BY Steve Rudman & Art Thiel 07:55PM 09/17/2011

Rudman/Thiel: On Nebraska 51, Washington 38

If two bad kicking-game calls by officials hadn’t gone against the Huskies, they might have found themselves in position to upset No. 11-ranked Nebraska in Lincoln Saturday.

UW coach Steve Sarkisian didn't like the special teams penalities that went against the Huskies Saturday in Lincoln. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

STEVE: Look at the final score – Nebraska 51, Washington 38 — and it appears UW received almost exactly the dousing predicted (17 points) by the oddsmakers. But I can’t help but think that without a couple of botched calls by the officials, the outcome might have been different.

ART: All of Lincoln, all of America, all of the ships at sea that tuned in saw the two kicking-interference calls that turned the game. Not saying the Huskies would have won with the correct calls, but the gig was tough enough without overcoming what has to be termed clinical, terminal stupidity.

STEVE: The officials should be brought up on charges. Can’t imagine how they missed the first one, when Cort Dennison was called for interfering with a fair catch. He never touched the Nebraska player. If the ball had gone to the Huskies right there, at the 25-yard line, they would have had a chance to break a 14-14 tie and take the halftime lead. They were never the same after that. A second botched call early in the third quarter, when UW was penalized for bowling over a Nebraska punt returner WHO HADN’T EVEN SIGNALED FOR A FAIR CATCH, led to another Nebraska score. And, of course, when UW butterfingered the subsequent kickoff return that Nebraska recovered at the Washington 1-yard line, that was pretty much it.

ART: The officials’ failure to see that Nebraska punt returner Tim Marlowe was bumped by a teammate, not a Washington player, created nearly the same degree of shock that was felt in Super Bowl XL, when Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was called for an illegal block when he was attempting to tackle the player who intercepted his pass — an inability to interpret the obvious.  Aside from any rooting interest, the irksome thing is it spoiled an unexpectedly even game to that point.

STEVE: In his first remarks after the game, UW coach Steve Sarkisian mentioned that after the second botched call, the Huskies “lost their composure.” During this “missing composure” period, Nebraska scored 17 points.

ART: The back-to-back hosings, on similar plays, would have a way of collapsing hearts and minds, but that letdown was critical. The Huskies obviously regained their wits in time to score twice in the fourth quarter, but Nebraska eased off the throttle by then. In any event, overcoming a three-score advantage in the second half is nearly impossible.

STEVE: Especially at a place like Nebraska.

ART: The miscalls overshadowed so much that the Huskies did well: 400 yards against the Cornhuskers defense, a heroic game by injured quarterback Keith Price, the toughest 100-plus yards Chris Polk has ever earned, and despite giving up 51 points, the defense that didn’t let QB Taylor Martinez go wild.

STEVE: The bad part: UW allowed Nebraska to rush for 300 yards. Going into the game, the recipe for a UW win was to contain the running game and force Martinez to throw, as they did in the Holiday Bow.l UW couldn’t contain that running game. I don’t know which is worse: Nebraska gaining 300 yards on the ground or Ron Artest becoming Metta World Peace.

ART: I have an analogy more odious: Making road trips to Pullman and Stillwater, OK., in the same Pac-16 season.

STEVE: That’s probably more odious. What’s your assessment of Keith Price after three games? The TV crew went nearly gaga over him in spite of a number of underthrown balls and bad decisions he made while trying, as football types like to say, to “make plays.” But this much is true, and somewhat amazing: He’s thrown 11 TD passes in three games. Jake Locker didn’t get his 11th until UW’s seventh game last year.

ART: Price is a more effective passer than Locker at the same stages of their careers, and Price may be better, period. His fourth-quarter pass to James Johnson that went for a 52-yard touchdown was damn near majestic. His mistakes largely seem a function of inexperience rather than lack of talent. Price’s big disappointment was late in the third quarter when UW turned the ball over on downs inside the Nebraska 20. But it’s hard to tell how much he was limited by injuries — he came in with a sore right knee, and then hurt the other leg in the second half. His tough-guy chops are unquestioned, but coach Steve Sarkisian’s wisdom in leaving him in the game with the outcome fairly clear will be known Saturday, when Washington opens Pac-10 play against Cal.

STEVE: I like Price a lot, and I like this Washington offense. To me, it’s remarkable that only three years ago the Huskies went 0-12 and today they can go into a place like Lincoln against a ranked opponent and have a chance to win if the officials don’t Barney Fife their assignments (last time UW beat a ranked opponent on the road was in 2010 when the Huskies knocked off No. 10 USC in Los Angeles; before that, they hadn’t beaten a ranked foe on the road since 2003, when they beat No. 18 Oregon State in Corvallis.) Sarkisian really has advanced UW football considerably in the time he’s been here.

ART: The Huskies’ biggest shortcoming Saturday was a strength in the first two games — special teams. Sarkisian talked up the improved depth that was supposed to salvage the kicking game. But poor punting, weak return coverage and the fumbled kickoff by freshman Bishop Sankey was where the UW lost the game. Then again, if the main reason Washington lost on the road to Nebraska is special teams, rather than being overwhelmed on offense or defense, that’s a  big sign of progress.

STEVE: I would add to that Washington also  needs to figure out how to avoid the big play, which the Huskies have yet to demonstrate they can do. The Huskies already have given up 10 of 40 or more yards in three games, including a 40-yard kickoff return and a 50-yard pass completion by Nebraska in the first 14 seconds of the game that set up the Cornhuskers’ first touchdown.

ART: Surrendering big plays is always an 11-man responsibility, but for several years, the least talented part of the Huskies’ roster has been the secondary.  There was no excuse for the opening drive mis-coverage. One redemptive aspect was in his first start, junior safety Justin Glenn, replacing injured Nate Fellner, had 15 tackles. But when your safety is the leading tackler . . .

STEVE: It means that a linebacker isn’t, which should be the case. So wrap this up with a final thought.

ART: From the 56-21 defeat to the Cornhuskers in Seattle a year ago, to being a handful of misplays and miscalls from fourth-quarter competitiveness in Lincoln, is a fairly impressive statement. Huskies fans need to hope that Sarkisian didn’t keep an injured Price in the game too long to stymie that progress.



YourThoughts

  • tissue

    can you guys cry anymore?

    • SpudzDP

      Nobody is saying that your bribed refs won the game for the highly overrated Corn Hucksters — they just kind of made things a little harder for the Dawgs to overcome — that’s all.  We realize thats how things are done in the Big Ten  – no biggie. 

  • DawgCatcher

    You are wallowing in your tears like a rhino in an African pool. What a couple of cry babies

    • CornHoler

      The one thing to come from this game was that the Corn Huskers are severely over rated and will probably meet the Huskies once again in the Holiday Bowl.  You have great fans, a great tradition and a beautiful stadium but your team is just okay.  You and your refs might have beat the Dawgs Saturday, but we will punch your lights out once again in San Diego. See yuh.

      • Amused

        Ok. Will do. Try to scrap together 10 wins and we’ll see…

  • DawgCatcher

    You are wallowing in your tears like a rhino in an African pool. What a couple of cry babies

    • CornHoler

      The one thing to come from this game was that the Corn Huskers are severely over rated and will probably meet the Huskies once again in the Holiday Bowl.  You have great fans, a great tradition and a beautiful stadium but your team is just okay.  You and your refs might have beat the Dawgs Saturday, but we will punch your lights out once again in San Diego. See yuh.

      • Amused

        Ok. Will do. Try to scrap together 10 wins and we’ll see…

  • Buttsy

    You don’t hear Crick or Steinkuler complain about all the times they had their jerseys pulled away from them and no holding call.  It happened on many occasions in this game.   

    • ConcernedFan

      Your quaterback lobs footballs as if he was tossing salmon down at the Pike Place Market.  He runs good, though.  But seriously, you guys don’t really think that you are a legitimate top 10 team, do you?  Come on.

  • Buttsy

    You don’t hear Crick or Steinkuler complain about all the times they had their jerseys pulled away from them and no holding call.  It happened on many occasions in this game.   

    • ConcernedFan

      Your quaterback lobs footballs as if he was tossing salmon down at the Pike Place Market.  He runs good, though.  But seriously, you guys don’t really think that you are a legitimate top 10 team, do you?  Come on.

  • Poppy

    I thought this was going to be a sports article.  Not the whinings of my 10 year.  ;)

  • Poppy

    I thought this was going to be a sports article.  Not the whinings of my 10 year.  ;)

  • SpudzDP

    Nobody is saying that your bribed refs won the game for the highly overrated Corn Hucksters — they just kind of made things a little harder for the Dawgs to overcome — that’s all.  We realize thats how things are done in the Big Ten  – no biggie. 

  • Dotbo

    On the first call, the person fielding the ball called for fair catch (I think).  Interference with the ability to catch a fair catch was the ref’s call.  This could have been due to a UW player shoving a NU player into the fair catcher.  If that’s the case, I’m not sure it’s actually a penalty.  By giving NU the penalty, the refs effectively restore possession to NU.  Big deal.  Had the punt not been dropped, NU would have had the ball anyways.  Is UW relying on punt fielders to occasionally drop balls in order to win games?!?

    The second call you’re talking about did not affect UW at all.  Rex Burkhead was the fielder of the punt.  He didn’t drop the ball.  The UW player was called for interference.  There were yards applied to field position.  Big deal.  Are you suggesting that NU would not have scored if the refs had not called the penalty?!?

    Bottom line:  Are you suggesting that UW should have or could have won the game?!?  Should there be a rematch?  Do you want to see a rematch?

    There were horrible missed holding penalties all day on NU’s Jared Crick.  Had these penalties been enforced, the UW line would have had to respect the rules, and not hold, creating more sacks for NU, and less points for UW.

    I think everyone can agree that the refs should not be payed by the conference of one of the teams which is playing.  Inter league play should be reffereed by independent refs.  In fact, the NCAA should supply refs, not the conferences.  The conferences have money at stake when it comes to bowl eligibility of certain teams, and National Title eligibility of others.  Just a few years ago NU fans felt robbed when Texas got an extra second put on the clock at the end of the Big 12 title game.  The Big 12 gets more money and exposure for sending a team to the National Title game.  The Big 12 pays its refs.  I’m not saying NU got jobbed, but there is a conflict of interest on the part of the refs.  Apply the rules towards Texas gains money, and no one would question you.  Apply the rules in favor of Nebraska, and you’ll hear about it forever.  The refs need to be some kind of centralized collective, not conference employees.

    • crumudgeon

      Would you quit with the holding penalties not called?  That is like part of every game.  
      To me these two teams looked about equal with a slight edge to Nebraska.  That edge was the home field advantage.  It’s funny, Nebraska’s greatest weapon is also it’s greatest weakness — their quarterback, Martinez.  The guy can run like nobody’s business along the edge, but he throws the football as if it was a medicine ball.  Funnier still, he threw pretty good against the Huskies’ gutless defense.  This was kind of a fluky game, but Nebraska won.  Both teams seemed to have lots of potential but both teams also have serious flaws.  The Huskies’ defense might improve but the one dimensional ability of the Huskers’ quarterback’s game will never change.

  • Dotbo

    On the first call, the person fielding the ball called for fair catch (I think).  Interference with the ability to catch a fair catch was the ref’s call.  This could have been due to a UW player shoving a NU player into the fair catcher.  If that’s the case, I’m not sure it’s actually a penalty.  By giving NU the penalty, the refs effectively restore possession to NU.  Big deal.  Had the punt not been dropped, NU would have had the ball anyways.  Is UW relying on punt fielders to occasionally drop balls in order to win games?!?

    The second call you’re talking about did not affect UW at all.  Rex Burkhead was the fielder of the punt.  He didn’t drop the ball.  The UW player was called for interference.  There were yards applied to field position.  Big deal.  Are you suggesting that NU would not have scored if the refs had not called the penalty?!?

    Bottom line:  Are you suggesting that UW should have or could have won the game?!?  Should there be a rematch?  Do you want to see a rematch?

    There were horrible missed holding penalties all day on NU’s Jared Crick.  Had these penalties been enforced, the UW line would have had to respect the rules, and not hold, creating more sacks for NU, and less points for UW.

    I think everyone can agree that the refs should not be payed by the conference of one of the teams which is playing.  Inter league play should be reffereed by independent refs.  In fact, the NCAA should supply refs, not the conferences.  The conferences have money at stake when it comes to bowl eligibility of certain teams, and National Title eligibility of others.  Just a few years ago NU fans felt robbed when Texas got an extra second put on the clock at the end of the Big 12 title game.  The Big 12 gets more money and exposure for sending a team to the National Title game.  The Big 12 pays its refs.  I’m not saying NU got jobbed, but there is a conflict of interest on the part of the refs.  Apply the rules towards Texas gains money, and no one would question you.  Apply the rules in favor of Nebraska, and you’ll hear about it forever.  The refs need to be some kind of centralized collective, not conference employees.

    • crumudgeon

      Would you quit with the holding penalties not called?  That is like part of every game.  
      To me these two teams looked about equal with a slight edge to Nebraska.  That edge was the home field advantage.  It’s funny, Nebraska’s greatest weapon is also it’s greatest weakness — their quarterback, Martinez.  The guy can run like nobody’s business along the edge, but he throws the football as if it was a medicine ball.  Funnier still, he threw pretty good against the Huskies’ gutless defense.  This was kind of a fluky game, but Nebraska won.  Both teams seemed to have lots of potential but both teams also have serious flaws.  The Huskies’ defense might improve but the one dimensional ability of the Huskers’ quarterback’s game will never change.

  • dotbo

    Pac 10 refs cheat as well, UW fans.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIn1mNmgDjc

  • dotbo

    Pac 10 refs cheat as well, UW fans.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIn1mNmgDjc

  • Husker Dan

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned (and the two calls were awful) – but on the Dennison / Marlow call, the film sure looks like the ball hit Dennison’s foot before it went against Marlow’s leg.  Should not have been a penalty, but I think it should have been Nebraska’s ball still.

  • Husker Dan

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned (and the two calls were awful) – but on the Dennison / Marlow call, the film sure looks like the ball hit Dennison’s foot before it went against Marlow’s leg.  Should not have been a penalty, but I think it should have been Nebraska’s ball still.

  • huskydog

    I thought that too, but from a different angle it was clear that it hit the Husker player and not Dennison.

  • huskydog

    I thought that too, but from a different angle it was clear that it hit the Husker player and not Dennison.

  • Anonymous

    A valiant effort by the team.  Lincoln is a tough place to play, particularly when the Big 10 refs call what they want to see, not what happens.  NU is probably a little better than the Dawgs, but I could be persuaded otherwise pretty easily.
       What I most hated was seeing Holt getting emotional and getting flagged for jumping around on the field.  Talk about losing composure and hurting the team.  Remedial rules classes and psychotherapy prescribed. 
       The Dawgs have a ways to go for sure. By mid season, they could be pretty tough. 

  • bobd2

    A valiant effort by the team.  Lincoln is a tough place to play, particularly when the Big 10 refs call what they want to see, not what happens.  NU is probably a little better than the Dawgs, but I could be persuaded otherwise pretty easily.
       What I most hated was seeing Holt getting emotional and getting flagged for jumping around on the field.  Talk about losing composure and hurting the team.  Remedial rules classes and psychotherapy prescribed. 
       The Dawgs have a ways to go for sure. By mid season, they could be pretty tough. 

  • Anonymous

    Remarkable they seemed to give the defense a pass. A good defense is MUCH easier to put together than a good offense: Sark is doing his job, Holt is not.

  • 1coolguy

    Remarkable they seemed to give the defense a pass. A good defense is MUCH easier to put together than a good offense: Sark is doing his job, Holt is not.

  • Anonymous

    I thought when teams from different conferences play that the refs are from a neutral conference. Am I wrong or do any games have neutral refs?

  • 1coolguy

    I thought when teams from different conferences play that the refs are from a neutral conference. Am I wrong or do any games have neutral refs?