Huskies irked after allowing long conversions
Maybe the most deceptive stat from the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Saturday was Boise State's third-down conversion percentage — 7 of...
Seattle Times staff reporter
LAS VEGAS — Maybe the most deceptive stat from the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Saturday was Boise State's third-down conversion percentage — 7 of 19.
For a while, the Broncos seemed to convert every one, especially during a few drives in the first half that gave Boise State an early cushion in its eventual 28-26 win over Washington.
Boise State converted a third-and-eight on one touchdown drive in the first quarter and a third-and-14 on another touchdown drive in the second quarter. The Broncos scored a touchdown on its first drive of the second half despite facing third-and-eight, third-and-10 and third-and-18.
"It was frustrating," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. "A couple passes, a quarterback scramble, those are tough ones to swallow because that type of team, when you win on first and second down, you think you are doing pretty good against that type of offense. They hit some big plays on third down and got some one-on-one matchups that they converted on. It starts with the pass rush and containing the quarterback, and it can get hard to cover that long. But when a quarterback scrambles, I'd like to think we will tackle him more times than not; unfortunately today, we weren't great at it."
Indeed, Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick was able time and again to evade the rush — he was sacked just once — one time scrambling for 17 yards on a third-and-18 and then picking up the first down on the next play.
UW safety Sean Parker said the Huskies "knew he was mobile going in. It just goes back to us and just relying on our technique and containing him."
Parker said UW could have done more to prevent third-down conversions.
"Just lack of communication," he said. "Just assignment issues. That's all it is. Little things, things we harp on all the time. If you want to be good, you've got to be consistent.
"If we did everything right, things would have worked out in our favor."
Huskies lament kickoff return
Boise State's winning field goal was set up by a 47-yard kickoff return by receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes, who took the kick at the 11 and returned it to the UW 42.
Kickoff coverage was a problem for UW at times during the season as the Huskies came in to the game ranked 76th in the country in that category.
Sarkisian, though, said the Huskies had covered kicks well until the final one.
"I think the ball (kicked by Travis Coons) may have gotten hung up in the wind a little bit," Sarkisian said. "It was a bit of a crosswind coming into the stadium and might have gotten caught up a bit. We didn't do anything different than the coverages we had been using in the game, which had been effective for us."
Boise State coach Chris Petersen said Williams-Rhodes didn't run the return as planned.
"The return was designed to go to the other side (he ran to his right)," Petersen said.
A reporter for the Sacramento Bee Tweeted on Friday that UW reserve safety James Sample — a native of Sacramento — is expected to transfer after the season. Sample has been with the team and practicing, though he did not play Saturday.
He was one of UW's marquee signees for its Class of 2011 and played in his first game as a true freshman before being injured and eventually receiving a redshirt year. He has battled shoulder injuries throughout his UW career and he played sparingly this season, appearing in three games.
Boise State plays without top DE
Boise State announced before the game that it had suspended sophomore defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, the team's best pass rusher. He was one of two players suspended — the other was long snapper Chris Roberson — for a violation of team rules.
Lawrence, who led the team with 9 ½ sacks and was an All-Mountain West pick, was sent home Thursday, according to the Idaho Statesman. He was replaced by sophomore Tyler Horn.
• UW tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins set another record, catching six passes for 61 yards, giving him 850 for the season, breaking UW's school record for receiving yards in a season for a tight end.
Dave Williams had held the mark with 795 in 1965.