Huskies lose season opener at BYU
The high expectations for the Washington football team shrunk drastically as the Huskies fell short to Brigham Young, falling victim to numerous self-inflicted errors in a 23-17 loss.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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PROVO, Utah — Maybe if Brigham Young defensive end Eathyn Manumaleuna hadn't gotten get his hand on Jake Locker's fourth-down pass, the story line would have read the way the Huskies expected. That 2010 would begin a new era of Washington football.
But when Manumaleuna swatted the ball incomplete, it felt a little too much like so many other games the last seven years as BYU held on for a 23-17 nonconference college football victory.
"We felt like we had it," said tailback Chris Polk. "We just shot ourselves in the foot."
Numerous times, actually.
The Washington defense messed up a blitz that resulted in a 48-yard touchdown for BYU in the third quarter that gave the Cougars the winning points.
The offense struggled to get key yards when it needed them, converting just 1 of 7 third-down attempts in the second half, and failing on two fourth-down tries in the fourth quarter.
And the special teams were an adventure much of the night, with a bad snap resulting in a BYU safety, and two misplays of kickoffs giving the Huskies bad field position.
"I thought in a lot of areas we were sloppy, especially on special teams," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
The result was a game that dampens a lot of the optimism surrounding the program. Yet Sarkisian cautioned throughout his postgame comments that it was just one game in a tough road venue, where BYU is 23-2 in its last 25 home games.
"I don't think anybody thought we were going to come in here and just get after them," Sarkisian said. "We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and come down to the fourth quarter and the last possessions, like it did. And they made the plays and we didn't."
All the hype seemed justified when Jake Locker led the Huskies swiftly down the field on Washington's first possession, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse.
Washington scored 10 in a row to end the second quarter — a 9-yard Locker run and a 54-yard field goal by Erik Folk. The Huskies led 17-13 at halftime.
But the Huskies didn't score again, backed up in their own end all night long. BYU rallied behind the quarterback tandem of Riley Nelson and Skyline High School of Sammamish graduate Jake Heaps to score the next 13 points.
BYU scored the first two times it had the ball in the second half, the last time on a 48-yard pass from Nelson to running back Joshua Quezada on a third-and-10 play.
"When you blitz, there is a trade-off," said defensive coordinator Nick Holt. "We were blitzing and they hit the right guy on the wrong blitz."
Washington drove into BYU territory on all three of its fourth-quarter drives but didn't score. On the first, Sarkisian decided to go for it on fourth-and-two at the 23 with 12:24 left instead of kicking a field goal. It didn't work. Locker was stretched out running and threw incomplete in the end zone to Kearse.
Sarkisian said he went for it because UW had battled poor field position all half.
"I felt like 'Man, I don't know how many opportunities we are going to get.' " he said. "Hindsight is 20-20."
When UW got to BYU's 27 with 1:55 left, there was no choice but to go for it. BYU blitzed, tight end Chris Izbicki broke into the opening, and Locker spotted him and threw.
Lamented Locker: "You don't usually worry about the defensive tackles."
Said Izbicki: "I was actually open. I probably would have been able to get the first down. It's unfortunate it got batted down, but that's the way football goes."
Washington, though, had hoped this would be the day that would begin the football program's return to national prominence.
Instead, the Huskies were left with the same old questions.
"I don't know, we just weren't ourselves most of the time tonight," Polk said. "But it will get fixed. This is just the first game."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Unraveling on the road|
|Washington lost its 13th consecutive game on the road since winning at Stanford on Nov. 3, 2007:|
|Nov. 9||At Oregon State||29-23|
|Dec. 1||At Hawaii||35-28|
|Aug. 30||At Oregon||44-10|
|Oct. 4||At Arizona||48-14|
|Nov. 1||At USC||56-0|
|Nov. 22||At WSU||16-13**|
|Dec. 6||At Cal||48-7|
|Sept. 26||At Stanford||34-14|
|Oct. 3||At Notre Dame||37-30*|
|Oct. 17||At Arizona St.||24-17|
|Nov. 7||At UCLA||24-23|
|Nov. 14||At Oregon St.||48-21|
|Sept. 4||At BYU||23-17|