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Feeling the heat after the Holiday Bowl
Malamute, 10 January 2011

Here are some odds and ends left over from the Holiday Bowl. Jake, Ty, Sark, and Mal (er um, me) are feeling the heat. 

Jake Locker's passing efficiency rating and the heat on it:

If you throw out his passing statistics from the two games with Nebraska, Jake's PE on the season rises from 124.2 to 132.9. The Cornhuskers are ranked third in the FBS in pass-efficiency defense. Against Nebraska in combined stats, Locker went 9 for 36 for 127 yards and 1 touchdown against 1 pick. Basically, his receivers were blanketed like cheap suits by the Blackshirts' smothering defense. Toss in some throwaways and dropped balls and you have a combined rating of 52.69 in those two games.

Disrespecting Tyrone Willingham's recruits and the heat on me:

A respected e-mailer of mine takes issue with me, saying I disrespected the athletes former coach Tyrone Willingham recruited to Washington when, in my Holiday Bowl article, I wrote, "Add a sixty-sixth ranked recruiting class and coaching change to the cadre of leftovers from 2008 and it's obvious that (Jake) 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."

My reply to that criticism is as follows:

In the same article, I also wrote and carefully phrased:

"Fortunately, Locker's underpinnings, which consisted of a couple of highly-ranked recruiting 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."


Over the last six years Washington's recruiting classes have been ranked as follows, according to scout.com:

2005: 55 Gilbertson/Willingham
2006: 35 Willingham
2007: 29 Willingham
2008: 14 Willingham
2009: 66 Willingham/Sarkisian
2010: 11 Sarkisian
2011: 20 Sarkisian, as of now

The two transitional classes, the one in 2005 and the one in 2009, have hurt the Huskies. The one in 2005 (only 13 recruits) led primarily to the 0-12 debacle in 2008, this coupled with the loss of Jake Locker for most of the season. The 2008 team missed much needed upper-class (juniors and seniors) leadership thanks to the paltry numbers in the 2005 class and the fact some of those players didn't pan out -- for example, J. R. Hasty. 

Willingham's 2008 class and Sarkisian's 2010 class are the "highly ranked" classes I was referring to.

The "questionable ability" statement relates to the 2009 class, a transitional class."

Anthony Boyles and the heat on Ty

Too bad about Anthony Boyles transferring out of the program. I remember then-coach Willingham, at an outdoor breakfast in the warming desert, boasting to my wife and me of Boyles' recruitment along with that of Devin Aguilar's. He intimated that having Jake Locker was paying big dividends in recruiting. School president Mark Emmert and his wife were sitting within earshot, as were the Turners (Todd and Sara), who sat at the other side of our table. Ty was feeling the heat back then, in March 2007.

Last three seasons and the heat on Sark

Three of Washington's seven victories this season were decided on the last play of the game, one of these plays going awry and the Huskies wouldn't have gone bowling: (1) The field goal by Erik Folk to end the USC game; (2) OSU's muffed two-point try in the second overtime; (3) Chris Polk's one-yard touchdown run against Cal as the last grain of sand fell from the hour glass.

Will the ethereal aura of the Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska be ephemeral?

Maybe the closeness of the three games in 2010 explains why the 2009 Washington team trumps the 2010 team in 7 of the 12 statistical entries in the table shown below, that is, the 2010 season could easily have been a losing one had one of the three "last-play" games gone south. Juxtaposed with that thought, if one of the close games in 2009 -- namely, UCLA, a one-point loss, and Notre Dame, an overtime loss -- had turned out the other way, the Huskies would have gone bowling that year.

Table 1. Bottom line: The Huskies need to improve on scoring defense and scoring offense in 2011.

Category

2008

2009

2010

Record

0-12

5-7

7-6

Rushing Offense

99.3

139.0

172.15

Passing Offense

163.8

236.5

190.38

Pass Eff Offense

89.6

130.5

121.68

Total Offense

263.2

375.5

362.54

Rushing Defense

240.6

148.8

190.46

Passing Defense

211.2

240.7

194.38

Pass Eff Defense

155.6

139.8

126.43

Total Defense

451.8

389.5

384.85

Turnover Margin

-1.42

.33, +4

.15, +2

Scoring offense

13.2

26.1

21.85

Scoring Defense

38.6

26.7

29.31

 

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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