Tag Archives: Washington Huskies

Huskies are Back to “Putting on the Black Hat and Going into the Other Guy’s Back Yard”

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.

Hoffmann said:

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.


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WAR ROOM PODCAST Episode #5: When a Man Loves a Football Team

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.

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Washington Football: As a Pure Quarterback, Keith Price > Jake Locker

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.


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Nebraska Game Forces Matt Rogers to Dumpster Dive on the Ave; Dawgs set Sights on Cal

Washington’s second half meltdown against Nebraska leaves Derek feeling concerned and costs Matt everything he owns.

Lost wagers from Nebraska game left Matt Rogers to scramble for food. But both he and the Dawgs will bounce back!

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.


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Washington Football: Will Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt be the next Jim Lambright… or Kent Baer?

By Derek Johnson

It will be interesting to hear the reactions from Matt and Kyle after witnessing the Washington-Nebraska game. The 51-38 defeat had both positives and negatives in abundance. Quarterback Keith Price is an exciting young talent and it seems like the sky’s the limit for him. Chris Polk is such a hard runner and tremendous asset for this football team. Without Polk, the Huskies might be 0-3 right now, instead of 2-1. Wide receiver James Johnson re-emerged by accumulating 106 yards and 2 touchdowns in receptions.

But that defense, aye carumba. They entered the game ranked dead last in the NCAA for 3rd down efficiency. Today, they surrendered over 300 yards on the ground. Nebraska players and coaches mentioned how they sensed the Huskies defense getting tired and fatigued by halftime.

In today’s post game interview, defensive coordinator Nick Holt started to roll his players under the bus, before stopping himself and including himself in the criticisms.

These are themes we heard during the Willingham years of 2005-2008, with a defense led by quarterback Kent Baer. The Huskies would often play a competitive first half before collapsing the second. They would often surrender record-setting performances to opposing QBs and running backs. And both Willingham and Baer were infamous for blaming their players. When I interviewed Husky players for Bow Down to Willingham, they almost universally described how divisive that was to team morale.

On the plus side, the Husky defense was bringing the lumber against the Cornhuskers, with several hard hits on the ball carrier.

But there’s a feeling of uneasiness to this season. Chris Polk and Keith Price, if healthy, might be enough to get this team to 6-7 wins and a minor bowl. But any opponent with a competent, accurate quarterback, will likely slice this Husky D to shreds.

It’s now the third year that head coach Steve Sarkisian and his DC Nick Holt have been at Washington. If the defense is regressing, it begs the question: Will Holt’s legacy prove to be a success like former UW defensive coordinator Jim Lambright? Or will be go the way of the disgraced Kent Baer?

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PODCAST: Matt Rogers Bets his House that UW will Beat Nebraska

Matt Rogers takes no prisoners in predicting a Washington win over favored Nebraska. Not only that, he implies that Derek and Kyle are traitors to the cause for their predictions.

To listen to the latest show, click this link for Mevio version, or click the iTunes logo on the right side of the page for downloading to your MP3 player.

Go Dawgs!

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Washington Football: Huskies Must Find Answers Quickly to Avoid a Losing Season

By Derek Johnson

Following Washington’s 40-32 win over Hawaii last Saturday, UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt addressed the question of improvement to reporters. “I think it was our team that played today,” he said. “Last week (vs. Eastern Washington) we played a little cautious, not to lose, and we weren’t physical and not playing Sark football. And today we did, and I think we got back to kind of being us. It was good to see.”

From the standpoint of winning a football game that was entertaining to watch, Holt was right. And the team is 2-0, so that’s a positive. But in looking at game film of the Husky defense, the only one liking what they see will be Washington’s upcoming opponent, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Former UW coach Don James always said that football teams make their biggest leaps of improvement between Week 1 and Week 2 of the season. While the Husky offense looked dynamic against Hawaii, the defense displayed severe problems that will soon be exploited to a point that a losing season might be inevitable.

Going into the 2011 season, media and fans harbored mental images of Washington’s defensive domination of Nebraska in last year’s Holiday Bowl. The stellar performances of linemen Alameda Ta’mu and Hau’oli Jamora looked like the second coming of Steve Emtman and Tyrone Rogers.

But after playing vastly inferior Eastern Washington and Hawaii, there has been no push up the middle defensively. Opposing quarterbacks have had all day to locate open receivers and deliver the football. Even with the increased intensity the Huskies displayed last Saturday, they could only bring pressure on the blitz. And Hawaii took advantage of UW’s vulnerability several times with a dissecting passing game.

There are three factors that have saved UW’s bacon thus far: The running of Chris Polk, the placekicking of Erik Folk and the winning of the turnover battle.

However, the level of weekly competition is about to be ratcheted up, starting this weekend with Nebraska and their talented quarterback, Taylor Martinez.

How will Washington transform its weaknesses into strengths before kickoff?

Let’s hope that increased cohesion and confidence enable Washington to bring their “A Game” this Saturday and avoid a slaughter.


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