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A Holiday "shucker"
Texas paradigm key to Husky win
Malamute, 30 December 2010

Dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage, the Washington Huskies beat the 18th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, 19-7, in the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.

First of all, please forgive the corny headline, all you Nebraskans, and the pun on "shocker."

It was a game of long awaited firsts for Washington (7-6): its first winning season since 2002; its first bowl win since 2001; its first recorded safety since 2003, its first time to win four consecutive games since the 2001 season; and its first win in the Holiday Bowl in four tries.

Fourteen-point underdogs and statistical zombies, nothing seemed to be in Washington's favor going into the game except for this one glimmer of hope, which gave me the courage to write my article, "Holiday hope for last-play Huskies."

Texas (5-7) -- which was beaten by UCLA (4-8), which was beaten by UW -- beat Nebraska 20-13 at Lincoln.

What was the Texas blueprint for victory?

The Longhorns stopped QB Taylor Martinez on the ground and through the air. They held the Huskers to just 125 yards rushing, while accumulating 209 yards on the ground themselves. Martinez rushed for a paltry 21 yards on 13 carries. The Nebraska quarterback completed 4 of 12 passes for 63 yards and a PE of 77.43, being unceremoniously welcomed into the sub-100 club.

Similarly, Washington rushed for 261 yards, while holding UNL to 91 yards on the ground. Although Martinez completed 7-9 passes for 53 yards and 1 touchdown against 1 interception, his replacement, Cody Green, completed just 3 of 12 passes for 45 yards. Passing-wise, the Huskers ended up completing 10 of 21 passes for 98 yards and a mediocre passing efficiency of 93.01.

The Huskies registered 5 sacks, dumping Martinez four times and Green once. Martinez rushed 14 times for just 23 yards.

Losing Martinez to an ankle injury late in the third quarter had to be a blow to the Huskers -- but not a knockout blow. The Dawgs' defense had his number for most of the night.

However, in fairness to Nebraska, Martinez's passing efficiency rating was 141.69, this against 56.5 for Green. Some will wonder what might have been?

Washington's QB Jake Locker completed just 5 of 16 passes for 56  yards. However, he rushed for 83 yards and 1 touchdown to go along with Chris Polk's 177 yards on the ground and 1 touchdown.

No turnovers and only 30 penalty yards helped key the victory. Meanwhile, UNL was flagged 12 times for 102 yards and lost the ball twice, the first a fumble that led to UW's first touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

If Albert Einstein had been physically gifted and had played quarterback, he wouldn't have been any more cerebral than Locker was in the Holiday bowl. Locker played a brilliant game against a dominating pass defense that for most of the night blanketed his receivers -- and who made several drops when they managed to get open.

Hyped as the Huskies' savior when he signed with Washington in 2006 and touted this year as a Heisman Trophy candidate, Locker's surrounding cast this season was partly made up of a nucleus of players leftover from the wretched 0-12 team of 2008.

Add a sixty-sixth ranked recruiting class and coaching change to the cadre of leftovers from 2008 and it's obvious that Locker's scaffolding for success was partially undermined from the beginning.

Heisman-wise, Locker hardly had the supporting cast of this year's Auburn team with which to build his legacy.

Fortunately, Locker's underpinnings, which consisted of a couple of highly ranked classes, weren't totally bereft of support, though thirteen freshmen had to play this season.

In this, his last game for the Huskies, this gutty nucleus of players, some questionable in ability, came together to win one for Jake. It's a testimony to their character and coach Steve Sarkisian's ability to motivate his players.

It was a just, fitting finish for Locker, who turned UW back into a winning program after its wretched season just two years ago.

As a starter, Jake has gone 9-5 over his last fourteen games dating back to the 2009 Apple Cup and 7-3 in the Pac-10 over the same period.

"He came back for this moment, and to experience this moment is why we coach," Sarkisian said.

Nebraska (10-4) joins the "Big-Ten-Plus-Two" next season, leaving "The-Big-12-Minus-Two" conference. Why don't those two antediluvian conferences just switch names?

Reference Bob Condotta's nuts and bolts.

 

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Nebraska 0 7 0 0 7
Washington 10 0 7 2 19


Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
9:08 UW TD Chris Polk 3-yard run; Erik Folk kick. UW, 7-0
1:29 UW TD Erik Folk 39-yard boot. UW, 10-0
2nd qtr        
10:24 NU TD Taylor Martinez 15-yard pass to Kyler Reed; Alex Henery kick. UW, 10-7
3rd qtr
13:18 UW TD Jake Locker 5-yard run; Folk boot. UW, 17-7
4th qtr
13:18 UW S Team safety UW, 19-7

 

Statistics NU UW
Total First Downs 14 21
  Rushing 6 14
  Passing 7 4
  Penalty 1 3
Total Net Yards 189 340
Net Yards Passing 98 72
Net Yards Rushing 91 268
Completions-att-int 10-21-1 6-19-0
Punts, yards, average 6-219, 36.5 4-159, 34.8
Sacks by (number, yards) 0-0 5-43
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 4-81-0 3-62-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 0-0-0 3-15-0
Kickoff Yards 3-185 4-261
Net Yards per kickoff 41.0 45.0
Average yards per kickoff 61.7 65.2
Touchbacks (kickoffs) 0 0
Third-down conversions 4 of 14 6 of 15
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 0-0-0 1-0-0
Penalties, no., Yards 12-102 3-30
Fumbles; number/lost 3-1 0-0
Time of Possession  28:56 31:04

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Cody Green (56.5) 3 12 45 0 0
Taylor Martinez (141.69) 7 9 53 1 1
           
Washington          
Jake Locker (60.65) 5 16 56 0 0
Jessie Callier (117.2) 1 2 16 0 0
           
Nebraska Rushing No. yds tds long  
Rex Burkhead 12 39 0 28  
Roy Helu, Jr. 11 34 0 16  
Taylor Martinez 14 23 0 20  
Cody Green 3 -2 0 1  
Team 1 -3 0 0  
           
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Jake Locker 13 83 1 25  
Chris Polk 34 177 1 24  
Jesse Callier 4 9 0 7  
Team 1 -1 0 0  
           
Neb Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
Mike McNeill 3 33 0 17  
Kyler Reed 2 31 1 16  
Brandon Kinnie 2 21 0 12  
Rex Burkhead 2 12 0 13  
Taylor Martinez 1 1 0 1  
           
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
Jake Locker 1 16 0 16  
Jermaine Kearse 1 4 0 4  
D'Andre Goodwin 2 30 0 26  
Chris Polk 2 22 0 11  
           
Punting        
Neb No. yds avg long IN20
Alex Henery 6 219 36.5 48 0
           
Washington          
   
Kiel Rasp 4 159 39.8 43 2
           
Attendance: 57,921          

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

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