University of Washington

After disappointing loss to Stanford, Huskies looking to reset and bounce back against Arizona

By Tuesday, inside linebacker Brandon Wellington had watched Washington lose to Stanford three times.

He watched it on the plane ride back to Seattle. Once he was home, he watched it from his bed before he fell asleep. Then on Sunday, he watched it again when the Huskies gathered for a film session.

“Just realized all the mistakes that were made, especially on my behalf,” Wellington said after practice. “I got to tackle better. I got to get my eyes right. Really just realizing my mistakes and then moving on from it.”

Outside linebacker Ryan Bowman wasn’t up for watching the 23-13 defeat on the journey home. He silently stared out the window instead. But after practice on Tuesday, he said he had plans to re-watch the game a few more times on his phone, taking notes and making adjustments before it was time to forget about the loss for good.

There isn’t much from the defeat that the Huskies will want to remember. The defense gave up 482 total yards as Stanford averaged 6.5 yards per play. The Cardinal dominated time of possession, 39:01 to 20:59. And one of the biggest plays of the game — a 42-yard touchdown pass from Davis Mills to Simi Fehoko — was the result of a coverage bust.

Offensively, UW managed just a single touchdown. Quarterback Jacob Eason completed 16-of-26 passes for 206 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Nine of the completions went to wide receiver Aaron Fuller, who finished with nine receptions for 171 yards. No other player caught more than a single pass.

“Of course it hurt after that,” Wellington said. “That day after, it hit us. Our guys in practice (on Tuesday), we were out there and we were bringing it every play. It doesn’t matter what it was and what drill it was, we were all honed in. We paid attention to details. We realized that we can’t do that, we can’t come out flat.”

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Huskies, one where promising victories have been immediately followed by head-scratching losses. There’s been little consistency. The same offense that dominated BYU could barely move the ball against Stanford. And the defense that held USC to 14 points and had three interceptions allowed the Cardinal to relentlessly drive the field and control the ball.

It’s up to the coaches, said defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe, to make sure the players bounce back. And that starts on the practice field.

“For me, I think coaches are the example on how to reset,” Malloe said. “If I come down and I’m upset, or I’m down on myself, the players will react to that as well. For us, we pick ourselves up and refocus on Arizona. More importantly, we need to correct the stuff from Stanford.

“I feel more hurt for the players. The way I coach, I think it’s my responsibility to make sure they’re prepared for it. Execution that’s one whole thing. Just preparation is another. For me and our room, on Sunday we did a little bit of corrections and then we’re going to move on to Arizona and making sure that the feeling that we had on Saturday, we try to prevent that from happening again.”

The Huskies haven’t lost back-to-back games since 2015 when they fell to Oregon and Stanford in October. Later that season, they also fell in consecutive match-ups against Utah and Arizona State. UW hasn’t started a season this poorly since then. The Huskies went 3-3 in their first six games in 2015, eventually finishing 7-6. They’re currently 4-2, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here.

First up: Arizona. The Wildcats are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play, which has them at the top of the Pac-12 South standings. Led by dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate, they average 539.2 yards of total offense and 37.2 points per game — both rank second in the Pac-12 behind Washington State. Defensively, though, Arizona is allowing 477.8 yards per game, which ranks 11th in the conference.

The Huskies have only won at Arizona Stadium once since 2008. They’ve played there five times in that span, with the lone victory coming in overtime in 2016. After facing the Wildcats, UW will return to Husky Stadium to play No. 13 Oregon. Then, after a bye week, the Huskies will host No. 15 Utah.

To prepare for the grueling stretch, UW first has to move on.

“It starts with just putting the game to rest on Sunday,” said tight end Cade Otton. “Watching it on film, correcting everything and just making sure we get all that stuff out of our system. And then it goes into focusing on the next opponent. You just got to dive into all the information and the film and get into that.”

UW responded well after its first defeat this season, bouncing back from a 20-19, lightning-delayed loss to Cal to top Hawaii 52-20. On Saturday, the Huskies will attempt a repeat performance.

“We’re not going to let this bring us down,” Ahmed said. “We know what we’re capable of.”

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for A Pennsylvania native and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also covered college athletics for the Beaver County Times from 2012-2016.
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