Formerly maligned Kent "Teddy" Baer gets game ball
The lesson to be learned from the Bruin – Husky series is to not grab an early lead. Future games may find both teams fighting hard not to score first and jump out on top. In 2003 under Keith Gilbertson, the Washington Huskies took a 16-7 halftime lead at the Rose Bowl against UCLA, only to wilt under an onslaught that became a 46-16 Bruin win and sent the Huskies crashing towards the 3-19 spin they are climbing back out of, having won 4 of 6 games under Head Coach Tyrone Willingham.
The Huskies added a couple of more come from ahead defeats the last two years to UCLA, deepening the gloom that was sticking to this program the way stink sticks on a duck.
Saturday past at legendary Husky Stadium was as beautiful a day as this veteran scribe can recall. The late afternoon sun flooding the field, the water, and the mountain were all calling across America to 5 star high school football players reminding them that old money and legendary programs remain the best choice for the smart potential student athlete.
And as they tuned in they saw an active Coach Willingham exhorting his troops and working the sidelines and forcing his considerable will upon the game. This is the Coach Willingham that we have supported from Day 1 here. *cough*
They saw a man they can play for and win with. They saw a team that had fun, hit hard, and never quit even when they should have and certainly would have in recent years. They saw a Husky Stadium, that even though it was missing 15,000 fans, rocked and rolled the young Bruin quarterback into the game breaking mistake, and carried the Huskies to victory on a wave of pent up emotion that had festered for three years.
And they saw a comeback victory that did not require any replay shenanigans or bought off officials.
The Game started off as bad as you could have drawn it up.
UCLA gashed the Husky run defense and moved swiftly down field among missed tackles and wide open receivers who caught the crisply thrown balls by Ben "Mrs." Olson.
Until they got inside the ten yard line.
In a foreshadowing of what would be the main storyline of the day, the Husky defense stiffened and held the Bruins to a field goal.
It didn't seem to matter as the Husky offense looked like a Pop Warner team on the first day of practice for most of the first half. They were unable to even get one first down for the first 25 minutes of the game. They were in negative yardage for that time. DFI legend Isaiah Stanback was struggling as usual against a fast defense.
Meanwhile the Bruin offense continued to march up and down the field, only to kick field goals, keeping Washington in the game. The obligatory special team collapse, a bad punt snap, gave UCLA their only touchdown drive of the day.
The Bruins were sitting on a 16-0 lead that should have been 28-0, game over.
It still didn't seem to matter when Stanback was racked from behind and fumbled late in the second quarter giving the Bruins great field position once again. It was at this point where Kent Baer turned the game by calling for a corner blitz on 1st down, suspecting that UCLA would go for the jugular. Young Olson was smacked down and for the first time, doubt crept into the Bruin minds. A dropped pass and a non third conversion later and the Bruins were punting back to the Dawgs.
Inspired by the defense - the crowd, the momentum and the game slowly turned to Washington. Starting at their own 8 yard line, the Dawgs quickly faced a third down and executed it starting a remarkable drive that put them back in the game for good.
UCLA's plan was to stuff the run and make Stanback and the wide outs beat them. It all came true. UW could not run the ball, but Stanback and Shackleford beat them like a drum. Just when you thought Isaiah was going to be pulled he engineered the 92 yard drive and took a huge step in overcoming errors the way Tui once did on the hallowed turf of Husky Stadium.
The Huskies got the ball to start the second half and once again drove the field to a Stanback to Shackleford touchdown pass, drawing within 2 points and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The defense now shut UCLA down giving the Husky offense time to work against the stubborn Bruin defense. Stanback would end up accounting for 248 of the Huskies 249 yards of total offense, showing why he is a DFI legend.
Still trailing by 2, the Huskies punted the ball away early in the 4th quarter, setting the stage for one of the most remarkable plays by a Husky defensive lineman ever seen. The speedy Bruin was well on his way to a touchdown when he was caught from behind by Grayson Gunheim, the aforementioned defensive lineman with sprinter's speed. The play epitomizes the new attitude of Husky Football.
Once again the Bruins settled for three, then the Huskies drove for the go ahead TD, a nifty Stanback to Kirton hook up that sent the crowd into delirium.
When the Bruins came back out on offense the place was shaking and so was Ben Olson as he threw a gift to Dan Howell who took it to the house to seal the win and bust the Bruin jinx.
It was a defining win for Coach Willingham over a quality foe. Now the rest of the season matters and the Husky squad will need to work even harder, prepare even better, and play much less error prone to continue this revival of fortunes.
A big DFI tip of the cap to everyone concerned and our hearty thanks for another fix of Husky Ball for all the junkies strung out, lo these many years.
Next up: Arizona - The Wrong Stoops is feeling the desert heat as he struggles to find wins in his third year. An impressive defensive game against USC failed to mask the continuing offensive woes.
This is a payback game for the Wildcats, who were riding high last year after smacking around UCLA, only to get swamped by the Huskies at home the next game. That is the lesson we need to remember this year. Every week is a new ballgame, and the Huskies are not good enough to beat anyone just by showing up. The same heart, desire, and total team play are needed to bring home the win.
DFI contacted Mike Stoops for a quick interview on the upcoming battle
DFI: Tough loss to USC, coach, can the team bounce back this week?
Stoops: GOOBLEDEE GOOBLA GOB SPIT *^)*&*_*%%$@#)(*)(*(*&
DFI: Sure, that's easy to say, but does the team buy it?
Stoops: *&*&^*&%_)(& %$^% &^^&@ &%^##)(* GOOBLE GOBBLE GAGAGA
Thank you very much for your time coach and good luck this week.
PREDICTION: UW 20, UA 17
And that, my friends, is the whole story of the week that was in college football. Yep, there was just one game, and it was Purple – Race
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