Despite some hiccups, Washington’s defense has kept the Huskies in many games this season, with Saturday’s win against No. 7 Oregon State being no exception.
Despite some hiccups, Washington’s defense has kept the Huskies in many games this season, and Saturday’s win against No. 7 Oregon State is no exception.
The Beavers’ plentiful offensive weapons were limited by a UW secondary that put forth a performance comparable to that of the Huskies’ win over then-No. 8 Stanford Sept. 27.
That started with junior safety Sean Parker, who picked off Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion in the second quarter in the Huskies’ end zone.
On the first play of the Beavers’ next drive, Parker turned a would-be reception to wide receiver Markus Wheaton into an interception for Justin Glenn by laying a hit on Wheaton that ended up knocking the wideout out of the game.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian is taking notice of Parker’s development.
“[Parker’s] interception was a heck of a play,” he said. “The hit [on Wheaton] was obviously a great hit, but he had other plays in the game that had an impact for other guys to make plays, and that was what was encouraging.”
On two occasions — once in the second quarter, once in the third — the UW secondary was responsible for Oregon State failing to convert on fourth down. Parker and freshman Marcus Peters each broke up a pass to end those two drives.
Mannion threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter, one of which led shortly thereafter to a Bishop Sankey touchdown. As a result, back-up Cody Vaz came in for Mannion, who finished the game 18-of-34 through the air for 221 yards, a touchdown, and four interceptions.
Call his benching evidence that the UW defense did its job.
“It was a tough loss against a great opponent,” Mannion said. “I thought they played well tonight.”
Run first, pass later
To address their largely lackadaisical offense, the Huskies implemented a new plan on their first possession of the game — simply, to run the football.
Eight of the UW’s first 10 plays were on the ground, compiling 50 yards. That run-first mentality continued throughout the first half, with Bishop Sankey getting 15 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. Kendyl Taylor added another nine yards on two carries before the half.
It was a risky decision — Oregon State entered the contest ranked fifth in the nation in run defense, allowing just 80.8 rushing yards per game. (As a team, the UW finished with 99.) But Sarkisian felt the need to carry out his plan.
“I had to do it,” he said. “Just from what was needed in our locker room and in our team room, we had to come out and instill our will. We had to run the football.”
Washington continued to focus on its running game in the second half, and Sankey finished the night with 92 yards and two touchdowns.
Facts and figures
-Entering the game, Oregon State had never trailed by more than four points nor been held scoreless in the first half. The Huskies put an end to both streaks by taking a 10-0 lead into the break.
-The win was the UW’s latest in the calendar over a previously undefeated team since 1982, when the Huskies defeated a 9-0 Arizona State team 17-13, Nov. 13.
-The Huskies have now won 10 consecutive games decided by 10 points or less.
Reach reporter Pete Treperinas at email@example.com. Twitter: @ptreperinas
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