The TBS folks just said that the UCLA-UW game was a 'well-played game by two good teams with two good coaches'. It's nice to be covering a 'good' team once again. I think it's fair to make that claim now.
I sure do owe the UW team an apology, one I didn't see coming early on. I didn't think they had it in them to make the necessary 2nd-half adjustments. They did. I didn't think they'd come out with the fire and energy they needed to make that big a comeback, the 7th-largest comeback in school history. I was wrong...way wrong. Now at 3-1, it's time for this team to take the next logical step...beat a conference team on the road. If they can do that against the Arizona Wildcats, the Washington Huskies would only need two more games to become bowl-eligible...something that looks downright easy under that scenario.
Who would have thought that two weeks ago?
With a 10-point lead, it's now all on the offense and special teams to salt things away. I have no idea why Willingham passed the ball on 3rd and 6, one of a few head-scratchers on the day. Why did they call two timeouts at the end of the first half? Perhaps Willingham will provide those answers during his post-game press conference.
Talk about the man above working in mysterious ways...after what UW LB Dan Howell has been through this past two weeks (his father Keith passed away), was it more than fitting to see Howell come up with a 33-yard pick six ala Marquis Cooper? What a great play and it couldn't have happened to a finer young man. Good on you, Dan.
I hop in the elevator right when Johnie Kirton scores the go-ahead touchdown. For anyone that knows what I'm talking about, being in the lobbies of Husky Stadium when a UW touchdown happens is an unreal feeling. It's an explosion of noise. You know something happened for the home team, you assume touchdown, but don't quite know what it is.
Then, when we get off the elevator all the attendents are jumping up and down. The house is still going crazy. What happened? Kirton scored on a two-point conversion, putting UW up 22-19. I race down to the field while most of the lower south side are either too stunned to speak or freaking out.
Stanback throws up a jump ball, and UCLA comes up with it. DeWayne Walker is still bringing pressure and it is getting to Stanback. Great play by Marcel Reece in getting the Bruin interceptor down right inside the 15. And Tahj Bomar just crushes Ben Olson on a third-and-long. UCLA is lucky he held onto the ball. Time to head down to the field, so I'll finish the blog after the game is over.
End of Third Q:
In terms of really staying strong in the red zone and allowing FG's instead of TD's, this Washington defense is to be commended. They have done a whale of a job in that area today. Now if the offense and special teams can quit creating those 'sudden change' plays in the other direction that Willingham talks about, they'd be ahead in the game. As it stands, they stilll have a chance to win the game going into the fourth quarter, and that's exactly where they need to be if they are going to continue to improve...during the 'Husky Legends' presentation to Ink Aleaga, all the Poly players went to give Ink a big hug in the west end zone.
Douglas pulls an Oklahoma, and outkicks everybody. UCLA's Terrence Austin makes an over-the-shoulder catch and then proceeds to wind his way for 79 yards downfield, ultimately tackled by Greyson Gunheim. Douglas either needs to hit the ball higher or kick it out of bounds. By outkicking his coverage and leaving a wide-open field, good return men are going to make mincemeat of that kind of situation, and that's exactly what Austin did.
Man, the defense is really bailing the O out right now. Mesphin Forrester makes a stupendous one-hand pick inside the UW 15, giving the Dawgs life again. The whole field now is under shadow, except for the southeast corner.
And the internal clock that supposed to be going off in Isaiah Stanback's head fails to ring again...at some point he has to know that the Bruins are coming. Just not a smart move by a player that should be learning better.
Do you get the feeling sometimes when one team is just sleeping with angels? Scott White commits a plain-as-day PI and the Bruins get caught with a delay of game. The Huskies have a 3-and-13 and Kahlil Bell gets 12, forcing a punt...is it really the Dawgs' day today? You sure wouldn't have convinced me during the first quarter, but that's why the game is four quarters long...
Wow. What a tale of two halves...
That UW offensive drive (minus the beautiful fumble recovery by Ben Ossai) was about as well-executed as you could have asked for coming out of the tunnel for the second half. Sonny Shackelford took the man-coverage he had at the UCLA 28, shed two would-be tacklers and scored while the north side of Husky Stadium was rocking. If you're Karl Dorrell, that's about the worst thing you wanted to have happen right out of the box. And give UW and their coaches a lot of credit; despite two turnovers, one very deep in their own end, and an offense that sputtered for over three-quarters of the first half, they are only down two and clearly have the 'Big Mo', which is so important.
Well, not too sure about why Washington burned their timeouts at the end of the half, but at the very least they seemed to have their defensive act together.
Where is Marcel Reece? We see screens to Cody Ellis and to Marlon Wood, but not to the big, bruising receiver that could maybe break some tackles and move the pile...we'll try to find out why Marcel hasn't made an appearance. It's nice to see guys like Ellis and Wood make contributions to be sure, but no Reece? I know he was really anxious to show people what he could do this weekend...
Here are some quickie halftime stats:
UCLA - 36 plays for 195 yards; UW 25 plays for 95 yards. UCLA - 115 yards rushing, UW minus 13. UCLA - 16:44 TOP; UW 13:16 TOP. Olson is 10-17 for 80 yards; Stanback is 7-13 for 108 yards and one score.
In a play eerily reminiscent of his score against Fresno State, Sonny Shackelford caps off a 92-yard drive with a 23-yard catch in double-coverage. Just the fact that the Huskies - who up to that last phenomenal drive had provided exactly nada offensively - is even within single-digits of the Bruins at this point speaks volumes about how Willingham is just trying to get his guys to play hard for four quarters and get themselves in a position to take the game in the fourth quarter.
The only way Tim Lappano is going to preserve Stanback's health is to roll the pocket, and he connect with Corey Williams for 17. A big gainer to Sonny Shackelford and a receiver screen to Cody Ellis and the Huskies are actually well within UCLA territory. Another receiver screen to Marlon Wood puts UW inside UCLA's 25.
After getting their first first down of the game (via penalty), TE Johnie Kirton gets drubbed around end, and Stanback gets blindsided as he was trying to get rid of the ball. The refs rule it a fumble, but a Roy Lewis sack helps force a UCLA punt inside the UW 10. If UW doesn't move the ball here, I suspect the boo birds will be out in full force.
9:43/2: On third and 3, Stanback calls timeout. As he's about to go to the sidelines, he turns around and he motions something to a couple of his offensive linemen. He is clearly frustrated.
Well, UW stops UCLA again, but can't keep them off the scoreboard, as Medlock connects from 51. The first Q stats say it all; UCLA had 21 plays for 146 yards, UW 10 for minus 4. UCLA had the ball for 9:04, UW had it for 5:56. UCLA ran the ball 12 times for 109 yards; UW 6 times for minus 10 yards. If the Huskies ever needed a 'wake-up' call this year (I have a hard time even typing it), I guess they're getting one right now. And Roy Lewis just returned a kickoff to his own 10. The Bruins look motivated. The Huskies look like dead meat.
Looks like Donald Butler is playing E.J. Savannah's spot instead of Kyle Trew. Olson is getting a lot of time to throw and making the most of his efforts. All in all, a pretty poor half of football all the way around for UW, and we've still got a long ways to go. Welcome to the Pac-10, Huskies.
End of 1st Q:
Not sure which is worse; this UW offense so far or the Lynnwood offense I saw last night. Lynnwood was able to muster three first downs in the first half, so the jury is still out. And special teams isn't helping the cause when they fail to pin the Bruins deep.
Give credit to the Huskies' D; they are bending without breaking, but with UW gaining basically nothing offensively, that D can only bend for so long. The Huskies need to take the game to the Bruins, if they can. Right now that looks like an extremely tall order.
A Chris Markey 63-yard run off-tackle has totally taken the crowd out of the game. A nice job by UCLA to totally take the game to UW, smash them in the mouth and run all over them. If UW doesn't respond in a big way and keep the Bruins to three, it's going to be a very long evening.
Again, Washington looks just way too average to hang with a tough UCLA front line coming at them. This time Douglas gets off a nice kick and Stevens is johnny-on-the-spot with a tackle for no gain on the return. UW needs a three-and-out here to give the offense one more time to get themselves started.
UW looked entirely too average coming out with their first series, and then Sean Douglas, clearly their special teams MVP to this point in the season, boots a snap and the Bruins recover on the UW 6. Washington is still having a very tough time tackling at the line of scrimmage. They had Chris Markey dead to rights, but give him credit; he continued to keep his legs going and found that UW didn't have him wrapped up. One more Markey run, and the Bruins are on the scoreboard again. The Huskies were going to have to play a near-flawless game to keep up with UCLA, and they've given up their one gaffe. If they don't get to work in a hurry, this game will be a memory before it even starts.
The Huskies get their first big hit on Olson, courtesy of Chris Stevens. It looked like Olson really took that shot in the ribs. The Bruins draw first blood with a Justin Medlock field goal, but the Huskies stood strong inside the red zone. They most definitely need to pressure Olson a lot more than they did that drive...hopefully Kent Baer has some tricks up his sleeve...
The first big third down, and Ben Olson passes with flying colors. The UW DL is getting creased up front, and Chris Markey is a good enough RB to know what to do with a hole when he sees one. Right now the Bruins are playing into the sun, but it doesn't seem to be bothering Olson. UW just produces their first tackle for loss, and the crowd responds appropriately. The crowd is there, but the D has to give them a reason to scream their guts out.
Gametime: The Huskies defer after winning the coin toss. Looking down on the UW sideline, I see Anthony Atkins, in street clothes and his jersey, waving a towel frantically to get the students and northsiders fired up. It's about time they had their own 'towel guy'...UCLA has had one in Ed Kezirian for years...we've got a pretty raucous 'Go...Huskies!' chant going right now...UW is slow to get downfield and the Bruins are able to move the opening kickoff out to their own 36...and the noise starts up, but the Bruins run a reverse right off the bat for a first down.
5 minutes before gametime:
Ah yes, the always wonderful national anthem and ceremony the UW band does. Even though the west end is still really open, the crowd sounds plenty revved up, and it's doubly-apparent when Lou Gellerman does his obligatory, 'Hello Dawg Fans'. The students immediately get into a cheer of 'Let's Go Huskies!' and the band gets ready to greet the team as they come onto the field.
20 minutes before gametime:
For those wondering why there's a big black hole between the 18th and game day, just suffice to say we had a glitch in the system and I found out too late to copy all the entries. So you have my apologies. But onto the festivites!
It's looking like a TON of kids on the sidelines. We were able to confirm that Kellen Kiilsgaard is on the sidelines on his official visit. There was a chance that Corey White and Po'u Palelei from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas were coming up for their officials, but as of yesterday they had not finalized any plans. Typically this coaching staff is trying to hold off any official visits until the end of the year. In the case of Kiilsgaard, he wants to make a relatively quick decision, so that's why he's visiting now.
And despite separating his shoulder Thursday night, Chris Izbicki is in attendance. Mead teammates Mike Magee, Emilio Sulpizio and Nick Proen were three others we could make out from the press box. It also looks like a lot of parents are wearing purple today. We'll keep looking to see who else is here - there has to be well over 50 recruits in attendance.
C.J. Wallace, Mark Palaita, Sean Douglas and Brandon Ala are today's gameday captains, and Ink Aleaga is today's 'Husky Legend' that will be honored between the third and fourth quarters. It also appeared during warmups that CB Dashon Goldson was working with the number-ones during warmups and Cody Ellis was also in full gear and working out. WR Alex Mercier was in street clothes.
(9/18/06 11:06:00 am)
Washington play-by-play announcer Bob Rondeau on with Dave 'Softy' Mahler Monday morning on KJR in Seattle...here is a down and dirty 'play-by-play' of the conversation.
Rondeau said it was nice to see UW made a play and have something go their way with the blocked PAT at the end of the Fresno State game.
Softy said it was a foregone conclusion that game was going to be tied and then 'boom'. Said he now thinks they will go to a bowl and the block is the play they'll look at. Rondeau said that it was an uncharacteristic play on Fresno's part, but still nice to see.
Softy said it was all on the coaches to make that scheme change, and Rondeau said he's going to ask Willingham why he hadn't thought about using Rayford's height sooner.
Softy said he talked to Lappano after the game and he said it feels like this 'thing' is off and running. Rondeau said two wins in three games is a 'heck of a winning percentage for this team' given where they have come from, but he still needs to be convinced that it's a trend.
Softy said two things - how the D bounced back after the opening drive and also Stanback's game - were the keys. Said Stanback had pressure, and for him to respond was huge. Rondeau said most of that criticism is self-imposed and it was really good to see for his development. Rondeau said that Lappano called a 'great, great game' and said they scripted a large number of plays with the idea of giving Stanback confidence.
Softy talked about Baer being up in the booth for the first time ever and JD Williams being on the field and he said it's no surprise that the DB's improved and looked better. Rondeau said it was 'chicken and egg' and also said that it's probably not the last time you see that happen. 'You don't mess with success'. Said there were no turnovers, minimal # of penalties, and that's a Tyrone Willingham-coached game. 'Not real flashy, but at the end of the day they got a win'.
Softy talked about lack of playmakers on offense and how Marcel Reece might be getting close to being one of those guys. Rondeau said he should be a weapon. Added that he's probably lost a few pounds and how he becomes a 'human shield' on any underthrown balls. He can be a weapon and Rondeau expects to see him more and more, especially in the slot where he can clear out the middle.
Rondeau added that with the Fresno DT's stuffing the run, UW did a nice job counteracting that with the short passing game
Softy talked about getting to a bowl, saying that Stanford and Arizona are just bad and how UW almost beat UCLA last year. 'I think there are more wins on the horizon'. Rondeau said they'll see how significant it is that the Bruins got a BYE before this game. Said he's anxious to see about Ben Olson and their defense under DeWayne Walker. Called Karl Dorrell 'one of the good guys'.
Softy asked Rondeau if he saw the end of the OU-UO game, and Rondeau said the ball was clearly touched before going 10 yards, but the angle was skewed. Also said that Bob Stoops is probably 'kicking himself' for being up 13 that late in the game the way things worked out.
(9/18/06 10:34:00 am)
Karl Dorrell teleconference notes...
I listened in to Karl Dorrell's teleconference with the Seattle beat writers, and also asked a couple of questions. Here's what he had to say on some of the topics discussed:
Asked about new QB Ben Olson: "He's a very confident kid. He's mature. He always has a lot of high expectations for himself. That's just his makeup. He always feels like he can do better, and he knows that he needs to do a lot better than what he did against Rice. He's going to continue to work with that kind of attitude the whole year because of the expectations he has on himself."
Asked about how UCLA's defense has responded under new DC DeWayne Walker: "We're playing hard and we're getting people to the ball. Our confidence is building and we're pleased about what our offense is doing. But it's a different caliber of team we're going to face now compared to non-conference, so we'll need to continue to grow and get better."
Asked about playing good football but still being in the shadow of USC: "People like good football period. You get overlooked if you don't play well. But if you continue to play well and keep building momentum in your program, you get noticed at some time, and that's where we are right now. There's a lot of work for us to get to a level where we meet our potential, and that's the fun part - getting to that level week-in and week-out. And this is another opportunity on Saturday to go out and play to our potential and realize how good our football team can be."
Asked about UCLA's offensive and defensive identities: "We're just a hard-playing football team. If anything that I want our team to resemble, it's our effort that we play with on the football. So if there's an identity, it's attack the football on defense and be aggressive offensively with making plays and score when you get scoring opportunities. We just want to be aggressive on both sides of the ball and play hard."
Asked about the Bruins' skill players: "It's helpful for him to have experience around him (Ben Olson), and our receivers are our most experienced group returning on the offensive side of the ball. They have extensive playing time from last year. The running backs are very similar. We have Chris Markey, who gained a lot of experience from the last two years, and Kahlil Bell, who as a redshirt freshman was our third running back last year and he's our second running back now. Our tight ends are young and up-and-coming guys that we think have a lot of potential to be major threats for us offensively. So we're building and Ben is growing and building as the season progresses."
Asked about the BYE week: "You still have to get better whenever you get a chance to practice, so it's always a positive to have those BYE weeks. You'd like to move it back later, but with the 12-game schedule that's not going to happen. At the end of the season for the last three years, we've had a BYE before the last game in our conference against USC, and that's not ever going to be the case now with the 12-game schedule. You just have to make it a positive, work with it and continue to play hard."
(9/18/06 9:57:00 am)
Here's the official two-deeps for the UCLA game, as released by Washington Media Relations. Not too many changes from last week...
WR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 JR 21 Sonny Shackelford 6-2 180 SR 19 Quintin Daniels 6-0 195 SR LT 79 Ben Ossai 6-6 300 rFR 70 Morgan Rosborough 6-6 375 rFR LG 74 Stanley Daniels 6-4 320 SR 72 Casey Bulyca 6-6 320 SO C 58 Juan Garcia 6-3 315 JR 73 Ryan Bush 6-2 305 SO RG 63 Clay Walker 6-4 305 SR 65 Ryan Tolar 6-6 325 FR RT 75 Chad Macklin 6-8 300 JR 69 Erik Berglund 6-6 290 JR TE 37 Johnie Kirton 6-3 270 SO 92 Walter Winter 6-5 250 SO 82 Tim Williams 6-6 230 rFR QB 4 Isaiah Stanback 6-3 215 SR 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 210 JR TB 8 Kenny James 5-10 215 SR 9 Louis Rankin 6-1 205 JR 7 Shelton Sampson 5-11 210 SR FB 43 Mark Palaita 5-10 245 SR 32 Luke Kravitz 6-1 225 SO 25 Paul Homer 6-0 225 FR WR 18 Corey Williams 6-2 195 JR 3 Marcel Reece 6-3 240 JR 83 Marlon Wood 5-10 185 JR Defense DE 66 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 6-4 245 rFR 41 Brandon Ala 6-3 260 SR DT 91 Donny Mateaki 6-5 285 SR OR 95 Jordan Reffett 6-6 295 JR DT 74 Wilson Afoa 6-3 290 JR 77 Erick Lobos 6-3 285 JR DE 7 Greyson Gunheim 6-5 265 JR 41 Brandon Ala 6-3 260 SR OLB 34 Dan Howell 6-1 225 JR 20 Kyle Trew 6-2 235 JR ILB 47 Tahj Bomar 6-2 225 SR 57 Trenton Tuiasosopo 6-2 240 SO OLB 4 Scott White 6-1 235 SR 29 Chris Stevens 6-0 215 SO OR 22 E.J. Savannah 6-2 222 rFR FS 26 Jason Wells 6-2 210 SO 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2 205 SO SS 1 C.J. Wallace 6-0 210 SR 3 Chris Hemphill 6-5 235 JR CB 6 Matt Fountaine 5-11 180 SR OR 8 Dashon Goldson 6-2 205 SR CB 28 Roy Lewis 5-11 187 JR 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2 205 SO Special Teams P 17 Sean Douglas 6-2 230 SR PR 14 Michael Braunstein 5-8 185 JR 11 Michael Book 6-3 195 SR HLD 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 210 JR SNP 49 Danny Morovick 6-3 230 rFR KOR 28 Roy Lewis 5-11 187 JR 6 Matt Fountaine 5-11 180 SR FR 83 Marlon Wood 5-10 185 JR 21 Sonny Shackelford 6-2 180 SR