Sept. 16, 2007
SEATTLE (AP) - Tyrone Willingham was matter-of-fact about the situation.
The Washington coach knew that eventually the freshmen he was relying on at key positions would make freshman mistakes. They just all happened to be on display Saturday in the Huskies 33-14 loss to No. 8 Ohio State and came at highly inopportune times for Washington.
"They're not the only guys who made mistakes out there," Willingham said. "Theirs are ones that are highly visible in some cases, but I think they'll be fine."
Willingham was right. There were plenty of miscues by all classes of the Washington roster. Senior receiver Marcel Reece dropped a key third-down pass. Senior cornerback Roy Lewis and sophomore linebacker Donald Butler dropped sure interceptions.
Junior Chris Stevens was called for running into the punter, keeping alive an Ohio State drive. The defensive line, which starts three seniors, failed to put any pressure on Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman, making the first road start of his career.
"We obviously made a lot of mistakes you can't make against a team that good," Locker said.
For as well as Locker played against the No. 1 ranked defense in the country, amassing 255 of the 346 total yards Washington gained, he threw a pair of interceptions, both killing potential scoring drives for the Huskies.
The first came on a shovel pass at the Buckeyes' 5 midway through the second quarter. Locker was rushed on the play and Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis deflected the pass to himself at the Ohio State 13.
Laurinaitis later intercepted Locker in the third quarter at the Buckeyes' 22 with Ohio State leading 17-7.
"You've got to remember he's a freshman. And you've got to remember this is the no. 1 ranked defense in the country," Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said. "And we moved the ball, but we didn't finish. That's what I'm disappointed in."
By the time Locker threw his second pick, McDowell and Shaw had already taken their unwanted turns in the spotlight.
McDowell, who played well in the Huskies first two wins, was playing tight on Ohio State's Brian Robiskie on a second-and-7 early in the third quarter. Boeckman saw the coverage, audibled to a pass play, and Robiskie beat McDowell off the line of scrimmage, racing free for a 68-yard touchdown and giving Ohio State a 10-7 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"It was just a good thrown ball and a good catch on their part," McDowell quietly said.
Brandon Johnson, the Huskies main kickoff returner, missed Saturday's game with bruised ribs. So Shaw took his spot. On the kickoff after Robiskie's touchdown, Shaw was hit by Devon Torrence and fumbled. James Scott recovered at the Washington 25.
Two plays later, Ohio State's Chris Wells ran through an arm tackle of McDowell for a 14-yard touchdown and a 10-point Buckeyes lead.
"Those kind of swings happen with every football team," Willingham said. "And that's what we've got to go to is being one of those teams that has the mental toughness not to have that kind of swing."