My Take: Washington Rolls Utah


I have rarely been so happy about being wrong in my life. I did not expect Washington to go into Rice-Eccles Stadium to play a 2-1 Utah team that spanked BYU 44-7 in Provo and was one blocked field goal at USC from being undefeated and come out with a victory.

All that talk about Utah being undefeated after a bye since 1996. All that talk about their plus-whatever turnover ratio that lead the conference. The thin air in Salt Lake City. The sellout crowd and buzz. All of that got to me…I’ll admit it.

But, you have got to give credit to Nick Holt’s defense. In the first half, it looked a lot like the D of old. But, even then, there was clearly one thing different. They were hitting! Rather than going for tackles, they were going for the hit. When they hit someone they were reaching, grabbing, and making the extra effort for the ball. So, while Utah got in some nice drives, that defense was stopping them with turnovers in the red zone.

I admit I was confused by what the offense was doing in the first half. Keith Price was taking sacks rather than throwing the ball out of bounds. Chris Polk seems to be struggling to find holes and the O-Line was letting Utah’s defensive players run right in (a sack on a 3-man rush, really?).

I felt UW was very lucky to be up 10-7 at halftime. It was poorly played by both teams and either could have been up by a larger margin. What also concerned me was that the 3rd quarter was UW’s weakest quarter in its first four games. But, UW came out with a swagger, with a confidence, to get it done. That opening drive to make it 17-7 was critical. The momentum was clearly on UW’s side and it forced Utah to change its game plan.

Chris Polk continued to be a beast and Keith Price, gimping around after every play, was just so solid in the 2nd half with the accuracy of his throws and his ability to make reads. Maybe he isn’t a Heisman Candidate this year (given the media-dominated nature of the trophy), but he will be next year!

With UW up 24-7 in the 4th quarter, I was already thinking about Nick Montana coming into the game. But, I could understand why Sark might want to put it away with another score on the road. When UW went up 31-7, then I thought you HAVE to get Price and Polk out of the game. Those two are far too important to the success of this team to risk getting injured in a blowout. I know there was a bye coming, but why risk it?

In addition to risking injury, you also have to think about the future. What happens if Price gets a serious injury? Is Nick Montana ready? Why not throw him out there with 7 minutes left and give him some game experience? If things go awry, you can always bring Price back in. I do worry that if Montana never gets a chance and sees what Price is doing, Nick will come to the conclusion that he will sit there never playing for the next three years. Would he consider transferring?

Maybe that’s OK with Jeff Lindquist coming in next year and having freshman Derrick Brown on the roster. But, if I am going to question anything about Steve Sarkisian and all he has done to bring this program back, it is his personel choices at certain times.

In the end, I could not be more happy. The Huskies are 4-1, 2-0 in the Pac-12, and in 1st place in the Pac-12 North. They are where they should be. Yes, there are still games against Oregon and Stanford, but it feels good right now doesn’t it? Now the team gets a bye week to rest up before a very winnable home game against Colorado. So, take a few days off guys and let it all sink in.