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Washington's defense played a nearly flawless game against the Cardinal, but what else was learned from Thursday's win over Stanford
It's been a magical week so far in CenturyLink Field and one that Seahawk and Husky fans will probably never forget. Scoring their biggest win since the 2010 Holiday Bowl and their biggest win at home since beating USC in Steve Sarkisian's third game at head coach, the Huskies finally showed up against a Top 10 opponent on national television and played a nearly flawless game on defense that should go down as one of the best performances by a Washington defense ever.
Justin Wilcox (And the entire defensive staff) - This is exactly what Steve Sarkisian and Husky fans hoped for when they parted ways with Nick Holt last year and put together a savvy staff of talented young coaches. The defense looked fast, aggressive, fearless, tough and didn't seem the least bit fatigued late in the game despite being on the field almost the entire night while Stanford tried to pound them. I can't imagine a more incredible turnaround in one year against a team than going from giving up 446 yards and numerous touchdowns on the ground to just 65 yards and shutting out the Cardinal offense from the end zone. Another positive perspective, USC's offense gave up more than 200 yards rushing to the Cardinal just two weeks ago.
Desmond Trufant - Trufant has shown flashes of his NFL ability, but truly looked like the All-American type cornerback that he has the potential to be last night. The fact that he could be left on an island all night really opened up the defense to attack the run and the play he made on the game sealing interception might be the best of the year so far. Trufant took on the 6'8 Levine Toilolo without fear and beat him to the ball to essentially win the game for the Huskies.
Mental Toughness - I think almost every Husky fan thought the game was over after Trent Murphy's interception for a touchdown, but clearly the Husky players and staff didn't. This team looks to have the mental edge that other recent Husky teams didn't as they bounced right back and basically controlled the game from that point on. This is exactly the mentality the Huskies need to maintain if they are going to return to being a major contender in the conference.
Will try to limit this section on this week as last night was simply one of those games where you just have to focus on the fact that you gritted out a monster win against a Top 10 team, but some things still need to be addressed.
The Offensive Line - These guys get some serious respect for banding together even with the crippling injuries they have had, especially against one of the most aggressive defensive fronts in the country with a talented and huge front seven, but they look awful. The left side of the line sometimes just plain wasn't blocking anyone on passing plays and Price won't be able to stay healthy if he gets his as much as he did last night.
Keith Price - It's hard to say it, and it's understandable with the defense that he was facing and the faulty offensive line in front of him, but Price simply looked rattled from the get go and was off almost all game. However, he really showed his toughness and leadership, sticking it out even though he was hit repeatedly and banged up and he made the one really big throw that they needed to win the game.
Deep passes - It's one of those things you forget about when the game winds down and you win, but Ty Montgomery's shaky hands probably took some points off the board for the Cardinal that could have been enough to be the difference. The Huskies will likely have the same game plan against Oregon next week - stack the box and force their marginally talented receivers and inexperienced quarterback to beat them and the Huskies can't rely on receivers dropping all of the deep passes over the top.
Who in the Pac-12 scheduling department hates Washington? - It has been talked about ever since the end of last season, but the level of difficulty of the Huskies three-game run against teams that will all likely be ranked in the Top 10 when they play them is now really kicking in. They will have to play how they played last night on defense, and much better on offense to win either of the next two games and that's insane. How will they show up in the next two games? And how it will affect them down the road will be one of the determining factors of how this season plays out.
The Hangover? - It's been a while, but the last two times the Huskies have scored big wins against highly ranked opponents (USC in 2009 and 2010), they had huge let downs the following week, getting steamrolled by Stanford in 2009 and losing to a bad Arizona State team at home in 2010. It's very hard for any team to stay up the next week after a huge, emotional and tough win like the one the Huskies got last night (Just ask Stanford), but it's made even tougher by following it up with a quasi-rivalry game on the road in one of the toughest environments in the nation.
Eight Days a Week - Everyone thought that the smaller, speedy defense of the Huskies matched up terribly with the hulking Stanford running game and everyone couldn't have been more wrong. Supposedly this defense was built to compete with the up-tempo, Oregon style offense, and this will be their first time against not only an offense of that nature, but the best version of it, and on the road. Wilcox and the defense will get an extra day to prepare to stop an offense that hasn't even been slowed by anyone since LSU in the opening game of last year. Can they pull off a second-straight flawless defensive game plan and performance?