As we always do on these fine November Sundays, it is time to take a quick look back at positives and negatives from Washington’s previous game, this one a 44-18 victory over Arizona State at Husky Stadium.
But first, a few links, notes, and highlights.
--- Here is my story from last night’s game, focusing on -- what else? -- next Friday’s Apple Cup matchup against Washington State for the Pac-12 North title.
--- Here is a notebook with a lead item on UW’s improved pass rush.
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--- Here are the final stats, play by play and participation, as well as some additional player and coach quotes from both teams.
--- The Huskies moved up one spot to No. 6 in the AP top 25 poll, and Washington State dropped three spots to No. 23 after its 38-24 loss at Colorado. So Friday’s Apple Cup will be the first in which UW and WSU are both ranked since 2001, when the Cougars entered at No. 9 and UW was ranked 16th.
Video highlights from the Pac-12 Networks:
And radio highlights from Bob Rondeau:
1. Kevin King’s ridiculous interception.
With the Huskies leading 3-0 in the second quarter and Arizona State facing third-and-seven from UW’s 10-yard line, Manny Wilkins threw a pass to freshman receiver N’Keal Harry on a fade route. But King covered it perfectly, leapt and made one of the most impressive one-handed interceptions you will ever see.
It was a great play regardless of circumstance, but it also signaled a pretty important momentum shift. ASU had appeared to take a 7-3 lead when Koron Crump returned a Jake Browning interception for a touchdown, but the score was called back for an (incredibly unnecessary and somewhat questionable) illegal block in the back penalty. Still, the Sun Devils got the ball at UW’s 13-yard line, and the Huskies needed King’s spectacular play to keep ASU off the scoreboard.
Two plays later, Browning threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Chico McClatcher, and just like that, UW led 10-0 instead of trailing by four points.
“It was huge,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “In that first half our offense wasn’t doing much and put our defense in bad situations. That was kind of the saving grace with how good those guys were playing, at a high level.”
“That killed us,” ASU coach Todd Graham said.
2. UW’s run defense.
This one is pretty simple: Arizona State finished with just 15 yards rushing after yielding six sacks and eight total tackles for loss, so Washington obviously dominated the line of scrimmage the way it wanted.
Actually, the Huskies’ entire defense dominated for three quarters before relenting some in the final period. ASU had only 48 yards of total offense and three first downs in the first half, and had only 84 yards of total offense through three quarters before finishing with 245. And the Sun Devils converted only one of their 14 third-down attempts. DJ Beavers seemed to fill in fine for the injured Azeem Victor, and Zeke Turner appeared to have a pretty good game in place of the injured Jojo McIntosh.
The defensive effort helped the Huskies overcome some offensive sloppiness in the first half.
“They sort of took us out of our rhythm,” Petersen said. “But I thought our defense played exceptionally well for most of the game, certainly in the first half.”
3. Chico McClatcher looks healthy again.
The sophomore receiver only missed one game due to injury (at Oregon on Oct. 8), but hadn’t really made a big impact since returning.
After catching two passes for 45 yards against USC last week, then catching two passes for 88 yards on Saturday -- including a 75-yard touchdown in which Browning threw a quick, short pass and McClatcher did the rest -- it appears McClatcher is ready to resume his role as a versatile asset in UW’s offense. He also had a 10-yard carry, again lining up in the backfield on occasion.
“He is another explosive weapon,” Browning said. “Short little pass and he takes it like 70-yards or something like that. That provided a spark and then after that we got it going. He is obviously very explosive and a really good receiver.”
1. The offense in the first quarter.
Browning said he didn’t think the offense was all that bad as a whole, saying that he simply made a few bad throws. Whatever the reason, the Huskies had only three points in the game’s first 16 minutes against one of the worst defenses in the country.
“I think we were getting first downs and stuff like that,” Browning said. “It’s not like we are going three and out. We were getting first downs but then we stall, get a penalty, a negative play, and those stall us.”
He did settle down: after completing only 4 of 11 passes in the first quarter, Browning ended the first half with eight consecutive completions, and began the second half with seven more completions in a row. But it was a rough start for the offense. Petersen said some of that was to be expected against an ASU team that brings so much pressure.
“They just have so many blitz patterns, you never know which one they’re going to come with,” Petersen said. “We were really poor on third down early on, I think we were one for six, so we had nothing going there to get in any sort of rhythm.”
2. The defense in the fourth quarter.
It didn’t really matter, because Arizona State never trailed by fewer than 19 points in the second half, and the Huskies were able to answer with a couple touchdowns of their own. But UW’s defensive coaches won’t be pleased with the two touchdown passes the Huskies allowed in the fourth quarter, particularly because both of them came on fourth-down, jump-ball prayers that UW’s defensive backs couldn’t knock down.
ASU gained 161 of its 245 total yards in the fourth quarter, averaging 7.0 yards per play in that period after managing only 2.3 yards per play in the game’s first 45 minutes.
3. More injury concerns.
It doesn’t sound like McIntosh, UW’s starting strong safety, is expected to be out much longer. Petersen said he “thinks” and “hopes” that McIntosh will be ready to go for Friday’s Apple Cup game. Still, the Huskies aren’t exactly trending in the right direction on the health front, with Victor and linebacker Joe Mathis out for the season and now McIntosh, another starter, with a somewhat uncertain status.
It’s also a short week with the game on Friday instead of Saturday. But as Petersen said the week before the Apple Cup last year: “I think guys are going to have to be really, really banged up to not play in this next one.” Guessing the same logic applies this year, too.