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Huskies have no answers for Big Red

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After breaking free from UW cornerback Quinton Richardson, Nebraska’s Brandon Kinnie continues down field, picking up 55 yards and setting up an easy Nebraska touchdown.

PUBLISHED: 7:40 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17

If the Nebraska game was a measuring stick for Washington’s program, the Huskies (1-2) have a long way to go before they get where head coach Steve Sarkisian wants them. Nebraska (3-0) outclassed Washington in every facet of its 56-21 victory on Saturday, from the players to the fans.

Husky Stadium was filled with red on Saturday, since as much as one-third of the announced 72,876 in attendance sported Nebraska red. Once the game started, it didn’t get much better for the Huskies as the Cornhuskers showed them what a top-tier program looks like.

“This is the top pass defense in America,” Sarkisian said. “These guys are really good … It’s hard to get open, and when we did I felt like Jake [Locker] was pressing a little.”

Nebraska’s secondary flexed its muscle early, as nickelback Eric Hagg picked off Locker’s first pass of the day. Nebraska never let Locker off the hook, and he finished the game with just four completions in 20 attempts.

“They did a really good job,” Locker said. “That defensive scheme they have is really well coached and executed. And they’re good athletes.”

Washington’s defense did a decent job containing Nebraska and their quarterback Taylor Martinez early, but was eventually doomed by big plays. Martinez started the second half with an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage that put Nebraska up 35-14.

“We did not tackle very well as you saw,” Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “… That disappointed me, because I thought we were doing a pretty good job with that for the first two games.”

If there was a bright spot for Washington, it was the play of their freshmen. Running back Jesse Callier rushed for 57 yards on 10 carries and Garret Gilliland filled in ably for starting middle linebacker Cort Dennison, who was out with a concussion suffered in practice.

Despite the large number of Nebraska fans, Washington’s crowd did an admirable job making life difficult for the visitors. The crowd noise forced multiple false-start penalties on Nebraska’s offense, and remained loud until the game was out of hand.

“I thought the crowd was very loud,” Martinez said. “Especially in our third series, it was really loud and our players could barely hear us.”

Washington has a lot of work to do before it can hope to compete with the Nebraska’s of the college football world. Although they showed some promise at times, particularly in the running game and on the blitz, today the Huskies saw just how far they have to go before they get where they hope to be.

“It’s unfortunate that the day went the way it did,” Sarkisian said. “Because we’re better than that. We have to find a way to maximize our potential and play to our potential.”

The Huskies will have another chance to prove themselves against a strong opponent in two weeks when they travel to Los Angeles to face the USC Trojans. Next weekend the Huskies will have a bye to rest their injuries and improve the holes in their game. Washington will need to shake off this loss and get better fast if they want to beat the Trojans for the second year in a row.

Reach reporter Jacob Thorpe at sports@dailyuw.com.

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