As soon as the boon died down, as well as all the post-game interviews in the lower hallways of Hec Edmundson Pavilion, the greatest joy still had a smile on Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh’s face.
Domination on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
It wasn’t too long ago when the Cardinal had the laughing-stock offensive line of the Pacific-10 Conference – 2006, to be exact – in the final year of former coach Walt Harris.
Talent evaluators surmised that offensive line was one of the worst they had seen in the league in recent history.
Good big men – beefy, bouncy and bright – go the longest way in determining whether a program flourishes or flounders.
And that is where the UW is right now – alarmingly sub-par and reeling after 13th-ranked Stanford walloped the Huskies, 41-0, on Saturday night in Seattle.
* OFFENSIVE LINE
The good: Even though he hasn’t made the strides many on the UW staff figured in his second full season as an offensive tackle, Senio Kelemete still shows signs of being the most promising blocker of the group – with the potential of playing beyond college.
The bad: Cody Habben graded poorly at right tackle, and he was a three-year starter. The team has tried Drew Schaefer out there (and it might be his best position yet), as well as newcomer Erik Kohler. … No push in interior of line, and center play has been spotty.
Saturday night: The statistic that stands out is the Huskies’ inability to convert run plays of 1-yard or less. They got the first one on their first drive on Chris Polk’s 2-yard run, but then proceeded to convert one of the next seven short-yardage situations.
Most of the tries came with Polk going up the gut (including one on his first direct-snap run of 2010). Nada.
Next week guess: Think UW coach Steve Sarkisian will elect to keep the same five linemen who started Saturday night – and live with the results. (Kelemete at LT, Tolar at LG, Schaefer at C, Porter at RG, Kohler at RT).
* DEFENSIVE LINE
The good: Good motors by true freshmen Hao’uli Jamora and Sione Potoa’e, so half the future appears bright if they continue to progress and get bigger.
The bad: The plaguing problem is the defensive ends can’t get off blocks – which opens the first level for opposing tailbacks.
Saturday night: Stanford’s Andrew Luck WILL be the No. 1 draft pick next spring in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he showed why against UW. Every time the Huskies’ defensive ends cheated inside, Luck took off running, even scoring on an early back-breaking 51-yard scamper on the Cardinal’s opening drive.
On that long scoring run, it was Everrette Thompson who cut inside, leaving the outside lane bare (strong safety Nate Williams also appeared to have an assignment error).
Next week guess: UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt will likely continue to stick with Jamora and Potoa’e, even with their youthful mistakes. They are the future. And, of course, Alameda Ta’amu will continue to man the middle, taking up double teams (he has had his moments … just not as many as the defensive staff would have liked).