BY Art Thiel 12:50AM 08/31/2014

Thiel: Big scare, but Huskies survive Hawaii

Chris Petersen’s debut as Washington coach barely averted an embarrassment, with two big plays salvaging a harrowing 17-16 win at Hawaii Saturday night.

Coaches Chris Petersen and Norm Chow meet after Washington beat Hawaii 17-16 Saturday night. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The debut game of the Chris Petersen era at the University of Washington will be little noted nor long remembered, but the fine print in the box score says it does count as a win. Not a triumph, but a 17-16 non-conference win Saturday night over a Hawaii team that was 4-20 over the previous two seasons.

Behind 10-0, the Huskies scored 17 unanswered points in a 10-minute span of the first half, then fell into a prolonged slumber in the second half. But the defense, battered for 97 plays and 424 yards on a warm, humid night in Honolulu, nevertheless held the Warriors to two second-half field goals to avert a major splat.

Petersen was grieved over the sluggish offense, particularly the passing game, in which sophomore quarterback Jeff Lindquist, who won a six-month contest to start, was 10 for 26 for 162 yards.

“Our whole offense played not to lose,” he told KOMO radio. “That’s a bad thing. You feel it in your stomach.

“Jeff was a little rattled. Nobody was making any plays. We’ll look back on this in a month and won’t be bitter, but the thing that irritates me is we can play better.”

Absent recent stars Keith Price, Bishop Sankey and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the offense appeared lost at times. And as predictably shaky as was Lindquist, both lines, teeming with veterans, were knocked around by their supposed lessers from the Mountain West Conference.

“They pushed us around too much; they really did,” Petersen said. “We’re fortunate to get out of here with a W. We got a long way to go.”

Were it not for two plays, both dazzlers, the Huskies’ journey would be far longer than the 2,600-mile flight home.

Late in the first quarter after the Warriors stunned Washington with consuming drives to a touchdown and a field goal on the first two possessions, the Huskies, at the Hawaii 20-yard line, ran a reverse with WR John Ross taking a flip from RB Deontae Cooper. Ross, one of the fastest players in college ball, swept past startled defenders for a touchdown.

On their next possession, the Warriors pushed the Huskies all the way to their nine-yard line. On fourth down, Hawaii coach Norm Chow, a legendary assistant coach in college ball in his first top job, tried his own trickeration.

Marcus Kemp was the receiver on a reverse, only he was ordered to throw. Despite an open receiver, Kemp, under abrupt pressure from Huskies cornerback Marcus Peters, who had a splendid game, fluttered the ball two yards short.

Taking over on downs, the Huskies struck on their first play. Lindquist heaved the ball 55 yards to a streaking Ross, who caught the ball in stride, well ahead of defenders, and scored easily. The 91-yarder was the second-longest TD pass play in school history, exceeded only by a 98-yard hookup between Marcel Reece and Jake Locker in 2007.

Aside from a 36-yard field goal from Cameron Van Winkle with 4:23 left in the half, that was it for the offense until the last possession of the game. Washington punted eight times in a row until the defense forced Hawaii to punt with 2:40 left.

Inexplicably, the Huskies O-line made holes for RB Lavon Coleman, who hit on rushes of 11, 13 and 12 yards to run out the clock. A freshman from Lompoc, CA., Coleman may have emerged as the No. 1 back.

Coleman’s 17 carries for 78 yards led seven Washington ballcarriers, who collectively gained 174 yards.

As for the No. 1 QB, that remains an open question. Cyler Miles returns to eligibility next week after a one-game suspension. Petersen was mum about how things will play out for the home opener Saturday against Eastern Washington, but he was eager to get to work.

“There’s lots of frustration right now,” he said. “I’m so anxious to put that tape on and pick this whole thing apart.”

He’ll have plenty to do, on both sides. The defense didn’t force a turnover and allowed Warriors RB Joey Iosefa, a 245-pounder, to go for 143 yards on 30 carries. QB Ikaika Woolsey was 23 for 42 for 207 yards. But when the field shortened, the defense stiffened, particularly with the big man in the middle, DT Danny Shelton, who had 10 tackles.

And now, Petersen gets to manage a quarterback controversy. And he thought his opener was hard.

John Ross was on his way to the second-longest touchdown pass play in Huskies history Saturday in Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

 


YourThoughts

  • canyudigit

    Wow. I wasn’t expecting much……but I was left wondering what was Lindquist doing with any college football team uniform on. That was rough to watch. Was also surprised that no QB change was even on the table. Right now, it seems like it’s gonna be a long season. Sheesh…

    • art thiel

      Never make long-term judgments off a college opener.

  • RadioGuy

    Glad I missed the second half. Lindquist was 7-for-12 at halftime, which means he went 3-for-14 after intermission. Was he really that much better than Troy Williams during practice? And, yeah, a veteran line from a PAC 12 bowl team should not be pushed around by a line from a MWC team that went 1-11 last year. At least Coleman and Ross looked good.

    A win is a win and it could’ve ended worse, but there’s a lot of work to do at Montlake.

    • art thiel

      Lindquist wasn’t that much better but Williams would have struggled too. Opening game on the road with a new coach and QB. Not easy.

  • jafabian

    Coach Pete’s summation nailed it. The offense played not to lose. Overall an ugly game. Lindquist all but disappeared in the second half. Hopefully these issues will be corrected next game.

    • art thiel

      All fixable, but the D-line play was the big puzzle.

  • Jamo57

    Opening games are often fraught with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Our first season as season ticket holders was ’89 and the Huskies had a new starting quarterback who looked really shaky and UW barely survived at home vs. middling San Jose State. By the third quarter the fans in our section were yelling for the backup. The second game was barely any better at Purdue.

    The starting QB was Mark Brunell and the backup was Billy Joe.
    I watched way too much college football Thursday night and Saturday and I saw many struggling performances (UCLA fans are freaking out almost as much as UW fans).

    No time to panic, Dawg fans.

    • art thiel

      Fair point, Jamo. And today, fans are more impatient than in 89. Petersen is deep down thrilled with a win in Hawaii because he knows the difficulty.

  • Diamond Mask

    Glad we pulled it off. I did not want to start off like the sad Cougs. I thought Lindquist looked rattled too but then again it was his first start in a big game. Hawaii was running some nifty schemes on defense. I’d have been nervous too.

    • art thiel

      Much is fixable. These are not the Cougs.

  • Buggy White

    Don’t think there is much of a QB controversy, as it’s now Cyler Miles’ job going forward.

    • art thiel

      Unless it’s not.

  • Jimmy Stephens

    Ugly win or pretty loss? Take the ugly win all day long!!!! GO DAWGS!!!

    • art thiel

      Your stomach lining is likely made of titanium.

  • Radio listener

    KOMO’s pre-game and post-game coverage was worse than the Husky game.

    • Southsound Seahawk

      Agreed. Couldn’t stand listening to Elise and Softy.

  • Daniel Luechtefeld

    A minor(?) correction, Art: Hawaii is a football member of the Mountain West, not the WAC, since 2012. The WAC no longer participates in football.

    • art thiel

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • ll9956

    I have to agree with canudigit. This was difficult to watch. Since this was Lindquist’s first game, he deserves to be given some slack. But it would seem very likely that Miles will be the starter next week. As Jimmy Stephens says, it was an “ugly win”. Both the offense and defensive lines were thoroughly manhandled by the Rainbow Warriors. When you give up 230 rushing yards, there is reason for grave concern. The Dawgs have a great deal of work to do for sure. The offense being able to click in the last 2:40 of the game and keep Hawaii from having a chance to score was the bright spot that secured the W.

  • Jay

    Don’t really see there being a QB controversy….what I did see was a kid not ready to be a PAC 12 starting QB (aside from one or two plays). I live in Boise and have had plenty of opportunity to watch Pete get his teams prepared to play. The Dawgs didn’t look ready. Weird.

    • art thiel

      There will be controversy if Lindquist starts again.

      Petersen will do well, but he’s been 13 years in Boise. The transition is harder than you or Pete believes.