Nothing like a grinding, churning, nasty 235-pound running back to send the Washington Huskies sprawling back to earth in the Pacific-10 Conference football race.
Stanford throttled the 24th-ranked Huskies, 34-14, in front of 36,930 in its home stadium. But this was Toby Gerhart’s night to put the Cardinal on its back en route to a career-high 200 rushing yards.
About Gerhart’s performance:
• Except for when Stanford ran out the clock at the end of the first half, he touched the ball at least one on every one of the team’s nine drives.
• On four of the Cardinal’s first five drives, he popped a run of 10 or more yards, including a career-long 60-yarder for a score at the end of the first quarter that proved to be the game-winner.
• On Stanford’s 14-play, 68-yard drive at the end of the first half, his runs converted two key third downs, which set up Stepfan Taylor’s 1-yard TD run.
“We’re not the first team he’s done that too,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He’s been doing it for years in this conference.”
Gerhart was the tone-setter, too. On both sides, Stanford’s physicality won out. On both sides, Huskies went backward, not forward.
“We had guys out of their gaps, guys not playing sound, fundamental football that we’ve been taught since day one,” UW linebacker Donald Butler said.
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, after his rushing offense rolled up 321 rushing yards, and twice controlled the clock for 10 minutes in a quarter (second and fourth), was generally satisfied with the way his team played and produced.
“I’m proud of our guys. That was a good team win. We left no doubt,” Harbaugh said. “Toby’s had a lot of good games. He ran very physically. It was another sensational performance by our offensive line.”
• Sarkisian said the kickoff to open the game – one returned 91 yards for a TD by Stanford’s Chris Owusu, who has done that that three times this season – was supposed to be aimed left where the coverage converged. Mysteriously, Erik Folk kicked it right where the coverage wasn’t.
No wonder the only man who had a chance to tackle Owusu was Folk, who was taken out of the play by a head-fake.
“Whether it’s a miscommunication, I’m not sure,” Sarkisian said.
• All the parties involved – Sarkisian, free safety Justin Glenn and linebacker Mason Foster – were well aware that the pass by Stanford’s Andrew Luck late in the first quarter was a backward lateral.
It seemed the Huskies were the only ones alert enough to track the live ball. Glenn picked it up and ran it back 51 yards for a TD.
“I looked over at the ref and didn’t see him doing anything,” Glenn said. “Then Mason said, ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’ and I took off running.”
• Linebacker E.J. Savannah sat out the entire second half with a foot injury. Sarkisian said it could be a plantar fasciitis injury. Cort Dennison (eight tackles) and Joshua Gage (seven tackles, two for losses) finished up in Savannah’s place.
• Sarkisian said Jermaine Kearse’s low snap count in the second half (unofficially we had it at 10 snaps) was personnel-driven. Kearse did catch a 19-yard TD pass from Jake Locker at the 9:54 mark of the second quarter.
• Wilson High’s Desmond Trufant had a great day on special teams and, for the most part, on defense. He stopped Richard Sherman for no gain on one punt return, and downed a 61-yard punt by Will Mahan at the Stanford 1 right before halftime.
He also broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Owusu in the second quarter. In the second half, he was flagged for a pass-interference penalty defending Jamal-Rashad Patterson.