SEATTLE - Want to see ugly? Watch the tape of Washington's 34-14 loss to Stanford in Palo Alo, Calif., last season
The Huskies came into the game ranked No. 24, fresh off of an upset of then-No. 3 USC. Huskies nation had gone from dreaming about bowls to making travel plans. Players and coaches were upbeat and positive; the program seemed to have turned a corner.
Maybe the score doesn’t indicate how dominant Stanford was.
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But the statistics don’t lie.
Stanford rushed for 321 yards, with Heisman contender Toby Gerhart rushing for 200 yards.
And it was how those yards were accumulated that was most telling.
The Cardinal did nothing fancy. There was no misdirection, no trickery.
It was the simple smashmouth football Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh learned as quarterback at Michigan under Bo Schembechler.
Ask the Huskies players about it and they will say the same.
“They were real physical and they just wore us down,” linebacker Mason Foster said.
Stanford wore the UW down physically and mentally.
“It was frustrating,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “It’s never feels good losing. When you get beaten up by a team that was more physical, it makes it worse.”
Perhaps linebacker Cort Dennison summed it up best: “They pounded us.”
Stanford will try to do it again Saturday. It’s the Cardinal’s identity under Harbaugh.
“They are a lot more physical than they used to be,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “(Stanford) is a committed running team and committed to using their tight ends and things like that. You know it’s a lot of runs and a lot of physical runs.”
It doesn’t matter that Gerhart is in the NFL. Running back Stepfan Taylor has stepped in and been solid, rushing for 624 yards.
“This is a guy who in his last game we saw a lot of improvement,” Harbaugh said. “He held onto the football, got tough yards, got yards after contact, kicked out of some tackles, has been good catching the ball, has been good at protection. He’s really asserting himself.”
And while quarterback Andrew Luck has garnered much of the attention because of his NFL potential, stopping the run is key to beating Stanford.
“The problem is you can take them out of that (running game) if you get ahead of them. Then they have to go to their other stuff,” Holt said. “What happened last year, we got behind and we couldn’t take them out of running the ball. They will get out of it if they are behind. But if you don’t, they will stay in it all day long and you have to slug it out with them.”
The Huskies aren’t designed to be in a slugfest. With senior defensive end Cameron Elisara out because of stingers, and defensive end Talia Crichton out because of knee surgery, a thin unit is even thinner.
Holt makes no excuses.
“Guys get hurt and you have to go to the next guy,” he said. “You can play some other positions, but we’re thin at other positions. Especially at D-line against these guys, you need D-linemen, because when they go big people, you need to go big people. And we have to make sure we can’t run out of big people.”
Quarterback Jake Locker was very limited in practice. He worked some individual drills, but did little in team work. It was similar to what he did last Tuesday. ... Elisara, Crichton, safety Will Shamburger and running back Johri Fogerson did not practice.
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org