October 26, 2008

Husky offense looks hapless in loss

Just when you think it can't get any worse for Washington, the Huskies give a performance that even the most cynical fans couldn't have foreseen, managing only 124 yards of total offense, with 69 of those yards coming on Washington's last drive of the game, in a 33-7 drubbing. The Huskies (0-7) have now lost nine games in a row dating back to last season.

"Looking back at this game, it was a game that we seemed to be able to do very few things right. Obviously our offensive productivity was not very good, but at the same time I thought our defense did some things for portions of the game to kind of give us a chance. We just couldn't mount enough of an offensive standpoint to make it a game," said Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham. "Up until the last five minutes, we only had about four first downs and not very effective throwing or running. There was nothing that we did well tonight. But the good news, is that our guys still picked it up and still found a way on the last drive to do something positive."

Notre Dame opened the onslaught on it's third play of the game, when Jimmy Clausen connected with Michael Floyd on a screen pass, which Floyd turned into a 51-yard scamper. The touchdown was Floyd's fifth of the season, which set a new Notre Dame freshman record for touchdown receptions. Floyd finished the game with four receptions for 107 yards. Clausen finished the contest with 14-of-26 passing for 201 yards and one interception.

After holding Washington to a three-and-out on it's ensuing possession, Notre Dame marched 70 yards down field on seven plays to go up 14-0. The drive was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown run by Golden Tate. The Irish failed to score on their next drive, but added three points on the following drive, when Brandon Walker booted a 28-yard field goal to push the Notre Dame lead to 17-0, where it would stay for the remainder of the first half.

The Huskies ran 26 first-half plays, amassing a meager 38 yards of total offense in the process. Washington only managed 55-yards of offense up until the 6:13 mark in the fourth quarter, where the Huskies took possession for their last drive of the game, and managed to string together a 10-play, 69-yard drive. Washington's last drive of the game also marked the first and only time the Huskies crossed the 50-yard line.

"It's not that they didn't try or anything. We got beat physically at times up front and there were other times where we dropped balls that took us out of drives and field position. We just didn't execute very well - that comes down on me and comes down to making plays," explained Washington Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano. "It was disappointing, because I thought we were growing a little bit in the passing game. We did a nice job last week in the passing game and I thought we were ready to take the next step."

Notre Dame opened up the second half with five-play, 61-yard drive, which was capped off by a five-yard James Aldridge touchdown run. Aldridge finished the game with 13 rushes for 84 yards and two touchdowns - all season highs. The Irish's next score came with just over four and a half minutes left in the third quarter, when Walker converted another field goal, this time from 42-yards out. The drive was a highlighted by a 35-yard Harrison Smith run out of a punt formation on fourth-and-thirteen. Smith also accounted for two sacks on the night.

"I'm not surprised, because every time you send your team on, you tell them to be ready for the fake, to be looking for it," said Willingham. "But we didn't. We went with our double-look outside to try to get a return, but we didn't get it taken care of."

Notre Dame scored it's fourth touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter when Aldridge found the endzone on a three-yard run. The play capped off a 10-play, 60-yard drive. The score stayed at 33-0 after the Irish failed to convert the extra point attempt.

The Huskies lone score came with just under three minutes in the game, when Ronnie Fouch connected with D'Andre Goodwin on a six-yard pass. Fouch had a rough night to say the least, going 1-for-9 for five yards in the first half. Fouch rebounded in the second half, and finished 11-of-25 for 98 yards and no interceptions.

"It was a tough game. We knew coming in they were going to blitz 50 percent of the time. They executed well and got to me on multiple pass plays and hit me when they could. We couldn't capitalize and get the ball in the holes when they blitzed," explained Fouch. "They did a good job of figuring out our slide protection, trying to disguise and go the opposite way of our slide."

Fouch's stats would have been better, had it not been for numerous drops by the Husky receivers.

"These guys make a lot of great catches, so I can't get on them, it's a part of the game. They can't catch every pass - I can't make every throw," expressed Fouch. "I'm not the kind of guy that gets on my receivers when they drop balls, because I miss just as many throws as they drop balls."

Despite giving up 459 yards of total offense, the Husky defense looked better than it has in recent weeks. After all, there's not much you can do when you're on the field for almost two-thirds of the game.

"Defensively, if we do things right and do our part, we could have been in that game. There's defensive days when you step up, do some business and give them some turnovers." said Washington Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell. "You take away the first-quarter jolt, and I thought we settled down and our guys fought pretty good."

Despite the current situation, Terrance Dailey believes the Huskies will give it all they've got for the remainder of the season.

"Do you want to win the next five games or do you want to lose the next five games? I'm sure if you ask anybody on the team, they'll say they want to win the next five games. I'm sure we're playing for pride, but we're playing to win because we know we're a better team than we show on the field," expressed Dailey. "It gets hard, but we still want to win some games, so everybody is working as hard as they possibly can. I think we're a good team, and if we keep working, we've got to get a win somewhere."

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