Posted on: December 31, 2010 9:21 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Washington used 268 rushing yards to wear down Nebraska and win the Holiday Bowl 19-7
Offense: Jake Locker scared Washington fans (and football fans, really) when he went down for a slide and didn't come up after taking a hit from a Nebraska defender. Many thought concussion, or possibly worse. He walked off the field, and was cleared to return, but many doubted if he would maintain his reckless running style the rest of the game. Locker set the tone of offense with his toughness as he continued to pound the ball right at the Nebraska defense. Between running back Chris Polk (177 yards, 1 TD) and Locker (83 yards rushing, 1 TD) the Washington offensive line cleared the way for both talented runners to wear down the Nebraska defense. GRADE: B+
Defense: Phenomenal. The Huskies defense absolutely flew to the ball in the open field, keeping the potent Nebraska offense from breaking the big play like they did so many times in their meeting earlier this season. Mason Foster made a name for himself, picking up 12 tackles and 2 sacks in easily one of the most impressive individual defensive efforts so far this bowl season. Without Washington's efforts on defense, the offensive opportunities would not have been set up. Credit is due to head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt for getting this Washington defense fired up and ready to make a statement on Thursday. GRADE: A-
Coaching: Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies made a statement with their dominant victory in the rematch with Nebraska. The game was won in the trenches, with Washington dominating the offensive and defensive lines. In these bowl games, it seems that many times it comes down to who wants the win more. There was no doubt on Thursday that Sark had his boys fired up and ready to go get some revenge. GRADE: B+
Offense: With Taylor Martinez' injury/benching, Bo Pelini's conflict with the talented freshman quarterback may have hit a point of no return. After Nebraska made a very public stand regarding the involvement of Martinez' father, some began to speculate that Pelini might be driving the family away from the program. With Thursday night's unimpressive offensive outing, there will surely be some reconciling to do if Martinez plans to inherit the starting job for 2011. Martinez, along with the rest of the Nebraska rushing game, looked flat and unaggressive in comparison to the Washington defense. Some predicted that Nebraska may not "bring it" against Washington due to disinterest, and it looked like that's exactly what happened on offense. GRADE: F
Defense: One of the strongest aspects of Nebraska's defense is the secondary, and Washington chose to isolate the front seven by running the ball right at the Cornhuskers. Similar to the offensive line, the defensive line looked a step slower and a yard off the entire game. The secondary did their part, even kept Locker from completing a single pass in the first half. But when Washington moved to the running game in the second half, the clock moved and the yards were amassed. Nebraska had no answer. GRADE: C-
Coaching: I'm not blaming the offensive inefficiency on the coaching staff, but the whole team looked flat. We started to predict that Nebraska may be disinterested in the game, if for no other reason based on the off-field incidents in the weeks leading to Thursday's Holiday Bowl. Combine the off-field incidents with Pelini's conflict with the Martinez family, and I find it hard to believe that hindsight will show proper preparation for this game. GRADE: F
FINAL GRADE: The display from Nebraska was fairly disappointing, but it was good to see Jake Locker have a strong finish to his career. His decision to return for his senior year was doubted by many, and his draft stock has likely fallen from where it was a year ago. But he got to lead his team to an impressive postseason win to finish a memorable career. GRADE: B
Posted on: December 9, 2010 10:54 am
Edited on: December 9, 2010 11:00 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
As Bo Pelini's name gets tied to high-profile job openings (rumors which athletic director Tom Osborne was quick to squash), Nebraska still has the task of preparing for their last postseason bowl game as a Big 12 representative. Nebraska was given no preferential treatment with their bowl bid, falling to the Holiday Bowl December 30 in San Diego. Not only is the caliber of the game an insult to the Big 12 North division champions, but they are facing a Washington team they handily defeated 56-21 earlier this season. Oh yeah, that game was in Seattle. So if the focus is not completely there in Lincoln, it would not be a huge shock.
But there is a difference between lack of focus and lack of judgement. Sophomore defensive tackle Baker Steinkhuler received a one-game suspension from Pelini for a drunk driving arrest earlier this week. The hometown standout from Lincoln Southwest High School has started all 13 games for the Cornhuskers in 2010, and will watch the rematch with the Huskies from the sideline. His absence may not have a difference in the outcome, but you'd hate to be left with "What If's" in the situation that Jake Locker explodes and leads Washington to the upset in his final game.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 4:09 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
On paper, the stakes don't look all that high for this year's edition of the Apple Cup : Washington is 5-6 and a Pac-10 afterthought (again), and 2-9 Washington State is just hoping for another small step forward on the road to respectability. The Iron Bowl this is not.
But for the teams involved, this will be the biggest game of the year. The Huskies have a chance to end a bowl drought dating all the way back to 2002, an unthinkably long dry spell for a team with Washington's Pac-10 pedigree, and send seniors like Jake Locker off on a high note. The rest of the Pac-10 will have a vested interest in a Husky victory as well; of the league's three 5-6 teams aiming for bowl eligibility this weekend -- Washington, Arizona State , and Oregon State -- the Huskies have by far the easiest task with the Sun Devils facing Arizona and the Beavers the Oregon juggernaut.
But to hear Wazzu head coach Paul Wulff tell it, there still might be more on the line on the Cougar sideline, or at least for Wulff himself. As tweeted by the Seattle Times 's Bob Condotta:
Wulff, on Pac-10 conference call, says he's confident in the job he has done, but stops short of saying he knows for sure that he will be back next season. Said no question that WSU will be a bowl team next season.Putting aside the 2011 bowl talk (which would represent a quantum leap forward for a program that's still being outscored 34-18 on average in conference play), you'd think Wazzu would be happy to keep Wulff in place. The Cougars have consistently played hard for him, have dramatically improved the past two seasons (that average conference score for Wazzu in 2008? 50-9 ), have loads of Wulff's recruits returning next season, and frankly won't have a lot of top-tier candidates beating down their doors to coach on the Palouse if Wulff is dismissed.
But Wazzu athletic director Bill Moos has declined to make any kind of assurances that Wulff will be returning. That, paired with Wulff's own lack of confidence in his job status, would seem to point the tea leaves in the direction of Wulff's firing. After all, we saw this same movie a few days ago, when Vanderbilt 's Robbie Caldwell surprised many by saying midweek that he might be coaching his last game at Vandy; sure enough, he was gone before the week was out.
The good news for Wulff? An upset victory over the Cougars' most hated rival in front of the Wazzu faithful (the very faithful, by this point) would make Moos's decision to let him go dramatically more difficult, and maybe impossible. Wulff could quite possibly still save himself, even if it's highly debatable he ought to need saving in the first place.
Posted on: November 21, 2010 12:26 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Only three games in the Pac-10 this week, but we still learned a few things:
1. Stanford deserves a BCS bowl berth. The Cardinal caught a break in catching Cal in the "horrific" week of their solid/horrific yo-yo-routine; after the Bears put together such an impressive performance against Oregon last week, the proper bet regarding their performance this week was the house, on collapse .
But that still shouldn't take anything away from the kind of dominance Jim Harbaugh 's team has shown the past few weeks. The Cardinal simply annihilated Cal from the opening gun, watching Andrew Luck hit 16-of-20 without an interception and even embarrassing a Bear defender on a long run just for kicks ... holding the Bears scoreless through the first three quarters ... scoring on their first eight possessions, every one Luck directed ... leading 45-0. It was the sort of display usually reserved for beatdowns of bottom-rung FCS teams, and it all came in "The Game," Cal's biggest rivalry game of the year, on the road in Berkeley.
Between this performance, the thumping of Arizona two weeks ago, and the 41-0 road whitewashing of Washington three weeks back, it's safe to rank Stanford alongside the likes of Auburn and Boise State as one of the hottest teams in the country and the hottest in the Pac-10 . Assuming they wrap up the season at 11-1, they'll deserve to have a shot at playing in one of the big-money BCS games rather than having to slink off the Holiday Bowl . That may or may not happen -- it'll be helpful if Auburn loses and opens up a slot in the BCS title game for a non-AQ team that will otherwise hog a spot in the Rose Bowl -- but there shouldn't be any "may or may not," not the way the Cardinal are playing.
2. Corvallis is USC's own personal house of horrors. You can't really argue that Oregon State 's Reser Stadium is a "tough place to play," not this year, not after the Beavers got trounced at home by Washington State last week. (Yes, that Washington State. Yes, that actually happened.) But apparently it doesn't matter how welcoming a host OSU might be for anyone else; they are always going to be at maximum hostility for USC .
In 2006, the Trojans were third-ranked and favored to return to the BCS title game for the third time in three years when they went to Corvallis; they turned the ball over four times and lost 33-31, snapping their 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In 2008, USC had just defeated No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 and were the No. 1 team in the country; Jacquizz Rodgers exploded for 186 yards against one of the best defenses of college football's past decade and the Beavers won 27-21. Obviously the 2010 Trojans can't measure up to the '06 or '08 versions (who finished with a combined record of 23-2), but they had won three of their last four and beaten a good Arizona team on the road just last week. And, you know, Washington State.
No matter. Matt Barkley had his ankle bent into all kinds of incorrect directions ; Mitch Mustain went only 8-of-17 in relief; Rodgers went off for another 128 yards and a score; Beaver QB Ryan Katz recovered from a terrible week against Wazzu to hit 17-of-24 with two touchdowns and no picks; the Trojans lost the turnover battle 0-2 and only gained 255 total yards; and in the end, the Beavers crushed the Trojans 36-7 .
Corvallis: home sweet home to Wazzu, the worst place imaginable for the Trojans. Go figure.
3. UCLA's offense is ... well ... you know. We know the Bruins are struggling with quarterback issues and with a scheme conversion to the pistol that has been, to put it as politely as we possibly can, a work in progress.
But there's a point at which politeness isn't really appropriate anymore, and once you've scored zero points over the final three quarters and netted all of 163 yards (over 61 plays, an unbelievably terrible average gain of 2.67 yards per-play) against a team that entered the game ranked 109th in the FBS in total defense, that point has long since past. We've posted this portrait of UCLA's offense before, and after the stinkbomb the Bruins laid up in Seattle last Thursday, we feel we have no choice but to post it again:
It's a shame, because the Bruin defense -- which hounded Jake Locker into another "that guy is a first-rounder?!?" performance (10/21, 68 yards, 0 TD 1 INT) -- isn't great but is good enough to get UCLA to the postseason they desperately want . The offense, however, will be lucky to drag UCLA past their current four wins.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 9:15 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
After yet another day passed without any word on Jake Locker's status, Washington fans were beginning to fear that the star quarterback may not get to see the field in his final home game against the Bruins on Thursday night. Locker, still recovering from a broken rib, did practice with the team on Tuesday but head coach Steve Sarkisian informed the media he had yet to be cleared to play by team doctors. Sarkisian not only wants Locker to play for the betterment of the Huskies, but also knows that the former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year would like to close out his career under center in Husky Stadium. When doctors finally cleared Locker late Tuesday, Sark was not about to wait for any press release to be written - he took the good news straight to Twitter.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 10:21 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Washington quarterback Jake Locker was back on the practice field taking snaps with his teammates this weekend for the first time since October 30, but there are still no promises for his return to the starting lineup. Locker is recovering from a broken rib suffered against Stanford two weeks ago, and has utilized the Huskies' off-week to get back to playing shape. Locker split reps with backup Keith Price during Washington's weekend practices, working on a short week in preparation for Thursday's conference battle with UCLA. As for Locker's status against the Bruins? Head coach Steve Sarkisian did sound incredibly optimistic, but did not give any official status update in his statements after Saturday's practice.
"I thought he moved around okay,'' Sarkisian said to reporters after practice. "We will just have to take it day-by-day to assess how he responds from one day to the next. I'm not going to make any grand statements as far as 'is he playing, is he not.' We just need to assess it here for a couple days.''
Todd Milles, of the Tacoma News Tribune, writes that Sarkisian may not make a decision on Locker until Wednesday. Doctors are very encouraged with how quickly he has recovered from the injury, but it is unlikely that he will be 100 percent before Saturday's game. Price, a redshirt freshman, was issued a tall order for his first career start against Oregon in Autzen Stadium. He completed 14 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. If given the chance to start again his task will be much easier against the Bruins defense, which has given up 33.5 points per game in conference play.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 5:08 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 5:17 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier today, the semifinalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the top senior quarterback in the nation, were announced. Sure, the list is going to pale in comparison to the Davey O'Brien Award, which is allowed to nominate the likes of Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Kellen Moore, Denard Robinson, et cetera, but the senior class is still pretty strong this season.
To that end, we celebrate these eight quarterbacks who were nominated by the Unitas committee:
All worthy honorees, these; of the eight listed, the top six seniors in passing efficiency are represented, and the other two (Ponder, Locker) are high-level pro prospects. It's likely that neither makes the list of five finalists, but they both deserve some credit for their long, eventful college careers.
But wait -- five finalists? Out of eight semifinalists? Oh, no no; here's the rub. There are actually 10 semifinalists. It's just that the last two are so inexplicable that we couldn't in good conscience discuss them in the same context as the first eight. The other two semifinalists, who you wouldn't have guessed given 10 tries, are Idaho's Nathan Enderle and Delaware's Pat Devlin. Yeah, exactly.
Enderle is currently 61st among FBS quarterbacks in passing efficiency, and he's tied for fourth in most interceptions thrown with 12. Yes, he's 11th in passing yards per game, but that just makes him the Jerrod Johnson of the WAC. Enderle's not exactly a dual threat, either; he has no rushing touchdowns on the season and rushes for about -18 yards a game once sacks are factored in. Enderle also likely holds the ignominious honor of the worst yards per reception rate in the NCAA, as he was credited for one catch for -13 yards against Hawaii last week. We hope that's the worst in the NCAA, anyway, because woe is anyone worse than that.
But for as odd as Enderle's selection is, Devlin's is downright mystifying; the Penn State transfer is currently helming the Delaware Blue Hens, who are No. 4 in the FCS, but that's about as far as Devlin's accomplishments go. He's accounted for six touchdowns on the entire year, and half of those came against D-II West Chester to begin the season. In other words, Devlin has thrown three touchdowns against FCS competition all season long. GET THAT MAN ON A SEMIFINALISTS LIST, STAT.
As with Ponder and Locker, it's extremely unlikely that these two guys make the final cut, and it's also unikely that any of the quarterback that got snubbed (FCS No. 3 Villanova's Chris Whitney, Texas Tech's Taylor Potts, and Fresno State's Ryan Colburn , to name a few) would have made the top five either. Still, any of those three would have been better choices than either Enderle or Devlin, and we're at a loss for trying to figure out why either of those two quarterbacks made the list of 10 semifinalists.
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Chris Whitney, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Delaware, Denard Robinson, Florida State, Fresno State, Greg McElroy, Idaho, Iowa, Jake Locker, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Kellen Moore, Nathan Enderle, Nevada, Pat Devlin, Ricky Stanzi, Ryan Colburn, Scott Tolzien, Taylor Potts, TCU, Texas Tech, Tyrod Taylor, Unitas Award, Unitas Semifinalists, Villanova, Virginia Tech, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
Main Course - #19 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Baylor - 12:30pm - FSNI don't believe it. After weeks of barren morning slate after barren morning slate, we actually get a matchup of two ranked teams this Saturday morning. Surely my complaints have finally been heard and answered by the college football gods.
Granted, a game between Baylor and Oklahoma State doesn't usually carry such cache, but this should turn out to be a very fun way to start your Saturday, and chock full of calories otherwise known as points. Just do the math.
Both teams have high-powered offenses ranked in the top ten nationally, and both teams have defenses ranked in the lower third of the country. Which means it's going to look like a tennis match watching Robert Griffin and Brandon Weeden lead their teams back-and-forth down the field. If the prospect of possibly seeing 100 points scored doesn't do it for you, then I just don't know what I can do for you.
Side Orders: There's quite a bit of mediocre Big Ten fare on Saturday morning as the conference's power teams beat up on the nerds and goth kids, but one Big Ten game that may deserve your attention is Michigan and Illinois. The Illini are one of those teams that is a lot better than you think they are, as they're 5-3 and all three of those losses have been close contests against teams currently ranked in the top 15. Though I suppose you might want to tune in to see Florida destroy Vanderbilt, or see how much money Chattanooga offers Cam Newton to stop running over them.
Main Course -#6 Utah vs. #4 TCU - 3:30pm - CBS College SportsFor years, many a college football fan has clamored for a playoff to determine the national championship. We're not exactly close to getting one, but if ever there was a game that may as well be considered a playoff game, this is it. Oh, and it also features two teams who happen to be ranked in the top 5 in the BCS right now.
Those games don't come along very often in the regular season.
Whichever team wins this game basically assures itself a BCS bid, and strengthens its case to play for the title once the year is over. Plus, considering that Utah is bound for the Pac-12 and TCU may be heading east, this may be the last time we get to see these "mid-majors" square off during the regular season.
So take the time on Saturday to figure out where CBS College Sports is on your cable system and enjoy this one.
Side Orders: Now you all have CBS, so if you're not into that whole Mountain West thing, you could always turn to the mothership and watch Alabama take on LSU. The winner remains alive for the SEC title, and the loser is done. Oh, and you can watch the game while chatting with yours truly over on our Facebook page. Football and Tom Fornelli making smart-assed remarks to your honest questions? What gets better than that? Certainly not Oregon disemboweling a Jake Locker-less Washington team, or Penn State and Northwestern duking it out for fourth place in the Big Ten.
Main Course - #10 Stanford vs. #13 Arizona - 8pm - ABCStanford's chances to win the Pac-10 are somewhat slim at this point considering its already a game behind Oregon, and that its sole conference loss is to Oregon, but hopes are not dead yet. However, if they lose to Arizona on Saturday night they are. The same can be said for the Wildcats, who trail Oregon by a game as well but still get to travel to Eugene at the end of the month.
If Arizona loses this one, it's in the same boat as Stanford, and we may as well crown the Ducks champions on Sunday morning.
The good news for Arizona is that it won't need to rely on its backup quarterback as Nick Foles is expected to return, which means we get a matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10 as Foles squares off with Andrew "Jim Harbaugh's Other Wife" Luck.
Side Orders: There are some other nice choices on Saturday night if you prefer to try something else. South Carolina looks to keep its lead in the SEC East against the cannon of Ryan Mallett and Arkansas. Missouri will also look to keep its BCS hopes alive when it travels to Texas Tech, and I suppose you could tune in to see if Texas can lose yet again against Kansas State.
Late Night SnackNot much to dine on late this week, though if you're desperate for more football at the end of the night, you can tune in to see if Lane Kiffin can distract Matt Barkley a few more times against Arizona State. If nothing else, you might get some awesome Ace of Base action, and who doesn't want more Ace of Base in their beautiful life?
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Brandon Weeden, Cam Newton, Chattanooga, Florida, Illinois, Jake Locker, Jim Harbaugh, Kansas State, Lane Kiffin, LSU, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Missouri, Nick Foles, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Mallett, Saturday Meal Plan, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington