Huskies make minor changes on defense
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian had vowed he wouldn't panic in the wake of the 65-21 loss to Stanford last week that raised lots of criticism of UW's defense. But while there weren't wholesale changes, there were a few subtle ones.
Seattle Times staff reporters
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Washington coach Steve Sarkisian had vowed he wouldn't panic in the wake of the 65-21 loss to Stanford last week that raised lots of criticism of UW's defense.
But while there weren't wholesale changes, there were a few subtle ones.
Among the changes: Sophomore Will Shamburger got the start at free safety; John Timu returned to the starting lineup at linebacker after having suffered a neck injury against California; and redshirt freshman Andrew Hudson saw significant time at defensive end.
It was the first career start for Shamburger, a redshirt sophomore who was a high-school teammate of quarterback Keith Price at St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif.
Shamburger got the start in part because of a foot injury to Justin Glenn, who had been starting at that spot and was hurt in the loss to Stanford. Glenn had been splitting time with Nate Fellner.
But UW coaches were impressed with the play of Shamburger when he got his turn in the Stanford game.
"He was one of those guys that was competing and hitting and tackling well, and was really physical," defensive coordinator Nick Holt said during the week. "He's one of the guys that's getting better and better and better."
Shamburger had some big plays in the first half, including a pass breakup on a third down that forced Arizona to kick a field goal.
Hudson also had a big play late in the first half when he sacked Arizona's Nick Foles on a third down to force the Wildcats to punt.
Holding a grudge
Apparently, Arizona hasn't quite gotten over its 36-33 loss at Husky Stadium in 2009. Washington won that game when linebacker Mason Foster had a game-winning interception return on a tipped pass off the foot of an Arizona receiver with 2:37 left.
In the Wildcats' game notes Saturday, this sentence appeared: "Arizona QB Nick Foles ventures onto turf where he last threw for 384 yards in a 39-for-53 outing that came up short when one of the tosses bounced off a dude's foot (or the ground) for a pick-six and the winning points."
Foles this week told Seattle-area reporters that "the ref said it hit the foot, that was what it was ruled, so I will go with that. You have to trust the officials and the calls they make, so I will go with that."
The crowd was sleepy through most of a first quarter dominated by Arizona.
But it woke up early in the second in loud protest of a trio of plays that ended up being subjected to official review.
Drawing the most venom from the crowd was the ruling on a pass to tight end Michael Hartvigson ruled incomplete. Hartvigson reached to catch a pass from Keith Price and held it in his hand as he struggled to keep his feet. He fell at about the 1-yard line, losing control as he hit the ground, which apparently caused the officials to rule it incomplete.
Washington took a time out to allow for the officials to review the play as the crowd booed loudly, the volume rising even higher when a flag was briefly thrown for a delay of game (which was picked up).
After a several-minute delay, the officials ruled the pass incomplete, setting off the crowd even more.
It ended up not mattering much, however, as Price threw to Kevin Smith for 16 yards on the next play with a face-mask penalty taking the ball to the 8. Washington scored two plays later for its first points of the game.
It was Arizona that was upset a few minutes later when it challenged the ruling of a pass from receiver Devin Aguilar to Chris Polk for 33 yards. But the call stood.
There was another review later on that drive when Polk dived over the goal line for an apparent touchdown.
After the review, Polk was ruled down at the half-yard line.
Again, however, it amounted to just delaying the inevitable, though it took a little while. After a false-start penalty moved the ball back, UW appeared stopped on third down. But a pass-interference on Arizona gave UW a first down. Three plays netted UW just 1 yard and the Huskies went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
This time, there was no controversy as Polk easily ran it to put UW ahead 14-13 with 6:16 left in the first half.
'A complete guy'
UW coach Steve Sarkisian, who was around some celebrated backs with USC, said Polk "arguably might be the most complete guy I've ever had ... I don't know another player that's had more impact on the changes that were made and the progress we've had.
"Chris Polk is a fantastic player, as we all know. The way he performed tonight, you guys could probably start writing articles about Chris Polk. He deserves it."
Evaluating the game, Sarkasian said, "I'm proud of our team finding a way to win. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I was not prepared for us playing out of sorts, in a sense. I felt we were out of sorts."
• Senior Jermaine Kearse said that picking up the sixth win to become bowl-eligible was exciting.
"To be able to go for the second year in a row, it means a lot to me, especially coming from 0-12," he said, referring to the 2008 season.
Of Polk, Kearse said: "We have a lot of weapons, and he's definitely a major weapon we have. He creates explosive plays for us."
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