Washington's only chance of beating Oklahoma Saturday was to play a perfect game. Instead, the Huskies turned in an effort as messy as a frat house during finals week and the inevitable rout quickly ensued as the third-ranked Sooners easily handled the out-manned Huskies, taking a 55-14 win in front of 67,716. Any illusion that...
The Washington Huskies found out what they are not Saturday night.
“I think that’s going to be a rare team,” said Washington defensive coordinator Ed Donatell of the third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners after they blasted Washington 55-14 at Husky Stadium. “A team deserving of its rating.”
The Huskies, meanwhile, proved quickly they aren’t on the same level. A sloppy first half cost UW any chance of making it a game as Oklahoma grabbed a 34-0 halftime lead.
The question now is defining what the Huskies are — a team that folds its tent after an 0-3 start that has Tyrone Willingham riding the hottest of seats, or one that proves that its coaches are right when they say good times are on the horizon.
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“I think our football team is going to be all right, and I think you will be able to see it before the year is over,” Willingham said, noting the team’s rugged schedule in which it has played three teams in the top 20.
“I do believe that this football team has faced one of the most difficult stretches that any team has had so far this season,” he said. “I do think we are a better football team and now we have to build on it and show it when we get this next portion of our season started.”
They’ll be glad to see this portion go. The Sooners dominated in every possible way.
The margin of victory was the widest against UW since a 54-7 defeat at California in 2003, making it the worst defeat of the Willingham era.
The Sooners gained 591 yards and had 48 points with more than 18 minutes remaining before sending in the reserves.
“That’s probably the best team I’ve played against since I’ve been here,” said Washington’s sophomore quarterback Jake Locker.
The Sooners set the tone from the start, holding Washington three-and-out, then driving 51 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 before four minutes were gone.
The game got away from the Huskies for good with some sloppy play late in the first quarter and into the second. Washington lost three fumbles in the first half, once after driving into Oklahoma territory, and also missed two field goals.
“Against a team like that you can’t do that and expect to win,” Locker said.
Locker was guilty on the first miscue, fumbling away the ball after a 17-yard run to the UW 45-yard line. Oklahoma scored two plays later to take a 13-0 lead and much of the air out of the Huskies.
Washington’s next possession ended in a missed field goal after a 38-yard kickoff return gave them good field position, and the Sooners then drove for another TD to make it 20-0.
A facemask penalty helped put Washington into Oklahoma territory on its next drive, and Locker then hit D’Andre Goodwin over the middle for a 19-yard gain. But Goodwin was stripped of the ball and Oklahoma recovered, again quickly driving for a TD that made it 27-0.
The collapse became complete on UW’s next play when a low snap from center Juan Garcia — a problem all day — led to another fumble officially credited to the team. The Sooners recovered at the 24 and drove quickly for another score that made it 34-0.
“We became our own worst enemy, and you can’t do that,” Willingham said.
Still, it was more than turnovers that cost UW in the first half. Oklahoma gained 330 yards in the first half to 164 for the Huskies. They ran at will, averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
“I wish we could have simply tackled better,” said Donatell, in his first year as UW’s defensive coordinator.
The half ended somewhat fittingly as UW drove to the Oklahoma 11, and with two seconds left, elected for a field goal, which Ryan Perkins missed from 28 yards.
Boos rang out as the Huskies left the field at halftime. “I didn’t give them anything to get excited about,” Willingham acknowledged.
The second half started no better. Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles took a short pass and turned it into a 77-yard touchdown on the third play to put the Sooners ahead 41-0.
“It was a real test out there, but we’ve still got to do better,” said UW linebacker Mason Foster. “We made little mistakes here and there — out of our gaps or missing tackles — and that turned into huge gains.”
It tied the most points allowed by UW since a 56-17 home loss to California in the second game of the Willingham tenure.
With games against the likes of USC, Notre Dame, Arizona State and at Cal still remaining, the road back to respectability seems as long as it did then. Coaches and players insisted, however, that there is still hope for a turnaround this season.
“That was a tough three-game stretch for us,” Locker said.
“We’ve got to figure out where we want this season to go. There’s only two ways it can go, and I think the leadership on the team will step up and show these young guys which way we are going to go.
“For me, there is only one choice, and I think for a lot of other guys there is only one choice.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Points allowed in the first half|
|Points allowed in a game|