by the end of 2012. And Trufant was a big part of that. Early on teams just decided not to throw in his direction, and when Tru was locked in on the other team's top receiver he often came out on top. Against arguably the top receiver in the country - USC's Marqise Lee - Trufant shut him down time and time again. Lee ended up with two catches for 32 yards, both season lows by a sizable margin.

While his game versus the Trojans was definitely his best game, his play of the year was at the end of Washington's 17-13 win over No. 8 Stanford. It was a defensive struggle all the way, with the Huskies forcing Stanford into seven three-and-outs. But after the Huskies second touchdown of the night to give them a four-point lead with just under five minutes remaining in the game.

It was time for the secondary, who had limited Cardinal quarterback Josh Nunes to 14-31 for 135 yards up to that point, to come up big again. And this time they leaned on their senior cornerback. Nunes had brought Stanford downfield to the UW 40 yard line, but they would need more than a field goal. On 4th and 4, Nunes did what most expected him to do; find one of his massive tight ends in a mis-match. Levin Toilolo, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound tight end, found himself one-on-one with Trufant on the boundary nearest the Cardinal. Tru was literally on an island with the tallest player on the field. He pivoted his body toward Nunes, keeping his eyes on the Stanford quarterback the whole time. Stride for stride with Toilolo, Trufant saw that Nunes had overthrown his tight end, so the UW corner simply kept his poise, went up with both hands and came down with the ball past Toilolo's outstretched arms.

After Stanford DE Ben Gardner was called offside during Washington's next possession, the Huskies had salted away a wonderful win.

The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 12
The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 11
The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 10
The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 9
The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 8
The 12 Plays of Christmas: No. 7


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