Dawg Blog - Arizona

Another beautiful day in the desert. We'll see if Washington's game plan and execution match the weather as they take on the surging Arizona Wildcats in Tucson. All signs point to a solid UA victory over a Husky team looking for an indentity and searching for success.

23 minutes before kickoff: Because of Rob Meadow's suspension, Joe Toledo will take his first start since Air Force at left tackle. Chad Macklin will start at right tackle. Things have gotten so bad that the quarterbacks have to hold onto the ball during skelly drills. They can't find an open receiver even when they are going against themselves! And finding success against Arizona's secondary - arguably the best in the Pac-10 - should go wanting if everything goes according to the way they have all season.

20 minutes before kickoff: The Arizona band literally spills onto the field, no order - nothing. They roam around until they settle into the 'U of A'. You can't hear ANYTHING from the field in the press box, so we barely get to our feet before the signing of the national anthem. For as bad as Washington's pre-game attendance has been, this stadium is not very full at all.

10 minutes before kickoff: Looks like Evan Knudson might kick off, he's booming them right now. He's doing it, apparently oblivious to the fact that Arizona's seniors are being honored just a little ways away from him.

5 minutes before kickoff: Since there's no real 'tunnel' at Arizona Stadium, the 'Cats congregate in the northwest end and jump up and down and fire up in a circle before coming out onto the field proper. The fireworks are ignited as they run out into the middle of the field and across to the east end, which is their sideline.

2 minutes before kickoff: Sonny Shackelford, Dashon Goldson, Evan Benjamin and James Sims are the UW captains. UW wins the toss and will take the ball. The Huskies congregate in the far end, much like how UA did, but with a lot less jumping up and down and overall fanfare.

Kickoff: There are UW players that make two unique 'prayer circles' before going to their side of the field. One is made up completely of the Polynesian players and the other is made up of the rest of the team. Roy Lewis takes the opening kick and goes 33 yards.

13:09/1st: Stanback has the 'run-throw' option on his fourth play of the game and throws a perfect strike - to Arizona. Stanback goes to the phone on the UW sideline, clearly out of sorts. Anthony Russo goes to him and they talk about whatever miscommunication occurred.

11:30/1st: The Washington defense has already given up an offsides and a pass interference (one they were actually in position to make a play) and blitzed to the same side a screen pass to Mike Bell went clear on. This might be one of the few games UW plays this year where it gets away from them very early. It looks like Kent Baer is going to try and come after Willie Tuitama with a variety of blitzes.

10:57/1st: Matt Fountaine and Dashon Goldson double-team Syndric Steptoe, and Tuitama throws a bullet right to him for a touchdown like they weren't even there. Only the third time UW hasn't scored first in a game. Might as well mix things up, right?

10:21/1st: Sims starts out running the ball very well, just like he did at ASU, but an illegal 'leg whip' penalty puts them once again under the gun.

8:41/1st: Mike Stoops accepts a holding penalty when it would have been 4th and 6. How much does that tell you about a complete and utter lack of respect. Stanback comes back with a 21-yard run, which makes it 4th and 2 on the UW 44, but Willingham doesn't hesitate to put Douglas into punt. Sean promptly kicks a 23-yarder. And so it continues...

6:51/1st: The Huskies stop the 'Cats! Reason to celebrate, Dawgfans. And even when UA hits an average punt, they get down in time and down the ball at the one-yard line. All the Huskies can do at this point is sneak it out to get at least a yard or two to breathe. Sims is just running his heart out.
5:39/1st: And just like it has been on cue ALL SEASON, the Huskies follow up a good play with a bonehead play. This one was a false start by Rob Lewis. They can't get out of their own way. Sims is gaining chunks with power running, but all he's doing is getting back to the line of scrimmage. Follow that up with Johnie Kirton booting a pass that could have been a first-down and a Craig Chambers drop that WAS a first down, and it just continues. Really, the 2005 Huskies have become the 2004 Huskies. Whatever progress that was made over the course of the year (and even that is debateable based on the win-loss record) is TOTALLY GONE. Stanback goes from the phone to the bench and gives low fives to his teammates sitting down. No body language to suggest that there's a problem, nothing that gives anyone looking at them a sense that something's wrong.

3:40/1st: C.J. Wallace is in the game and he just wallops Steptoe on a pass in the middle of the field. Nice to see a hitter in the game. A Lewis corner-blitz gets Tuitama off his throw just a little bit and the 'Cats have another three-and-out. The defense didn't look good starting out, but they have settled down nicely.

2:50/1st: Washington moves to their own 44 after a Russo completion and a UA personal foul (facemask). Sims is running like his life depended on it.

2:41/1st: Holding on Cody Ellis negates another nice play. 60 yards in penalties already for a team that averages 43 yards a GAME in penalties.

1:51/1st: Sims is the weeble that won't fall down. He is taking some shots from UA and will not surrender. He already has 67 yards and the Huskies have doubled UA's offensive output so far. If they could only eliminate the mistakes...

1:03/1st: Stanback calls his own number and takes it upfield to the UA two-yard line. Sims takes it the rest of the way for - frankly speaking - a pretty easy drive. 80 yards in 2:27. Washington has already amassed 116 yards on the ground. Tie game.

:29/1st: J.R. Wolfork had perfect position on Steptoe coming off the edge and just completely lost containment. Steptoe got around him and ended up with a 44-yard return when he could have had him buried inside the 20. Darin Harris got his bell rung on the play. The only reason the Dawgs are in this game right now is some defense that bucked up and James Sims. Kenny James or Chris Singleton will have to provide something to spell Sims to keep their momentum with the ground game. Defensively, they need to keep attacking Tuitama. It's worked so far.
14:25/2nd: Another three-and-out forced by the Huskies. They need to make a team pay for a change. Nick Folk just boomed a kick deep in Husky territory. It ends up on their own three.

12:19/2nd: Where did this offense come from? After the debacle against Oregon State, it looks like the offensive line decided to make a statement. Sims is running like Corey Dillon. UW already has 168 yards on the ground and Sims already has a career high and they are two yards short of the entire offensive effort they had last week.

11:02/2nd: Stuck between punting and kicking a field goal, Willingham goes for it on 4th and 6 and Russo makes zero attempt to come back to the ball and shield it from the defender.

9:06/2nd: Looks like the normal 2005 defense has come back. Barely giving up first downs on third and 5 or more and needless penalties.

8:28/2nd: The Wildcats are driving. They are getting plays out on the edge and using their speed to pick up yardage. The Dawgs need to force UA into three. The UW corners are giving up HUGE chunks of cushion.

7:01/2nd: Wilson Afoa shoot a gap and brings down Gilbert Harris for a loss of two. The DL sorely needs more plays from their interior guys.

6:28/2nd: Evan Benjamin comes in on a delayed blitz up the middle and just clocks Tuitama, forcing the ball out. Chris Stevens recovers for the Huskies. A very big play for a team that has not forced a lot of turnovers all year.

6:22/2nd: Paus comes in at QB and throws to Stanback! Isaiah picks up 8 on the rush. The UA student section is nearly full now and they are trying to make some noise. Don't know if it hurt Stanback, but the next play is kind of botched from the start and UW has to punt. A Wildcat hold means the 'Cats get backed up to normal field position for the first time all game.

3:58/2nd: After nailing Mike Bell for negative yardage on the first play, they bluff Tuitama into calling an audible and then drop back into dime coverage. That doesn't stop the frosh QB from finding Steptoe for a 37-yard gain. Good team goad a QB into the move they want to make and then make them pay. The Huskies did everything right - except make a play. The 'Cats are driving.

1:49/2nd: The Dawgs force another third down play, only to give up a pass to frosh Michael Thomas. Fountaine makes a good play on a one-on-one fade, knocking the ball down at the last minute. But the Huskies need another stop.

1:15/2nd: Reminiscent of 'The Pick', Tuitama slings it to the far sideline, and it's caught inside the five. He throws it the same place to Gilbert Harris on the next play and the 'Cats score. Washington is just a shade late, and the frosh is picking them apart with precise passes. It looks like UA Head Coach Mike Stoops is going to take away Washington blitz package by rolling Tuitama out and throwing more timing routes. I don't think he'll be sitting back there with too many seven-step drops for the rest of the ball game.

:23/2nd: By not calling timeout after their second play, Washington gave up a valuable chunk of time they could have used in trying to go downfield. Another questionable game management move by Willingham/UW. After Stanback gets crunched, the Huskies wait until seven seconds to call another time out! Baffling to me, not sure why. A head-scratcher. And now the Arizona coaches come running on the field to call a timeout of their own? Maybe the Dawgs had a trick up their sleeve...like 13 players on the field...Stanback just threw the ball ten miles and Chambers catches it in the end zone! Just like it was dialed up...69 yards...and as they go into the locker room, the Huskies just hit the biggest bolt of lightning in years. Truly an unbelievable turn of events.
Second-half kickoff: Dawgs have a noticeable hop in their step now, they are pumping their helmets in the air to signify the second half. That bomb to Chambers gave this team life, let's see what happens next...

13:34: An inadvertant whistle after a Josh Okoebor pick means Okoebor's subsequent fumble goes for naught. Stoops is going absolutely out of his mind. He has every right. That's just a plain break for the Huskies. And they need all of them right now. The UA fans have picked up on it too and are booing lustily, trying to make as much noise as they can.

12:45/3rd: Stanback calls his number on third and long and parts the middle of the UA defense for six more. Knudson's kick makes it 21-14 and Stoops is 15 yards away from the refs and STILL making his case. Man is he red-hot. Looks like Hemphill may play for Goldson for awhile.

11:59/3rd: Roy Lewis recovers a fumble and goes in for six more, but a roughing call on Erick Lobos negates the play. A little karmic payback, I guess. But make no mistake, the defense is playing like an entirely different team. They are flowing to the ball like at no other point this year. They are playing with speed. They look like they aren't playing with fear, they are playing with desire. It's amazing what one play can do...

10:37/3rd: Even the defensive backs are oozing confidence. The post that UA scored on in the first quarter didn't work now and Fountaine is even in position to make the pick, but comes up short. But UA isn't bending much at all. Tuitama is staying in the pocket and is making plays.

9:45/3rd: Stoops is on tilt and it's fourth-and-one. Of course he'll go for it, and he does. B But then he backs off and calls timeout. The offense comes back on the field and tries to get UW to jump off. No dice.

8:55/3rd: Shackelford goes for a 24-yard return, longest of the year for UW. Slowly, but surely - they are putting it together. But they need to put some first downs on the board to give the defense some time to rest. Very critical time of the game right now, and Willingham goes extremely conservative on third down and UA forces a punt, which Paus downs at the UA 12.

6:22/3rd: Chris Henry creases the Husky D for 19. The 'Cats are now in decent field position and are driving. Tuitama is right on the money with his throws right now. Baer, once he saw that UA was going to roll Tuitama out and give him shorter drops, has stopped his blitzing.

5:25/3rd: On a bad exchange, Tahj Bomar shoved Tuitama out of the way and pounced on the loose ball at their own 49. Another huge change of momentum for Washington.

4:37/3rd: Stanback puts UA on their heels with a 21-yard bootleg. One UA defender completely lost his jock trying to contain him. With that run, UW now has a season-high rushing total - 221 - the most since the 2000 Apple Cup. And Lappano keeps giving it to Sims and James keeps delivering.

2:11/3rd: Lappano pulls out the option on third-and-goal, and Stanback delivers for 6. He's nearly at 100 yards already (93), a career high. Knudson caps on a most-impressive drive to give the Dawgs a 14-point lead, the first-double digit lead they've had in a league game since the UCLA game last year.

:59/3rd: The 'Cats are clawing back quickly, as Washington's defense has gone into passive mode.
14:08/4th: Evan Benjamin gets in Tuitama's way and picks him off and goes 44 yards to boot. Everything is rolling UW's way right now. If the offense can punch it in, they've got a great chance at salting this one away. Don't expect the 'Cats to go away quietly.

12:43/4th: Once again in no-man's land (UA 32), Willingham rolls the dice and comes up empty again. Shackelford can't catch up with Stanback's pass coming across the middle. It was there, but Isaiah looked like he had 'happy feet' in the huddle and short-armed the throw.

11:52/4th: Tuitama is trying to pick on Tahj Bomar with crossing routes in the intermediate zone, but he just can't connect. The 'Cats call their second time-out of the half. Don't know if that will mean anything in the final analysis, but something to think about right now.

11:48/4th: Now that UA is back to sitting more in the pocket, Baer has let the hounds loose again. The effect has been to rush Tuitama just enough to upset the timing on his throws to the outside. His last one was just behind his receiver on a third-and-four, and UA had to kick.

11:33/4th: Sims busts out a 46-yarder along the Huskies' sideline, and he goes over 200 yards on the very next play. He's doing his best Corey Dillon imatation. The Dawgs are on the doorstep of closing out a most improbable second half.

9:17/4th: Lappano went option on third down, but it went wide-side and Arizona's pursuit was way too good. Knudson's 24-yard kick puts the Huskies up by three scores with 8:38 left.

7:59/4th: The 'Cats are forced to look for big plays, but shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. There is blood in the water, the Dawgs need to make a statement here.

7:26/4th: Arizona uses their last time out.

7:20/4th: Roy Lewis slams the door shut on Tuitama and company, taking an interception 42-yards for paydirt. The sideline is going berserk as the Dawgs take a 38-14 lead.

5:27/4th: Casey Paus and Chris Singleton come in to mop up. After gaining a flat 200 yards, Sims earns a well-deserved rest.

2:45/4th: Paus calls his own number for a sneak on 4th and 1 and gets a first down. The win is officially signed, sealed and delivered to the Dawgs.

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