Wilcox not wowed by UW’s win

Defensive coordinator says effort was good in beating Boise State, but he was irked by 17 missed tackles

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comSeptember 4, 2013 

SEATTLE — No reason to look up the numbers for Ride the Duck reservations or a party planner. Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox isn’t feeling festive.

Despite Boise State not scoring a touchdown on 88 plays in the Huskies’ 38-6 beatdown of the Broncos on Saturday night, Wilcox was a bit perturbed Tuesday.

Chatting about the Huskies’ performance, Wilcox said the effort was good. He said the players played fast but with quiet minds, not swallowed by the circumstances around them.

Then, he echoed UW coach Steve Sarkisian when he began grumbling about the tackling. Asked if there was a rash of missed tackles, Wilcox zipped to the answer.

“Seventeen,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said 17 times the Huskies had a chance to make a tackle they did not complete. He explained that, at times, that’s an ability issue. The other team has good players and good schemes and is bound to find some success.

However ...

“When we have opportunities, we’re not going to let guys slide because (opposing teams) have good players,” said Wilcox, who was Boise State’s defensive coordinator from 2006-09. “We’re going to play good players all season.”

Summer and fall were spent conditioning the defense in preparation for the oxygen-sucking to come from a new

up-tempo offense. Players said Tuesday their conditioning was so good, that they felt fine at the end of the game. Each said practice is more taxing from a cardiovascular standpoint, which was precisely the coaching staff’s goal.

The flip side of that is Washington spent little time on tackling. It tried to “stay off the ground” as the coaches phrase it, in order to preserve health throughout fall camp. The Huskies had just two full scrimmages.

That, too, worked. Sarkisian said Monday the team was the healthiest he’s had after an opener since he has been at Washington.

However, those changes apparently cost them in tackling. The Huskies will go back to practicing tackling basics.

“We need to emphasize it more,” Wilcox said. “That’s 100 percent my fault. We need to improve upon it. If we don’t, that’s where yards after contact show up. You can’t have that.”

Wilcox also said the Huskies was misaligned a couple times, but Boise State was not able to punish them for the errors.

“You can’t let something go on the film just because it wasn’t exploited,” Wilcox said. “Sometimes, we might have a misalignment or bust that didn’t show up negatively in the play, but you don’t just go through the film and say, ‘Oh, it’s OK, they didn’t exploit it.’ Because the next time that happens, it’s a touchdown.

“Those are the things we’ve got to be extremely detailed on.”

Here’s one other number for Wilcox: 16. That’s how many years it had been since Boise State was held without a touchdown, the way it ended Saturday night.

HUSKIES FEELING RANK

Washington vaulted into both national polls Tuesday. The Huskies are ranked 20th in The Associated Press poll and 23rd in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

The last time Washington was ranked was Week 5 of last season when the Huskies were ranked 23rd on their way to Autzen Stadium. Oregon’s 52-21 win kicked Washington out of the top 25 for the rest of the season.

This is the highest Washington has been ranked under Sarkisian. Three times prior, the Huskies have been ranked: they were 24th Week 4 of 2009; 22nd Week 7 of 2011; 23rd Week 5 of 2012. Each week, they were blown out in the next game (played at Stanford twice and at Oregon the other time) and were not ranked for the rest of the season.

The last time Washington was ranked for consecutive weeks was 2003.

“(Rankings are) the perception of your team,” Sarkisian said. “It’s nice and obviously flattering that people think we’re a pretty good football team.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do still, as we all well know.”

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas

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