Huskies could be dangerous foe

Washington just proved two things this past Saturday. Number one, they proved to themselves that they could win a football game at the wire. Number two, they proved that they could handle adversity, or at least a nerve-wracking stretch of a football game, and not fold.

Put together a 21-20 win over Fresno State along with a nail-biter win over San Jose State, sandwiched between a game that was competitive on the road in Norman for over two quarters, and you are getting some positive vibrations from the guys wearing the purple jerseys with no names on them.

It doesn't matter how this team got there. When you are 3-19, there are no such things as ugly wins. There are no statistics that are important other than the won-loss columns after two such horrific seasons.

And after three weeks, the Washington Huskies football team has a 2-1 record entering Pac-10 play.

One thing to point out about Saturday, however, was that it wasn't the guys in Purple that had something horrible happen to them to lose the football game. When Caesar Rayford came through and blocked that extra point after the final Fresno State touchdown, you could feel a HUGE weight being lifted off of the program.

The Washington Huskies special teams came through and delivered at a point in the game when it mattered most. That is what wining teams do – they make their own luck. No matter how many big returns or screw ups that happened prior to that, they make a big play when they had to and it turned out to be the difference.

That's what good teams do. Is Washington a good team? Too early to tell, but at least they are proving to be a competitive one, and one that can win a football game when it's close down the stretch.

The offense was not clicking on all cylinders, but Isaiah Stanback showed that he can tuck and run when it's called for. He can slide when a defender is coming, to avoid the hit and potential fumble. Stanback had five dropped passes, but didn't let it get to him. He is the toughest Husky to defend and he changes the way defenses approach the Huskies because he is so fast.

And after Saturday, he'll now have confidence. He is now without a doubt the starter, he has proven that he can do it under fire, and no one can take away from him the fact that his team has two wins in their first three games. Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano has done a nice job of getting Stanback to look for his running lanes and to not try to make too much happen once he's taken off. Not once did it look like Stanback was in danger of losing the ball on a run. As defenders approached, he would slide before they could jar the ball loose, but only after a significant gain.

To me, the biggest reason the Huskies won that football game on Saturday was that they did not turn the ball over. They didn't send their defense onto the field unnecessarily, or in bad field position. Washington's defense doesn't have to be outstanding when that is the case – they only have to hold their own.

A lot of people love to use the cliché "defense wins championships." In the Pac-10, I beg to differ. Not every school can get USC type of talent on defense, so good coaching and making breaks happen comes into play. In the Pac-10, the team that will win it is the team that can make the fewest mistakes on offense and special teams. The passing offenses of this league are going to score points, but if you make them go on long drives, their odds of succeeding goes down. Also, your chances of taking the ball away on a fumble or an interception go up. The law of large numbers works in your favor if you are making the other offense run two to three more plays per drive, and the way to do that is to not turn the ball over and punt well.

Washington did both on Saturday.

The Husky defense gave up a lot of yards but they came up big enough to keep Fresno State to three touchdowns. Safety CJ Wallace was healthy for the first time all year and it showed, as he turned in a Pac-10 defensive player of the week performance. Jordan Reffett looked good on the defensive line and Daniel T'eo Nesheim and Greyson Gunheim are doing a nice job of keeping things between the tackles. They got some pass rush, too.

And now comes UCLA, a team that is 2-0 after beating a mediocre looking Utah team and then a total underwhelming 26-16 win over Rice. They had a bye last week so this will be UCLA's conference opener as well, and this is traditionally a team that the Huskies have not done well against.

One thing UCLA does have, however, is talent across the board. They are not big on defense but very fast. On offense, QB Ben Olson may be in his first year of Pac 10 ball, but that doesn't mean he's not experienced. He is very accurate and poised, and is also 23 years old and just a sophomore in eligibility. He threw for 318 yards against Utah, and will look to shred the Husky secondary. He will test the Huskies like no other quarterback they've faced so far this season, as will wide receiver Junior Taylor.

But Washington will face the Bruins with a 2-1 record, feeling good about themselves, and perhaps with Husky Stadium full of rowdy fans that like what they are seeing. The Fresno State game was a huge win for this program, as it provides the positive springboard into the Pac-10 season this team so badly needed.

A win over UCLA would put this team into a 1st place tie in the Pac-10 standings. How good do you think this team will feel about the looking in the paper and seeing THAT?

This is a dangerous team that UCLA will face on Saturday. Top Stories