A 7-0 lead after 9 seconds...not a bad way to start a game.
UW kept the Ute running game bottled up, but QB Jordan Wynn was still able to pick apart the secondary. The defense pushed the "bend but don't break" defensive philosophy to the absolute brink by forcing two turnovers within their own 5-yard line. UW's passing game had major issues with Utah's man-to-man defense and was extremely fortunate to hold a 10-7 lead at halftime.
The second half was a completely different chimichanga. Both the offensive and defensive lines were more physical - Chris Polk was able to find running lanes, break tackles, and drag defenders for extra yards on seemingly every play. Even on a day when he wasn't his best, Keith Price added three more touchdown passes (he now has tied Locker's total of 17 last year through 5 games...redonkulous).
Hey Utes, there's a new chief in town.
While an injury to Wynn was a huge blow to the Utah offense, the UW secondary upped their play in the second half and the D-line continued to shut down the running game. Once KP figured out how to beat the man-to-man coverage, the Husky lead swelled up faster than Mac on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The defensive performance was truly impressive. When UW scored to take a 31-7 lead with 9 minutes remaining, Utah had only 194 total yards. The Utes finished the game with 23 rushing yards on 17 carries (0.7 yard per carry) after averaging over 170 in their first three games. Nick Holt and the defense deserve major kudos for winning this game for the Dawgs.
UW's depth played a huge role in this game as the Utah lines clearly broke down in the second half. It was a bit unexpected to watch the team that practices at high altitude get dominated in the conditioning aspect of the game. It's becoming apparent that Utah will have more less success in the Pac-12 when it takes on deeper teams week in and week out.
I do have to mention that it was a bit concerning watching Keith Price hobble around the field in garbage time with UW up 24 points. Sark's rationale was that he wanted the offense to put together a good drive at the end of the game as that has been an issue this season, but frankly, that desire is not worth the risk of further damage to KP's knees in that situation. It pains me to bring this up, but we've been through a similar situation in '06 when the Huskies started out hot at 4-2 (with a 6-point loss at USC) led by Isaiah Stanback. The next game, Stanback break his ankle and the season went down the crapshoot with 6 straight losses. The good news is Price can rest his knees over the next 12 days and hopefully will be the healthiest he has been all year against Colorado.
So far the Huskies are exceeding expectations with a 4-1 record and if the defense continues to improve, this could be the best season in over a decade.
Game photos by AP Photo/Jim Urquhart.
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