Huskies scratch heads over lackluster defense

christian.caple@thenewstribune.comOctober 20, 2013 

Husky Evan Hudson (80) tries to stop Arizona State’s Marion Grice, who ran 21 times for 158 yards.

MATT KARTOZIAN/USA TODAY SPORTS

TEMPE, Ariz. — Two weeks ago, Washington was upset about a loss to Stanford, but was encouraged by the way its defense had performed against a team then ranked in the nation’s top five.

The Huskies ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense at that time.

Not anymore. After Oregon hung 631 yards and 45 points on UW last week, the Huskies yielded 585 yards in Saturday’s 53-24 loss at Arizona State.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board,” cornerback Marcus Peters said. “We need to do a little bit more tackling in practice just to stay on it, make sure we stay consistent with it.”

That’s a two-week total of 1,216 yards after the Huskies allowed no more than 346 in any of their previous five games.

“You’ve got to line up and play every week,” UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “You’ve got to play with great fundamentals. You’ve got to execute at a high level every down for as many downs as it takes, and we didn’t do that. Not even close.”

Tackling, in particular, was a problem. ASU running back Marion Grice took 21 carries for 158 yards, though much of that came after first contact, the Huskies blowing several opportunities to turn long gains into shorter ones.

“No matter what defense you run, if you don’t tackle the guy, it’s going to be hard to stop him,” Wilcox said. “Sometimes it’s a tackling error. Sometimes it’s not going to be perfect on a run fit, and we’ve got to do a better job getting off a block and finishing a play.

“Every single person on the defense, starting with me and every coach and every player, has got to do a better job. We’ve got to reassess who’s playing, what we’re asking them to do, so we make sure we give ourselves the absolute best chance to be successful against every team we play.”

Defensive reserves Cleveland Wallace, Kevin King, Joe Mathis, Connor Cree and Thomas Tutogi played Saturday.

TIMU SPRAINS ANKLE

Starting linebacker John Timu, who earlier this season missed a game because of a shoulder injury, was carted off the field after the game with a large ice wrap on his right ankle.

UW coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed afterward that Timu had sprained the ankle. His status for the upcoming week likely won’t be known for a few days.

“Sometimes you get a better assessment of those a day or two into it,” Sarkisian said.

WORN OUT?

Sarkisian said he wasn’t sure if the Huskies’ games against Stanford and Oregon left them drained, but for whatever reason, he didn’t think UW looked the same as it did the previous two weeks.

“We appeared a little tired tonight, in my opinion,” Sarkisian said. “We didn’t appear as fast. We didn’t appear as physical. We appeared (to be) a team that was a little bit lethargic, and maybe we were a little emotionally drained. I don’t know. But that’s an excuse, and there are none. We don’t have time for excuses. We’ve got to fix it.”

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple

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