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New Unis, new haircuts, new coaches: old Dawgs
Willingham can't teach old Dawgs new tricks
By Malamute, 4 September 2005

Running their flexbone offense to perfection, the Air Force Academy Falcons scored a late touchdown to beat the Washington Huskies, 20-17, at Qwest field in Seattle in front of 26,428 fans, marring the debut of new head coach Tyrone Willingham.

In their opener, the Huskies won the turnover battle and may have discovered two primary elements necessary for a molecular blend on offense: a 100-yard rusher in Louis Rankin and a steady quarterback in Isaiah Stanback. However, the results on the field were the same, another loss with a paucity of points scored. Statistically, the Huskies looked about the same as last season, with some of the numbers up and some of them down.


Against the Falcons

Last Season-2004

Points Scored

17 14

Net Yards Rushing

129 120.2

Net Yards Passing

242 190.8

Time of Possession

28:08 28:26

Total Defense

425 369.5

Total Offense

371 311

Since the Huskies play in a conference whose teams score prolifically, the most important stat from above is the number of points the Dawgs put on the board. It's a clear indicator for this season's conference play. In their openers, USC and Arizona State each scored 63 points; Oregon State and California each scored 41; Oregon and Washington State each scored 38; UCLA scored 44; and even lowly Arizona posted 24 points in its loss to Utah. And the Huskies struggled for 17 points against a team that ranked 95th in total defense last season? Not a good sign.

But, really, since the returning players from last season's 1-10 group make up the bulk of this year's team, what does one expect? The new coaches aren't playing the game. They can minimize turnovers, which they did; they can keep the team focused, which they did; they can instill discipline, which they did; but they, themselves, can't put points on the board. After a spring game that ended in a 3-3 tie, they bemoaned the lack of speed in certain areas of the team and said the team could be more physical.

The Huskies need some playmakers, not prayer makers, guys who will play just three years, not four:

Whether the lack of speed and physicality is true or not, clearly the Dawgs lack some playmakers, ones who can make scoring look easy: like taking it to the house from their own end of the field, like turning an interception into a touchdown, like running back a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, like blocking a punt in the endzone, in other words, demoralize an opponent and create some momentum.

Last season, the Dawgs gave up too may big plays that went for touchdowns, scoring plays that went for 20 yards or more. Continuing the trend against the Huskies into this season, AFA scored a touchdown that traveled 84 yards, Adam Fitch connecting with Greg Kirkwood, who got by Dashon Goldson when he tried to punch the ball out of his hands rather than tackle him. That big play allowed the Falcons to get back into a game the Dawgs had previously controlled -- for well into the fourth quarter -- and with  9:34 left in the game, the Huskies now clung to a precarious 17-13 lead, having surrendered an 11-point margin.

Fitch's touchdown pass gave the Falcons' defense the momentum to stop the Huskies' next possession and gave its offense a push for its time-killing drive, which won the game. In that 83-yard scoring drive, the Falcons worked their flexbone offense to perfection, in a 14-play tutorial of the option that shrunk the clock to 39 seconds. It was a miming Shaun Carney, a Luke Skywalker, mimicking former Husky quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, an Obi-Wan Kenobi, optioning the ball off and passing it before scoring on a 1-yard keeper, seemingly using a light-saber to clear the way.

With 34 seconds left on the clock, starting from his own 11-yard line, Stanback ran for 8 yards and completed 1 out of 3 passes, taking the ball to the Dawgs' 38 before time ran out.

Altogether the Huskies' performance bore the semblance of a well-coached team, a sun-drenched field forecasting a bright future. In that respect, Tyrone Willingham's debut as Washington's head coach was a success.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot
UW 3 0 7 7 17
AFA 0 3 3 14 20

Time Team How Player(s) Score
1st Qtr        
5:34 UW FG Evan Knudson 40-yard kick UW, 3-0
2nd Qtr        
:39 AFA FG Scott Eberle 40-yard kick Tie 3-3
3rd Q
7:01 UW TD James Simms 1-yard run; Evan Knudson kick. UW 10-3
1:05 AFA FG Scott Eberele 27-yard boot. UW 10-6
4th Q        
10:43 UW TD Cody Ellis 27 yard pass from Isaiah Stanback; Knudson kick UW 17-6
9:34 AFA TD Greg Kirkwood 84-yard pass from Adam Fitch; Eberle kick. UW 17-13
:34 AFA TD Shaun Carney 1-yard run AFA 20-17

Statistic UW AFA
Total First Downs 18 22
  Rushing 5 12
  Passing 13 8
  Penalty 0 2
Total Net Yards 371 425
Net Yards Passing 242 207
Net Yards Rushing 129 218
Completions-att-int 19-27-0 13-22-0
Punts, yards, average 4-180, 45 2-60, 30
Sacks by (number, yards) 0-0 0-0
Return Yardage 0 13
  Punts Yards 0-0 2-13
  Kickoff Yards 4-14 3-54
  Interceptions Yards 0-0 0-0
Penalties Yards 5-41 4-99
Fumbles Lost, yardage 2-0 3-2
Time of Possession  28:08 31:52

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Shaun Carney 9 14 108 0 0
Adam Fitch 4 8 101 1 0
Isaiah Stanback 19 27 241 1 0
Rushing att yds tds long  
Greg Kirkwood 1 9 0 9  
Shaun Carney 21 70 1 13  
Chad Smith 1 7 0 7  
Donny Heaton 1 6 0 6  
Jacobe Kendrick 11 50 0 19  
Adam Fitch 2 20 0 18  
Ryan Williams 7 28 0 8  
Justin Handley 1 3 0 3  
Chad Hall 7 24 0 7  
Washington Rushing att yds tds long
James Sims, Jr. 6 5 1 3  
Louis Rankin 23 112 0 25  
Isaiah Stanback 5 12 0 8  
Pass Receiving rec yds tds long
Air Force        
Victor Thompson 1 6 0 6  
Jason Brown 4 53 0 21  
Justin Handley 2 16 0 12  
Greg Kirkwood 6 134 1 84  
Washington Pass Rec. rec yds tds long
Charles Smith 1 6 0 6  
Corey Williams 3 54 0 38  
Sonny Shakelford 5 37 0 10  
Craig Chambers 1 19 0 19  
Johnie Kirton 2 32 0 21  
Anthony Russo 4 45 0 13  
Cody Ellis 2 48 1 27  
Punting punts yds long Avg
Air Force
Donny Heaton 2 60 45 30  
Sean Douglas 4 180 70 45  
Attendance: 26,482          

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