September 28, 2008

Where to go from here?

In an absolute must-win game for not only the team's confidence, but for Head Coach Tyrone Willingham's job, the Huskies came up short against the Cardinal of Stanford, losing 35-28, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates.




"This is very difficult for me to stand before you, because I felt like we had a football team that would be able to go out and win this football game. Not being disrespectful to Stanford - they played a good game, but I felt like we could win the football game," said a dejected Willingham. "We couldn't put ourselves in the right position to give ourselves enough stops to keep our offense on the field to get it done. So with that, we suffered a very disappointing loss. Having lost to Stanford, two times, has been very difficult, very painful."




Not only did the Cardinal, a team that came in averaging 272 yards of offense per game, put up 466 yards of total offense, they did so without Toby Gerhart, arguably their best offensive player, for the majority of the game. In Gerhart's absence, the rest of the Stanford rushers stepped in and toted the rock to the tune of 235 yards.




"Everyone on this team trust and knows that [Anthony] Kimble is a heck of a player. Jeremy Stewart has been chomping at the bit and wanting touches. Every week I can see it in his eyes that he wants the ball. We scripted it out so that he could get the ball on the fourth or fifth play of the game, and he got us the first down," explained Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. "It was good to get guys involved. It's good for morale and obviously for production."




To boot, Washington's primary offensive threat and team leader, sophomore quarterback Jake Locker, left the game midway through the second quarter with a broken thumb, a seemingly perfect piece to the puzzle of woes that is Husky football.




"He has a fracture of his thumb and we'll be working to see exactly what the dimensions of that are," explained Willingham of Locker's injury. "That will determine, once we figure that out, what kind of time table he'll be on."




The game began promising for Washington, when the Huskies scored first on a one-yard Brandon Johnson touchdown run, to go up 7-0 with just over seven and a half minutes in the first quarter. However, that would be Washington's only lead of the game. Stanford tied the game a little over three minutes later when senior Anthony Kimble found the endzone on a 13-yard run.




After sacking Locker on a third and seven to put the Huskies out of field goal range, Stanford proceeded to string together a 12-play, 80-yard drive to go up 14-7. The drive was capped off by an 11-yard pass from Tavita Pritchard to tight end Jim Dray.




The Huskies responded on their next drive however, marching 76 yards on 12 plays, to tie the game at 14 all. However, the drive was dampened with the loss of not only Locker, who injured his thumb blocking for Jordan Polk on a reverse play that netted Washington 27-yards, but also David Freeman, who was playing well with seven rushes for 64 yards. Neither player would not return to the game.




Insert backup quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who played about as well as you could ask from someone who has logged little playing time in the past. Fouch looked poised from the get go, completing 13-of-27 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. Fouch also scored the Huskies' final touchdown of the game on a one-yard keeper.




"I think Ronnie stepped in and did an excellent job. I thought he stepped in and kept our football team moving in the right direction," expressed Willingham. "Did it [losing Locker] change some of the things that we do? Yes, because when you miss Jake, you miss another weapon, another opportunity to put more pressure on the defense. But I thought Ronnie did an excellent job."




It didn't take Stanford long to respond to Washington's score with a score of it's own. On the Cardinal's ensuing possession, Pritchard connected with Doug Baldwin over the middle for a 61-yard scamper into the endzone to put Stanford up 21-14.




"It was just a great call on behalf of our coaches. We saw that they were playing soft on the back end. Coach saw it upstairs, that the middle of the field was open, and he called the play," explained Baldwin of his score. "We'd been practicing it all week. We felt good going into the game about calling the play, and close to the end of the half, they were playing off - just a great play call."




The Cardinal scored their fourth touchdown of the game on the first play of their second possession of the second half, when Anthony Kimble scampered 83-yards up the sideline. Kimble, Stanford's backup running back, finished the game with 15 rushes for 157 yards and two touchdowns.




The Huskies responded, driving 69 yards on seven plays to cut the deficit to seven points. The drive was highlighted by the play of Fouch, who connected with D'Andre Goodwin on passes of 33 and 24-yards. Goodwin finished the game with five catches for 83 yards. The drive was capped off by a five-yard pass from Fouch to Jermaine Kearse, who led all Washington players with six receptions for 52 yards.




Stanford pushed the lead to two touchdowns once again when Pritchard found Ryan Whalen in the corner of the endzone on an 18-yard pass early in the fourth quarter. Whalen led all Cardinal receivers in catches and yards, with seven or 76 respectively.




To say the Husky defense is bad is an understatement. Stanford's 235 first-half yards and 466 yards of total offense are both season highs, and the Cardinal's 35 points marked their highest road scoring output since a 41-38 victory at Navy during the 2005 season.




"We can't seem to get the right rhythm. We put pressure, but then on pressure, they catch it in front of us - they break tackles, they do things. We don't put pressure, we don't stop them that way," said Willingham. "We're just not where we'd like to be and we're trying to figure it out and get everyone where they need to be. Right now we can't do that, we haven't found that cure.




"Obviously we're playing a lot of young guys on defense, and to some degree that hurts you, but that's not an excuse and we won't accept it as an excuse," said Willingham. "We've got to get it right, and that's what our efforts will be - we've been trying to do that. At some point, I believe it will click and it will work and we'll have the kind of defense that we'll be proud of and will give us a chance to win football games."




Though, the loss of linebacker Donald Butler in early stages of the second quarter didn't help matters.




"Donald suffered a concussion, and that was a major loss to us tonight, because I thought Donald was playing some of the best football I've seen him play," explained Willingham. "He was being extremely physical, and obviously he controls so much of the movement of our defense in terms of getting people in the right place, so his absence was huge."




Now more than ever, attention will be turned to Willingham and the security of his job. Barring some drastic turnaround, Willingham's tenure as the Huskies' head coach appears to be close to the end.




"Without question," responded Willingham when asked if this is the toughest position he's been in as a coach. "There are so many things flying around my young men right now - trying to keep them focused on that next task, that next goal. They're frustrated, the coaches are frustrated, everyone's frustrated. We want to get this thing right."




"It's tough but it's our job to get it better. It's my job to wake up and get us better tomorrow. What I worry about are these kids. We like this group of kids and they are playing major college football, and they deserve to have success," expressed Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell. "I care about Tyrone Willingham, and he's a guy that cares about kids, is great with the kids and is just great for college football. I would like to put some more wins up for him, the kids and the rest of the coaches."





Washington: BRANDON JOHNSON 1 YD RUN (RYAN PERKINS KICK)
Stanford: ANTHONY KIMBLE 13 YD RUN (AARON ZAGORY KICK)
Stanford: JIM DRAY 11 YD PASS FROM TAVITA PRITCHARD (AARON ZAGORY KICK)
Washington: BRANDON JOHNSON 1 YD RUN (RYAN PERKINS KICK)
Stanford: DOUG BALDWIN 61 YD PASS FROM TAVITA PRITCHARD (AARON ZAGORY KICK)
Stanford: ANTHONY KIMBLE 83 YD RUN (AARON ZAGORY KICK)
Washington: JERMAINE KEARSE 5 YD PASS FROM RONNIE FOUCH (RYAN PERKINS KICK)
Stanford: RYAN WHALEN 18 YD PASS FROM TAVITA PRITCHARD (AARON ZAGORY KICK)
Washington: RONNIE FOUCH 1 YD RUN (RYAN PERKINS KICK)
WashingtonStanford
TOTAL FIRST DOWNS2721
TOTAL NET YARDS377466
Total Plays7460
Average Gain5.17.8
NET YARDS RUSHING140244
Rushes3836
Average per rush3.76.8
NET YARDS PASSING237222
Completions-attempted18-3616-24
Sacked00
Yards Lost00
TOTAL TURNOVERS11
Interceptions00
Fumbles Lost11
OTHER
Penalties512
Penalty Yards46115
Time of Possesion31:1028:50
Punts43
Punt Average39.533.33
Return Yards89111
WashingtonCMPATTYDSTDINTYDS/ATT
Ronnie Fouch (0)1327186106.9
Jake Locker (0)5951005.7
StanfordCMPATTYDSTDINTYDS/ATT
Tavita Pritchard (0)1624222309.3
WashingtonATTYDSTDAVG
David Freeman (0)76409.1
Jordan Polk (0)230015.0
Brandon Johnson (0)102122.1
Jake Locker (0)101701.7
Willie Griffin (0)3702.3
Ronnie Fouch (0)4310.8
Luke Kravitz (0)1000.0
Team (0)1-20-2.0
StanfordATTYDSTDAVG
Anthony Kimble (0)15157210.5
Jeremy Stewart (0)116706.1
Toby Gerhart (0)21407.0
Tavita Pritchard (0)41203.0
Michael Thomas (0)1606.0
Team (0)2-40-2.0
Doug Baldwin (0)1-80-8.0
WashingtonATTYDSTDAVG
Jermaine Kearse (0)65218.7
D'Andre Goodwin (0)583016.6
Michael Gottlieb (0)465016.3
Tony Chidiac (0)114014.0
David Freeman (0)112012.0
Devin Aguilar (0)111011.0
StanfordATTYDSTDAVG
Ryan Whalen (0)776110.9
Toby Gerhart (0)224012.0
Anthony Kimble (0)21708.5
Doug Baldwin (0)161161.0
Austin Gunder (0)116016.0
Jim Dray (0)111111.0
Warren Reuland (0)110010.0
Owen Marecic (0)1707.0


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