The last time we saw the Husky football team on the field, they were in the process of giving up 67 points to the Baylor Bears. That night, the defense was incredibly bad. So bad that I’ve washed most of it from my memory. Tonight was the first time the Dawgs had been back in a competitive game. They gave up 12 points. 67-12=55. You could score 12 points in 5 football games and still be a touchdown and a PAT away from 67 points. I’m good at math and it’s 1:20 in the morning.
A lot will be made of how ugly the offense looked for the last 3 quarters of the game. I’ll get to that in a minute. A lot will be made about Rocky Long’s decision-making in this football game. His decisions were bad but he had said that his team would do this. He stuck to his word, and it worked out for the Huskies. After those two things, people will talk about the defense. That’s a complete reverse of what it should be. We’re all so cynical.
The Huskies gave up 12 points, and 6 of those were on an illegal play. Yes, San Diego State did drive for some yards and you could say that if they had settled for field goals, the game would have been much more uncomfortable. That’s true, but remember that the Aztecs, on their only touchdown drive, went for it twice on fourth down. If they settled for a field goal there, then they don’t get their touchdown, obviously. There’s two sides to every coin.
Now, Ryan Katz and the San Diego State offense isn’t USC or Oregon. But, they appeared to be a formidable foe, especially at some points. The defense appeared faster than it has in a decade. Desmond Trufant locked down his side of the field, until his injury. The secondary was the best I’ve seen in… I’m still think about that because we haven’t seen a dominant secondary in a long time. There was one blown coverage tonight and the trick play the Aztecs ran. Can you think of any other time a receiver ran completely wide open? Can you think of a time when bubble screens didn’t work against this team? It was refreshing. For most of the game there was a pass rush. Containment on Ryan Katz wasn’t very good but I won’t be overly worried about that going forward. The defense was good and people should talk about that first and foremost.
I’m going to keep this recap pretty short because I haven’t watched the game for a second time and it’s time for bed. I’m just listing things about the defense now anyway and that isn’t beneficial to anyone. I’ll just skip ahead to a few bullet points and then we’ll have a more thoughts as the week goes.
- About the offense. They were great in the first quarter. They could do whatever they wanted and do it well. Then, they kept moving the ball but didn’t score. That truly is how I see it. In my opinion, people are overreacting about an offense that was very vanilla and was saving things for next week. Remember last year after the opener that Sark said he was embarrassed that they didn’t have a reception over 10 yards. Then, the next game the Dawgs came out, threw vertically, and dominated offensively. This was the same game plan. How many times did the Huskies throw down field tonight? I can remember 2. One was a bad decision by Price and one was a touchdown called back that came on a broken play. There were a couple of 20 yard passes but nothing that I would qualify as ‘taking a shot deep’. This was Steve Sarkisian letting his playmakers beat the opponent and saving his intricate playbook for next week. Of course, I could be proven wrong next week but I don’t think I will.
- The one part of the offense that does worry me is the rushing attack. They were bottled up in the second half and didn’t do much of anything. Mike Criste struggled in trying to fill in for an injured Ben Riva. Jesse Callier was injured. There were things that didn’t break right for the rushing attack tonight but they need to be better than that. They were pushed around and should be past the point of getting beat physically like that.
- The injuries I mentioned above are the big ones. Riva fractured his forearm and will be out for a couple of weeks. Callier injured his knee and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out for the year. Knee’s just aren’t a good thing to injure. Trufant is a little banged up but he should be fine. Princeton Fuimaono may have suffered a concussion but I can’t confirm that.
- I worry that the defense may struggle against power running teams like they did last year. They are clearly fast and will do better against a spread team but the Aztecs seemed like they could have run the ball pretty effectively. The numbers don’t support that but that’s the impression I came away with. Also, the open field tackling against the running back was not good enough. Give him some credit, but that can’t happen next week.
- Keith Price was good and this was a bad day for him. If that doesn’t make sense, just know that Price is very good. Let’s hope that the offensive line can keep him healthy. He took way too many hits tonight. Slide, young fella!
Final comment: I’ll just summarize by saying that these are the type of games we should start to expect from Steve Sarkisian openers. Try to hold the opponent at an arm’s length away and don’t show much offensively. Next week, I expect to see many wrinkles in the offense. It may not be enough, but the offense will take more chances next game. The defense won the game for the Huskies and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that. They really played well. There were a few mistakes but they were miles ahead of last year.
Again, one of us will probably add some more thoughts about the game in the next couple days but I thought I’d throw out some of my thoughts before I get some much-needed sleep. We’re 1-0! 11 more to go! Go Dawgs.
Thanks for reading!