Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: Washington
By ESPN.com staff
Record: 4-1, 2-0
While a program still trying to get back to national relevancy shouldn't be too upset with a 2-0 start, Washington didn't impress during victories over Eastern Washington and Hawaii, particularly on defense. The Eagles, an FCS team, nearly clipped the Huskies while passing for 473 yards, and Hawaii threw for 333. On the other hand, new starting quarterback Keith Price quickly helped fans forget about Jake Locker, as he immediately ranked among the nation's top passers.
Then Washington fell apart in the third quarter at Nebraska, though horrible officiating also was an issue. The Huskies trailed just 20-17 at the break but were outscored 17-0 in the third and lost 51-38 after a scoring flurry in the fourth made things interesting. The defense, gashed in the first two games by passing offenses, yielded 309 rushing yards to the Cornhuskers.
At that point, it wasn't clear where the Huskies might go. Price and the offense were playing well, but the defense, under highly paid coordinator Nick Holt, was a major disappointment, considering the returning talent had some wondering in the preseason if the unit might be one of the best in the conference. But then that defense allowed just three second-half points in a 31-23 win over California, notably growing stout in the red zone. The defense also played well the following weekend in a 31-14 win at Utah.
The 2-0 conference mark suggest the Huskies are headed for a finish in the top half of the North Division. The question is can they elevate their game enough to challenge Oregon or Stanford?
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Keith Price. Price, a sophomore first-year starter, has completed 68 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He's averaging 242 yards passing per game. While RB Chris Polk is the star of the offense, Price has far eclipsed expectations and been the key component of the Huskies' fast start.
Defensive MVP: Cornerback Desmond Trufant. Trufant leads the nation with 10 passes defended. He is tied for third on the team with 30 tackles and also has two interceptions and two forced fumbles.