Coach's Corner

As disappointing as the second half of the Ohio State game was, there is a good chance the Huskies can go on the road and win their league opener for the second straight year against exactly the same opponent, the UCLA Bruins.

That's the team, although ranked as high as 11th in the nation going in, that got totally demolished and equally embarrassed by an 0-2, Utah team this past weekend.

I couldn't believe it myself, 44-6 to an injury depleted Utes squad, but when you realize that the Bruins had five turnovers and 10 penalties, it has to make you think that the Huskies will be meeting UCLA at precisely the right time. We've got a real shot here and any help the Huskies can get from this sudden blow to UCLA's collective confidence will be greatly appreciated.

The Bruins will enter the Husky game this Saturday night with a renewed attitude but teams to immediately bounce back, especially when they were so thoroughly trounced. The Bruins totally unraveled in the second half, giving up 30 straight points and scoring no touchdowns themselves.

Sounds a little familiar, doesn't it? Groan.

Washington can relate to at least a temporary lapse themselves, when in a period of about five minutes of the third quarter, they basically gave up a game away to The Ohio State University. Washington was in it despite the final score, and they had a chance of winning until that horrid stretch of football in quarter number three when a blocked field goal, a defensive lapse, and a fumble on the ensuing kickoff followed by two cutback runs by Wells and the game was over.

The Husky defense in particular, had played their "bend, but not break" style and had held the Buckeyes to just three points in the first half. They would probably have shut them out had they simply caught the two interceptions they dropped. But they are not making excuses. They know they got beat in the second half and had the offense been able to put up any points at all in the third quarter, then it could have been an entirely different outcome.

Washington players know they had their chances to win the game and just didn't make the plays when they had to. They got beat by a team that will probably win the Big Ten or Eleven or whatever they are called now. The Buckeyes are real solid up front on both sides of the ball and held the Husky defensive front at bay. Their quarterback had way too much time to throw the ball. When the Huskies did bring pressure themselves it exposed their weakness, leaving their corners vulnerable, and it cost them dearly.

The Buckeyes ran for 263 yards but that last play was unnecessary and just added 37 yards and six more points to the total. They probably could have taken a knee with 3 seconds left, but it was real poor tackling angles on the play that resulted in the touchdown and Washington's defense had to be disheartened by that one last breakdown. They had fought all day and had held the other team out of their end zone for two and a half quarters. They had no turnovers on the day but they had their chances. They scored on defense, and that would have been huge, but it was wiped out by an incorrect call that was not reviewable.

Recover that fumble for a touchdown or intercept those two passes and they would probably have overcome their own errors and won.

Don't blame the loss on those two freshman kids either. These are two very young men that are just trying to help the team as much as they can in their first years of college. Unfortunately getting beat on a "go" route for a touchdown and fumbling away the ensuing kickoff both in a matter of 10 seconds really stunned the Husky team, but it happens.

Great teams overcome mistakes of that magnitude. Washington wasn't quite up to overcoming them against such a great opponent, as OSU was able to put their foot on the pedal and run over the Huskies thanks to the miscues.

The 30 points given up the second half matches what the Bruins did last weekend. UCLA had one more giveaway and the Huskies probably have the better defense right now. This is a toss up game and an excellent opportunity for the Huskies to go on the road, get a win, and start league play in first place.

Last week is over. Now it's time to focus on winning THIS game. A big part of football is about confidence and it appears to me from talking to the team that the Huskies understand they can play better and will have to if they are going to win. They can't let up for even ten seconds and whenever a bad thing happens they merely have to move past it and not let it compound like they did last weekend.

Don't let up when adversity strikes but rather turn it around immediately.

Certainly it will help to get cornerback Byron Davenport in action, who originally played at UCLA. It will also help to get linebacker Dan Howell back. That will improve the defense and the kicking game could also be helped by the return of kick-returner Brandon Johnson. My fingers are crossed that these kids return this week.

Even if it doesn't happen, Washington will still be healthier than the Bruins, who lost some kids for the rest of the season and some for next weekend as well. Jake is sure to respond positively from his three interceptions. The defensive pass rush must improve, though.

Although the Huskies are only 2-8 in the last 10 meetings with the Bruins, they did beat them last year. There is no reason why Husky fans can not expect Locker to return to the form that he had for two and a half games. He has evolved into the best running back on the team, so I am sure they will continue to add running plays to his repertoire. Even though the offense gave away two to three good looking opportunities to score against the Buckeyes all they need to do is tighten up on their game and they could have some real success against a questionable Bruin defense. Zero turnovers will become the highest priority for the offense.

The Huskies really need to improve their kicking game. They need to continue to improve their coverage game and tighten up their protection for both punts and field goals. To block a field goal and then give a block back really hurt them on Saturday.

Punter, Jared Ballman, needs to kick like he did on the road last time at Syracuse. He has a strong leg and needs to improve his hang time as well as his consistency.

The Huskies were beaten by a good team last week and all they can do is to learn from those mistakes and make things positive things happen that that will win the next game for them. Dan Howell with another interception for a touchdown to seal the win would be just fine with me.

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