Buffaloed: Huskies Have Rocky Night in the Rockies
From a cold night in Colorado, an underachieving Washington football team will look back at play after play that might have prevented a 20-14 loss to the Buffaloes.
None more aptly sized up this game--and maybe a season of huge disappointment--than when the Huskies' Aaron Fuller gathered in a punt near his end zone, broke it up the middle and raced 52 yards with a lot of open space in front of him. The last man got him, dragging Fuller down from behind.
That would be No. 99. On the Colorado roster, Jalen Sami. A 6-foot-6, 320-pound redshirt freshman. A defensive tackle.
And they said Ralphie V was retired.
"On that punt return, I could have scored," Fuller lamented. "With the opportunities we had, we could have won the game."
That wasn't going to happen in Boulder, where snow was visible on the edges of Folsom Field and the visitors looked uncomfortable in the chilly Rocky Mountain setting. They lost to Colorado for the first time in 10 games and more than two decades.
Throughout the first half, the Huskies (6-5 overall, 3-5 Pac-12) were as outplayed and outcoached as they have been all season, falling behind 13-0.
If offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan keeps his job into 2020, his critics will tell you, that will be an upset.
It was open season on Hamdan's someday NFL-bound quarterback Jacob Eason, who was blitzed repeatedly and sacked five times, four in the first half. He might leave early for the pros for better coaching, those same naysayers are suggesting.
The Huskies offense was a mess. It went all but two offensive series without starting sophomore right guard Jaxson Kirkland, who left the field with what appeared to be a left knee injury.
The running game was nonexistent. At halftime, the UW counted just 91 yards of total offense, 10 rushing. The Huskies finished with 32 yards on the ground on 32 carries.
"We could get nothing going in the first half," coach Chris Petersen said. "No rhythm. Fourteen points isn't enough to win in this league."
When given a chance to throw, Eason proved scary for Colorado (5-6, 3-5). He completed 21 of 34 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown. His velocity was good. He looked fired up over the final two quarters.
Yet the junior quarterback made another serious throwing mistake. On that second series, Eason drove the Huskies to the Colorado 11 only to give up an interception to Buffaloes linebacker Nate Landman, squandering the scoring drive.
Defensively, the Huskies were a little more sound but they didn't come up the big plays when needed. On the first half's only TD, freshman cornerback Trent McDuffie had tight pass coverage on Colorado's Laviska Shenault, but the other guy took the ball away from him in the end zone for a 39-yard score.
As widely anticipated, the UW started redshirt freshman Edefuan Ulofoshio for the first time at inside linebacker. He got caught out of position a few times, but the young guy led his team in tackles with 11, 9 solo.
Coming out of the half, the Huskies made a game out of it. Eason guided them on a 15-play drive, capped off by Richard Newton's 1-yard TD run to make it 13-7.
The teams next traded TDs, with the Huskies finding the end zone on Eason's 15-yard pass to sophomore tight end Cade Otton early in the fourth quarter.
The final 12 minutes proved exceedingly frustrating for Petersen's crew. Opportunities were there to pull it out. None were realized.
That Fuller punt return, with nothing to show for it--neither on the return nor thereafter from scrimmage.
Colorado backup QB Blake Stenstrom's fumble at his own 18, caused by Ryan Bowman, but no UW recovery.
From the Buffaloes 12 in the closing minutes, quarterback Steven Montez's gutsy third-and-16 lob over the Huskies secondary to cement the upset.
"We had our chances," Petersen said.
Heading into the Apple Cup, the Huskies surprisingly have five losses and a lot of questions surrounding play-calling and execution. And maybe even the talent level.
Who would have thought that?