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The 4H club: Hapless Huskies hopelessly helpless
Huskies mathematically eliminated from bowl picture
Malamute, 26 October 2008

Officially ending Washington's chance to go to a bowl, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the Huskies, 33-7, at Husky Stadium before a crowd of 70,427 thousand. Jimmy Clausen, out of Westlake Village, passed for 201 yards and 1 touchdown, completing 14 out of 26 passes.

It was Notre Dame's first win on the road and Washington's ninth loss in a row dating back to last season.

Coach Tyrone Willingham's microscopic chance of going to go to a bowl and save his job has mercifully ended. In a sense, Notre Dame has fired him twice now, once in 2004 for real and now in a virtual sense from UW. It has been widely thought that Willingham needed to go bowling to save his job this season.

Another disastrous game like this one could fuel some sort of resignation agreement with AD Scott Woodward, who has not completely ruled out an early dismissal.

Notre Dame (5-2) came into the game ranked 108th in the country in rushing, averaging just 101.17 yards on the ground. Washington (0-7) entered the game ranked 115th out of 119 teams in rushing defense, allowing an average of 232.83 yards per game.

The Irish got well, rushing for 252 yards, led by James Aldridge who accounted for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Huskies had a paltry 26 yards rushing.

Husky quarterback Ronnie Fouch, making the third start of his collegiate career, was sacked 4 times for losses totaling 41 yards. He passed 25 times, with 11 completions that went for 98 yards and 1 touchdown. His passing efficiency rating was a telling 90.13 on the game.

With just 9 first downs on the night, the Huskies failed to cross midfield until the fourth quarter, and that was with 6 minutes left on the clock, as part of a 69-yard, 10-play drive, culminating when Fouch connected with D'Andre Goodwin on a 6-yard touchdown pass, the Dawgs avoiding their first shutout at home since 1976.

Notre Dame jumped off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and was never headed. At 12:43 in the quarter, Clausen connected with Michael Floyd on a 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown scamper, and, at 7:48, Golden Tate ran it in from 21 yards out. In effect, that's all the Fighting Irish needed.

Effectively, Notre Dame conducted an 11-on-11 scrimmage with Washington, which served as a scout team for its next opponent, Pittsburgh. USC, Washington's next foe, has a scout team that could whip the Huskies' first team. The Dawgs won't be booed in Los Angeles, just pitied, and, perhaps, mocked.

Soapbox:

After the fact, there will be those who will say that Willingham (11-32) never really had a chance to succeed at UW.

The same goes for his previous employer.

Notre Dame fired him after his third season, sparking charges of racism. In his last season at Notre Dame, Willingham went 6-5 and was 21-15 overall. Currently, a spate of articles written by Notre Dame faithful point to his lack of success at Washington as further proof of his alleged incompetence at Notre Dame.

Some of these articles are so full of vitriol I'm reminded of that line from Shakespeare, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

When hired in 2004, Willingham was Washington's fourth coach over five years, following Jim Lambright, Rick Neuheisel, and Keith Gilbertson. The coaching carousel has cost Washington football dearly, along with a vengeful NCAA (cost to it: $2,5 million), a tabloid media (cost to it: decreased circulation) and an incompetent UW administration (cost to it: $2.2 million and counting).

The NCAA's role and incompetency in the Washington tragedy can't be emphasized enough, and vice versa.

Scout.com ranks Tyrone's four recruiting classes 2005 (55th), 2006 (35th), 2007 (29th), and 2008 (14th). Although recruiting has steadily improved under Willingham, this year's class is in trouble because of his uncertain future at Washington.

Willingham was a Lizfranc injury away from going to a bowl in 2006 (5-7), and, last season (4-9), he was outplayed in the second half of most of his games after keeping them close and winnable in the first half.

Going into this season, he'd lost five wide receivers to graduation and had only one stalwart starter on the defensive line returning out of its six best linemen from 2007. Young RB Brandon Johnson was the only significant returnee at tailback. Star quarterback Jake Locker broke his throwing thumb in the fourth game of the year against Stanford, his loss crippling the running attack, which was ranked 106th in the nation going into the game.

The failure of a mostly veteran offensive line this season can be explained by the loss of the unfairly maligned Louis Rankin. Last season, Rankin (1294 yards) and Locker (986 yards) combined for 2280 yards rushing. Their synergism was much like that of Marquis Tuiasosopo's and his running mates' in the 2000 Rose Bowl season, when they ran the option. In both cases, suspect offensive lines were made to look better than they were.

Washington hasn't had a dominating offensive line since the Jim Lambright era (1993-1998). Former AD Barbara Hedges and former coach Rick Neuheisel changed the recruiting culture at UW, taking it from Mr. Nasty to Mr. Nice Guy, putting an emphasis on graduating and staying out of trouble. Those Neuheisel recruits who got into trouble had problems with alcohol consumption and holding their tempers, a common malady among young men between the ages of 21 and 35 -- 35 being an age when testosterone is on the wane.

Could this disastrous season -- up to now, anyway -- have been avoided by better recruiting? 

It was blatantly obvious there would be a shortfall of wide receivers and defensive linemen going into this year. Along the way, the coaching staff failed to fill this void from the Junior College ranks, and it could have redshirted defensive lineman Caesar Rayford, who was recruited by Gilbertson in 2004. Bringing in a power running back from the JC's would have been nice. Oregon and Oregon State routinely do a better job of recruiting the JC's than Washington.

However, there are two sides to every story.

It should be said that Washington's strict entrance requirements make if difficult to bring in JC transfers, this according to former assistant coach Dick Baird.

Willingham's detractors point to his frictional relationship with the local media. He restricts the media to viewing just the first 25 minutes of practice.

His basic distrust of the media seems justified and is illustrated by the Seattle Times' recent pillorying of fallen Husky hero Curtis Williams and its tabloid revelations concerning two other members of the victorious 2001 Rose Bowl team. This series of articles came eight years after the fact, coincidentally at the time Neuheisel was hired by UCLA and just before the 2008 recruiting classes were signed.

What about the petty tiff with a Seattle beat writer and reportedly Tyrone's laconically given answers to the writer's questions?

Too silly to have been mentioned.

And then there is the fan factor.

Willingham's recent barring of a Tyee from viewing further practices can be explained by frustration, a losing season and the unfair pounding he's taken on the Internet.

How about meeting with fans after each game?

Would you want to have a fifth-quarter meeting with irate fans after taking another whipping on the playing field?

Does he play too much golf?

Playing golf with prospective donors is crucial to fund raising.

Is he a lazy recruiter?

Not if he has some glib, hard-working assistants willing to lay the groundwork with a prospect. Then the headman can seal the deal by hugging his mother and telling her he'll pay special attention to her son and his work in the classroom. 

Coming off the 2006 season, there was a spring in Willingham's step and an anticipatory twinkle in his eye when he met with a group of us alums over at Palm Springs.

I will always remember a buoyant Willingham walking over to the school president's breakfast table and bragging about the new toy he'd found under an evergreen tree growing at Ferndale, that "toy" being Jake Locker. Then he stopped at our outdoor table, with the warmth of the pleasant morning brightening our smiles, and bragged about the two wide-outs Locker's presence had brought in.

Seated to the side of us, former AD Todd Turner and his wife took it all in.

The question I have now is does Willingham deserve a chance to see the Locker era out?

His four-straight losing seasons say no, that the head man must pay the the piper to bear the cost of losing, extenuating circumstances notwithstanding. In fact, watching Washington football over the last six seasons has been akin to watching a "Groundhog Day" marathon.

Now that Tyrone is bowl ineligible, let's hope he resigns his position before the season concludes, to shelter himself, his family and his friends from further anguish and torment.

A first class guy, Willingham has made Washington a first class institution. You can't take that away from Tyrone, for that part of his legacy will live on for years to come.

 
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
ND 14 3 10 6 33
UW 0 0 0 7 7


Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
12:35 ND TD Jimmy Clausen 51-yard pass to Michael Floyd; Brandon Walker kick. ND, 7-0
7:48 ND TD Golden Tate 21-yard run; Walker kick. ND, 14-0
2nd qtr
11:10 ND FG Walker 28-yard boot. ND, 17-0
3rd qtr
12:55 ND TD James Aldridge 4-yard run; Walker kick. ND, 24-0
4:31 ND FG Walker 42-yarder ND, 27-0
4th qtr
12:33 ND TD Aldridge 3-yard run; Ruffer missed TFP ND, 33-0
2:56 UW TD Ronnie Fouch 6-yard pass to D'Andre Goodwin; Ryan Perkins kick. ND. 33-7

 

Statistic ND UW
Total First Downs 25 9
  Rushing 14 3
  Passing 9 6
  Penalty 2 0
Total Net Yards 459 124
Net Yards Passing 207 98
Net Yards Rushing 252 26
Completions-att-int 15-28-1 11-25-0
Punts, yards, average 0-0 9-297; 33.0
Sacks by (number, yards) 4-41 2-22
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 2-37-0 7-111-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 3-14-0 0-0-0
Kickoff Yards 7-431 2-134
Touchbacks (kickoffs) 0 0
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 0-0-0 1-0-0
Penalties Yards 7-55 5-50
Fumbles: number/lost 1-0 0-0
Time of Possession  37:28 22:32

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Notre Dame          
Jimmy Clausen 14 26 201 1 1
Evan Sharpley 1 2 6 0 0
           
Washington          
Ronnie Fouch 11 25 98 1 0
           
           
Irish Rushing No. Yds TDs Long  
James Aldridge 13 84 2 18  
Armando Allen 15 62 0 10  
Jonas Gray 9 61 0 19  
Harrison Smith 1 35 0 35  
Robert Hughes 4 19 0 9  
Golden Tate 2 11 1 21  
Evan Sharpley 1 1 0 1  
Jimmy Clausen 4 -21 0 1  
           
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Terrance Dailey 8 24 0 8  
Ronnie Fouch 7 -30 0 7  
David Freeman 5 16 0 8  
D'Andre Goodwin 2 14 0 7  
Paul Homer 1 2 0 2  
           
ND Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
Michael Floyd 4 107 1 51
Golden Tate 3 47 0 33  
Robby Parris 3 19 0 11  
Duval Kamara 2 22 0 12  
George West 1 6 0 6  
Robert Hughes 1 5 0 5  
James Aldridge 1 1 0 1  
           
           
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
Charles Hawkins 1 12 0 12  
Terrance Dailey 1 9 0 9  
Cody Bruns 1 21 0 21  
Paul Homer 1 9 0 9  
D'Andre Goodwin 7 47 1 11  
           
Punting punts yds long Avg
Notre Dame 0 0 0 0.0
           
Washington          
   
Jared Ballman 9 297 43 33.0  
Attendance: 70,427          

Richard Linde, aka Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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