And not a moment too soon. I never thought there would be a legitimate argument between which was worse - UW's defensive effort against Oregon or their effort against Arizona, but I almost think this one today was worse. It was a collapse of epic proportions, especially when you think that they were up 15 with basically 13 minutes to go, and they were at home.
I seriously doubt any heads will roll because of this game, but they really should. And I'm not talking just coaches. This was a completely winnable game, a game that even with five turnovers was in their hands. It certainly lends credence to the idea that they consistently play to lose in the second half, as opposed to taking the game by the throat and burying teams they should be burying. And credit UA for stepping up and taking the game over. That's what good teams do. UW is not a good team. In fact, right now they are nowhere near good.
How well will they play with their backs to the wall? They have five games left and can't lose a single one if they plan on having any hopes of going to a bowl game. Next week's game at Stanford could be either really hideous, or it could be the start of a run that - right now - frankly looks beyond impossible.
Well, it looked like the old UW offense - two three-and-outs to start the period, forcing the first two punts of the entire game for UW. But Mesphin Forrester got a gift wrapped by Willie Tuitama, and Locker took care of the rest.
I can understand going away from certain things if others aren't working, but I'm a little baffled as to why Tim Lappano went more I-formation when the spread option was working so well.
Defensively, it's not great, but it's a far cry from the look the Huskies gave in the first half. Holding UA to a field goal on their opening drive of the half will prove to be a big one. A touchdown there, and all of a sudden UW would be down, despite just rolling on offense.
Quickie first-half stats:
First Downs - UA 8 UW 16
Rushes-yards - UA 10 (-18) UW 27-146
Passing yards - UA 281 UW 269
Passes - Attempts - Complete - Int - UA 23-15-0 UW 17-12-1
Possession - UA 11:49 UW 18:11
Rushing: Locker 14/98/1, Rankin 8/42, Homer 1/4, B. Johnson 2/3
Passing: Locker 17-2-1 for 269 yards and two touchdowns
Receiving: Reece 3/142/1, Gottlieb 3/39, Rankin 3/21/1, Williams 2/55
The Huskies have over 400 first-half yards, and have limited Arizona to negative yards rushing, and yet only lead by five going into halftime. Is it inconceivable that UW could have put 49 up on UA in the first half? They should have, all things considered - because the only team that could stop Locker and company unfortunately were wearing the same colors.
Jake already has a career passing game in the first half. He is running the offense like a well-oiled machine, but still needs to understanding that taking what UA will give is always the first rule of playing quarterback. He clearly got too greedy on that second-quarter pick. Honestly, when he's that involved in the run game, Tim Lappano should just pick his spots to throw the ball. I don't believe the 'Cats have any answer for the zone option.
Defensively, if watching Mesphin Forrester and Dan Howell get juked out of their pants and left for dead doesn't signal the GLARING need for talent, I don't know what will. I feel bad for those guys, because it's clear they are trying their hardest, but they just aren't playing smart, sound football - and don't have the raw physical ability to make up for their mistakes. And I know it's wrong to single out those two guys when plenty of others have made glaring mistakes, but why is it guys like Howell have clearly regressed, while others - like Roy Lewis - have consistently improved during their time here?
Well, it's about the opposite of the Oregon game. The UW offense has rolled up nearly 185 yards, yet because of two fumbles deep inside UA territory, they are only tied at 7 going into the second quarter. Byron Davenport got torched, so Vonzell McDowell has now come in to replace him.
Clearly the Huskies have found their ball control game, and it obviously centers around Jake Locker. By running the ball as much as he is early on, it's just going to make it easier for the running backs down the road in terms of beating tendencies. Louis Rankin is running hard, and I expect him to have a big game today.
Five minutes before game time
Here is a very partial list of recruits and others spotted along the UW sideline before gametime:
Alex Ferguson - Kentridge
Drew Schaefer, Ryan Robertson and Taylor Lappano - Eastlake
Roy Lewis, Greyson Gunheim, Louis Rankin and Juan Garcia are today's captains. We understand that E.J. Savannah won't be starting, but are unsure about his availability for the game. Based on watching him practice this week, I would anticipate seeing him get into the game at some point.
Afternoon Practice Notes:
Not too much to report...no one in red this afternoon, so that was a good sign...watched one period of 2-minute' work...Carl Bonnell was QB and Brandon Johnson was the TB...interesting grouping with the OL for this particular series. Ben Ossai and Jordan White-Frisbee were at the tackles, Chad Macklin and Casey Bulyca were at the guards and Matt Sedillo was at center.
The team was able to get to the 39-yard line before stalling. Willingham had them line up Ryan Perkins for a 47-yard field goal to win the simulated game 15-14 and he buried it. Thursday
Afternoon Willingham Notes:
First, the news of the day - J.R. Hasty has left the team. The much-heralded back from Bellevue decided to call it quits at UW, and made the announcement to the coaches Thursday. According to Willingham, Hasty did not tell the coaches of his immediate plans. "I'm sure he'll sit down with his family and review his options," Willingham said. He added that he left over the opportunity for playing time. "When we brought in the other (freshmen) players, the competition increased," Willingham said. The redshirt sophomore finished this season with six carries for 18 yards in just two games played, and missed all of 2006 because of academic issues.
Hasty's departure is the second in a week, as redshirt frosh DT Derek Kosub also left the team.
In other news, only Byron Davenport - of the starters - was in red yesterday, and that was encouraging to Willingham. "I anticipate he'll be fine, he's worked hard all week," he said. Also look for a number of linebackers to see more action on Saturday against Arizona, including Trenton Tuiasosopo - who should get the start in the place of injured MIK Donald Butler. Willingham also mentioned Chris Stevens, Mason Foster and Joshua Gage as LB's that should see more action.
The Huskies' Legends Center opens up to the public this weekend, and Willingham is really pleased at the results. "It's fantastic," he said. "Any time you get a chance to honor your history, it's fantastic. They did a great job with the space they had, and the location works well for the future. The entrance (to the center) also works well as an entrance to our program."
The location is just outside the weight room on the east side of the football offices. As fans come in from the E-1 parking lot, they'll be able to see the Center on the right just before they get to the ticket gate.
Afternoon Practice Notes:
In a span of 24 hours, it went weather-wise from as good as you're going to get during an October afternoon in Seattle, to abysmal. Pouring rain...and more rain. That wasn't stopping the coaches from being very vocal today while putting the team through their paces.
The only noticeable change in redshirts was that only Byron Davenport was wearing red from yesterday's group. It appeared that Willie Griffin was wearing red too. I'll ask Coach Willingham about his status tomorrow.
Started Wednesday's session by saying that they are not where they'd like to be in terms of health, adding that there's more red jerseys on that normal. There were three out there on Tuesday - E.J. Savannah, Luke Kravitz and Byron Davenport. He said that right now he feels those redshirts are 'precautionary', but that if some or all of them can't go on Saturday that they will 'adjust and move forward'.
Said that Tuesday's practice was good, but not the best Tuesday practice they've had this fall. "They are taking mid-terms right now too, so that impacts their ability to digest everything."
Asked about Derek Kosub leaving, and Willingham said he didn't have much to add. "He has removed himself from the program. You hate to see anyone leave the program for any reason. We wish him well."
Kosub's departure opens a spot up for a freshman to move in, most likely Nick Wood, who has been consistently practicing with the team for the past 2-3 weeks. He still is wearing a cast on his hand and wrist, and while Willingham said that he's got an appointment soon, he'd just assume keep the cast on Wood so that it would ensure a full amount of healing time.
The other true frosh DL - Tyrone Duncan - has not been practicing because of a lingering shoulder problem, but he'll be 100 percent for spring.
Coach Baer came into the media workroom today and stayed for nearly 25 minutes and covered an array of topics. Of course we wanted to ask more questions about Oregon, and while he ideally wanted to move on from it and not dwell on what happened, he graciously answered questions about what happened Saturday night.
He said that in a lot of ways, what Oregon does philosophically is closer to the wing-T or triple option, and even though Arizona brought in Sonny Dykes to run more of what Texas Tech does, it has basically no resemblance to what Oregon ran Saturday. "They run maybe the most explosive offense I've ever seen," Baer said of Oregon's attack. He added that it really puts a lot of stress on the two inside linebackers and the safeties to read their keys and be in position to make a play. He said that the defensive didn't help themselves by playing slower than they normally would, but that's a function of the offense. "They get you peeking."
He was asked about the criticism that Dennis Dixon was never really hit as part of the option, and Baer said that was a totally legitimate criticism, and a fair one. He added that they could have definitely gone after Dixon more, but he also cautioned that if you go after him more, you ultimately are guessing more on the option. "If you are wrong, you get gashed." The longest run play by the Ducks was 32 yards, and part of the reason they didn't go after him more aggressively is that they were trying to contain the really big play - the 60, 70, 80-yard play.
Baer added that he thinks what Oregon is doing with the spread is where offenses in general are gravitating toward - the next evolution, and just like things are cyclical in nature, defenses will start recruiting to stop those types of offenses. "This league right now is as explosive as I've ever seen." Said that the only team that has the players right now that can probably go with Oregon is USC, but Baer still expects Oregon to win. Said the Cal game was due, in part, to Dixon giving the ball away in uncharacteristic fashion, and also due to the fact that they had at least one experienced back that knew how to handle cut-blocking.
Because Baer was adamant about not practicing against cut-blocking in their scrimmage sessions, all they could do was scheme it out, teach it and then show them on film how it works. "If you try to do it in practice and they go after your guys and one of them gets hurt, you might as well just put a gun to your head. Right or wrong, I did not want to cut block in practice."
Lastly, UW was basically unable to disguise coverages or blitz opportunities because of Oregon's no-huddle approach. "We could only hold onto the disguise for so long, and because they are calling their base play with 24 seconds on the play clock, if (Dennis) Dixon didn't like what he saw he would just look to the sidelines, and they always had something dialed up for him. We got 'em on a few plays were he wasn't able to see it, but for the most part you couldn't because they had so much time to get out of whatever they wanted to."
He said that when his defense saw the game, their initial reaction is that they wanted to go out there and play Oregon again, because they could totally see what mistakes they made. "As long as they read their keys and didn't watch where the ball was going, 90 percent of the time you'd still be in the right place."
He also added that they really don't have a lot of quality depth at spots to go 92 plays, 'but that's on us'. "We had our chances to get out of drives. You've got to help yourself out."
Asked who would be the leading tacklers, based on his own defensive philosophy, and Baer said that regardless of where he's coached, it's almost always been WIL, Strong Safety, MIK and then SAM. "Because of the spread, you're seeing more plays out on the edges, so that's going to change the numbers somewhat."
Asked about holding Arizona to minus rushing yards last year, and Baer said that a lot of that had to do with sacks, and he's not a fan of the sack yardage going against rushing totals. Asked if he expected UA to come at UW and run at them, Baer said yes. "I would too, if I were them."
But he doesn't believe UA will run the ball too much, because that would be out of their character. Because of the inclusion of Dykes - son of former TT legend Spike Dykes - they are a 2/3's passing team. "Their favorite grouping is '10 personnel' - four receivers'. Baer was asked about UA quarterback Willie Tuitama, and he said that he's improved and the offense the way it's set up doesn't allow him to hold onto the ball for too long. "They do some simple things, like triangle reads and such - but they are very effective. And he's tough too. I've seen him take some shots this year, and he gets right back up."
Baer also mentions that - much like Texas Tech - UA lines up in splits that are over a yard wide - closer to four feet. Said their biggest problem with the games that they've lost - especially to New Mexico and Stanford - has been because of turnovers. Obviously they have changed things up a lot on offense, but the 'Cats still incorporate some things they've done in the two years a Willingham-coached UW team has played them. "They are really almost a 'two-personality' offense," Baer said. "They still do a lot of things that Mike (Stoops) likes to do, but then there's that same Texas Tech stuff we've seen for years too."
Asked about UA frosh tailback Nic Grigsby, and Baer said that of all the backs at UW, he is probably closest to Brandon Johnson in style. "He'll pour it up in there if he needs to, but he likes to try to bounce it to the outside and use his speed if he can."
He said that the schedule - the way it has laid itself out - lends credence to the idea that the defense should be better because of the competition they've played to date. Said that's the feeling he's getting from the defensive players too.
Afternoon Practice Notes:
An absolute gorgeous fall Tuesday at Husky Stadium. Had to be low-to-mid 70's, not a cloud in the sky. Wearing gold this week are Jake Locker, Marcel Reece, Anthony Russo, Louis Rankin and Ryan Perkins. Couldn't tell for sure, but it looked like the brace on Perkins' right knee appears to be smaller than the one he had on earlier in the fall.
Luke Kravitz was in red, as was E.J. Savannah and Byron Davenport - although all three warmed up, and looked to be running through all the drills in a pretty normal fashion. Full pads today. Donald Butler was in street clothes and his No. 9 jersey, a big wrap/brace on his left knee.
Lappano Notes Everyone in the media wanted to know how UW OC Tim Lappano liked being on the sidelines, and Tuesday we were able to find out. It was only the second time he could remember being down there for a game - the only other time was with Oregon State in 2000, when the communications gear went out in the OSU press box just before the second half of the Cal-OSU game. He said he didn't like that experience, but had a much different feeling coming away from last Saturday night's game.
"It worked out really good," he said. "And it just wasn't for Jake Locker, but for the offense in general. I can communicate with the receivers and find out what they are thinking. And since our plays are on a (wrist) band, if I'm up in the box I can't call something off the band, I can do that now pretty easily."
"Charlie (Baggett) and Trent (Miles) gave me what I needed to see (in the booth). "We're going to stay with it (the rest of the year)."
So why did Lappano think it was necessary to make the change? "We wanted to change it up a bit."
Here was Locker's take on having Lappano down on the field. "I felt really, really good about having him down there," Jake said. "I felt like we had a really good understanding of how we were going to go about tackling the next drive. It put everyone on offense in sync a little bit better. It was nice having him down there because you didn't have to get on the phone to talk to him. The communication I felt was a lot better."
"I've known him since I got here and started recruiting him as a junior in high school," Lappano said about his relationship with Locker and where it is now. "We spend a lot of time together. He's always coming in early, getting some extra stuff down. He's starting to think like I am."
Jake was on record as saying his performance against Oregon wasn't his best - simply from the standpoint that they lost. "I know what he thought, but I think it was a really good game from a management standpoint," Lappano said when asked about Locker's game. "His decision-making was good, and we've told him from the beginning, 'If it doesn't fit, don't force it'. And he did that to the point where I thought I saw a couple of passes down the field where I would have liked to see him try and fit one in.
"He was more relaxed down there than he's ever been, and I think he's more confident with the deep ball.
I spoke very briefly with senior receiver Anthony Russo Tuesday to get his thoughts, and he did like having Lappano down there. "I loved it," he said. "You could tell there was better communication between him and Jake, and hopefully he'll stay down there. To get a chance to chat with the guy that's calling the plays helps."
Lappano mentioned another positive for being down on the sidelines. "I thought the weather was going to be a whole lot different than it turned out, and up there you don't get a sense for the energy, you don't know how wet the ball is or how wet the field is," he said.
There was one drawback. "Everyone is on top of you, which I didn't like," he said. "We have to work on that a little bit."
Lappano was asked about Arizona's defense. "They are good," he said. "They have talent. Spencer Larsen is leading the Pac-10 in tackles, he plays hard. And Louis Holmes, he was the No. 1 JC player in the country. He's what they look like across the water (Seattle Seahawks).
He also mentioned Lionel Dotson and Antoine Cason as big-time talents along the Arizona D. "They can run and cover you," Lappano added. "They aren't a high-pressure team, but they have pressures. They'll do it when they need something to happen. They are pretty stout against the run."
Lappano was asked about the backup running back, and he definitely said it's now Brandon Johnson behind Louis Rankin. "But Louis was running so well, we wanted to keep that going," he said when asked why Johnson maybe didn't get as many carries as they thought they might have available for him. "When you get the flow of the defense and you're running well, you want to let 'em eat. If they aren't running well, then... But you don't make a change just to make a change. And I was a running back (at Idaho)."
Was asked about the offensive line helping to finish run plays by moving the pile - something we haven't seen much of this year, and Lappano said that offensively, 'finishing' has been their constant theme. "I thought everybody finished, including the quarterback," he said. Lappano added that they always want to be physical and that he felt they answered that challenge on the offensive side of the ball Saturday.
Asked about certain things he saw in Oregon's offense, like going no-huddle. "We've talked about it, thought about it, but we aren't ready yet for that," Lappano said. "But next year, he (Locker) will be ready to do that."
He also talked about possibly opening up the splits just a little on the OL too.
Lappano was asked about the fact that, because they just went through a part of their schedule where the record of their last six opponents was 38-5, and now they are going to go through their next six at 23-20, if there was any natural let-up. Lappano was incredulous. "We need wins," he said, with an expression on his face that would make you feel foolish for having asked the question in the first place. But I had to ask.
"And everybody in the league understands that any team can beat any other team. The last thing we're doing is overlooking anybody, you can trust me when I tell you that. We've been through the gauntlet, but we also know these other teams are pretty good too."
He was asked about the OL, and he said that guys like Ryan Tolar and Cody Habben are gaining more confidence with each start. "There's nothing like experience," Lappano said.
He was also really happy with Jordan White-Frisbee, who had roughly 15 snaps Saturday night. "He was fired up on the sidelines, and I loved that," Lappano said of the senior from Kenmore. "I loved his energy." He added that he could see more of a balance between JWF and Casey Bulyca, just like there is currently with Ben Ossai and Habben.
Official Arizona two-deeps for their game against Washington on Saturday.
X 11 Terrell Reese 6-4 205 Fr.* 84 Terrell Turner 6-2 190 So. TE 48 Rob Gronkowski 6-6 250 Fr. 88 A.J. Simmons 6-3 250 Fr.* STE 9 Anthony Johnson 6-2 210 Sr. 4 B.J. Dennard 5-11 194 Jr. LT 76 Peter Graniello 6-5 310 Sr. 68 Daniel Borg 6-5 295 So. LG 64 Colin Baxter 6-4 295 Fr.* 68 Daniel Borg 6-5 295 So. C 50 Blake Kerley 6-2 285 So. 64 Colin Baxter 6-4 295 Fr.* RG 75 Joe Longacre 6-3 315 Jr. 57 Jovon Hayes 6-2 300 Fr.* RT 77 Eben Britton 6-6 310 So. 52 Bill Wacholz 6-6 310 Jr. Z 10 Mike Thomas 5-8 195 Jr. 89 Derick Barkum 6-2 185 Jr. QB 7 Willie Tuitama 6-3 220 Jr. 13 Kris Heavner 6-2 218 Sr. RB 23 Nic Grigsby 5-10 178 Fr. 28 Chris Jennings 5-10 218 Sr. 30 Xavier Smith 5-11 210 So. HB 49 Earl Mitchell 6-2 265 So. 45 Brandon Lopez 6-1 230 Jr. SHB 18 Delashaun Dean 6-4 198 Fr.* 2 Mike Turner 5-11 188 Fr.*
DE 1 Louis Holmes 6-6 265 Sr. 83 D'Aundre Reed 6-4 230 Fr.* DT 96 Yaniv Barnett 6-1 315 Sr. 94 Lolomana Mikaele 6-2 285 Fr.* DT 54 Lionel Dotson 6-4 286 Sr. 46 Donald Horton 6-0 275 So. DE 53 Jason Parker 6-3 265 Sr. 97 Johnathan Turner 6-3 262 Jr. SAM 39 Dane Krogstad 6-2 240 Sr. 41 James Alford 6-1 230 Jr. MIK 33 Ronnie Palmer 6-3 245 Jr. 41 James Alford 6-1 230 Jr. WIL 51 Spencer Larsen 6-1 240 Sr. 15 Xavier Kelley 5-11 215 So. CB 3 Wilrey Fontenot 5-9 174 Sr. 6 Devin Ross 5-11 170 So. SS 20 Cam Nelson 6-1 200 So. 21 Corey Hall 5-10 190 So. 34 Brandon Tatum 6-1 210 So. FS 32 Nate Ness 6-1 190 Jr. 8 Dominic Patrick 6-1 210 Sr. 31 Michael Klyce 6-0 200 Jr. CB 5 Antoine Cason 6-1 185 Sr. 23 Marquis Hundley 6-0 175 Jr.
Arizona Special Teams
P 47 Keenyn Crier 6-1 180 Fr.* 37 Tim Egger 6-0 180 Fr.* PK 13 Jason Bondzio 5-9 170 Jr. 14 Alex Zendejas 5-11 175 Fr. HLD 47 Keenyn Crier 6-1 180 Fr.* SNP 65 Garon McHone 6-4 269 Sr. 60 Ricky Wolder 5-10 220 So. PR 5 Antoine Cason 6-1 185 Sr. 10 Mike Thomas 5-8 195 Jr. KR 6 Devin Ross 5-11 170 So. 10 Mike Thomas 5-8 195 Jr.
UW two-deeps, as announced by UW Media Relations...
WR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 ^Sr. 18 Corey Williams 6-2 195 ^Sr. LT 79 Ben Ossai 6-6 300 Jr. OR 71 Cody Habben 6-6 300 So. LG 65 Ryan Tolar 6-5 310 So. 76 Jordan White-Frisbee 6-6 320 Sr. C 58 Juan Garcia 6-3 315 ^Sr. 64 Matt Sedillo 6-3 300 So. RG 72 Casey Bulyca 6-6 340 Sr. 64 Matt Sedillo 6-3 300 So. 70 Morgan Rosborough 6-6 365 Jr. RT 75 Chad Macklin 6-8 300 ^Sr. 69 Erik Berglund 6-6 310 ^Sr. TE 86 Michael Gottlieb 6-5 245 Sr. OR 37 Johnie Kirton 6-4 270 Sr. OR 81 Robert Lewis 6-5 250 ^Sr. QB 10 Jake Locker 6-3 225 So. 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 215 ^Sr. TB 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 ^Sr. 24 J.R. Hasty 5-11 200 Jr. OR 6 Brandon Johnson 5-11 195 Fr. 14 Curtis Shaw 5-11 190 Fr. FB 30 Paul Homer 6-0 222 So. 32 Luke Kravitz 6-1 245 Sr. WR 3 Marcel Reece 6-3 240 Sr. WR 16 D'Andre Goodwin 6-0 170 So. 29 Cody Ellis 6-0 185 ^Sr.
DE 66 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 6-4 245 Jr. 59 Darrion Jones 6-3 255 Jr. 96 De'Shon Matthews 6-4 255 So. DT 95 Jordan Reffett 6-6 295 ^Sr. 77 Erick Lobos 6-3 285 Sr. DT 74 Wilson Afoa 6-3 290 ^Sr. 99 Cameron Elisara 6-2 275 So. DE 7 Greyson Gunheim 6-5 265 Sr. 85 Caesar Rayford 6-7 250 Sr. OLB 34 Dan Howell 6-1 225 Sr. 20 Kyle Trew 6-2 235 ^Sr. ILB 9 Donald Butler 6-1 240 So. OR 57 Trenton Tuiasosopo 6-2 240 Sr. 40 Mason Foster 6-1 218 Fr. OLB 22 E.J. Savannah 6-2 228 Jr. 40 Mason Foster 6-1 218 Fr. 29 Chris Stevens 6-0 215 Jr. FS 15 Darin Harris 5-11 200 Sr. 39 Nate Williams 6-1 205 Fr. SS 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2 205 Sr. 27 Jay Angotti 5-10 180 So. CB 18 Byron Davenport 5-11 195 Jr. 6 Vonzell McDowell Jr. 5-9 176 Fr. 19 Matt Mosley 5-11 190 So. CB 28 Roy Lewis 5-11 187 ^Sr. 17 Jordan Murchison 6-0 184 Sr. 19 Matt Mosley 5-11 190 So.
Washington Special Teams
P 12 Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr. 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr. FG/PAT 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr. 12 Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr. KO 12 Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr. 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr. HLD 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 215 ^Sr. SNP 49 Danny Morovick 6-3 230 Jr. KOR 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 Sr. 6 Brandon Johnson 5-11 195 Fr. PR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 ^Sr. 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 Sr.
^ indicates fifth-year senior