A quick rundown of what stands out to me about some of Washington’s finest players after the 34-15 win over Utah.
Keith Price’s Best Game of the Year
Without question. 24/33 for 277 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Perhaps more importantly, zero turnovers. That’s a season high in yards and only the third time Price has thrown for zero interceptions, the other two games non-conference wins over San Diego State and Portland State. Utah isn’t a great defensive team this year, but they are respectable, heading into the game allowing only 22 points a game, good for 30th in the country. That’s actually a better mark than Oregon, USC, and Cal, and it’s much, much better than Arizona, and Price struggled against all of those teams, so this may represent real progress on the part of Price, rather than a fluke outburst against a poor defense.
Bishop Sankey’s Wonderful Breakout Season
In his sophomore season, Chris Polk ran for 1113 yards and five touchdowns. So far in his own sophomore year, Bishop Sankey has run for 1017 and 13 touchdowns, with two games against Colorado and Washington State that will certainly pad those stats even further. Obviously comparisons between Polk and Sankey aren’t perfect. Polk played with a quarterback that was often a runner in the red zone, which hurt his touchdown totals, and the overall talent of the offensive line, tight ends, and even wide receivers was simply lower back in 2009. But still, I think it’s important to recognize that with the offensive line so badly banged up early this year, and with Price struggling for so long, Sankey has also overcome some tough circumstances while producing at an extremely high level. By Polk’s senior season (technically a senior, but really, as a redshirt junior), he put up a statline of 1488 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sankey will probably not reach 1488 yards this year, but he has already scored more than 12 touchdowns. Think where he could be by his own junior or senior season?
John Timu’s Route Jumping
Against Oregon State, Timu managed to dive in front of the intended Beaver receiver in the flat and knock away the football a few times before he eventually stepped in front and picked off a pass. It was clearly a product of both his dilligence in the film room and his awareness and instincts as a defender. That same combination led to a similar route jumping pick tonight. Timu was shaken up in the second half and had to leave the field for awhile, but he was back in the game not long after. He has clearly elevated himself as a team leader and an effective, physically imposing middle linebacker. It’s very easy to forget these days that he is only a sophomore.
Kasen Williams’ Fumble
Kasen doesn’t necessarily have a fumbling problem, but I just want to point out that he constantly handles the ball without much care. Part of that is a product of his acrobatic, one handed catches, but I feel like I rarely see him just tuck the ball. He is often holding the ball with one hand, or in two hands but in front of his body. It generally seems like it is about to pop out at any time. I would love to see him respond to this fumble with a little bit more attention to ball security. Though, it’s worth pointing out that his 7 catches for 73 yards and a score were terrific. Don’t mean to rag on him while ignoring a good performance.
Shaq Thompson’s Attitude
No, not that he has an attitude problem. Quite the opposite. Almost every time I saw a Utah player really get hammered, it was number seven that was responsible. Thompson lays the wood, and even better, if his thundering hits don’t bring the player down, he quickly remembers to wrap up to finish the tackle. I am giddy at the idea of Thompson as a junior.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ Inevitability
ASJ is clearly injured. He visibly limps whenever he is not actually in the middle of running a route. It is also clear to the opposing team that ASJ is one of two real receiving threats on the entire team. Yet, it still seems completely inevitable that at some point in any given game he will do two things. One, take a tough throw and turn it into a beautiful, acrobatic catch for a big gain. Two, take a short pass and absolutely brutalize several would-be tacklers to turn it into a respectable gain.