Update 4:50 p.m. CST: The Huskies are No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, not No. 23, as originally written. The mistake has been updated in the article below.
Holy yardage, Batman!
Yes, the UW’s 592-yard performance against Boise State was a lot. But the Huskies are now approaching 2011 Alamo Bowl territory with their most recent showing.
The Huskies outgained Illinois, 615-327 en route to their 34-24 win Saturday night in Chicago. It’s the sixth-highest total for the UW in school history and not far behind the 620-yard night put up against Baylor in 2011. After two games, and three weeks of the college football season, the Huskies have an average of 603.5 yards per game, which ranks fourth in the country as of Sunday morning.
Bishop Sankey led the UW offense on the ground, rushing for a career-high 208 yards on 35 carries. He and Jesse Callier combined for 274 yards, which is more than the entire team had after subtracting the negative yardage lost from the two sacks quarterback Keith Price took.
Big things, small (and fast) packages
The Huskies had no sacks in the season opener against Boise State. In the first half against Illinois, they had four, spurred by a smaller defensive line that, at times, included three defensive ends and linebacker Travis Feeney all rushing the passer. While small, it was fast — and effective — for the Huskies, who used the unique package to defend Illinois’ own unique schemes.
“We did that quite a bit tonight,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “They were going to a bunch of four- and five-wide receiver sets, and we just felt like we needed to generate a pass rush, which we had talked about a couple weeks ago after the Boise game. And we were able to do it.”
Defensive end Josh Shirley had three sacks, which is almost half of his entire sack total last season (6.5). Shirley pretty much lived in the backfield last night and kept the pressure on Nathan Scheelhaase, who finished 9-of-25 with 156 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Putting the laundry out to dry
Penalties. A lot of them. Everywhere.
The Huskies were called for nine penalties for 84 yards in the first half and ended at 12 penalties for 104 yards. In the first half, the Huskies had more penalty yards than rushing yards (67).
Danny Shelton, Shirley, and Jaydon Mickens were all called for personal foul penalties, while the Huskies often shot themselves in the foot by negating big plays on offense with penalties. Three times, the offense had to forfeit gains of more than 10 yards. Twice, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the guilty party and once it was offensive lineman Dexter Charles.
— Check out photos from the game here.
— Austin Seferian-Jenkins made his game debut, but looked rusty. He had the same number of penalties as he had catches (three).
— Middle linebacker John Timu injured his shoulder in the first half and missed the entire second half. Sarkisian told the media that Timu didn’t even know when he injured himself in the half. He had five tackles at the half and will be reevaluated this week.
— After the win, the Huskies moved up two spots in the AP poll to No. 17 and moved up three spots to No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
— The Huskies got their first road nonconference win since Jake Locker’s first game as a Husky, when the UW beat Syracuse in the 2007 season opener.
— Saturday’s victory was the UW’s first win as a ranked team since 2003. The No. 18 Huskies beat Stanford that season, 28-17, before losing to unranked UCLA the next week.
Sarkisian speaks to the media after the victory.
Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at email@example.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21
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