Washington defense shines against Arizona
Huskies have shown improvement in first four games in several key categories.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Beneath dark clouds and a constant downpour, swirling winds whipped around Husky Stadium and temperatures for the Washington’s 31-13 win over Arizona dropped to 60 degrees for the Saturday afternoon kickoff.
It was the kind of setting that only a defensive coordinator could love.
“My favorite part tonight was before the game and you had the rain coming down sideways into your face,” Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “You hear stories about this place and how the weather makes it a great place to play defense.
“You saw some of that tonight.”
Truth be told, Husky fans hadn’t seen defense like this in over a decade.
Not since the 2000 team that finished 11-1 with a Rose Bowl win has Washington been this dominant defensively.
The undefeated Huskies (4-0) held then-No. 19 Boise State to six points. They surrendered just three points to Illinois in the first half before allowing 21 in the second half in a game that was closer than maybe it should have been.
Last week Washington blanked overmatched Idaho State and for a few moments in this Pac-12 opener, you had the feeling they might do the same against Arizona.
Early on the Huskies snuffed the life out of a Wildcats offense that scored 52 points against UW last year in a lopsided win.
Led by junior running back Ka’Deem Carey, who led the nation in rushing last year, Arizona scored in every quarter of its previous three games.
On Saturday, Arizona didn’t gain a first down until early in the second quarter.
“The way we started the game was key,” said sophomore linebacker Shaq Thompson, who finished with a team-high tying 13 tackles. “We wanted to keep them in front of us and tackle the running back.” Carey ran wild against the Huskies last season for 172 yards. On Saturday, he finished with 132 yards on 30 carries.
However, the Huskies made life miserable for Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker.
They hurried and harassed the lefty senior who was making his fifth career start and first on the road.
They intercepted his first and last pass attempts. Both turnovers led to scores. Washington also had two sacks.
“They were pressing our outside guys, not giving us easy throws,” said Denker, who finished with 119 yards on 14-for-35 passing. “So I had to hang in the pocket a little longer. But they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. They weren’t blitzing very often.”
Through four games, UW opponents are averaging 10.8 points, which ranks UW among the best in the nation in points allowed.
“To be perfectly honest, we don’t talk about stats,” Wilcox said. “Stats will be what they are. We talk about turnovers, third-down-defense, explosive plays and tackling. We try to communicate with the guys what we want to do and that’s on our assistants who do a great job at that.
“And then it’s on the players who execute. Today was one of those days they went out there and did it.”
|Not-so pass happy|
|Washington’s defense is giving up 156.8 yards passing per game. The team record for a season is 143.6 passing yards allowed in 1988.|
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org