It was the rout the Huskies craved, even more decisive than Cal. But after a night of explosive and artistic plays on both sides of the ball, the same nagging question remained.
Tease, or turning point? Did they merely clean up against an outmanned opponent, or has something clicked just in time for the two titanic road games that could salvage a season to savor for the Huskies?
The answer, of course, will emerge in six days, when Washington faces UCLA in a game of utmost importance, with the degree of difficulty amped up considerably.
For now, the Huskies will revel in their 59-7 dismantling of woeful Colorado, a performance that could have rewritten their offensive record books if coach Steve Sarkisian hadn’t called off the Dawgs.
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Revel ever so briefly, because Sarkisian slammed shut the celebratory window. Normally, he allows his players 24 hours for back-patting after a victory, but with UCLA looming on Friday, every waking hour needs to spent looking forward, not back.
“We’re over it already,’’ Sarkisian said. “The preparation is already under way, and it has to be when you’re on a short week. The guys understand it. (UCLA) is a game that’s pivotal for our season, in the fourth quarter of our season. Our guys are already talking about it.”
But when the Huskies do get around to reminiscing about this one, they’ll have some moments to remember.
Jaydon Mickens diving for a catch like Franklin Gutierrez snagging a liner. Austin Seferian-Jenkins skying to bring down a jump-ball in the end zone like he was back on the basketball court. Keith Price bowling over Colorado safety Parker Orms on the way into the end zone.
“I think he probably had his proudest moment tonight when he got to run a guy over for a touchdown,’’ Sarkisian said.
For the Huskies, it was an offensive smorgasbord, racking up points, and style points, with equal vigor in the first half. And when the offense went into self-imposed hibernation in the second half, not throwing a single pass, the Husky defense joined the onslaught with two long touchdowns in the third quarter – 84 yards by Tre Watson on an interception, and 53 yards by Marcus Peters on a fumble recovery.
It was a game in which Price appeared invigorated by the bye week, throwing sharply and using his legs more effectively than he has all season. Seferian-Jenkins looked more engaged, and Bishop Sankey was, as always, a beast. It added up to two more points than Oregon scored against the Buffaloes, and virtual non-stop celebrating on the Husky sideline.
“When you see guys having success all around you, it’s easy to have fun,’’ Seferian-Jenkins said. “When everyone’s having success, it’s a party out there.”
Husky fans, however, are still waiting to party against the elite, so this victory, while better than the alternative, still comes with a group shoulder shrug.
The Huskies have shown they can annihilate the weak, which is not an accomplishment to be underestimated. But until it’s accompanied by a win over the upper-echelon teams still remaining on their schedule – having failed to do so against Stanford (an agonizing loss that’s retrospectively even more frustrating in light of the week’s events), Oregon and Arizona State – it’s nothing more than a flashy trifle.
UCLA, a top 10 team until running into the Stanford-Oregon buzz saw, will provide a legitimate test of the Huskies’ progress – much more than the sieve-like Colorado defense.
“From day one on Monday, we were in the film room looking at these guys,’’ Mickens said. “We saw the holes, we knew what we had to do to get open, and tonight we just executed the things we were told all week.”
And with the first-unit defense essentially playing three quarters, on the heels of a week off, the Huskies should be at full strength for the Bruins.
“We get our bodies back,’’ said Peters. “It’s going to be a physical battle on Friday. We need to execute as a defense and a team.”
Sarkisian believes that the elements on display Saturday will translate to Pasadena, including the multi-dimensional performance from Price, who ran for two touchdowns in addition to passing for two.
“When he’s doing that, and he’s throwing the ball accurately, and we’re running it with Bishop — when we have all that going, we’re pretty good,’’ Sarkisian said.
Good enough to crush Colorado. Now let’s see if the Huskies can take that act on the road.
|UW career rushing leaders|
|Bishop Sankey moved past Greg Lewis into fourth place on Washington’s career rushing list Saturday.|
|1. Napoleon Kaufman||1991-94||4,106|
|2. Chris Polk||2008-11||4,049|
|3. Joe Steele||1976-79||3,168|
|4. Bishop Sankey||2011-present||2,931|
|5. Greg Lewis||1987-90||2,903|
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry