Huskies’ defense gets a confidence boost against Cal
The Bears racked up nearly 500 total yards, but UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he thought his defense ‘made some nice adjustments this week.’
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Huskies surrendered nearly 500 yards and gave up a couple of scores, but their 41-17 victory felt like a shutout.
After being battered at Stanford, steamrolled by Oregon and embarrassed at Arizona State, Washington needed a game like Saturday’s homecoming blowout at Husky Stadium.
“This was the type of performance I was hoping we could have,” coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It’s been a tough three weeks.
“I thought we made some nice adjustments this week.”
It was the fourth-fewest points the Huskies had allowed this season. It was a game that rekindled memories of the 31-13 win over Arizona when Washington beat up quarterback B.J. Denker and forced the Wildcats into a one-dimensional attack.
Unlike the past two weeks, when Washington gave up 1,216 yards and 98 points, the Huskies controlled the game defensively.
Sophomore Cory Littleton, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end, batted down passes before leaving with an injury. Junior defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, who finished with two sacks, raced around the end and applied constant pressure.
And cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Greg Ducre, members of a beleaguered secondary that was torched last week in Tempe, Ariz., proved resilient, especially in the red zone.
California failed to gain a first down on four of its first six drives.
The Bears cobbled together a 13-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown early in the second quarter. Otherwise, it was a near-perfect showing for Washington’s defense in the first half.
The Huskies led 24-7 at the break and, with the exception of a 25-yard field goal and a 73-yard touchdown run by Cal freshman running back Khalfani Muhammad in the fourth quarter, Washington never let up.
The Huskies survived 54 pass attempts from Jared Goff, who completed 32 of them for 336 yards.
The heavy dose of passes meant a long night for Washington’s secondary. Backup cornerback Tre Watson led the Huskies with 11 tackles and Ducre had eight. Peters and linebacker Travis Feeney deflected two passes.
The Huskies sacked Goff five times. Freshman defensive end Marcus Farria had 1½ of them, junior defensive tackle Evan Hudson had one and Littleton was credited for a half sack.
“I’m glad we were able to get after the quarterback some and get some sacks,” Sarkisian said. “We missed him some, too.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org