SEATTLE - Lost in the euphoria of the Washington Huskies' memorable 32-31 come-from-behind victory at then-No. 18 Southern California was the rash of tackling mistakes by the defense.
Behind Allen Bradford’s career-high 223 yards, USC totaled 298 on the ground and four rushing touchdowns.
“(The Trojans) are good up front, and they know how to run the ball,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We weren’t good on the edges again, and when you aren’t very good on the edges against a team that’s running a lot of outside zone, you’re in trouble.”
Two weeks prior, Nebraska rolled up 383 rushing yards and six scores.
“It obviously isn’t where we’d like it to be,” linebacker Cort Dennison said.
Some key missed tackles:
• In the first quarter, Demond Trufant came after USC quarterback Matt Barkley on a cornerback blitz, but missed him entirely. Barkley found Ronald Johnson for an 8-yard completion.
A play later, Trufant had a chance to halt Bradford at the line of scrimmage, but again missed – and Bradford had a 9-yard run. And on the next play, Bradford ran over linebacker Mason Foster for an 8-yard gain.
• In the second quarter, safety Nate Fellner came up on Johnson after a reception, led with his shoulder and came up empty. Johnson had a 16-yard catch.
“It’s definitely a pet peeve for the coaches,” Fellner said. “They teach us, ‘Bring your feet, don’t just dive.’
“There are times when you can take shots like that, and times you can’t. You’ve got to be smart about it.”
• Twice on back-to-back plays on USC’s opening drive of the second half, the Huskies had a chance at tackles for loss.
Linebacker Victor Aiyewa had Bradford dead in his tracks, but was juked by the USC running back, and failed to lay a hand on him. On the next play, again defensive coordinator Nick Holt dialed up a cornerback blitz, this time by Quinton Richardson – except Richardson led with his head and shoulder, left his feet and flew by Barkley.
“It’s definitely part of football, missing your tackles and making tackles,” Foster said. “They had great athletes, so it was definitely tough (to tackle them). Sometimes you’ve got to go for the big hit; sometimes you don’t.”
See, Sarkisian has a light-hearted side to him. When asked if he had jokes rehearsed for the pressure-packed moments of a game – like right before Erik Folk kicked the game-winning 32-yard field goal Saturday, Sarkisian responded, “It’s whatever comes to you, whatever you feel like talking about at that time. I don’t Google a good joke to have ready for my kicker for when he’s about to kick, you know?” Receiver Kevin Smith, one of the UW’s primary kickoff returners, fractured his thumb against USC, and will miss up to two weeks. Jesse Callier and possibly Taz Stevenson will likely replace him on kickoff returns. Defensive end Cameron Elisara (shoulder stinger), who was removed after the first series Saturday, should be fine to go this week, Sarkisian said. Quarterback Jake Locker has not felt any aftereffects from the blow he took to the head in the fourth quarter Saturday. He practiced Monday. The team welcomed a second walk-on punter – Lake Stevens’ product Evan Steinruck, who was immediately thrust into punt-rushing drills Monday. His punts were blocked five times. Sarkisian, who is from Torrance, Calif., estimated 60 family members and close friends came to the game Saturday. Kickoff for the Oct. 16 home game against Oregon State has been set for 7:15 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports
HUSKIES' OPPONENT THIS WEEK
ARIZONA STATE (2-3 OVERALL, 0-2 PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE)
7:15 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium
Radio: 950-AM. Television: FSN.
Coach: Dennis Erickson, fourth season (21-21 record).
Last week: The Sun Devils lost at Oregon State, 31-28. The UW beat then-No. 18 Southern California, 32-31, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Against the Sun Devils: UW leads, 15-14. The Sun Devils have won the past six games, including a 24-17 verdict in Tempe, Ariz., a season ago. The six-game skid ties Oregon for the Huskies’ longest active losing streak to a conference opponent.
Washington connections: Erickson graduated from Everett High School in 1965, and is the former Washington State and Seattle Seahawks coach. ASU assistants with WSU ties include defensive coordinator Craig Bray, receivers coach Steve Broussard, defensive backs coach Greg Burns and offensive line coach Gregg Smith. Tight ends coach Jamie Christian is a Central Washington graduate, and linebackers coach Trent Bray played football for Pullman High School.
Scouting report: For much of the 2009 season, and into training camp in August, this was an offense that appeared stuck in neutral with very few answers to go on. Once the season got going, so did the offense. Quarterback Steven Threet, a first-year starter, is streaky, but has big-play potential. And once true freshman Deantre Lewis showed what he could do, he instantly became the go-to rusher – becoming the first Sun Devil to rush for 100 yards or more in three consecutive games since 2003. Volatile linebacker Vontaze Burfict leads the team with 42 tackles this season.
Did you know? Threet, a redshirt junior, originally enrolled at Georgia Tech but transferred to Michigan, where he started eight games as a freshman in 2008. Then he transferred to ASU.