Huskies notebook: Lessons learned from wake-up call before Stanford
It’s possible that the Huskies were guilty of looking ahead to this week’s Pac-12 opener against No. 16 Stanford when they stumbled out of the blocks vs. Georgia State on Saturday.
It’s an easy way to explain how they found themselves in a 14-0 hole at halftime, something that was disappointing and ultimately overshadowed their 45 unanswered points in the second half that led them to the win over the Panthers. But regardless of whether the looming specter of the Cardinal had anything to do with the slow start, that first-half performance raised a lot of issues and ultimately served as a wake-up call for UW before the Stanford game.
“Obviously the focus and attention to detail and all that stuff was not there (in) the first half,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said Monday. “I don’t necessarily think (the players’ focus) was on Stanford at that time. I think it was more of us, for whatever reason, not showing up ready to play. I think it’s an unbelievable lesson. That’s what it needs to be. If you take your eye off the prize for two seconds and don’t have that edge to you, you can look very, very bad.”
Washington knows a similar misstep this week – or any week for the rest of the season – could have some serious repercussions as the schedule ramps up considerably with the arrival of Pac-12 play.
Stanford (2-1) will make it extremely tough on the Huskies’ offense, as its defense currently ranks as the best in the nation at just 4.3 points allowed per game. The Cardinal have two shutouts to their credit, and their 13-10 loss to USC in Week 2 certainly wasn’t on their defense.
“The thing that just really jumps out at you is they play really hard, first and foremost, and then they’re not going to give you anything,” Petersen said of the Cardinal’s defense. “You’re not going to trick them on anything. I think their coaches are as smart as their players in terms of all those things. … Their schemes are good, they’re not simple. It’s not just they sit in one thing. They’re going to punch you from all over the place, change defenses. They’re impressive.”
If the Huskies are going to have success against Stanford’s defense, it will most likely need sophomore wideout John Ross back in action to do so. He missed the Georgia State game with a leg injury he suffered the previous week against Illinois, and the absence of the Huskies’ most explosive player and leading receiver (224 yards, three touchdowns on just six receptions) was felt pretty strongly, as their lack of a big-gain threat was a big reason they were scoreless in the first half.
“(Ross) practiced today and seemed OK, so we’ll see,” Petersen said. “(I’m) not willing to stand on the table and say he’s good to go and all that. He’s kind of a week-to-week guy.”
Callier done for the year, and possibly for good
For the second time in his Washington career, fifth-year senior running back Jesse Callier had his season ended on the first play of a game. Callier suffered a ruptured Achilles on the kickoff Saturday, meaning he has likely played his last game in a Huskies uniform.
“That’s a hard one to take, just a guy that’s a senior and some of the things that he’s been through,” Petersen said. “He was doing such a great job for us, so that’s hard.”
Callier has been one of the four main players Washington has rotated at tailback this season. He started against Eastern Washington and has 91 yards and a touchdown this season.
His 2012 season was similarly disastrous. Callier entered the year as the starting tailback, but he tore his ACL in the season opener against San Diego State, ultimately opening the door for Bishop Sankey, who went on to one become one of the best running backs in school history.
Though it’s a longshot that Callier could be granted a sixth year of eligibility based on the injury, he took to his Twitter account Monday to make a point that he isn’t giving up on playing football just yet.
And for the people that think my “career” is over hahahaha keep dreaming because it's just getting started
— Jesse Callier Jr. (@jCallier24) September 22, 2014
Lindquist’s unique use a sign of things to come
Backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist was one of the stars of the win over Georgia State, as he was used three times in a somewhat tricky capacity. Lindquist ran each time he came in to take a snap, pushing starting quarterback Cyler Miles out to a receiver spot, and in those three carries he totaled 35 yards and two touchdowns.
Petersen said the new use of Lindquist is indicative of something he’d like to do more of, which is using more players in less conventional ways, especially when the Huskies are utilizing a no-huddle offense.
“We would like to get a lot of guys involved. I think one thing that kind of makes everything more difficult sometimes is no-huddle and trying to go fast,” he said. “If you huddle all the time you can get a lot of people into the game – certain receivers, linemen, those type of things. Not huddling a whole lot, that makes it a little bit trickier. We do like to do that.
“We like to play to guys’ skills. We like to get everybody something in the game plan. We like them to be excited about it and get good at it. I think you saw that a little bit with Jeff.”