Beginnings and ends as Huskies conquer Cougars

Gatorade bath

Gatorade bath -

Interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo gets a Gatorade bath after leading the Huskies to a 31-16 win over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl. 

Photo by Joshua Bessex

SAN FRANCISCO — The Washington football team that finished the season Friday night could hardly be mistaken for the one that started it.

On the sideline was Marques Tuiasosopo, not Steve Sarkisian, after the former head coach vamoosed from the UW earlier this month for USC.

Under center was Cyler Miles, not Keith Price, after the senior quarterback left the Fight Hunger Bowl in the second half with what appeared to be a rib injury. In the backfield was Jesse Callier, not Bishop Sankey, after the record-breaking running back also left early with an injured hand.

No one knew what to expect from the UW against BYU, and those expectations were thrown into even more flux when the Huskies started dropping like flies. But despite it all, this: The Huskies finished 9-4, their most wins since 2000, and there’s every reason to anticipate a continued upward trajectory.

“The coach who was leading you guys then is not here anymore,” Tuiasosopo told the Huskies before the game. “But remember, you guys were the ones who played. You got us here. And we have a great opportunity to finish what we started.”

It wasn’t exactly how Price imagined his career would end, watching from the sidelines, playing for a coach who was still in the NFL when he first committed to the UW. He tried to play through the pain, as he always does, and in the process nearly cost the Huskies dearly.

His final pass of the game was intercepted by BYU’s Robertson Daniel deep in Husky territory, but the UW defense held the Cougars to a field-goal attempt. Led by three sacks from Hau’oli Kikaha, that defense had the UW’s back all night.

“It’s unfortunate,” Price said of the injury. “But the victory kind of makes it feel a bit better.”

Price will be gone next year. So will tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who announced after the game he will leave school early for the NFL. Its likely Tuiasosopo will move on as well, whether to join Sarkisian at USC or to take another job. Sankey could join Seferian-Jenkins in the pros, making it an exodus of talent from Montlake.  

What the UW showed Friday, however, is that such departures might not have quite the same sting going forward. That’s because the program is deeper and more talented than it’s been in recent memory. Even when the faces change, as they did against BYU, the result can stay the same.

As amazing (at times) as Price, Sankey, Seferian-Jenkins, and Sarkisian all were, it’s now about the program as a whole, not the individuals so critical in bringing it up.

It’s about Miles gliding for 30 yards through the BYU secondary and drawing at least one tepid comparison to Vince Young from a national college-football writer. It’s about Damore’ea Stringfellow, the man-child of a wide receiver who has looked every bit as physically dominant as Seferian-Jenkins in extended playing time the second half of the season.

Friday night may very well have marked the end of an era in Husky football — the interim, between a decade lost at sea and Chris Petersen’s tenure ahead.

If this game was the end of something, it was a good one. And if it’s the beginning of something, too, well, the future might be as bright as Price’s famous pearly whites.

Reach columnist Kevin Dowd at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @KevinDowd

See photos from the UW's 31-16 win against BYU here

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