No excuses by Huskies' defense for bad play last season

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comSeptember 25, 2013 

SEATTLE — Stoic and a bit self-amused at his purposely standardized answers, Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox made it simple.

“We just didn’t play well,” Wilcox said.

He was talking about the 52 points the Huskies allowed to Arizona last season in Tucson, four fewer than South Carolina State gave up to the Wildcats.

Arizona was one of two schools to drop 52 points on the Huskies’ much-improved defense last year. The other was Oregon, which led the nation in points scored.

“We didn’t cover well, we didn’t tackle well, we missed run fits,” Wilcox said. “We missed some match-ups in the pass game. It was just overall a really poor effort on our part.”

That predictably sunny day in Arizona was one filled with gloom for Washington. The loss left the Huskies at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Pacific-12 Conference play.

The most damning result of the loss was not numeric, however. While getting blasted in the desert, the Huskies’ effort fell off. They hung their heads. It was their third consecutive loss and the season’s low point.

“It was really the one time we didn’t seem as competitive as we usually were,” Wilcox said. “We had a good week of practice. Usually you kind of feel those things during the week, but we didn’t. We practiced well and practiced hard. We just didn’t execute well.

“Everybody’s got to do a better job.”

That defeat was part of the inspiration for Washington moving to a no-huddle offense this season. The Huskies had allowed 104 points to the up-tempo offenses of Oregon and Arizona in a span of three weeks. They weren’t well-prepared to handle them and it showed.

“We fell apart,” Huskies linebacker John Timu said.

Timu, at least, will return this Saturday to try to hold things together after a 4 p.m. kickoff with Arizona. Timu missed the second half of the game against Illinois and all of this past week because of a bruised rotator cuff.

He said the injury happened sometime in the first quarter against Illinois, but he’s not sure exactly when.

His right shoulder began to go numb. Eventually, he couldn’t lift his arm over his head.

Timu said Tuesday that if last week’s game against Idaho State had been a title game, he might have been able to play.

“Maybe,” Timu said. “Would I have been productive? Probably not.”

The Huskies vow two things are different now for this meeting with Arizona: leadership and their familiarity with up-tempo offenses.

Daily practice against the same style they say has helped. Growing up a bit has been beneficial, too.

“Last year was lack of leadership,” Timu, a junior, said. “It was hard to get those guys going after we were down by so much. It was hard for guys being so young, who were called on to be leaders, to uplift those guys.

“It’s a whole different story now. We’re more experienced and we’re not going to allow that to happen.”

His fellow captain Sean Parker echoed Timu’s thoughts.

“Last year, we were more working on being together as a team,” Parker said. “We still had some character issues to deal with, including myself. The thing about this year, we came together.”

The Wildcats will try to pull them back apart on Saturday.

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

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