In the first quarter, Washington's first gaffe came in the secondary when Matt Shelton was so open he could've written a letter to someone. He looked that lonesome. By the time Derrick Johnson found him, Shelton had handed the ball to the referee and phoned his mom to make sure the Tivo machine was set to record.
Also in quarter one, the punt coverage team made two costly mistakes. Notre Dame's first punt was a line drive two-iron shot that was heading through the end zone, but Charles Frederick decided to make a fair catch of the missile….on his own seven yard line. Instead of a touchback and starting on their own 20, the Huskies worked out of the shadows of their own end zone. Their failure to move the ball on offense led to a short ND field that was converted to a 7-0 lead that would never be relinquished.
The second gaffe was even more costly. The Dawgs had the Irish pinned down on their own one yard line. After the defense held them to a three and out, Charles Frederick's failure to field a low and wobbly punt allowed Notre Dame to force the Dawgs to start 64 yards from where their punt had rolled dead. The field position was lost as was the momentum.
Coach Scott Pelleur showed his displeasure with ET by inserting Anthony Russo in to field the next Irish punt.
Washington's Ryan Brooks was flagged for a holding call that stopped a promising drive when the Huskies were only down 7-0 and looking to tie the score. Then down 21-0, a motion penalty on Tusi Sa'au on a first and goal forced the Huskies to settle for three when they desperately needed seven.
The Irish bootleg action roll-out and throw to the tight end fooled the Husky defense twice, both going for scores. In both cases, linebacker Scott White looked helpless to stop it. Either he had no safety help, or he never realized that a tight end was running free behind him.
The rest of the game was decided well after the rest of the mistakes came, but yet another motion penalty was called on Washington down on the three yard line. The ball was moved back to the eight yard line where the Huskies stumbled and once again had to settle for three. Good teams make mistakes, but not at such crucial times. This Husky team implodes in the red zone over and over again.
THE YOUNG GUNS
Jordan White-Frisbee, a true freshman man-child of 18 years old, made his first collegiate start of what is likely to be many in his Husky career. Getting your first start in the Hallowed grounds of Notre Dame Stadium in front of 81,000 fans in South Bend, Indiana is asking a lot, but that is where the Washington program is right now.
White-Frisbee looked comfortable, and got good penetration right from the get go. Notre Dame smashed the ball at him on three plays and he held his own on all three.
If that wasn't enough, Erik Lobos, another true freshman, entered on Notre Dame's second drive and lined up right next to White-Frisbee. After a second straight Sean Douglas line drive punt with no hang time, Notre Dame started their drive against the two Husky rookie interior defensive linemen on the Dawg's 45-yard line. They both made a good showing, but the Husky secondary let them down and allowed a 24-yard gift touchdown.
On Notre Dame's third series, Lobos went to the bench but in came true freshman Greyson Gunheim to man defensive end. On third down, Lobos came back in, making it three true freshmen manning the entire right side of the Husky defensive line. They stood stiff and held the Irish to a three and out, stuffing the power running game. Youth was served and the future Husky defensive line was unveiled.
Lobos was overpowered on a couple of plays, one resulting in Notre Dame converting a third and three in the first quarter, but he never looked lost. He came through on a third down, crashing the Irish offensive line and hitting Quinn and forcing him to throw the ball into the turf.
Washington's fourth offensive series saw a new face enter the game for his first collegiate experience. Tailback Louis Rankin came in as the one-back. It was just for show, however, as the Dawgs threw three straight times before punting. Rankin got a couple of carries but the rushing game was anemic and moot after falling behind by 28 points.
Defensive end Wilson Afoa also got significant playing time in the first quarter, and safety Chris Hemphill also played some in the second quarter, filling in for an ineffective Goldson. Hemphill went to the bench after picking up a personal foul, however.
It's a very young defense that Notre Dame abused through the air. The ironic thing was that the cornerbacks were supposed to be the strength of this year's defense. Derrick Johnson, Sam Cunningham, and Matt Fountaine all looked bewildered at various stages. Granted the safety help was sporadic at best.
In all, Washington played five of the six true freshmen that made the trip and 14 freshmen in all, counting redshirts. The list included White-Frisbee, Lobos, Gunheim, Daniel Howell, Trenton Tuiasosopo, Afoa, Hemphill, Rankin, Carl Bonnell, Anthony Russo, Michael Braunstein, Bobby Whithorne, Cody Ellis, and Durrell Moss.
WASHINGTON's "EST" DEFENSE
Sitting in the press box over the past three years, it's easy to say that Washington could call their defense of the past couple of years the "EST" defense. Why? Because when opponents have field days against them, the superlatives pile up, and usually end in "est". UCLA's Deshaun Foster had not only the longEST run by a Bruin, he had the bEST rushing day that a Husky opponent had ever enjoyed. Then Maurice Drew, another Bruin not to be outdone by Foster, set a Husky opponent for bEST rushing performance in Husky stadium, going for five touchdowns and averaging nearly 50 yards per carry in the first half. Brady Quinn had a Notre Dame bEST by throwing for three touchdowns in a quarter. His four in a half tied the school record for most TDs in a game. It was the quickEST three touchdowns Notre Dame had scored in a decade.
And whose records was Quinn toppling during his first half shredding of the Dawg secondary? Ron Powlus, against Washington eight years ago.
In the press box, sports writers and even a good friend of mine that is the most positive person I know believe that this will be the longEST football season in recent memory.
THE BONNELL ERA BEGINS?
After Casey Paus went 10-26 for 130 yards and no scores, Kentwood High School product Carl Bonnell went in to begin the third quarter. He immediately completed a throw to Shackelford to convert a third down, and then hit Bobby Whithorne on a gorgeous slant pattern for big yards to move the ball into Irish territory. His quick release and fast footwork give the position a different look. He may not have as much command of the tricky (and ineffective) UW playbook, but he is the bigger weapon if you need one at quarterback.
Bonnell would've had his first career touchdown pass with 10:36 to go in quarter number three, but nerves made him overthrow an open Cory Williams in the end zone.
He followed that up with a poor choice that wound up in an interception on his second drive, but did the Dawgs proud on his third. He threw quick strikes to Anthony Russo, Bobby Whithorne, and Kenny James, which were mixed in with two nice runs. The drive was killed by two Husky penalties inside the 10 yard line and the resulting field goal attempt never got off the ground as holder Casey Paus couldn't handle the snap.
The drive wound up in zero points but it was the best the offense had looked in three weeks. Albeit it was against a softer ND defense, but still it looked more efficient and dangerous. It is hard to not see Carl Bonnell as the starter for the rest of the season. He has a lot to learn but the offense moves with much more pace and purpose. If he could enter a game where the Huskies aren't already down 20+ points, it would be interesting to see what he can do. We may find out on Saturday.