The Alamo Bowl Goes According To Plan … And Then It Doesn’t

The Huskies lost 67-56.  The Husky FOOTBALL team lost 67-56.  Let’s just state the obvious and get it out of the way so we can all get on with our lives.

I’m a really bitchy person, but I’m even bitchier when I’m writing, so we’re going to save the positives for the end and get right into what went wrong in this game.  And if that’s the case, then you have to start and end with the defensive side of the football.

Sandwiched in the middle, however, we have the Chris Polk fumble.  THAT thing couldn’t have come at a worse time!

But first, a small step back.  We entered the third quarter with an 11-point lead, WITH them kicking off to us.  We promptly – on the second play of the second half – scored an 80-yard touchdown to go up by THREE full scores!  You couldn’t have asked for a better cushion against such a potent team!  Then, we let them nab a TD to bring it back to 11, THEN we punted and things looked kinda bleak.  But, somehow we forced them into a 3-and-out, with a punt returned by Kasen Williams all the way into the Baylor red zone.  THIS was our moment!  We had just stopped them on defense, it’s halfway through the third quarter, if we get a touchdown here we force them into being completely one-dimensional (at least, that’s what I’d like to believe).

And in this, our finest moment, Chris Polk plows ahead for 6 yards before being levelled in the back, causing the ball to bobble out of his grasp.  On the very next play, when they were down only 11, they ran up the gut for 89 yards and a TD.  The 2-point conversion made it a 3-point game, and you could kinda start to see this game slipping away.

Yeah, we came right back down to score another TD, but at that point, it was a lost cause.  They’d gashed us hard!  They knew, once and for all, that they could run the ball on us and that’s what they did, for the rest of the game.  We lost the lead later in that same quarter, had a little cat-and-mouse thing going on into the 4th quarter, but in the end – from the Chris Polk fumble to the final drive where they kneeled down to All Zeroes – they had five consecutive drives where they scored a touchdown.

Yes, Chris Polk deserves some blame.

Our fuck-up of a right tackle ALSO deserves some blame as well as the right guard!  They had a 3-man rush on that 4th & 8 play!  And yet, with two guys on that side, we can’t block one fucking guy for more than two seconds before he hits Price & knocks his throwing arm as he’s trying to muscle an out to Williams?

Even Sark deserves some of the blame.  Look, I get it, the defense couldn’t stop shit.  It’s only natural to look at the score (down by 4), look at the time on the clock (8 minutes left), look at our field position (own 22 yard line) and think, “Let’s get a nice 8-minute drive cooking so we can score last and win this game outright!”  BELIEVE ME, I get what that’s about!

But, you have to look at the game to that point.  Our offense was clicking at its best when we were pushing the ball down field with long throws!  While the Washington defense was CLEARLY geared up to stop the pass (thus allowing nearly 500 yards on the ground), the Baylor defense was CLEARLY geared up to stop the rush!  Aside from a couple of REALLY nifty delayed handoffs (one of which went for a 56-yard TD), Chris Polk was doing all right, but he wasn’t tearing it up by any stretch.  The Husky offense was all about Keith Price’s arm and, to a lesser extent, his legs.

If it were me?  With 8 minutes left, down by 4 on our own 22 yard line, I would’ve tried to score as quickly as possible.  Get a nice 2-3 minute drive for a go-ahead TD, force them to play some offense and HOPEFULLY hold them to a 2-3 minute drive themselves, THEN, have the ball last, with 2-4 minutes to go in the game, and THEN try to grind the clock for a closing score (but, don’t start grinding until you’re at least past the 50 yard line).

This was a good, old fashioned Texas shoot-out!  You don’t drop your semi-automatic at the end of the game for a Colt .45!  You keep pumping them full of lead and force them into eventually throwing the ball – the offense you game-planned so hard against in the first place!

It sounds ridiculous to say this, but Robert Griffin, III ONLY threw for 295 yards.  He ONLY accounted for 2 TDs, and ONLY 1 through the air.  This was obviously where the bulk of our game-planning landed!  We forced him into 9 incompletions and a fumble.  While that’s far from a great performance, it beats the hell out of 500 yards rushing on nearly 10 yards per carry.

So, yeah.  Polk, the right side of the line, and Sark all deserve a little slice of blame.  Like that old Mitch Hedberg joke:  if this game were a pie chart and you wanted to quantify the amount of blame for those four individuals (in relation to what you would do if you found a million dollars), they would be the “Donate To Charity” slice.

The rest of that pie:  ALL defense.

I’m sure there will be rioting on the streets of Montlake if Nick Holt isn’t fired sometime within the week.  You know my stance on this, but I’ll go over it again:  The Man Had No Talent With Which To Work!

Remember how people were saying before the year that Alameda Ta’amu was supposed to be this first round draft pick at defensive tackle?  Where was THAT guy?  I don’t just mean yesterday (because, obviously, he wasn’t in San Antonio playing anything resembling Division I football), I mean ALL SEASON!  If you’re supposed to be this great first round draft pick – even if you’re a DT – don’t you at least have to get AH sack?  Don’t you have to somehow single-handedly make an impact for your football team?  Ta’amu has done NOTHING this year!  And, by all accounts, he has played himself all the way down to a 5th to 7th round draft pick.  Way to go!

Also, you know how Cort Dennison is supposed to be our best guy on defense?  Where WAS he yesterday?  Aren’t middle linebackers supposed to shed blocks and tackle runners who are going STRAIGHT UP THE GUT FOR 89 YARDS???

I’m not gonna lie to you, there wasn’t one guy on that defense who was worth two shits.  The greatest defensive mind in football history couldn’t have taken this lump of crap and sculpted it into a winning unit last night!  I say, give Nick Holt one more year.

I say that, but I understand completely how unrealistic that is.  67 points.  777 yards.  That’s a black mark on your record that will NEVER come off.

Among the positives, I’ll say that Keith Price out-played the Heisman Trophy winner.  Of course, that’s because he HAD to out-play him to even keep this thing close, but that’s neither here nor there.  Had the Huskies had nearly 500 yards rushing, things might’ve been very different.  But, on a night where the Alamo Bowl got all the national attention, Keith Price just put himself on every National Watch List for next season.  438 yards passing, 4 TDs, 39 yards rushing, 3 TDs.  That’s ALMOST as impressive as Tui’s 300 yard passing/200 yard rushing game against Stanford.  And, shit, SEVEN touchdowns?  I dunno, that might even put him over the top as the greatest Husky performance of all time.  I don’t like to throw those absolutes out there (because I feel like, whenever anyone does that, they always favor what they JUST saw over what’s really the best), but DAMN.

I thought Jermaine Kearse had a whale of a final game in a Husky uniform.  Too bad he had to miss those final series’ with whatever injury he had.  5 catches, 198 yards:  now THAT’S how you make people forget your history of drops!

And, if this is Chris Polk’s final game – which I believe it is – I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge his greatness.  Yes, his fumble swung momentum away from us that we never got back, but he still ran for nearly a buck fifty.  He’s still the second-greatest running back in Husky football history.  And he’ll still be a hero in all of our hearts.

This was a tough loss, but you know what?  It still might be okay.  We didn’t shock the world with a victory, but I think we shocked the world with how competitive we were.  On a national stage against the Heisman Trophy winner, this Husky offense came to play.

Too bad the same can’t be said for the other side of the ball.

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