BY Todd Dybas 01:46AM 11/30/2010

Drive still alive

With the final drive still a hot topic on Monday, Sarkisian says he knew he would go for it once Washington made it to within feet of the end zone.

Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian made a gutsy call that paid off on Saturday against Cal. (Drew Sellers/Sportspress Northwest file)

Plowing to the 1-yard line, Jake Locker made the decision for Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian.

So close to a win, Sarkisian decided Washington would go for the touchdown just a few feet from the goal line, no matter how many downs it took. The result, paydirt.

“You settle for a field goal there, in a sense it’s defeat,” Sarkisian said. “That was our best drive of the day and I didn’t want to give them heading into overtime the satisfaction that they stopped us at the 1-yard line.”

Sarkisian’s reasons for going for it were simple:

  • After consecutive sneaks, Cal leveraged the “A” gaps anticipating another. Much like a pitcher whose fastball is his marquee pitch, Sarkisian decided to hurl an unbalanced look.
  • He felt like momentum had shifted to Washington during the 78 previous yards gained.
  • After seeing Cal jump the snap count on the quarterback sneak attempts, he knew a quick count set, something Washington practiced all season, would be effective.
  • It was another chance to invoke his style on the program.

It all worked, saving Sarkisian the second-guessing. Well, for the most part. There were unfounded and ludicrous questions about why Chris Polk carried the ball as opposed to Locker, the insinuation the call was representative of Sarkisian’s lack of faith in Locker. There was also grumbling about not running the power on third down. Equally silly.

Sarkisian hesitated only once when discussing the decision. If Washington was on the two-yard line, would he have gone for it?

“I don’t know,” Sarkisian said.

Thanks to Locker the decision was made.

“He’s not healthy by any means, but when our back was against the wall and needed to make plays we leaned on No. 10 and he showed some real guts and real heart that last drive,” Sarkisian said.

Locker, who would rather break a rib than tout himself, was asked if he had extra brewing among his innards during the final drive. He said he did.

“If it was a little bit more competitiveness or whatever it was, I think it was a common goal, we’re not going to go out this way,” Locker said.

It was also a little more playbook. Locker ran seven times in the fourth quarter, pushing his carries for the game to 12. It’s clear Locker can draw out the effort when necessary, but that he is likely too injured to survive an entire game running as much as in the past.

“I wasn’t going to play if I didn’t feel confident in myself and my body,” Locker said. “Those are things that, yeah, when the game is on the line like that, you’re going to do what you can to put your team in position to win. You don’t think about those (injuries).”

If the Huskies win on Saturday in the Apple Cup, odds are they will be selected for the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl. Locker’s ailing body will receive almost a month off. He just needs to make it hurt so good one more time.


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