Notre Dame: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

What an absolutely great college football game. The only thing I didn't like was the wrong team won. Otherwise, it was one of the best Husky games in years. Lots of good things came out of it, especially from some of the skilled positions. Two freshmen were sensational for the Huskies.

Running back Chris Polk was tough, hard-running, and an absolute warrior, not just because of the number one, but he reminds me of a cross between Rashaan Shehee and Corey Dillon, two pretty good runners for us about ten years ago. He had his best outing of the year stats-wise and continued to gain hard yards after contact. He looks like he will be able to grow into a 25 carry-per-game guy and really hasn't even shown his breakaway speed yet.

Desmond Trufant was indeed 'tru'. 'Tru' as in a true freshman and true as both a cover guy and a tackler. Heck, he might be the best true player in the secondary. At least he was on that day, knocking balls away and scooping a fumble for a score. He played like a senior.

No question the defense struggled but they certainly were great in the red-zone, where they forced the Irish to settle for five field goals instead of touchdowns. I know the field shrinks up the closer you get to the goal line but those were still five stops that gave the Huskies a chance to stay in the game.

Then there was Jake Locker. He was excellent in his game management and certainly did his part to keep the Huskies in the game. He bounced back from an off game against Stanford with a solid effort both passing and running. In fact, he played good enough to win and I think actually scored on a second-effort sneak, even though the officials didn't agree. Jake hooked up with Jermaine Kearse eight times for 94 yards. Kearse was great, and with the exception of a critical drop in overtime proved he is going to be a big time receiver.

Washington won the time of possession against a team that had dominated that category in all of their earlier games. Washington out-rushed the Irish and basically stopped the run after not being able to do so the week before. Washington won on third down as they usually do, going 7 of 17 while holding the Irish to 2 of 10. The Huskies ran 79 plays to the Irish 60 and gained 457 yards.

Erik Folk was perfect again, including another pressure kick to send the game into overtime and helped out on three tackles. Will Mahan continued to punt well, including a 57 yarder.

Cort Dennison stepped in at linebacker for EJ Savannah and played really well with some excellent run-throughs for tackles for loss. He also registered a sack and was active the whole night.

The best part was that the Huskies, in their first year under Coach Steve Sarkisian, could have and should have won the game against a team that in their fifth year of their program. They scored first, led after one quarter, led at halftime, led at the end of three quarters and refused to buckle under a lot of pressure put on them by the Irish and their raucous home crowd. They played with heart and determination, and even though they ultimately couldn't stop the Irish on defense, they put themselves in position to win the game. It just didn't happen.

As far as the bad, it continued along the same lines it has through the first four games: They are still missing too many tackles on the back end of the defense and not making enough on the front end (eight defensive linemen made a total of only two tackles and four assists).

The defensive ends repeatedly lost contain on their pass rush lanes, thereby allowing the Irish quarterback to buy time by getting out of the pocket and finding receivers. The lack of pressure was the primary reason why their zone defenses continued to break down. Still, they got another defensive score for the second game in a row via a lateral. When is the last time that happened?

Unfortunately, after both touchdowns the Huskies have gone flat on defense the following series and have given up quick and easy scores in both games.

Some of the more experienced Husky defenders also struggled against Notre Dame and that hurt. They dropped an interception for a touchback that would eliminated one of the field goals and that would have won the game. They missed some sacks, and missed some key open field tackles. Those few plays could have been the difference in the game.

After cleaning up their act against Stanford, they fell back to being penalized 13 times for 82 yards. That hurt on a couple of drives and was exactly twice as many and twice as much as Notre Dame was penalized. That's bad.

On special teams, even though the specialists were solid, they got nothing out of their return game and never came close or even tried to block any kicks.

Offensively, they were only 1 of 3 on fourth down and everyone saw they had trouble with their goal line offense.

Regardless, they had their chances to beat a pretty good opponent on the road, and it was a tremendously entertaining game. The two quarterbacks were outstanding and the Notre Dame receiver, Golden Tate, was indeed Golden. He was the best athlete on the field, and his 275 total yards were half of the Irish total. He couldn't be stopped, but still only had one touchdown.

The Ugly, was obviously the injuries to Justin Glenn, Nate Williams and D'Andre Goodwin. Glenn had worked so hard to earn himself a starting position at safety and was proving to be one of the best tacklers on the team. Now he's out for the season. It looks like Nate and D'Andre will be back soon, but those hits looked ugly.

There had to be close to a half dozen drops on offense, and that was ugly.

There were at least three questionable officiating mistakes and any one of them would have won the game for the Huskies if they had been called the right way. That was an ugly way to lose, but considering they were Pac-10 officials on the field and Big East officials in the review booth, it didn't surprise me.

To me, I continue to see the improvement and this Washington team is going to only get better. They are going to win some more games and this next one against Arizona will be critical to their bowl aspirations as it will get them back to 3-3 and would put them 2-1 in the league. I think they garnered the respect of their opponent this past weekend and stood toe to toe with them for a complete game. It just fell apart in overtime. These kids know they had their chances and were really disappointed afterward. They were oh so close to being the first Husky team in history to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

It just didn't happen.


Dawgman.com Top Stories