Senior makes sure with three sacks in Washington's victory over California.
It was somewhat fitting that Daniel Te’o-Nesheim couldn’t be tracked down afterward to talk about plowing his way into the Washington football record book.
The California Bears never knew where he was on the field Saturday, either.
“Obviously, he was hard to block tonight,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian after Te’o-Nesheim had three sacks in Washington’s 42-10 win over the Bears at Husky Stadium.
As he often was throughout his career. The trifecta Saturday gave him 30 for his career, setting a Huskies record.
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The record-breaker was his second sack of the game, with just less than three minutes to go in the third quarter as Te’o-Nesheim sacked Cal’s Kevin Riley for an eight-yard loss. Te’o-Nesheim raced through the middle of the line on a stunt and had an open shot at Riley.
The caveat is that the school has kept track of sacks since only 1982. Still, that period encompasses some of the headiest times in the history of UW football. Defensive end Ron Holmes, who played from 1981 through 1984, held the record of 28.
Sarkisian said there’s no player more worthy of having such a record than Te’o-Nesheim.
“If anyone on our football team or anyone in this conference deserves a record, it’s Daniel Te’o-Nesheim,” Sarkisian said. “There’s not a guy who practices harder.”
Te’o-Nesheim got his first sack when he hit Riley from behind, forcing a fumble, midway through the second quarter.
Huskies get tricky
Sarkisian said he wanted to start the game with a bang, hoping to call a receiver pass play for Cody Bruns on the first snap.
Instead, with UW starting at the 25-yard line, he waited a play.
But on second-and-eight, Sarkisian made the call and Bruns, who briefly played quarterback at Prosser High, where he was a record-setting receiver, threw a 38-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse.
“We’ve never been hesitant in anything we’ve done,” Sarkisian said. “We’ve been aggressive in everything we’ve done and will continue to be.”
Bruns completed two passes on similar plays last season and said the play had been practiced often this year. In fact, it had been called two other times but then changed on the field when the defense gave a look the Huskies hadn’t expected.
“That was a good way to start,” said Bruns. “It gave our team a lot of momentum and it just kind of carried through the game.”
Big game for Kearse
The Bruns pass also jump-started the day for Kearse, who set a career high with 147 receiving yards, 135 coming in the first quarter on five catches.
On the play after the catch from Bruns, he caught a 40-yard pass on a play-action from Locker for UW’s first score.
“We liked the matchup with him and he came through again,” Sarkisian said. “He set the tone tonight. The guy made two great catches to start the thing off and get things rolling.”
Kearse said on the TD the Huskies had noticed that the Cal safeties “liked to bite hard on the fake. So we just threw a run fake in there and sent me down the middle.”
The Huskies had five sacks, tying a season-high set last week against WSU.
Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt said the Huskies didn’t necessarily blitz a lot more than they had earlier in the season, they have just gotten better at the scheme.
“Our kids are playing with confidence because they really know what they are doing and they are flying around and not thinking, just playing,” Holt said. “That’s what’s happened the past month. We haven’t really changed the scheme much.”
Cal coach Jeff Tedford, however, said the Huskies “brought a lot of pressure. They were blitzing from everywhere, and we didn’t block very well. It was one of those deals where one guy would get beat, and that seemed to be the issue quite a bit. Their game plan was just coming after us and playing hard.”
UW honors seniors
Washington honored its 15-player senior class before the game, each getting the usual senior salute walking out of the tunnel.
The seniors who aren’t team captains were named game captains and walked to midfield for the coin toss.
The 15 honored were linebacker Donald Butler, walk-on punter Paul Dickey, linebacker Josh Gage, fullback Paul Homer, walk-on safety Tripper Johnson, defensive end Darrion Jones, long snapper Danny Morovick, offensive lineman Ben Ossai, linebacker T.J. Poe, guard Morgan Rosborough, linebacker E.J. Savannah, offensive lineman Nick Scott, Te’o-Nesheim, linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo and safety Jason Wells.
“I’m so happy for this senior class,” Sarkisian said. “To think of what these guys have endured the last four or five years, to have these moments, to have last Saturday and this Saturday, to have a win against USC, those are memories that will last a lifetime.”
With the season over, the coaches will hit the road recruiting almost immediately. Sarkisian said last week that he’ll recruit in-state Monday and Tuesday, returning home for the team banquet Wednesday, and then hit Oregon on Thursday and Friday. Then it’s off to Southern California the following week. The Huskies will have the maximum seven coaches on the road throughout, he said.
Washington has 23 commitments for its Class of 2010, but along with filling out that class the coaches will use the time to begin laying the groundwork for future classes.
As for the players, Sarkisian said the team will essentially be off the rest of the month following a team meeting on Monday. Sarkisian said voluntary lifting will be available but the official offseason conditioning program won’t begin until after finals and winter break on Jan. 4.
• Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara, bothered by a sore shoulder in practice this week, did not suit up. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Alameda Ta’amu.
• For the second straight week, the Huskies wore a uniform combination of purple jerseys and white pants instead of the usual gold at home.
• Redshirt freshman Mykenna Ikehara got the start at center in place of injured Ryan Tolar, who sat out with a head injury suffered last week against Washington State.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.