The Washington Huskies, who had climbed to the top of the mountain by defeating 24th-ranked Oregon State 35-34 in double overtime two weeks ago, fell down the mountainside against Arizona. , in 15th place in the ranking.
The Wildcats started fast and defeated the Huskies 44-14 in a no-contest game at Tuscon, racking up a 30-14 halftime score and then adding another 14 points in the second half while holding Washington’s best scoreless. .
Some fans and football pundits thought the Huskies had a chance to win this job as the Wildcats had lost their starting quarterback, Nick Foles, considered by many to be one of the best prospects in the NFL.
Foles, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound junior, had completed 75% of his passes for 1,600 yards, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions before suffering a knee injury. His replacement, junior Matt Scott, had started the first three games for Arizona last year before losing his job at Foles.
So what was the big difference between Foles and Scott against the Washington Huskies? I’m glad you asked. The answer – absolutely nothing.
The Wildcats ranked fifth in scoring offense with 43 points. They won 44-14. They averaged 429 yards of total offense and won 467 against Washington. Scott was 18-for-22 (81%) for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Scott, a scrambler like Huskies Jake Locker, had another 65 rushing yards on 7 carries (9.29 yards per carry), and Scott made it look easy thanks to Husky’s tacklers.
Scott marched the Wildcats up and down the field like they were in practice against a second-team defense. The problem for Washington was exactly that: The Huskies are a second-tier defense to the point of real embarrassment.
Washington ranks 97th in scoring defense nationally, giving up more than 31 points per game, a number that will now increase from giving up 44 to Arizona. The Huskies rank 98th in total defense, giving up more than 416 yards per game, a number that will rise again since giving up 467 yards to Arizona.
So what exactly is the problem? How is everything? Missed assignments, mistimed penalties, lack of speed, lack of size, lack of talent, and missed tackles to name a few. The Huskies, like so many college players with inflated views of their ability, tend to pounce on opponents like startled cats rather than attack them the old-fashioned way.
The Washington Husky defense could learn a thing or two from one of the NFL’s all-time best free safeties: Larry Wilson.
Wilson was selected in the seventh round of the draft by the St. Louis Cardinals at cornerback after starting at the University of Utah. He became a free safety, was an 8-time Pro-Bowl and 8-time All-Pro Selection and was also selected to the NFL All Decade Team during the 1960s and 1970s.
He was the first NFL player to make a safety blitz, and he was tougher than a railroad spike, once intercepting a pass with both hands in casts due to broken wrists. He also had an interception in 7 straight games and finished his career with 52 interceptions for 800 return yards and 5 touchdowns.
Someone once asked Larry Wilson how he could be such a good outfield tackler. Wilson responded by saying, “Hell, I just get a good grip on one leg and pick ’em up, they’re not going to go very far carrying me while hopping on one leg.”
Wilson was arguably the only NFL player who could stop the great Jimmy Brown at full speed, head-on in an open field.
So what does Larry Wilson have to do with the Washington Husky defenders? Well, nothing, really. But if you want to be a great defender and tackler, he tries to channel Larry Wilson. You could do a lot worse, and you are, so he thinks about taking down for real instead of lunging at a player and expecting them to go down.
Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley