Honestly, and not because either Washington or Washington State offensive lines were diamonds in the trenches, I figured each quarterback would have 6-7 seconds to get off passes Saturday in the 102nd Apple Cup.
That’s how much pressure both defenses had been mounting in recent weeks on opposing Pacific-10 Conference signal callers.
The most surprising development in the UW’s 30-0 win over the Cougars at Husky Stadium was the way the defense harassed whoever WSU had in at quarterback, whether it was Kevin Lopina, Marshall Lobbestael or even Dan Wagner.
Easily it was the UW’s best effort of 2009 – sound, scintillating and effective. Those were the words used by defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who was pleased by the way things shook out.
Stopping running back Dwight Tardy was priority No. 1. Except for a couple good runs at the end of the first half, Tardy was held in check.
Once the Huskies did that, they dialed up the pressure. And surprisingly, even though it seemed as if they blitzed a lot, Holt said add up the total amount of stunts, and it likely won’t vary much from what they’ve been doing all season.
“We might have pressured a little more than we have in the past. Quite honestly, if you probably broke it down and added it up, it probably would have been the same (it was) against UCLA and Oregon State, and things like that,” Holt said. “I think the guys maybe executed it a lot better. They were focused. They had a great week of practice.”
Defensive end Darrion Jones (one sack, one near-interception) was superb in controlling the edge when he was up, and had a good feel for what the Cougars were going to do in the passing game dropping back into coverage.
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, the other UW defensive end, has been having a difficult time breaking through double-teams this season. But he registered a sack, and had two tackles for loss.
When Holt sent linebackers, like Joshua Gage (two TFL), or Cort Dennison (sack and constant pressure), it worked. He sent safety Nate Williams on occasion. And cornerback Adam long, too.
Holt went out of his way to credit free safety Jason Wells, who did a masterful job of keeping most of the action in front of him, and within reach, in the middle of the field.
“I think we stuck to the game plan,” UW defensive tackle Cameron Elisara said. “Today might have been a better day emotionally, and assignment-wise for the defense.”
The painful numbers for the Cougars:
• 47 rushing yards.
• 11 first downs.
• Gave up five sacks
• Two hurt quarterbacks (Kevin Lopina suffered torn oblique; Marshall Lobbestael had his bell rung).
• Zero points.