When Husky offense lags, the defense steps up
With the UW offense shut out in the second half, the Huskies’ veteran defense prevented this from being a lost trip.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Even after the Huskies’ surprisingly difficult season-opening victory, it wasn’t difficult for Kasen Williams to be optimistic.
The senior receiver has been through a few tight games in his Husky career, not unlike the Huskies’ 17-16 victory at Hawaii late Saturday. With the UW offense shut out in the second half, the Huskies’ veteran defense prevented this from being a lost trip.
“Man, as soon we get our offense right,” Williams said, “I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of teams that can beat us with the way our defense is playing.”
How the offense will get “right” is left, for now, to the imagination. Sophomore Jeff Lindquist was sharp in the first half Saturday, throwing the first touchdown pass of his career to John Ross on a 91-yard strike in the second quarter.
Lindquist was ineffective after that — as was the offense overall — and he finished 10 of 26 for 162 yards. Playing without senior right tackle Ben Riva (knee), the run game was mostly nonexistent until the game’s final drive, too.
The Huskies tinkered with different offensive wrinkles. but nothing worked on the first nine drives of the second half, all of which ended with a punt. Five of those were three-and-out drives.
The on-field temperature at kickoff topped 90 degrees at Aloha Stadium, and UW’s defense was on the field for 34 minutes, 11 seconds. Hawaii ran 54 plays in the first half and 43 in the second half.
Hawaii’s 97 offensive plays are tied for the most by a UW opponent in the past 30 seasons.
UW’s defense allowed 137 yards and 10 points in Hawaii’s first two drives. After that, UW senior nose tackle Danny Shelton said, “We called each other out — be true to each other (and come) together as a unified team. We finally stepped it up.”
Shelton had one of the most dominant games of his career, posting a team-high 12 tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss.
The biggest question entering UW’s home opener Saturday against Eastern Washington is who will start at quarterback. Sophomore Cyler Miles is eligible to play after a one-game suspension.
“We’re going to do this thing the right way,” Petersen said after his UW debut. “We’re going to look at this with a fine-tooth comb and figure out what the best thing is. … We’ll figure it out early next week and go from there.”