BOULDER, Colo. – It’s difficult to find disappointment in a 38-3 win. But had the Washington Huskies played a little cleaner and executed a little better in the first half, the final score could have been 59-3.
While Huskies might not have blown out Colorado to the extent that some of their Pacific-12 Conference brethren have this season, Saturday’s decisive win at Folsom Field assured their best regular-season record under coach Steve Sarkisian. Not that the Huskies (7-4) are satisfied.
“The goal is to get to 9-4 this season and we couldn’t do that without getting win number seven,” Sarkisian said.
The seventh win was never really in doubt – Washington is that much better than Colorado. But there were times it was difficult to see that in the first half.
Washington had trouble scoring in the first half. The Huskies gained 190 yards of total offense, but penalties, incomplete passes, a missed field goal and a Bishop Sankey fumble kept UW from scoring until 1:02 before halftime for a 7-0 lead.
It was the fewest points the porous Colorado defense had allowed in the first half all season. Stanford scored 35 points and Oregon 56 in the first half against CU.
“I thought maybe we were our own worst enemy there in the first half,” Sarkisian said.
With the offense looking disjointed and out of rhythm in the first half, the UW defense kept the Huskies in the game.
“The offense couldn’t catch a break in the first half,” safety Justin Glenn said. “We knew we just needed to keep battling.”
Washington dominated the hapless Buffaloes in the first half. Colorado managed 71 yards of total offense, didn’t register a first down and never crossed the 50-yard line.
“The defense carried us,” tight end/defensive end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said.
But Sarkisian wasn’t going to allow that to be the case for the entire game.
He had some stern words for his players at halftime.
“There was a little bit of tough love there in the locker room,” Sarkisian said. “They have set a standard of play that is acceptable around here, and what we were doing in the first half was unacceptable.”
Players didn’t really elaborate on what Sarkisian said.
“He got his point across in the locker room, that’s for sure,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
Sarkisian’s rant was also aimed at his quarterback.
Keith Price’s first half numbers weren’t horrible – 11-for-14 passing for 118 yards and a touchdown pass to Cody Bruns.
But those three incompletions were bad misses, including to a wide-open Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone. Price looked out of sorts and the offense matched his struggles.
“We came in and challenged him,” Sarkisian said. “I think he responded and the rest of the team responded in the second half.”
The numbers look sort of the same. Price was 11-for-15 passing for 130 yards in the second half. But four of those completions were for touchdowns to different receivers.
His five touchdown passes tied a single-game school record.
Price understood why Sarkisian was on him.
“He wasn’t real pleased,” Price said. “He just felt I could’ve played better. He wants me to succeed. I’ve just got to do a better job and not get too amped and relax.”
Washington’s first possession of the second half bogged down because of an offensive pass interference call on Seferian-Jenkins.
But a receiver helped the Huskies get the ball backon the ensuing punt. Travis Coons’ punt hit the shoulder of Colorado’s Nelson Spruce and was headed for the sideline. Smith, an all-league high school basketball player, made an alert play of running to the ball, leaping before the sideline and firing the ball back into play. Teammate Will Shamburger recovered, giving Washington the ball.
Price needed just three plays to hit Kasen Williams on a 17-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 14-0.
And that was all the spark Price needed.
Washington recovered a fumble on Colorado’s next possession and two plays later Price hit Kendyl Taylor on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Washington would score on its next three possessions, getting a field goal from Coons and touchdown catches from Seferian-Jenkins and Jaydon Mickens.
Once Washington’s offense came to life, any victory hopes for Colorado were destroyed.
The Buffaloes used two quarterbacks – Connor Wood and Jordan Webb – with no real success. They managed 141 yards of total offense, 10 first downs and a field goal. It was the first time a UW opponent failed to score a touchdown since the 2009 Apple Cup.
Washington goes into the Apple Cup against a reeling Washington State team with a chance to finish 8-4. Colorado (1-10) will face Utah to finish the season.
For Glenn, he saw the Colorado players slogging their way through the end of a miserable season. And it reminded him of UW’s winless 2008 season when he and Bruns were true freshmen.
“They looked dead,” he said. “Cody and I were talking about that because we’ve been there. I think back to our freshman year, and you just don’t have any hope. Coming into a game, it’s just not the same. It feels great to be on the opposite end of that.”Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports/ @RyanDivish