Huskies Humbled Hard

TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona did everything they wanted to, and even a little bit more. The Wildcats gave Mike Stoops his first home win ever in October with a 48-14 pounding over an out-matched and underwhelming Washington team in front of 55,624 at Arizona Stadium Saturday night.

With new UW Athletic Director Scott Woodward watching, Husky Head Coach Tyrone Willingham did just about everything he could to show why he's not the man to bring Washington's football back to respectability. Woodward talked to reporters after the game and reiterated his position that he will give Willingham the season to turn things around.

Already firmly entrenched on the hot seat, this loss was comparable to the 20-3 drubbing by Stanford at home in 2006. That Cardinal team was considered by many to be their worst team in the history of that program. Who knows if this Husky team will match the 1-10 futility of 2004, but just the fact that they are being mentioned shows how things have not improved under Willingham's watch.

Currently Washington (0-5, 0-3) is only one of two D1 teams to remain winless. With Army's win over Tulane Saturday, the Huskies now hold the longest losing streak in the BCS at seven games and counting. In short, nothing went right: Willingham's offense gave up the ball twice and were held to only three third down stops all game long; special teams were some of the worst the've been all year, with Mike Thomas running a punt back 48 yards for a score, his first ever via return.

"We can play better," Willingham said. "We can do a better job of holding onto the ball. We can execute better on third down (8-16). We can do a lot of things better. We obviously had a very poor showing here."

The 'Cats (4-1, 2-0), who benefitted early from short fields due to windy conditions, were led by the passing of Willie Tuitama, the pass-catching of Rob Gronkowski and running of Nic Grigsby. Tuitama, pulled in the third quarter with Arizona up 41-7, finished 17-21 for 193 yards and three touchdowns, all to Gronkowski, whose 109 yards are only second to the 115 he amassed last year against Washington State. His three scores also tied an Arizona all-time record for touchdowns receiving in a game. Grigsby, also pulled in the third quarter, ran 14 times for 113 yards and one score. Overall, Arizona averaged six yards per carry, yet that only ranked their effort fifth during the Willingham era. UCLA and California in 2004, California in 2005 and Oregon in 2007 all had more yards per carry in a game.

Overall I'm excited about everything we did," Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops said after it was all over. "We played a complete game on offense, defense and special teams. We were very efficient and balanced. Our running backs were strong. Willie Tuitama was excellent and managed the game well."

Ronnie Fouch, in his first career start taking over for an injured Jake Locker, was 12-28 for 181 yards and one touchdown - a 20-yard toss to Michael Gottlieb with 8:33 left in the game. It was the first touchdown catch for the fifth-year senior from Mercer Island. Fouch also threw one interception, the first one of the year for the Huskies.

"I thought he played OK," Willingham said of Fouch. "It's tough for a freshman to step up, especially on the road. I can't say he was the reason for tonight's outcome."

During that series the Huskies brought in true freshman Terrance Dailey at running back. He was only one of three running backs brought to Tucson as Chris Polk, Brandon Yakaboski and David Freeman all stayed home to nurse injuries. And the other running back - Johri Fogerson - who was moved to safety, also didn't make the trip due to injury. In the third quarter, Washington brought in true freshman Cody Bruns for his first action of the season, and he took part in three plays during the course of the second half.

The Huskies had two other true frosh without prior playing time on their travel roster - Anthony Boyles and Luther Leonard - and neither one saw playing time in Tucson.

The lone bright spot for the Huskies was the fact that they racked up three sacks in the game, all three by stalwart defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Before the Arizona game, Washington was last in D1, with zero sacks. And the Huskies held Arizona to 449 total yards, nearly 60 below Washington's average (507 yards/game) - yet the Wildcats played the last 18 minutes of the game with their reserves.

Down 17-0 in the second quarter, the Huskies' offense caught lightning in a bottle, as Fouch connected with freshman Jermaine Kearse for 62-yards amidst double-coverage to take them inside the Arizona red zone. From that point, Brandon Johnson ran the ball effectively and fullback Paul Homer capped off the 81-yard drive with a one-yard plunge to bring the deficit to 10.

One of Te'o-Nesheim's sacks led to a Keenyn Crier punt, but three incomplete passes by Fouch led to Thomas' spectacular return. He caught the ball in the middle of the field, darted toward the 'Cats sideline, gained the corner and was gone. He hurdled UW cornerback Quinton Richardson to put an exclamation point on his return.

"It was nice to see Mike Thomas break one for a touchdown," said Stoops.

On the next series Fouch was picked off by Devin Ross, ultimately leading to a Gronkowski 9-yard slant for six. At that point the score was 31-7 Arizona with 3:58 left before half. Top Stories