That's More Like It - Waaay More Like It
Sept. 15, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - That's more like it.
Actually, that was more like the Don James heyday.
Keith Price got back to being just Keith Price instead of being preoccupied with every aspect of the team - then threw three touchdown throws in the first 23 minutes. That's three times as many TD passes as he had through two games.
Bishop Sankey ran 14 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns - after having 82 yards and one score in the first two weeks combined. It was the sophomore's first career 100-yard day.
Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were men among boys towering over and romping through overmatched defenders. Shaq Thompson blocked a field goal that Tre Watson returned 79 yards for a score. And the Huskies overcame more injuries up front to make their previously battered psyche waaaay better in a 52-13 annihilation of Portland State on a completely Dawg day afternoon Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
So much for any lingering bile inside Huskies players, coaches and fans since a 41-3 loss at LSU last weekend.
"It's definitely good to get the bitter taste out of our mouths," Price said after going 14 for 19 with 181 yards passing.
He was far more Alamo Bowl-like than LSU-like, delighting a crowd of 54,922 on Band Day. The fans loved the sweet music of 52 Huskies points in the game's first 36 minutes, before coach Steve Sarkisian ground down the clock with running plays. It was the second-most points the Huskies had scored in a regular season game since 1996.
Even after two late touchdowns by Portland State, the runaway was the largest UW margin of victory since Sept. 22, 2001, a 53-3 win over Idaho.
"It's a good feeling when you see Keith coming back to the sidelines smiling," Seferian-Jenkins said of his quarterback, who was grinning again over his ninth career game with three or more touchdown passes.
Washington (2-1) hadn't scored an offensive touchdown in seven quarters dating to its 14-0 start to the San Diego State opener. It got 14 points in the first 3:45 Saturday against Portland State (1-2), which had fired its defensive coordinator this week following a loss to North Dakota.
The Huskies' 31 points in the second quarter were the most they had ever scored in any period in their recorded history.
What a difference coming home - and having UW's second-ever opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision - make, eh?
"This is something to build off," Sankey said, almost in deadpan.
The psyche restoration couldn't have come at a better time, which is exactly why UW scheduled this game in this place on the schedule.
The Huskies have a bye next week. Then their next four games are against Pac-12 teams currently ranked in The Associated Press poll, starting with No. 21 Stanford at home on Sept. 27.
Stanford added much intrigue and importance to that one when it upset No. 2 USC 21-14 on Saturday night.
"I would like to think our psyche is improved," Sarkisian said after his Huskies offense rolled to 429 yards and his defense gave up only 261 despite the starters playing just two-plus quarters. "I don't know if it is exactly where it needs to be. That stuff, it's a lot easier for me to gauge through the week as we get back going.
"I do believe in some areas we are still immature."
He was alluding to the only downers to this sunny-all-over afternoon for UW. Officials flagged Sione Potoa'e for an unsportsmanlike foul for taunting at the end of Marcus Peters' first-career score, a 21-yard interception return that made it 42-0 midway through the second quarter. Then, after Travis Coons' 41-yard field goal, the first half ended with senior Justin Glenn drilling a Viking far into the Huskies' bench to finish the ensuing kickoff return. That drew another 15-yard dead-ball foul - and Sarkisian's rage.
The coach prevented his team from immediately jogging into the locker room for halftime. Instead he called all 100-plus Huskies, those in uniform and those injured, into a semicircle around him on the sideline at midfield. He angrily yelled and pointed his finger. He threw down his team visor. He imparted on his still-young team the virtue of playing the right way, regardless of score or time or opponent - or psyche.
"I guess I didn't expect it," Glenn said. "But that's fine. That's what coaches are supposed to do."
Sarkisian said the incident showed how much Washington has to improve in this still-young season, with all of Pac-12 play ahead of it.
"But that's the beauty of football. That's why you get to play the 13 games," Sarkisian said.
Price's three TD passes in the opening half went to Williams, Seferian-Jenkins and to DiAndre Campbell, the latter for the redshirt sophomore's first career TD reception. Those scores, Sankey's 15-yard touchdown run -- after Portland State coach Nigel Burton, a former UW defensive captain, failed on a daring onside kick to begin the game - plus Watson's return of the blocked field goal made it 35-0.
Then came Peters' interception and TD.
"They told me he was going to throw one," Peters, a redshirt freshman playing his third career game, said of Vikings' freshman quarterback Kieran McDonagh. "I'm happy he threw one."
The 45 points tied for the most scored in any half in 123 seasons of UW football. The first two quarters also included Coons throwing out of punt formation on a midfield fake, with safety Sean Parker making an athletic catch and run for the first down.
Sankey's second TD run, of 6 yards, came on Washington's first drive after halftime. Price left the game in the hands of backup Derrick Brown after that.
"Definitely, we just needed some confidence coming into the big game (against Stanford)," Price said.
"Our offense got rollin'."
The rampage overshadowed the losses of guard Colin Tanigawa and tackle Erik Kohler to more injuries on the ailing offensive line. Then, key run-stopping defensive tackle Danny Shelton left with a lower-leg injury in the first half. The 335-pound-plus sophomore did not return, though he was walking around the bench area before Sarkisian said "he'll be OK."
The coach said he wasn't yet sure how severe Tanigawa's injury is on an O-line that had four first-year starters on it Saturday. Senior center Drew Schaefer was the lone veteran.
The Huskies? They aren't yet exactly sure how much this win will help them next against Stanford, Oregon and USC. They will begin learning that two Thursdays from now.
"Obviously, it wasn't the best opponent. But the key thing for us is having that confidence again," said Williams, who finished with a game-high six receptions for 69 yards.
"I think that we are back to where to where we need to be. But at the same time, you know, we have to show that we can do that same thing - move the ball, score touchdowns - against a better opponent."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Price moved into sole possession of fourth place on UW's all-time list for TD passes, going ahead of Damon Huard. Price now has 39, in just 16 career starts. Next on the list: Jake Locker and Brock Huard with 53 each. ... Washington got its first blocked field goal returned for a TD since Omare Lowe blocked a Michigan field goal and Roc Alexander returned it 77 yards on Sept. 8, 2001. ... LG Dexter Charles and RT Mike Criste made their first career starts. Campbell made his first-ever start at WR. ... Williams said of Campbell's score: "Man, I'm so happy for him. He's one of those guys who does everything right. No one works harder - at everything." ... The other two times UW had scored 45 in a half: at Oregon State in 1999 and versus Northwestern in 1980. ... Marvin Hall and Shane Brostek became the eighth and ninth true freshmen to play for the Huskies this season.