Huskies' QB Jake Locker, with a PE rating of 125.7, met the bogey (i.e., a
PE of 120) we had set for him as a result of his performance in the
Oklahoma game last season. But Locker's pick 6 in the first quarter
played a significant role in the game.
With Washington enjoying a 7-3 lead, Jacob Cutrera turned a Locker
pass, one he should never have thrown, into a 29-yard interception return, to give the Bayou Bengals a
10-7 lead going into the second quarter. After Locker's miscue, LSU had
the game mostly in hand, although the Dawgs managed to tie the score at
10 a piece in the second quarter.
This came after the Tigers recovered a fumble by Chris Polk on their own
four-yard line. The Huskies held the Tigers to a three-and-out and got
the ball back on LSU's 24 after Johri Fogerson returned Derek Helton's
36-yard punt 18 yards. Erik Folk booted a 34-yard field goal, as the
Huskies' drive stalled on the 16.
With Washington's running attack hitting a brick wall in the third quarter, the pace
of the game took on that worn-out look we fans have grown
accustomed to seeing after aggressively played first halves over the
past few years. However, Locker's running ability brought the Huskies to
life again, his legs converting a couple of third downs into first
downs on a drive in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal, which
narrowed the Bengals' lead to 24-16, and, once more, that fateful pick
six came to the fore.
It came alive once more -- this time in haunting fashion -- when the Huskies
narrowed the final score to 31-24 as a result of a 81-yard touchdown
drive to end the game.
What could have been, you know, an 8-point differential? Yet, the
Huskies' pass-efficiency defense, the bottom line of this game, will
likely haunt them for the rest of the season if not improved upon.
As I watched the game, I had the feeling that in a hypothetical cat and
mouse game, from fifty yards out, say, in which the two teams tried to
match scores tit for tat, coach Les Miles would have the upper hand by
exploiting Washington's suspect secondary with his gifted receivers,
namely Brandon LaFell and Toliver. Whereas, Miles' lockdown corners
would have Washington's receivers held mostly in check, giving up the
short stuff to prevent any long gains.
The point is that in such a hypothetical game, LSU would be able to
score quickly and often, while UW would have to work for its scores,
being subject to execution errors, penalties and turnovers.
At times, the strong-armed Locker looked like a young John Elway as he
executed out of the pro-set and spread formations. Locker ran for four first downs
in the second half, converting a third and two, a third and four, a
fourth and one, and a third and six, to keep drives alive.
Trying to negate the Tigers' vaunted return game, Washington's high,
short kickoffs, four of them, averaged just 41 yards, netting an average
of 35.2 yards, which means LSU was starting from its 35-yard line on
The Huskies outgained the ninth-ranked Tigers 478 to 321 yards and led in time
of possession, 36:52 to 23:08, prompting ESPN's analyst, Bob Davie, to
blame the Tigers' tiring defense on the long trip to Seattle and the
time-zone change, which is par for the course with the eastern mafia. He
could have said the Tigers' defense had been on the field too long for
much of the game, thanks to Sarkisian's innovative game plan.
also remarked that LSU having started school in August compared with Washington's start in late September gave the Huskies an advantage in
practice time to prepare for the game. He also took a veiled shot at the
integrity of the Pac-10 referees early in the game. This ongoing eastern
canard is propagated at every opportunity by the media thanks to an officiating screw
up at Oregon several years ago. The Huskies drew 83
yards in penalties to the Tigers' 35. Pac-10 referees have seemingly
been intimidated by this eastern canard and may be scrutinizing west
coast teams more closely than their out-of-conference opponents in an
effort to deflect criticism. Expect people like Davie to continue to
play the Pac-10 officiating card against west-coast teams.
Washington has lost 15-straight games, its last win coming in November
2007 when the Huskies beat California, 37-23.
If the Huskies continue to improve at their current pace, their long
period of suffering will rapidly come to a merciful end, for Sark's bark
comes with a bite.