Usually cliches like “throw out the records” are just that. Yes, strange things often happen in rivalry games. But, those oddities typically are not much different than the average game. Washington beat Oregon State once when Mason Foster turned a bounce off a shoe into a pick-six. That had nothing to do with rivalries. That’s sports and why we keep coming back.
Friday, however, was one of the more stunning games anyone will ever see. Washington State’s fourth-quarter rally after being down 28-10 was the largest in the 105 Apple Cup meetings. It was the largest lead lost by Washington in Steve Sarkisian’s four years. It was a kick to the gut for a Washington team that felt like it it was on roll after winning four consecutive games.
And, at times, Washington looked like a team acting that way. It also looked like a team that knew the Cougars had been a mess and lost eight in a row, including a 46-7 blasting last week by Arizona State.
Sarkisian and players available said they felt there was no letdown or complacency once the Washington lead reached 28-10.
Regardless, there was a change in Washington’s play. Washington State did not go away, perhaps surprising the Huskies, and Washington began handing the game back via penalties and turnovers. After scoring 21 unanswered points in the third quarter, Washington allowed 21 unanswered to close the game. Much of that was because Washington State continued to play its behind off. Keith Price used the word “devastated” postgame.
Some news, notes and quotes:
> Sarkisian, Price, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and others all said this will take more than a day to get over. Washington usually tries to apply the 24-hour rule to victories and losses. This, they admitted, will linger.
> The 18 penalties tied the school record set in 1976. Washington set a school record with 106 penalties this season. From personal fouls, to false starts and pass interferences, Washington covered all aspects of error. The first week of fall camp, Sarkisian threw players out of practice for dumb penalties. The final game of the season, it cost them the Apple Cup in many ways.
> Cody Bruns said the snap was low for Travis Coons’ game-winning field-goal attempt. But, Bruns said he had the ball up for the kick. The timing was slightly disrupted and Coons’ kick never had a chance. The wind was not a factor. The breeze was slight if it existed at all. Kasen Williams was fooled by his sideline view of the kick. “From my point of view on the sidelines I thought it was good. I was jumping up, freaking out.”
> Williams also had one of the more interesting postgame comments. This is what he said they were thinking heading into the overtime: “We were saying on the sideline, we know we’re better than these guys, we’ve just got to finish it off and let them know we are better than them.”
>Austin Seferian-Jenkins is still bothered by the left ankle injury he suffered against Oregon. He had the ankle twisted by a Washington State defender on his first reception of the day. Seferian-Jenkins also saw triple teams much of the day, including on the first play of OT when Keith Price threw an interception.
> Price said he should have just taken the sack instead of trying to loft a pass of the defensive end to Bishop Snakey in overtime that was picked off by the WSU nose tackle. “It’s a tough play to make, but I expect myself to make that play. I probably should have taken the sack and lived to see another day.”
> Price also wasn’t sure what happened when a false start was called on third-and-1 on the final drive. Washington ran to the line and appeared ready to pull another quick snap and Price’s cadence that came with a large head bob made the Washington State nose tackle jump. But, the referees called a false start on left tackle Micah Hatchie. That took away yet another first down from Washington. The Huskies finished with more penalties (18) than first downs (17).
> No one was more irritated postgame than defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. He gave Washington State lots of credit and his team lots of blame, especially when discussing the penalties.” I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘I want to go get a 15-yard penalty right now.’ I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is you’ve got to trust your technique. You’ve got to trust what you’ve been doing for however many weeks we’ve been doing it and execute when things get tight. When it’s third down, we can’t get a pass interference. When it’s first down and the quarterback’s scrambling, we’ve got to get him on the ground. It can’t turn into a 62-yard play, hit him late, tack on 15 more now it’s first and goal. Those things kill you.”
> Cornerback Desmond Trufant said his previously hurting hamstring was fine. He also said he thought he was playing well despite what the referees were calling. “I felt I was covering great, honestly,” Trufant said.
> Washington State coach Mike Leach said this doesn’t prove the Cougars have turned the corner. Only repeated winning will show that. “If we do this over and over again. If we have a bunch of games in a row that resemble this. If you’re just a one-time guy, you haven’t changed much. We have to take this, build on it and understand we can do it every time.”
> Washington now awaits its bowl fate, which is murky.
> That’s it for now. More to come Saturday.