Yeah, the Huskies lost — and often looked lost — against BYU in the 2010 opener Saturday (Sept. 4), but let’s put it into perspective.
Here’s the perspective many will cite: Conference and Northwest rival Oregon beat the betting spread by 37 points against New Mexico, winning 72-0 — this without a pair of marquee players from last year’s team.
The University of Washington, on the other hand, boasted supposed Heisman Trophy candidate Jake Locker at quarterback. It should have been the edge needed to seize upon second-half scoring opportunities. It wasn’t, and the result was a frustrating 23-17 loss and an 0-1 record going into the home opener with Syracuse next week.
Betting spreads are somewhat meaningless in retrospect. The Huskies were two-point under-dawgs going into the sunny rumble in hyper-partisan Provo. But they led by four at halftime after two quarters of miscues by both teams, especially the hosts. The Cougars freely substituted quarterbacks, a dubious approach that should have given the Dawgs a distinct advantage.
During the third quarter BYU put up 10 more, and the fourth quarter was scoreless, though not without drama. The Huskies, which is to say Locker, had chances to settle the score and seize the lead, but a combination of third-down stalls and special-teams bungles was enough to allow a green BYU team to steal one.
“We’ve got 12 games to go,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said, possibly accurately, during his post-game stint with reporters.
A dozen would mean the addition of a post-season bowl game. For that to happen, Sark, the former star BYU QB, conceded that the team needs to improve in the three key phases of the game: special teams, defense and, as dismayed fans would hasten to say, offense. Locker et al had nine chances on third- and fourth-down situations during the second-half shutout and completed on just one of them.
Play selection was suspect just about every time the Huskies had the ball. Even when Locker had open receivers he often sailed or drilled uncatchable balls. On occasions when, during his prior three years, he might’ve ad-libbed with scrambles, this time he typically stayed in the pocket and threw for incompletions. The best example fans had of the Locker they remembered was his nine-yard touchdown romp during the second quarter.
Locker averaged just 2.6 yards running, with 29 on 11 carries. He threw for 266 yards, most of them courtesy of Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, each with five grabs. Chris Polk, a stalwart last year, started his sophomore campaign with 92 rushing yards, many of them after contact.
A win would’ve given the Dawgs their first road triumph since Nov. 3, 2007. Maybe that “away” victory will finally come Nov. 6 of this year. It would mean beating Oregon in Eugene. Bets, anybody?
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