By Brent Stecker
It was a game where the No. 17 Washington Huskies could seemingly do no wrong.
They moved the ball at will in their 56-0 wipeout of the Idaho State Bengals at Husky Stadium Saturday afternoon, and they spread it around so effectively that eight different players scored Washington’s eight total touchdowns.
The defense was impenetrable, allowing just 20 yards of offense in the first half en route to the shutout, and torturing Bengals quarterback Justin Arias with seven sacks and two interceptions.
The Huskies made up for their 16 penalties against Idaho State by registering seven sacks and two interceptions, including one pick by Sean Parker. (AP) | More photos | Stats
But as perfect as the Huskies’ performance against their FCS opponent may look, there is one area on the stat sheet that suggests there is still work to be done in Montlake.
The Huskies were whistled for 16 penalties (130 yards) on the day – including eight in the first quarter alone – in a continuation of a problem that has plagued them throughout their first three games. It’s an issue that must be corrected before next week’s Pac-12 opener at home against Arizona, and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was adamant that it would be dealt with quickly.
“Obviously the penalties were the glaring issue that needs to be rectified. We’ll fix it,” he said. “We fixed a lot of things in this program over the last five years, and we’ll fix the penalties, believe me.”
The Huskies’ penalty problem has grown each week – they had eight against Boise State in Week 1 and 12 against Illinois last week – and they’ve yet to play a game where they’ve drawn more penalties than they’ve committed.
Sarkisian credited movement by Idaho State’s defense for causing several false starts by Washington.
“They were stemming up front, and in my opinion you’re not allowed to do that, and so we had some false starts up front,” he said. “We’ll get it fixed. We’ll stem at our guys all week long so that if they do it next week, we’ll be prepared for it, (and) we won’t flinch.”
The Huskies certainly aren’t dwelling on the one negative aspect from one of the more lopsided victories in program history, though. And with good reason, as both sides of the ball were downright dominant, flags notwithstanding.
“We took care of business the way I thought we were capable of doing it,” Sarkisian said. “Were we perfect? No, but I thought all in all there was a lot of positives. Sure, there’s stuff for us to work on, and it will get fixed and we’ll work on it, but I thought there were a great deal of positives for our football team to take away from.”
One of those positives was a much better performance in the red zone, with seven touchdowns in nine trips for the offense.
“With our first unit, (we wanted to be) really being efficient in the red zone, and I thought we were able to do that,” Sarkisian said. “I thought we spread the ball around really well. You have eight touchdowns with eight different guys scoring – that’s been a real point of emphasis of ours.”
His thoughts on the defense were just as glowing.
“Defensively it was just a tremendous game,” Sarkisian said. “They were coming in with a bunch of yards, like our last opponent, and we shut them down. We shut them out. It was a great game for the defense. They kinda did everything right.”
• RB Bishop Sankey had just four carries a week after carrying the ball 35 times, a number Sarkisian said on Monday was more than he was comfortable with his star junior taking in a single game. Sarkisian added that Sankey took a hard hit to his shoulder Saturday, and though it wasn’t serious, it was enough to let him sit out the last three quarters. Sankey still finished with 77 rushing yards and a score despite his limited playing time.
• Backup QB Cyler Miles took over for starter Keith Price (16-21-0, 213 yards, three touchdowns) late in the first half, and the redshirt freshman from Colorado took the opportunity to show off some explosive speed. He led Washington with 89 yards rushing on four attempts, including the longest run of the day, a 61-yard designed keeper that ended four yards short of the goal line. Miles was 5-for-7 passing for 97 yards, including his first career touchdown pass, a screen that freshman WR John Ross took 57 yards to the house for what was also his first career touchdown.