Washington Huskies: 10 Plays That Have Defined the Season
Coming into the season, nearly everyone had the Washington Huskies locked in to finish ninth at best in the Pac-10. Sure, right now they're sitting eighth, but the Huskies may have had one of the more interesting campaigns in college football this year.
With so many last-minute finishes and improbable plays, it's been a memorable start to the Steve Sarkisian era. Here are 10 plays that have defined the Dawgs thus far this year.
No. 10: Jake Locker's 56-yard Touchdown Run vs. Arizona
Fresh off a first quarter interception that led to a touchdown, Jake Locker tucked the ball and took off on third-and-seven. Prior to this play, Washington's offense didn't have much going for it, and Locker picked up the slack as he always tends to do.
This play exemplifies one of the only consistent aspects of Husky football this year: the ability to convert third downs. This play gave Washington some momentum, and gave people reason to believe that Locker's wheels could and should be a bigger part of Sark's offense.
Defenses throughout the Pac-10 know how scary Locker can be when he runs, and plays like this 56-yard touchdown reiterated that.
No. 9: Last Play of Victory Over Idaho
It was a rush for negative two yards. Sounds like a pretty irrelevant play.
That loss of two would be the last down that the Huskies had to play while carrying the load of a 15-game losing streak.
As time wound down, the scoreboard read 42-23, a victory for the Huskies. It also marked the first win for Steve Sarkisian as head coach, which will be remembered as a big step for the program.
No. 8: Stanford Runs Back Opening Kick-Off
An upset of USC, a two-game winning streak, and a national ranking. All of a sudden that team that was 0-12 in 2008 was looking pretty good.
Unfortunately the Huskies must have left their mentality from the USC game in Seattle, because Stanford caught them off guard on the Huskies' first play as No. 24 in the nation.
Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu took the opening kick-off 91 yards for a touchdown to get the Cardinal's lop-sided win started.
This play (and this game) brought the Huskies back to reality after shocking the world the week before, and they realized that regression would be inevitable through the rest of the season.
No. 7: Opening Touchdown Drive vs. LSU
Eleventh ranked LSU came into Husky Stadium to open up the Tigers' season. A 7:30pm kickoff, and a crowd full of hopeful, yet somewhat skeptical, Washington fans packed the stadium to watch the debut of the Steve Sarkisian era.
The Huskies got the ball to start the game and immediately went to work. The highlights of the drive were freshman Chris Polk's surprising running, Johri Fogerson's 51-yard reception, and the 17-yard touchdown pass to James Johnson.
For the first time in a long time, Husky fans had something to cheer for, and although LSU won, 31-23, Washington's offense clicked for most of the game, on the first drive in particular.
No. 6: Oregon's 53 Second Drive in the Third Quarter
Just before halftime of the Oct. 24 grudge match with the Oregon Ducks, the Huskies hit a 48-yard field goal. This made the score 15-6 in favor of the Ducks, which was still a considerable hole, but not out of reach for Washington.
The Huskies got the ball to start the third quarter and had a negative three-yard three-and-out. Only 53 seconds after punting away to Oregon's offense, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli ran in for six, and the Ducks' rampage began.
I feel like this play was an eye-opener of how far the Huskies still have to go before they can truly compete with the Pac-10's best.
No. 5: Goal Line Failures in South Bend
With a 2-2 record, the Huskies went on the road as heavy underdogs to face Notre Dame. The majority of the first four quarters were more or less a battle royale between quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Jake Locker.
However in the end, the outcome would be defined by the Huskies' inability to score in a total of eight tries on the goal line.
Two drives to the one-yard line for a total of three points led to overtime. A tired and mismatched Washington offense surrendered a quick touchdown and Washington failed to score.
If Washington could have gotten more than a yard on just one of these eight plays, the outcome of this game may have been very different. The red zone has since been a bit of an inconsistent area for Washington on several occasions this year, most notably against Oregon.
No. 4: Folk Misses Field Goal at UCLA
Kicker Erik Folk, who was embraced as the hero in the victory over USC, had a different fate on Nov. 7 at the Rose Bowl.
Trailing UCLA 23-24, Folk had a chance to put Washington up by two with a 38-yard field goal. He had only missed two field goals prior to this shank versus the Bruins, but this one was one of the most important kicks of the season.
If Folk could have split the uprights, the Huskies would have been in decent position to win the game. With three wins and three games remaining, Washington now needs to win out to be considered for a bowl game.
But let's not put all of the pressure on Folk. The offense had another shot to take the lead, but it was cut short when Jake Locker was picked off and ultimately ended the game.
No. 3: Mason Foster's Miracle Pick
Possibly one of the greatest interceptions in Husky history was made on Oct. 10 versus Arizona. Linebacker Mason Foster picked off UA quarterback Nick Foles' pass off the foot of receiver Delashaun Dean and took it 37 yards for a touchdown.
The Dawgs battled back throughout the fourth quarter, but it was Foster's pick-six that gave Washington the 34-33 lead. A two-point conversion later, the Huskies were up by a field goal and never looked back.
This play revived Washington's season, and re-established the team's outstanding play at Husky Stadium.
No. 2: Last Second Stunner in Tempe
When Washington traveled to face Arizona State this year, the Huskies had no business being in contention to win in the last minute. The game was sloppy, plagued with penalties, and Washington looked terrible on both sides of the ball.
Regardless, with 2:03 to go in the fourth, the Huskies had the ball with the game tied at 17. Poor playcalling resulted in a Washington punt with 13 seconds left. It only took Arizona State one play to go 50 yards for the game-winning Hail Mary. The secondary left wide receiver Chris McGaha completely open and made the play look easy.
This play comes in at No. 2 because of how detrimental it was to the Huskies' confidence. It started a three-game losing streak that Washington is yet to bounce back from. And while three games still remain in the season and a bowl game isn't completely out of reach, I think the heartbreaker versus ASU will be remembered as an early nail in Washington's coffin.
No. 1: Folk Nails Field Goal, Dawgs Shock Trojans
Undoubtedly the biggest kick of Erik Folk's career came when he nailed a 22-yard field goal to seal the gigantic upset of then-No. 3 ranked USC. The all-out team effort in this victory was especially evident by Nick Holt's defense and the leadership of Jake Locker.
This is one of the biggest plays in Husky history, and for it to come in only the third game of Steve Sarkisian's tenure at Washington makes the future look awfully bright.
After this game, the Huskies found their way into the AP Top 25 for the first time in six years.