TUCSON, ARIZ. – The Washington Huskies now have the longest losing streak in major college football. The Huskies’ fifth loss of the season and seventh straight dating back to last season ended 48-14 at the hands of Arizona on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.
Earlier in the day, Army defeated Tulane. That left Washington and North Texas at 0-5 and the only Football Bowl Subdivision teams without a win this season. However, while North Texas lost its final game last season, Washington lost its last two.
After the game, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward was asked if he could understand how a school with Washington’s history and resources could go longer between wins than any of the other 118 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“No,” he said. “It’s troubling.”
Neither coach Tyrone Willingham nor any of the other UW coaches and players had any better explanations for the latest loss.
“We could not get ourselves out of a hole to start,” Willingham said. “We had some terrible field position. … We got behind, and it was very difficult to get out.”
The game seemed to end almost before it started.
Arizona won the coin toss and deferred. Washington elected to receive, which meant the Huskies would spend the first quarter going into a constantly whipping wind.
Willingham said he considered the unconventional move of giving up possession in order to have his team start with the wind at its back.
But he didn’t, and the decision seemed to come back to bite him.
The first six possessions were played entirely in Washington territory. And by the time the Huskies finally got across midfield, they were down 10-0. By the time the first quarter ended they were down 17-0.
The Huskies cut it to 17-7 early in the second quarter – with the wind at their backs. But Arizona (4-1 overall, 2-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference) scored the next 31 points and dominated.
“We played a complete game on offense, defense and special teams,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. “We were very efficient and balanced. Our running backs were strong. (Quarterback) Willie Tuitama was excellent.”
Washington’s increasingly familiar result came despite a new cast of characters.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ronnie Fouch, making the first college start of his career in place of the injured Jake Locker, completed 12 of 28 passes for 181 yards with one interception and one touchdown.
“We just didn’t capitalize on drives,” he said. “Some key third downs we just didn’t connect on a pass or a run. It just killed us early.”
Redshirt freshman Willie Griffin also got his first start, carrying three times for 21 yards. Eventually, the Huskies also went to true freshman tailback Terrance Dailey, who had 18 yards on three carries in his college debut.
And, with leading receiver D’Andre Goodwin on the field for only one play because of a rib injury, the Huskies gave extra playing time to down-the-depth chart receivers such as Charles Hawkins, Tony Chidiac and eventually true freshman Cody Bruns, also making his college debut.
But all the runners totaled only 82 ground yards, and all the receivers managed only 181 air yards. It wasn’t nearly enough.
“We wanted to establish some type of run, but we struggled with that in the first half,” offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said. “… I thought we could knock them off the ball. We had some size on them, but they had good quickness. There wasn’t a whole lot of area to run the football with one back or two backs, and to give Ronnie the best chance to win we’ve got to be able to do that. … Because he’s good enough to win with.
“I thought he threw some nice balls tonight in some tough situations.”
The Huskies were subdued after the game, but they promised to keep trying, as they have after each of the losses in this string.
“It’s tough,” senior Mesphin Forrester said. “We’re 0-5 now, and I look back at my career here at UW and it’s not been too bright. It’s tough. It gets to you.
“But we have to find a way. We have seven more games. I was here for the 1-10 year my freshman year, and I don’t want nothing like that happening around here. We’ve got to go out and fight.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808
HUSKIES GAME IN REVIEW
Arizona 48, Washington 14
Player of the game
Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski had five catches for 109 yards and three touchdowns. His first score was a 37-yard pass from quarterback Willie Tuitama, which gave the Wildcats an early 10-0 lead.
Husky of the game
Defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim broke through for the Huskies’ first three sacks of the season. He ended with eight total tackles. Washington had come into the game as the only one of the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams without a sack.
The game was never competitive, but losing this coin toss was especially costly. Arizona won and deferred. Washington chose to receive, but that doomed the Huskies to playing the first quarter going into a stiff wind. Every play for the first six possessions was run in Washington territory. By the time the Huskies saw the other side of the field, they were already down 10-0, and before they got the wind at their backs, they trailed 17-0. “We made that choice in the second half, to try to give them the wind and hopefully have it in the fourth quarter,” coach Tyrone Willingham said. “I thought about it (in the first half), but I thought it was probably better to take the ball there and get ourselves going.”
Two more freshmen play
Washington used its 11th and 12th true freshmen of the season: tailback Terrance Dailey and receiver Cody Bruns. Ten had played previously, and that was already thought to be a school record. In their debuts, Dailey carried six times for 18 yards. Bruns was in for a handful of plays and didn’t show up in the statistics.
Tailback Brandon Johnson suffered a hip pointer and safety Nate Williams was in and out with back spasms. Receiver D’Ande Goodwin, who had been questionable with rib injuries, played only a single down and left the field in apparent discomfort. Safety Victor Ayiewa, who had missed the first four games with a groin injury, got his first playing time of the season. Tailback David Freeman (ankles) and safety Johri Fogerson (ankle) did not travel with the team. Quarterback Jake Locker did, and watched the game from the sideline in his game jersey, sweatpants and a cast on his right hand.
Two season-long streaks ended. In the first half, Te’o-Nesheim recorded the Huskies’ first sack of the season. In the second quarter, a Ronnie Fouch pass was deflected and intercepted. The Huskies began the day as one of three FBS teams that hadn’t thrown an interception. … Redshirt freshman tailback Willie Griffin got his first career start for UW. … Huskies game captains were Te’o-Nesheim, Trenton Tuiasosopo, Michael Gottlieb and Casey Bulyca.
The Huskies are off next weekend. They will return to action at 4 p.m. Oct. 18 when Oregon State visits Husky Stadium.
Don Ruiz, The News Tribune