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Mike Stoops to conquer
'Cats outscore Dawgs 22-6 in last stanza
Malamute, 27 October 2007

In a critical clash for both teams and their head coaches, Arizona beat Washington, 48-41, before 61,124 fans in a home-coming game played at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA.

Some people said that Arizona coach Mike Stoops' job was on the line going into the game; some said that although Washington's third-year coach Tyrone Willingham gets his nickel with no pennies added, his "Buffalo" sits on a precipice that could crumble under a trembler as weak as a 2.2 

To show some progress is being made with what has been a sinking football program, Willingham needs 4 conference wins -- a relatively constant measure from year-to-year -- to better his 3 Pac-10 wins from last season and his 1 win, the year before. You know, 1, 3, and 4, a charitable progression of numbers that for the most part factors out strength of schedule.

To meet our goal, Willingham (9-22, 4-18 Pac-10) needs wins over Stanford and Washington State, both winnable games, and  wins over Oregon State and Cal, both not so winnable. Otherwise, people will say that he has not shown any progress in rebuilding the Huskies. Recruiting the best athletes out of State of Washington is another goal fans have set for him this year. Otherwise, people will say that UW's immediate future looks bleak under Willingham.

So where are we now, Dawg fans?

Before the season began, fans were talking a 9-win season. Now 4-wins is nothing to sniff at. Before the season began, fans were willing to give Willingham his nickel, the full 5 years on his contract. Now fans are talking 3 coins in the fountain and a trip to Rome (a buyout). (As I understand his contract, if Willingham is fired without cause after January 2, 2008, he will be owed $1 million for each year remaining on his contract, a contract that expires December 11, 2009 -- almost $1.9 million if he were let go on January 3rd, say?).

We are not advocating his firing because, heading into the season, we believed Washington's talent pool was limited due to graduation losses from its 2002/2003 recruiting classes, the bulk of these classes energizing Washington's 5-7 season last year. We didn't harbor any unrealistic expectations going into this season (Zipness in Seattle).

This is in contrast to media people, among others, who were ebullient about UW's prospects in 2007, based on having Jake Locker (the "Savior") at quarterback and on UW's 5-7 season that, to them, indicated a steady growth of improvement under Willingham.

Unrealistic expectations make for a hard fall once reality sets in.

The diminished talent pool partly explains the anemic second halves the Dawgs have experienced this season -- both offensive and defensive units wearing out. If this theory is correct and if Willingham brings in another mediocre recruiting class, next year could be a disaster, considering the significant contributions made by his fifth-year seniors this season.

Washington (2-6, 0-5 Pac-10) needs to win the rest of its games to become bowl eligible. That won't happen.

Going into the game, Arizona led Washington in 3 key statistical categories, in Total Offense, Total Defense, and Pass Efficiency Offense. As it turned out, Arizona's PEO was the deciding factor, as Willie Tuitama completed 38 out of 51 passes for 510 yards (a school record), 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. His pass efficiency rating on the game was 186.94, which is considered spectacular.

Washington quarterback Jake Locker completed 17 of 30 passes for 336 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions; he ran for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. Locker's 98-yard touchdown pass to Marcel Reece set a school record. His PE on the game was 159.41, a more than acceptable number. Locker played well enough to win, an effort that wasn't matched by Washington's defense.

At half time, with Washington entertaining a 5-point lead, 28-23, Stoops said the team that played the best defense in the second half would win the game.

He was correct, and his better defensive stats going into the game said, "Yeah, right on, coach." To wit, Arizona held the Huskies to just 13 points in the second half, while scoring 25 points itself.

However, with 12:52 left in the game, the Huskies held a 15-point lead, 41-26, and victory seemed eminent to some of us fans. Forget that thought.

Weakening our resolve, Tuitama hit on a 31-yard touchdown pass to narrow the score at 41-33 with 11:32 left on the clock.

And then our sanguinity turned to bitterness.

On the ensuing drive, Locker fumbled the ball as he tried to hand it off to RB Louis Rankin, and the Cats' Spencer Larson made the recovery on the UW 30. Four plays later, Tuitama's 2-yard touchdown pass and two-point pass conversion knotted the score at 41.

With 9:24 to go, UW had its chances, starting from its 42. The Huskies managed one first down, but then elected to punt the ball away on a 4th and 7 at the Arizona 43 -- a punt that went for a touchback.

Arizona mounted an 11-play, 80 yard drive, culminating in a 27-yard Tuitama touchdown pass to Mike Williams, and then led 48-41, the final score.

On the Huskies' final drive, Locker was intercepted by Antoine Cason at the Wildcats' 30, from where Cason took the ball back to the Huskies' 42. Then  Tuitama took a knee to run out the clock.

As of now, the most pressing stat for defensive coordinator Kent Baer to deal with involves Total Defense. The Huskies rank 109th out of 119 Division I-A teams in Total Defense, yielding 474 yards per game. UW ranks 111th in Rushing Defense and 101st in Scoring Defense.

Firing Baer, using him as a scapegoat to placate a bunch of angry fans, isn't the answer, for as he says, "we just didn't become stupid overnight." He's been with Willingham for 13 years now.

Also, Washington's 5 turnovers, a minus-3 on the game, didn't help matters. UW lost two scoring opportunities in the first half, one on a Locker fumble at the Cats' 17 yard line and another on an interception of a Locker pass at the Cats' 10.

Washington (2-6, 0-5 Pac-10) has lost 6 straight games, and is headed to Stanford next week, a team that upset Washington last year and posted a 21-20 win over Arizona last week.

At 0-5, UW rests at the bottom of the conference.

We thought having 3-down defensive linemen on certain plays was a good idea because of Arizona's weak running game.


Team 1 2 3 4 Total
UA 7 16 3 22 48
UW 7 21 7 6 41

Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
5:15 UA TD Willie Tuitama 66-yard pass to Mike Thomas. Jason Bondzio kick. UA, 7-0
2:41 UW TD Jake Locker 14-yard run; Ryan Perkins kick. Tie, 7-7
2nd qtr
14:46 UW TD Locker 98-yard pass to Marcel Reece; Perkins kick. UW 14-7
12:53 UA TD Tuitama 51-yard pass to Gronkowski; Bondzio kick. Tie,  14-14
7:43 UW TD Locker 11-yard pass to Louis Rankin; Perkins kick. UW, 21-14
5:56 UW TD Chris Stevens 30-yard fumble recovery; Perkins kick. UW, 28-14
3:41 UA TD Jennings 1-yard run; Bondzio missed kick. UW, 28-20
0:14 UA FG Bondzio 44-yard kick. UW, 28-23
3rd Qtr
10:11 UA FG Bondzio 23-yard kick. UW, 28-26
2:39 UW TD Locker 1-yard run; Perkins kick. UW, 35-26
4th qtr
12:52 UW TD Luke Kravitz 1-yard run; Perkins missed try for point. UW, 41-26
11:32 UA TD Tuitama 33-yard pass to Turner; Bondzio kick. UW, 41-33
9:24 UA TD Tuitama 2-yard pass to Thomas; Tuitama pass to Thomas for 2-point conversion Tie, 41-41
2:02 UA TD Tuitama 27-yard pass to Thomas; Bondzio kick. UA, 48-41

Statistic UA UW
Total First Downs 22 25
  Rushing 3 25
  Passing 19 20
  Penalty 0 0
Total Net Yards 535 572
Net Yards Passing 510 336
Net Yards Rushing 25 236
Completions-att-int 38-51-1 17-30-2
Punts, yards, average 3-140;46.7 3-126; 42.0
Sacks By (number, yards) 1-3 3-19
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 7-187-0 7-147-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 1-0-0 1-0-0
Kickoff Yards 9-526 7-437
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 2-60-0 1-7-0
Penalties Yards 4-20 5-40
Fumbles: number/lost 2-1 3-3
Time of Possession  29:50 30:10

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Willie Tuitama 38 51 510 5 1
Jake Locker 17 30 336 2 2
UA Rushing No. Yds tds long  
Nicholas Grigsby 13 24 0 10  
Chris Jennings 4 10 1 6  
Willie Tuitama 5 7 0 22  
Team 1 -2 0 -2
Keenyn Crier 1 -14 0 -14  
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Louis Rankin 16 70 0 16  
Jake Locker 23 157 2 31  
Luke Kravitz 2 3 1 2  
Brandon Johnson 2 3 0 2  
Paul Homer 2 6 0 4  
Curtis Shaw 1 -3 0 -3  
UA Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
Mike Thomas 10 165 3 66
Terrell Turner 7 77 1 33  
Nicholas Grigsby 6 41 0 13  
Anthony Johnson 4 45 0 21  
Rob Gronkowski 3 85 1 51  
Terrell  Reese 3 27 0 19  
Delashaun Dean 2 54 0 45  
Chris Jennings 2 2 0 2  
Earl Mitchell 1 14 0 14  
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
Marcel Reece 5 166 1 98  
Anthony Russo 2 29 0 17  
Cody Ellis 1 12 0 12  
Michael Gotlieb 3 39 0 26  
Corey Williams 2 55 0 41  
Louis Rankin 4 25 1 14  
Punting punts yds long Avg
Keenyn Crier 3 140 52 46.7
Jared Ballman 3 126 43 42.0  
Attendance: 61,124          

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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