Tag Archives: Desmond Trufant

One Last Review Of UW-Stanford

I promised a more thorough review of last Thursdays game and here it is!  Five days, a trip to Yakima and about 8 hours of homework later.  I did finally finish watching the game last night and I had a few thoughts about the game.  I’ll go by position and add in some thoughts about coaching here and there.  Before I begin, I think this was probably the best coached Husky game since Rick Neuheisal was coach.  Seriously.  I’ll get into more detail as the post goes, but as a whole this was an incredibly coached game for the Dawgs, scheme-wise, personnel wise and on the motivational side.  Anyway, here we go, by position.

Quarterback – Keith Price has been a somewhat forgotten man through 4 games this year.  He doesn’t have the numbers that he had last year and won’t end up with as impressive stats but he has progressed.  Last Thursday, Keith played the toughest football game he’s ever played.  It wasn’t his best but it was very good.  He was tackled in the pocket over 10 times, while only three of those turned out to be sacks.  This is a testament to him standing in the pocket and not rushing things.  At one point it looked like he couldn’t feel his right arm.  I’m not sure why Stanford was never called for a roughing the passer penalty because they went high and hard many times.  Anyway, Price was accurate and threw well even with the amount of duress he was under.  He had 3 passes dropped that would have given him about 40 more passing yards and 3 more first downs.  He generally had less than 2 seconds to throw.  Three plays before the Huskies game-winning touchdown Price lined up under center and killed the running play that was called.  This audible essentially sent the receivers deep.  The ball was snapped, Price dropped back and was pressured from the outside so he stepped up into the pocket.  His outside receiver (I couldn’t catch the number) made a double move and was about to break free but a Stanford linebacker got a hand on the ball.  It was a brilliant call by Price and a beautiful play, it was just a .1 of a second too late.  The game winning touchdown could have come 3 plays earlier than when it did and it would have looked a lot more conventional.  Price was a great decision maker and game-manager.  I hope his body feels okay.

Running Back – It sure looks like Bishop Sankey has found his niche.  He’ll never be Chris Polk.  He’s not a bruiser and isn’t as patient.  But, he’s hitting the hole harder and faster every week.  Hugh Millen pointed out on KJR today that the Huskies use more of a zone-blocking scheme this year instead of a weak-side pulling guard, man-blocking scheme.  This allows Sankey to hit the hole faster than we saw the last few years because you don’t have to wait for that guard to come across.  So, maybe Bishop didn’t find his niche, maybe Sark found his niche for him?  It takes a humble and good coach to adjust his scheme to fit his players and Sark has continually done this.  That’s overlooked an awful lot.  Moving Kendyl Taylor provided an unexpected boost to the Husky offense and he did some good things on Thursday.  I’m guessing he’ll see more and more time as we go.  The fun thing to think about is that these running backs are only going to get better.  No one playing right  now is older than sophomore status.  Sure, they’ll cause a few headaches but the more I think about it, the more I think this year is setting up for a special 2013.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends – Quite a bit has been made of ASJ not getting only 2 receptions against Stanford.  There was no other tight end who caught a pass either.  What isn’t being said is that ASJ had a block on Chase Thomas that helped spring Bishop’s 61 yard run.  No one is talking about how Evan Hudson lined up at fullback a few times and got into the second level to give Sankey some other big runs.  The tight ends will be used in different ways as this season goes on but don’t think they played an insignificant role on Thursday.  Every receiver was fairly inconsistent aside from Kasen Williams.  Kasen turned 2 yard gains into 7 at least 3 times.  The plan was to get him the ball in space and he showed why that was a great game plan that Sark never went aways from even when it was getting frustrating.  Anytime another receiver wants to step up though, feel fee!

Offensive Line – Yes, the pass blocking was pretty horrendous.  It’s a big problem that needs to be solved right away.  But, they were playing a very good front seven.  To their credit, the line did run block well.  It doesn’t matter how you get yards and points as long as you get them.  No one expected the Huskies to be able to rush for 150 yards but they did and that was because the line opened few holes.  I do think they wore Stanford down a little bit.  Where the Oregon defense is used to being on the field a lot because their offense scores in a hurry, Stanford is exactly the opposite.  I imagine that the Cardinal generally win the time of possession battle and they didn’t on Thursday night.  The Huskies, especially in the first half generally were on the field for at least three minutes on offense every time they had the ball.  It doesn’t seem like much but that adds up, especially when your defense is getting three and outs.  I might be the only one, but I think the Stanford defense was tired and they looked it on the Huskies last drive.  Shane Brostek got his first career start at right guard and looked pretty good in run blocking.  Him and James Atoe next to each other is probably my favorite configuration of the line.  When they’re on the right side, holes seem to open up a bit more.  The Huskies most successful running plays were runs off-tackle or which would follow Atoe, Hatchie, and, on the final drive, Criste.  The right side of the line seemed to open more holes, as I mentioned earlier, but the left side of the line did pretty well too when I re-watched the game.

Defensive Line – Stopping the run starts up front, so here you go.  I don’t know much about defensive lines so I won’t try to explain anything and there wasn’t a ton that stood out.  Pio Vatuvei got extensive action.  Josh Banks saw his first action of the season and made a very good tackle on Stanford’s last drive.  Not a lot shows up in the box score from these guys but they freed up space for the linemen to make plays.  It took Josh Shirley about a half to get his pass rush going but he was definitely felt in the second half.  This group continues to get better.

Linebackers – The Dawgs haven’t had linebackers tackle like they did in this game since who knows how long.  If you think back to the game, think about how many times Stepfan Taylor broke free from a tackle for extra yards.  It didn’t happen.  Even re-watching the game, I can’t think of a time.  Tutogi, Timu, Fuimaono (although he didn’t play as much), Feeney, and Shaq were all in position and made the tackles.  I’m still amazed.  Their pursuit was incredible, their tackling was the best I’ve seen from a Husky defense, and their effort was off the charts.  I don’t expect them to be able to keep this up but if they do then what was thought to be one of the Huskies biggest weaknesses has all of a sudden become one of the best positions on the team.  As one of my favorite wrinkles that Wilcox threw in, Talia Crichton played a hybrid linebacker.  He rushed the passer some but he was used to stop the run a good amount.  It was just another big body who wouldn’t be pushed around.

Secondary – Desmond Trufant was the only corner on the field about 30% of the time for the Huskies.  What a responsibility that was and he handled it extremely well.  Right now he’s an all-conference player and is deserving of All-American recognition.  Two pass breakups, one interception and shutting down one side of the field.  The other corner spot is a bit concerning still but they did okay this game.  Marcus Peters saw quite a bit of time on the field.  Especially in the second half.  Sean Parker played a great game, blowing up screens and flying around.  The defense looks fast and he is one of the players that looks the fastest.  Travis Feeney lined up as free safety sometimes to stop the run which was another wrinkle.  Justin Glenn also played a good game with a couple of pass-breakups.  There were a few blown assignments but that’s to be expected especially when there was such an emphasis on stopping the run.

Special Teams – Travis Coons was the first half MVP.  He made a career long field goal, had a pretty good yards per punt average and punted one left-footed which saved the Huskies field position.  That was a great play that I’m not even going to try to explain.  Marvin Hall is fast and will break a return soon.  He’s been very close in the last two games.  He’s a game changer and I’m glad Sark pulled the red-shirt off of him.  Not literally.  They don’t actually wear red-shirts.

After watching the game again, this game was something that all Husky fans should feel proud of.  But, it’s time to turn our attention to our bitter rival down south.  It’s been fun to bask in this game.  I doubt we’ll have this feeling next week but it seems like these Dawgs like to surprise.

Andrew

 

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The Dawgs Defend And Win!

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.

Justin Glenn is asleep.

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!

Andrew

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2012 UW Huskies: It’s Time for Football

I feel like I should write some kind of preview for the Huskies, but I can’t think of any clever or particularly interesting way to do it.  There are tons of previews out there, most of them much better than anything I can offer.  Still, the best day of the year comes this Saturday, so here goes nothing.  I’m just going to give the things I’m concerned with for this year’s team and the things I’m excited about, with the (potentially) bad stuff first.  In no particular order…

Things That Make Me Nervous

  • The new defense.  This one’s complicated, because I think the defense will be much improved (see below).  The problem is that they have a long way to come.  One of the coaches noted that, while the team has looked great in practice, sometimes players get into games and forget what they’re supposed to be doing, especially with a new scheme.  The talent looks improved enough to be at least average, other than possibly the…
  • Linebackers.  The bane of last year’s defense (at least on the field) do look improved, but they have plenty of issues as well.  After receiving a bunch of new bodies from the safeties this spring, they proceeded to average an injured linebacker a day through much of fall camp.  Nate Fellner and Jamaal Kearse are still out for a couple of games, but everyone else is now back.  The enlarged John Timu at middle linebacker has been drawing accolades and should be the one constant throughout the year.  Princeton Fuimaono is probably the number two guy right now.  Former safety Travis Feeney is holding down Fellner’s spot, although Shaquille Thompson will take over a good share of the time in the nickel package.  There’s talent, speed and athleticism here.  Now it just needs to translate to tackles.
  • The offensive tackles.  File this under lack of experience as well.  Both tackles, Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva, left and right respectively, have seen little or no game action.  They have lots of talent and the practice reports are good, but only games will show if they’re actually ready.  I’m optimistic, but without Chris Polk, this line needs to be a strength.  Unless these two excel, it will likely be average at best.
  • The new home field.  Century Link is a great place to play, and it should still be plenty loud, but it’s tough having to adjust to a new routine and a new home.  You know those first couple of months after you move into a new house or apartment?  No matter how nice a place it is and how excited you are to be there, it takes a while to feel completely comfortable.  Hopefully, the adjustment for the Dawgs will be short and easy, with no effects on the field. Continue reading

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Take a Deep Breath

Growing up in a home where sports were always on the forefront, I learned many lessons.  My dad, and brother to a lesser extent, taught me certain truths about game.  Dad passed down the thought that sports are as much mental as they are physical and a hate of zone defense.  One of the lessons he repeated the most was that you never know what is going to happen in the first game of the season.  The game is weird and often not vindictive of a team’s talent level or future record.  With this thought in mind, I would caution my fellow Dawg fans to take a deep breath instead of joining in the insanity that has ensued over Husky Nation.

Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not happy with the way the Huskies played on Saturday.  It was a pathetic display by the defense and the offensive line.  They were not the team we expected to see this season and if they hope to better last season than they will have to play better (I’ll pick apart what needs to improve after the jump).

But, over the last 2 days I’ve heard irrationality coming from the radio, blogosphere and everywhere else I could hear about the Huskies.  There have been calls for Nick Holt’s job, which is absolutely absurd.  There have been people underselling how well Eastern played, which is strange since everyone under the sun was talking about how the Huskies were in for a battle last week.  There have been players called out who shouldn’t have been.

UW Dawg Pound, which is a good Husky football blog that I follow regularly, said this on Saturday night:

Alameda Ta’amu played like a big fat pile of goo. He was dominated most of the evening by players who had no business being on the same playing field with him.”

This just simply isn’t true.  I was at the game and watch Ta’amu pretty closely.  No, he didn’t have a monster game but he was himself, clogging up the middle and getting free more than any other D-lineman.  This was with him being double-teamed the entire game.  UW Dawg Pound is a blog that I agree with in most things and a blog that I encourage Husky fans to ready, John Berkowitz is a good writer and has good insight on the Dawgs.  That’s why I picked this example, it’s the kind of blame game that’s going out all over this fan base.

So, should we be upset with the way the team played?  Sure, coach Sark sure was in his press conference today but don’t go blowing things out proportion.  A few players played poorly and the team didn’t play at full speed.  I’m sticking with my pre-season prediction and I imagine the other 3 Good Guys’ are doing the same.  Hey, we’re 1-0 and have the 6th longest winning streak in the nation!  I’m good with that.  Continue reading

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Quick Husky Observations, Through 6 weeks

Positive observations—
– Chris Polk and Jesse Callier are an excellent backfield combo. They need more touches!
– Our margin for error is very, very small. It seems like the defense needs to hold the opponent under 24 points, while the offense needs to score more than 24. One of these two typically occurs each game, but having them coincide has been a challenge.
– Locker is one heck of a leader, and doing just about everything he can out there given the hand he’s been dealt. Jake deserves more. He deserves a bowl game, a defense that can occasionally shut out an opponent, an o-line that will protect him, and receivers that will catch the ball consistently.
– We have the right coach leading the program. Recruiting, developing, charisma, and of course in-game coaching, he has it all.

Negative observations—
– Our offense is great at times, and very out of sync other times. Inconsistency is a theme on this team.
– Defense lacks big play potential, and still does not have the athletes to fair well in pass coverage and – – Fundamentals leave much to be desired: tackling, pass catching, kickoff coverage to name a few
– Our defense is like the Mariners offense; multiple contributors must play above their ability, and timely plays need to be made in big situations. Typically this doesn’t happen.
– The void at tight end is being felt. Kavario Middleton took some plays off here and there, but he commanded attention, and had big play potential.
– There is still not enough speed on this team, especially on defense.
– Desmond Trufant is not the shut down corner we saw glimpses of last year, and Quinton Richardson has a few bonehead moments every game it seems. The secondary, which many had thought might be the strength of the defense, is not performing well.
– In a year where the Pac-10 is as strong as ever, the Huskies are close to getting lost in the shuffle, which also means the pre-season bowl hopes are fading quick.

To summarize, the Huskies have 1 predictable win (Syracuse), 1 unexpected win (USC), 1 predictable loss (Nebraska), and 2 toss up game losses (BYU and Arizona State). That leaves UW at 2-3, when 3-2 is probably what we had hoped for at this point. So of course there are more negatives that positives. . Of course, a win on Saturday will change everything!

-Dan

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Mitch Levy’s Game Tweets

Mitch Levy, from Sports Radio 950 KJR…

Like it or not, having the worst kick coverage team in major college football is plain and simply a reflection of the coaching staff.

I don’t think Nick Holt has done as good a job in his first year and a quarter as everyone else does. Def should be better than it is.

Nebraska drive to make it 28-14 was the most telling. 8 consecutive running plays right up middle. No 3rd downs. Blew UW’s interior def away.

Wide Receivers not as good as I originally thought. Against NFL caliber DB’s, no separation. Didn’t help Jake out.

Think #10 did a lot more than kill his Heisman chances. I think he clearly hurt his draft stock. He’ll be dropping down ‘big boards’ monday.

What was the freshman Ducre doing on 3rd and 14?
What was Desmond Trufant doing on 3rd and 16?
What was Quentin Richardson doing on Nebraska’s 2nd play from scrimmage?
What was Nate Williams doing on 1st play of 2nd half?

I don’t think I am as pessimistic as Mitch is, but I respect his opinion because he is not a homer and usually tells things how it is. I agree with his game tweets from watching Saturday’s game, although I am not heartbroken to get pumbled by an obviously superior Nebraska team. In fact, the BYU game still stings for me more than this loss. Saturday’s loss was just 1 game out of 12, and while it sucked to lose in the 2008 fashion that we did, it at least opened our eyes to what may actually be a realistic goal from this team. I will post more on this “reality check” later!

-Dan

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Huskies Post Game: Syracuse

The Huskies got their first win of the year last night at Husky Stadium against Syracuse, 41-20. The Dawgs’ struggled early on; there wasn’t any offensive rhythm and special team’s mistakes led to an early 10-0 lead for the Orange.  But, then the Huskies found it.  They played like the team we had planned on seeing this year.  They outscored Syracuse 41-10 through the rest of the game and it wasn’t much of a contest after the first couple plays in the second half.

Jermaine Kearse had a monster day (9 receptions for 179 yards), as the offense used big plays to dominate.  The defense was solid too.  They gave up two or three big plays but the two touchdowns Syracuse scored were because of a special teams penalty and a turnover.

I’ll review this one by taking a look at each position.  I haven’t been able to find a replay anywhere yet, FSN decided to show a replay of Wyoming and Texas instead, so I won’t be as thorough as I’d like to be but these were my first impressions from being there.  Continue reading

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UW Huskies Defensive Preview

In 2009, the Husky defense was frustratingly inconsistent.  Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Donald Butler, possibly its two best players, both graduated, but there is a lot of hope the defense will be greatly improved in 2010.  This is due partly to a dominating end to last season, holding WSU and Cal to 10 points in the final two games, but it’s also based on the potential maturation of a young group.

Defensive End

Starters:

Everette Thompson:  Thompson sounds like he’s recovered from an offseason achilles injury just in time, and stands to be one of the most important pieces of the defense.  A highly touted recruit, he’s spent time at tackle as well.  He’s bigger than most Husky D ends in recent memory, which will hopefully aid in the run defense.  It’s even more vital that he contribute in replacing some of Te’o-Nesheim’s record-number sacks.

Talia Crichton:  A true sophomore, Crichton played more than anyone likely anticipated last year, with decent results.  Hard to say what to expect from him, but coaches have been impressed with his improvement this fall.  He seems to be more of a pass rusher, which this defense desperately needs.

Depth: Kalani Aldrich, De’shon Matthews, Hau’oli Jamora, Josh Shirley.  Aldrich is trying to recover from knee surgery, but has decent potential if he can get back all the way.  He’d have contended for a starting spot if not for the injury.  Matthews is a former big time recruit who’s never really made an impact.  He has one last shot and is in position for a lot of minutes as the number one back-up.  Jamora and Shirley are true freshman.  Jamora is in the two-deeps and will play.  Shirley is more heralded, but joined the team late and seems to be having a tough transition to end from high school linebacker.  He’s likely to redshirt, but if he progresses and they’re needing a speed rusher, who knows.

Analysis:  This is one of the toughest positions on the team to call.  There’s potential, to be sure, but the only one who inspires real confidence is Thompson, and he’s coming off major surgery.  This group has to get pressure on the quarterback this year.  Hopefully they’ll be aided in that by an improved interior of the line.

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