BY Art Thiel 07:24PM 11/15/2014

Thiel: Fake FG the worst of Huskies’ mishaps

So much to pick on, but it says here that the fake FG that Arizona turned into a touchdown was the most egregious in the bounty of blunders produced by Washington in Tucson.

RB Dwayne Wshington, here against Oregon, had a career-high 148 yards Saturday against Arizona, but it wasn’t enough to overcome many Huskies’ mistakes. / Gary Breedlove, Sportspress Northwest

Rarely in one game have the Washington Huskies given their fans so many reasons to celebrate and so many reasons to regurgitate. If any one of a couple of dozen plays and non-plays, officiating calls and non-calls, flipped Saturday in Tucson, UW would have had that rarest of seasonal jewels — a road win against a ranked conference opponent.

Nothing flipped — except the fans — and the Huskies are 6-5 because they let a mostly dominated Arizona team play poorly and win, 27-26, for which truly can be said that nearly everyone in purple had a hand in the demise. Including the head coach, Chris Petersen.

While much attention will go, deservedly, to the failure to run out the clock with a 26-24 lead in the final minute, when RB Deontae Cooper fumbled the ball to Arizona that set up the winning field goal, as well as the “icing” timeout that nullified a missed field goal, the most egregious coaching error came when the the Huskies were unprepared for a fake field goal attempt that resulted in a touchdown.

Ahead 17-7 with two minutes left in the half, the Huskies stopped Arizona on third down at the Washington 18. On fourth and four, the Wildcats set up for a field goal in a situation ripe for a fake. Sure enough, a direct snap to punter Chris Skowron resulted in an 18-yard run around right end that left him untouched for the score.

Someone on a coaching staff known for gadget plays and high risks fell deep asleep on a situation that they themselves would know well. Credit to Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, but the special-teams gaffe provided a break that cascaded through the rest of the game.

Washington squandered 504 yards of total offense on 90 plays, including a breakthrough game for RB Dwayne Washington (148 yards in 19 carries and two TDs). A week after Petersen described the passing game as “painful,” UW saw a 20-of-29 passing day from Cyler Miles for 223 yards and no picks.

The defense also performed well, confining explosive Arizona to 3 of 15 third-down conversions, while allowing only three drives of more than 60 yards.

But a missed field goal that struck an upright, a blown snap on a PAT kick, 13 penalties for 111 yards, and six fumbles, three of which were lost, created debacle from achievement.

“It’s a tough locker room right now,” Petersen told KOMO radio. “I’m proud of these guys. They played hard.”

While some might argue that playing hard is the mandatory minimum, playing smart was far more elusive. Penalties consistently sustained Wildcats drives while backing up the Huskies’ offense.

Speaking of smartness, or lack thereof, Petersen defended two of his most controversial actions.

Washington began its final possession with 4:25 left in the game. After Miles rushed for a first down at the 1:30 mark, it seemed that Washington could kneel for three possessions to win. But Petersen said that he was told from the coaches’ booth that since Arizona had one timeout left, the Huskies would need a first down to avoid punting the ball back to the Wildcats.

“I haven’t looked at it back, but that’s the information I got (from) upstairs,” said Petersen. Then the worst happened — Cooper turned the ball over with 1:23 left at the UW 45-yard line. After a first down, the Wildcats carefully inched toward what would be a shot at the game-winning field goal, a 47-yarder with three seconds left.

Petersen said he didn’t want to call a timeout so late that Skowron would be allowed what amounted to a practice kick on a dead-ball situation. But that’s what happened — and Skowron indeed missed the kick that didn’t count.

“I will say this,” Petersen said in the interview room, a little agitated. “I don’t want to call timeout and let him kick it, and I told the (officials) that I was going to call timeout. And I called it twice before they called it. So it is what it is.

“That’s on me. I should’ve made sure it was not going to get snapped, and should’ve made that perfectly clear.”

Asked whether he was not heard, he said, “I don’t know. I guess not. Standing right there. I told him I was going to do it.”

It may have been another blunder by another Pac-12 officiating crew, most of whom seem to believe the rule book is a language other than English. But Petersen’s dubious late-game management was merely the end chronologically. So many other physical and mental errors littered the path to Skowron’s successful kick that the Wildcats seemed almost fated to pull it out.

The loss was particularly crushing since Petersen noticed something unusual Saturday.

“We had a different spirit, a different passion,” he said. “If they do that during the week, we’ll improve and be a better football team. We deserved to win, but that doesn’t mean we always will win.”

Good for Huskies fans to hear that, 11 games in, the emotion finally is dialed in. They can only hope that smarts follow.


  • jafabian

    I was disappointed that the Dawgs weren’t ready for the fake FG considering that they scored a TD with some trickery of their own. Usually when one team scores that way the other team will try something fancy later on.

    I’m still not sold on Miles even though he had a solid game. His fumbles ended up being costly and there were times he locked onto his receiver. He doesn’t seem to be the kind of QB right now who can will the offense to a score. Can he direct a drive? Can he run the two minute offense? Can he get them to rally around him? Miles has stabilized the QB position but I’m not sure they can win with him. Between Miles, Lindquist and Williams I like Williams because in his one game this year he seemed to learn as the game progressed, though he had nowhere to go but up.

    Listening to sport talk radio afterwards only showed how fickle Husky Nation can be as I heard many people saying Coach Pete isn’t earning his salary and even heard a few callers suggesting a more experienced coach should be brought in. (THAT got a double take from me.) He can easily be second guessed now but the penalties and turnovers were the reason for the loss. This should have been a 43-27 win for the Huskies.

    • art thiel

      Miles is getting better but missing spring ball for being a knucklehead really set him back.

      Petersen has had multiple screwups this season. So has Sark at USC. The first year of transition is always hard. He’s a proven, experienced coach. Not a perfect coach. He deserves the criticism he’s received. But there’s no grounds for a change.

      • Bruce McDermott

        The more compelling argument against a change is that it would hurt the team and program more than sticking with CP. At least so far. But “transition” has nothing to do, in my opinion, with the clock management screw up. There is NOTHING about Pac-12 vs. WAC football that would require “transition time” for CP to know how to add, or subtract, or not blindly follow a “chart”, when it was obvious to many of us who CAN add and subtract that taking knees was clearly the correct call. I was screaming at the TV from the moment I saw them line up to run a play. A freaking nightmare, perpetrated on us by our shiny new (to us) “great game-time coach”. I have been by and large supportive and patient as a long-time fan on CP, despite some play calling that has ranged from odd to clearly stupid (let alone the overall sloppiness of the team)–until this one. But as I said, this horrible decision and the equally horrible excuse given has turned the worm. Doesn’t mean he needs to be canned. Just means there is no benefit of doubt left.

      • Effzee

        I just hope CP isn’t one of these guys who is just absolutely committed to the incumbent starting QB, no matter what. I hope he recognizes it when Miles hits his ceiling, and I hope he has the guts to go with the best player, whoever it is. All of our guys were supposedly highly rated recruits brought in by the supposed QB guru who sends guys to the NFL.

        At this exact moment, I think Miles is best option. I just mean going forward, next year and beyond. I do not want our best QB to be sitting on the bench just because there’s an older guy in front of him. I am all for showing loyalty, backing your players, creating a supportive coach-player rapport, etc. The QB position is just too important, IMO, to go with the most experienced guy, just because he’s the most experienced guy.

    • srmark

      Huh..Williams? He played absolutely horrible against ASU.

  • Eric K

    i dont think the fake FG was the worst play, yeah it hurt but the 3 fumbles lost were bigger. I think the worst was Miles just after the fake FG, after the bad snap he needs to know to just down it and let the clock run so they can punt and the half is basically over. That gave them a free 7 points.

    • art thiel

      College players are going to screw up with physical mistakes, like fumbling. Failure to properly instruct is on well-paid coaches.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Bingo. You can blame a player for fumbling, no doubt. But the level of blame for a coach paid handsomely to know not to give him the ball at all is far higher.

  • hb2p

    So the Huskies Coug’d it.

    • Bob McGillicuddy

      Don’t bring the Cougs into this one. You Dawgs earned it and own it all by yourself. Have a nice week of regret.

      Just make sure to overlook Quarterback U’s new diamond in the rough, Luke Falk, on the way to your final prize for total mediocrity, the Mr. Clean Toilet Bowl.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Of all the fans of teams who have no standing to give sh*t to anybody for anything–bad play, bad coaching, losing games they should win–fans of the Cougars win the prize, from decades of earning it. The Dawgs will be going to the Toilet Bowl, and the Cougs will be cleaning them during bowl season.

  • PokeyPuffy

    did not watch the whole game , but must say i enjoyed the bits and pieces i saw of this Huskies team today. They looked like Seahawks 2013 with swarming defense and brutal running offense. WTF is all you can say about the last two minutes…

  • Bruce McDermott

    Art, read Jerry Brewer’s article. Plenty of blame to go around, but this absolute bs about the “chart” from CP is over the top. Just think about a head coach supposedly great in game-time situations actually saying such a reflexive, clueless thing.The absolutely worst of the coaching was not the fake field goal, it was clock management at the end of the game, and the “excuse” in the post-game was simply wince-able. If he is still spouting that nonsense on Monday, the embarrassment simply deepens. He is paid huge money to use his head under pressure, not just rely on some “chart”, and he simply didn’t. A sad and bitter day in Husky Nation–undone, most of all, by the coach. Yes, any number of plays by the 18-22 year olds on the field could have changed things, but they are young, and not paid worth diddly. CP shares neither of those conditions with his players. Shocked at how poorly he handled this in the game, and at least as shocked about his response to questions about it after. The media simply gave him a pass on it. Hope somebody asks the questions again, pointedly, on Monday.

    • art thiel

      Jerry did a good job breaking down the time management bungle. And since I wasn’t in Tucson, I couldn’t ask questions. I will be there Monday.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Super. You have more sack than most of your colleagues put together when it comes to asking questions that you know will piss off coaches. This is not a moment for Tony Ventrella-type softballs, bless his heart.

  • Talkjoc

    I waited a day to collect my thoughts on another “Couging” by the Dawgs. Then, I read the “chart” comment by CP and my eyes started bleeding. Does the man NOT know how to think for himself? I’m screaming “take a F-in knee at the TV. So, you have to punt with less than 15 seconds remaining, they’ll have NO timeouts and most likely have to go 80 yards. But, wait, there’s more. I HATE the ice the kicker TO. Has it EVER worked. They kick the ball for a practice swing. I, for the life of me, don’t get CP, rookie mistakes, re: the fake against Stanford coming to mind with a tie score. Hey, Art no apology, so I guess THIS loss didn’t make the apology standard.

    • art thiel

      That’s what happens when a coach apologizes for getting beat by a better team. What’s your fallback position when you lose a winnable game when you’re the better team?

    • guest123

      Actually it worked for Sark when USC beat Arizona

  • Marc S

    I think Bruce and Talkjoc are right on the money. Huskies fell apart in the end of both halves and I hope they can learn and grow from that experience. However this is not Peterson’s first head coaching job. This was acceptable from Sark because he was learning how to be the head guy. All year long we have seen bad coaching. Particularly on the special teams and offense. I feel bad, but I feel worse for the players, they deserved and needed that win. I guess I can somewhat understand not taking a knee to kill the clock, though the HC is supposed to know time management. What really burns me is AZ having 4th down at the 30, you don’t take a TO with 30 seconds left. You have one of the most explosive kick returners in college football! You would have had 2 TOs remaining. At least give your team a chance should the other team convert a 47 yard FG. This is one thing I haven’t heard any explanation for. Of course maybe because there isn’t one for such a horrible decision.
    On the drive with the fake FG, Arizona “converted” a 4th down due to a defensive holding. On the replay it looked like the receiver ran right over Beaver. Is the defensive player not entitled to the space he is occupying?
    The team needs to cut down the penalties and get some stick’m for Miles and they look like they will be alright. Hopefully the highly touted coaching staff can start bringing their thinking caps to the games instead of their dunce caps.

    • srmark

      Yea, hopefully the “highly touted coaching staff can start bringing their thinking caps to the games, ” after many …11 games into the season!!
      Real pathetic..

  • Talkjoc

    Guess the guy with the chart makes the decisions.

  • RadioGuy

    This is what happens when you try trick plays against a good PAC 12 team instead of New Mexico State or Wyoming. I wouldn’t bail on Petersen as quickly as some Husky fans are because he’s smart enough to figure it out, but he’s got to realize by now that opposing coaches and players are more likely to stop the cute stuff than second-tier coaches and players. You’re in the Big Time now, Chris.

    • Effzee

      Except for that the other teams seem to make the cute stuff work just fine against us.

  • Tyee Club member

    Coach Pete should have saved his apology for this game.

  • Big

    UA said, “Chart, we don’t need no stinking chart”.

  • notaboomer

    bring back gilbertson, baby!

  • ll9956

    This loss was beyond disgusting. I agree with Bruce. IMO, the end-of-game clock management was a worse screwup than the fake FG. Bruce is right: Jerry Brewer outlined clearly how things would have played out had the coach instructed Miles to take a knee, which was, without a doubt, the correct call. The worse of it is that Petersen tried to dodge the blame by using the chart explanation. The coaches “upstairs” also deserve major blame, since they were the ones who gave Petersen bad advice.

    Art was arguably right last week in saying that Petersen shouldn’t have apologized, but after this catastrophic decision, he owes the fans and especially the team an apology. One can only hope that the entire coaching staff reads Brewer’s outline and finally realize their failure.

    I realize that the team is comprised of young men and that in general youth is resilient. However, I wonder how they’ll fare in trying to recover mentally/psychologically from this disastrous loss.

    Art, on Monday I hope you get to ask Petersen some penetrating questions and report on his response.

  • Bayview Herb

    I’ve never saw a worse performance by a coaching staff. That the ball carriers weren’t sufficiently taught to protect the ball, A great offensive performance only to have a promising QB bobble the ball. The huskies smashed Arizona in the mouth and stole their lunch money. The team collectively tried over and over to give the game back to Arizona. The final straw was the last offensive play in which we once again gave the ball up 3 kneel downs would have left Arizona with 10 seconds left and out of field goal range. That one was on the coaches…

    • srmark

      The problem for Miles was the center — doesn’t the dingbat know how to snap a ball? My gawd! Talk about poor coaching & execution.