It’s looking a lot like 2010.
Washington picked up its third consecutive win by controlling Utah all night for a 34-15 victory that made the Huskies bowl eligible. The Huskies are on a run similar to the one they used to finish 2010 with four consecutive wins.
Three weeks ago, it was unclear if Washington would end up here. But, the Huskies have found a reliable back, Bishop Sankey, an unstoppable tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a compliment to the two in Kasen Williams. Plus, Keith Price seems to have tracked down his swagger after it scurried off earlier in the year.
Price threw for a season-high 277 yards Saturday night. Head coach Steve Sarkisian said this was “far and away” Price’s best game of the season. Price finished 24-for-33 with two touchdowns. Also, notably, he did not turn the ball over.
Sarkisian said he noticed Price emerging from his doldrums the past few weeks. During games, Price has taken to encouraging the defense from the sidelines as opposed to sitting on the bench and trying to decipher everything little thing that is happening on offense. As a result, Price has regained confidence. Sankey running for an average of 176 yards each of the last two games and Seferian-Jenkins repeatedly latching on to jump balls has helped.
“I think I executed,” Price said. “I’ve just go to grow from this game.”
Price also scrambled a few times on third down to pick up first downs. We hadn’t seen much of that this season.
“When things weren’t there, I just talked the ball and got what I could get,” Price said. “I didn’t force plays.”
Meanwhile, Seferian-Jenkins continues to scale Washington’s record books. He set the record for most receptions by a tight end in a career (passing Mark Breuner) and single season (passing Jerramy Stevens). He also played defensive end on several plays Saturday. Seferian-Jenkins said defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi approached him about it. The defensive line is so decimated at the moment that walk-on Drew Schultz from Olympia started for the first time at tackle. The only other time Schultz, a sophomore, played was during the blowout of Portland State.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Sarkisian said.
Seferian-Jenkins said he had no issues with the move, and, as is his wont, is now worried about getting better at the position.
Meanwhile, Sankey continues to impress. He became the 10th Washington back to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season and now has 1,017 yards on the year.
“If you would have told me in July, when I was on vacation, that at the end of the year Bishop Sankey was going to rush for well over 1,000 yards, I would have thought, ‘How is that going to happen?’ ” Sarkisian said. “Now, that we’re here and I watched the kid play, he’s a stud.”
Middle linebacker John Timu suffered another “stinger” to his neck, a similar play ended his year last season, and showed up postgame with a huge ice pack on his upper shoulders and neck. Asked if he had flashbacks to last season when he was carted off the field, Timu said yes. He told the cart to go away this time and walked off the field. He said he’ll be sore tomorrow, but “there’s no time” to miss practice at this point in the season.
Sarkisian also said that Desmond Trufant, who hurt his hamstring last week and left the game Saturday, will be back. He did not elaborate.
All of which leaves Washington in excellent position to close the year 8-4. The Huskies go to Colorado next week, then play the Apple Cup the day after Thanksgiving in Pullman.
At this point, we know they will be going to a bowl game for the third consecutive season. It’s the first time since 2000-02 that’s happened.