Coordinators deal with turning of the tables

SEATTLE - For the first two weeks, Washington was everthing Ohio State was last Saturday. They were opportunistic on both sides of the ball, and didn't beat themselves, despite being burdened with the inexperience that comes with youth. So how did the tables get turned on UW so easily, and especially in front of a very partisan Husky Stadium crowd?

"I'm disappointed certainly, but not discouraged," UW Defensive Coordinator Kent Baer told Saturday night, right after Ohio State defeated Washington 33-14. "There's a lot to build on. That's a team that's used to winning. They have a lot of kids that have been in their program awhile. I know they lost a few starters, but they still had six starters come back on offense and they understand how to play in the big games. 74,000 fans wasn't going to intimidate them, we knew that coming into the game."

"We moved the ball and had some good opportunities there where we moved it inside the 20's, but we didn't finish," added UW Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano. "And if we're going to take anything away from this game, it's that we have to learn how to finish. We've been No. 1 in the Pac-10 in the red zone, and then we come in here and we got in the red zone and we struggled. We have to learn how to finish drives against the teams that we'll be facing the next three weeks."

Finishing when the opportunities arise will be paramount as Washington goes on the road to face UCLA this weekend, and then comes back up to Seattle to face the No. 1 USC Trojans. Offensively, that burden will have to be shouldered by quarterback Jake Locker, who accounted for 255 of the Huskies' 346 yards of total offense. "He's a competitor and he's a winner and I don't care if all the bloggers come out and say that he didn't play very well - he's not going to worry about all that stuff," Lappano said of the redshirt frosh from Ferndale. "He's going to watch the film and try to make all the corrections and learn from it. That's the kind of guy he is.

"Just the speed of their defense is probably going to help him when he goes down to Los Angeles next week and when USC comes up to our house in two weeks. That was a fast look that he's never seen before. They never saw that at Ferndale. Boise (State) is a good team, but it was nothing like what he just saw. That should help him a lot, because those defenses are going to be just like what he saw. Those guys can run. Hopefully that will help him out."

Defensively, Baer knows he's going to need true freshman Vonzell McDowell to bounce forward in a big way after getting beat deep against Ohio State. It's a play that might put some youngsters in the tank, but Baer has a lot of confidence in the former Rainier Beach Viking.

"The kid is such a good kid, he competes his butt off," Baer said of McDowell. "We were in a man situation, and that's what your corners have to do in that situation - cover the man. He probably took a fake or bite - I couldn't tell and I didn't ask him. I just asked him if he could take that man again, and he said yeah. He looked fine to me. The last thing you want to do is go over to him, because he's not the only one that's making a mistake. But that's the one you see. He was fine."

The youth and relative inexperience of the offense made a big difference for the Huskies right from the opening whistle. Lappano had created a package of plays that they used to tremendous effectiveness on the Huskies' first offensive series of the game. "We did a lot of explodes, motions and shifts and had them on their heels," he said. "We went right down the field, and then didn't finish."

Part of the reason the offense didn't finish is that they had to hurry a play that they had originally wanted to change as part of that package, and it ended up costing them on a third-and-one from the Ohio State 31. After that play went for minus-six yards and forced a punt, Lappano made an executive decision. He was going to scrap the explode package totally.

"I decided to just get out of it so we could operate," he said. "It takes time to shift, explode and then motion out of it, and I felt that we were just rushing it. And I didn't want to put that on him. I didn't want him (Locker) up there looking up at the clock and seeing three ticks or two ticks every time he's snapping the ball."

And the defense - who was able to rise to the occasion when the offense sputtered against Boise State, had no such answers for the Buckeyes. After a Curtis Shaw fumble gave Ohio State a first down at the Washington 25. Two Beanie Wells rushes later, and Ohio State had a commanding 17-7 lead.

"We were in great shape, and then had the one long pass," Baer said. "There was about a four-minute span in the third quarter that kind of fell apart for us. You turn the ball over, you have to get a three-and-out, get them to kick a field goal and then line up and go again. Maybe our youth showed up, I don't know."

So is finishing plays the main key both offensively and defensively, as Washington prepares for the Bruins? The coordinators think so. "When you get those chances at interceptions, you have to get them," Baer said. Cornerback Roy Lewis and linebacker Donald Butler both had great shots to pick off Buckeye quarterback Todd Boeckman, but came up empty. "You don't get those back."

"We had a couple of guys open for touchdowns that we didn't get," Lappano added. "We had a post open when he (Locker) got hit. And on the second pick, we were open for a touchdown. You have to get your lob wedge out and drop it over the top and you've got a touchdown.

"We had our chances to do things and we didn't make the plays." Top Stories