The boys are back to analyze Washington’s 31-14 win over Utah last Saturday in Salt Lake City. Listen to the episode via iTunes or by visiting Mevio.
A few years ago, when I was writing Husky Football in the Don James Era, I interviewed former Husky linebacker Dave Hoffmann. He said something that stuck with me. We were talking about a tough road game environment that the #1 rated Huskies faced at Arizona.It was a game Washington lost.
What a freakin’ war. I hit my ass off that day. I always loved playing in the heat and on the grass. I also loved putting on the black hat and going into the other guy’s backyard. But we had won 22 games in a row., and we were going to have that winning streak snapped… We were ranked #1 in the nation, and we were going to lose that too. I knew that it was going to feel devastating. There was only a minute or so left, and I remember getting into my stance and waiting for the snap, feeling dehydrated and hot, and I took a moment there and thought… “I love this! I love this feeling I have right now. It’s being out here engaged in the fight and it’s what I love. I’m out here pouring everything I’ve got into a great fight, and I’m going to keep coming.” I’m sure all my teammates on the field felt the same way.
I thought about that quote yesterday as the final seconds ran out on Washington’s 31-14 victory over Utah. For so many seasons over the past decade, we’ve seen lethargic football and losing seasons, augmented by excuses coming from a fan base and UW athletic department that had tragically lowered its standards.
But here was a Husky team going on the road in a conference game and taking over in the second half. We haven’t seen this kind of thing in years. The Huskies kicked Utah’s butt all over the field. Quarterback Keith Price and tailback Chirs Polk are arguably the best run-pass combination in UW history, rivaling Hugh McElhenny and Don Heinrich from the late 1940s/early 1950s.
The psychological coaching job perpetrated by head coach Steve Sarkisian at half time yesterday was one for the ages. The unconventional method of loosening up Price and getting the team fired up really showed itself in the third quarter.
Price should benefit greatly from next week’s BYE, giving his aching knees and ankle a rest. And then the Huskies face woeful Colorado in a home game at Husky Stadium. Should Washington win that game, they will be 3-0 in the conference and 5-1 overall. They will certainly be ranked. And the season will be crackling will countless possibilities.
With remaining road games at Stanford, USC and Oregon State, the Dawgs will have three more chances to put on the black hats and go into the other guy’s back yard– with new found attitude and confidence.
The boys are back this week to dissect Washington’s win over Cal. Matt also chimes in with a disturbing tribute to the great Michael Bolton.
Click here to listen directly on Mevio. For iTunes, click the icon on the right side of the screen.
After watching Jake Locker play quarterback the past few seasons, mental gaffes and overthrown receivers became regular occurrences, intermixed with Locker’s sensational athletic ability. The belief was that sooner or later everything would click, and then Locker would set the world on fire. It never happened. After being drafted by the Tennessee Titans, Locker moved on and the baton was passed on to sophomore Keith Price.
Four games in, Price is playing at a higher level than Locker ever was. His throws were precise, his command of the offense was complete. His increasing comfort in the pocket is obvious, as he moves efficiently in reaction to pressure. He also seems to be relatively relaxed and having fun. Through four games he has tossed 14 touchdown passes compared to just 3 interceptions, while completing 67% of his passes.
In Washington’s first three games, the key to the offense was running back Chris Polk. Without Polk, the Huskies wouldn’t have beaten Eastern Washington and Hawaii.
But the key to the offense against Cal was Keith Price, along with creative play calling from UW coach Steve Sarkisian. The praise that Sarkisian offers Price right now is effusive.
“He is playing at about as high a level as you can play right now,” Sarkisian said. “I tip my hat to (Stanford’s) Andrew Luck and (USC’s Matt) Barkley and these other guys in our conference. But the level of play that Keith Price is playing at is as high as anybody in our conference.”
The win over Cal left Washington with a 1-0 record in Pac-12 play and 3-1 overall. The Huskies travel to Salt Lake City next Saturday for a game against the Utah Utes, before having a BYE on October 8th.
By Derek Johnson
As I type this it’s Saturday morning and I’ve got ESPN Game Day on the TV. I just turned the sound down, as they began their weekly Tom Rinaldi segment. I’ve got some jazz on in the background now.
American society as we know it is being emasculated with each passing year, and ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi is a symptom of the cause.
Each Rinaldi segment features somebody that died from cancer, is dying from cancer, whose father died from a rare disease, some player that got run over by a tractor, or some other tragedy related to a player or coach from the college football landscape.
I’ve never liked Rinaldi but have never given it much thought. But as I was listening to a recent edition of the Husky Half Brains podcast, co-host Race Bannon pointed out how much he can’t stand the Rinaldi segments. He talked about how the only thing he wants to do on Saturdays is enjoy a day of watching college football. Do football fans need to be subjected to these formulaic tear-jerker stories week after week?
It really struck me this morning that I feel the same way. College football is one of the last bastions of masculinity in America. We get enough tragedy and misery as it is during the week in news reports found on TV and the internet.
Right now I just glanced at the screen again and the Rinaldi segment seems to be wrapping up. Some bearded middle-aged guy is sobbing and tears are running down his flushed cheeks. There’s no doubt that he probably has good reason to be sad, but that’s not the point.
The point is that context is everything. Running an occasional story telling of someone’s tragedy is fine. But weekly, formulaic segments that actively seek out and exploit tragedy is something that lacks integrity and doesn’t give people what they really need on a Saturday morning. It allows for “Oprah Moments” to seep into all areas of society, in a time when we need less examples of vulnerability and more examples of what it means to be a strong man.
Note to ESPN: Put an end the Rinaldi segments. Leave the Oprah Moments to the talk shows and news shows. Just give us college football.
Washington’s second half meltdown against Nebraska leaves Derek feeling concerned and costs Matt everything he owns.
But Kyle saves the day –and the podcast– with a list of positives backed with the strong conviction that this team will still make it to a bowl game.
Listen to the episode on Mevio or click the iTunes link on the right side of this page to listen to it on your MP3 player.
By Derek Johnson
Meanwhile down in Los Angeles, we’re witnessing the slow death of Rick Neuheisel’s head coaching career. Following a 45-20 home loss to Texas, the Bruins are 1-2 and looking dreadful. In what has become a curious annual phenomenon, UCLA’s offense sputters in the slow lane like an old Datsun while rivals speed past along the Pac-12 freeway in their Ferraris and BMWs.
You’d think UCLA would possess one of those high octane offenses, given the recruiting advantages of being located in Los Angeles with a gorgeous campus. But the days of Troy Aikman and Tom Ramsey are receding deep into history. Currently, the Bruins are inept are quarterback.
Richard Brehaut’s performance Saturday was no exception. A mere 8-of-19 for 150 yards. The boo birds were out in full force, as the hometown crowd gave the quarterback and his teammates an earful after each woeful three-and-out.
Rick Neuheisel, now in his fourth season at UCLA, sits on the hot seat staring at extinction. But it’s not the first time he’s encountered this type of challenge.
When he took over the Washington Huskies in 1999, the team started the season 0-2. The offense was putrid. The standards for Husky Football were much higher back then than they are now, and the fans voiced deep concern verging on anger. UW football just didn’t go 0-2. The masses openly questioned Neuheisel’s hiring.
Neuheisel summoned his quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo and fullback Pat Conniff to his office. Along with offensive coordinator Kieth Gilbertson, they began tapping into the players’ experience at running the option attack from their championship days at Woodinville high school. Neuhiesel stressed that “failure is not an option.”
The rest, as they say, is history. The Huskies went 7-2 the remainder of the season, and narrowly lost to fourth-ranked Kansas State in the Holiday Bowl. The next season, Washington’s option attack led the Pac-10 conference in rushing, as the Huskies went 11-1 and won the Rose Bowl over Drew Brees and Purdue. The players may have won the games, but the resourcefulness and willingness to change came from the top– Rick Neuheiesel.
As preposterous as it may seem, it could happen again. Tuiasosopo currently serves on Neuheisel’s staff. Surely there’s someone o the roster with experience in running the option. One many argue that Tuiasosopo was a rare talent, and that changes like that can only be made once in a million times.
But three games into the season, it’s deja vu all over again. This team and offense is on the road to nowhere. Desperate times call for desperate measures.