The Huskies went to Provo, Utah Saturday night looking to snap their streak of 12 straight road losses. It was also a homecoming for Sarkisian, who played quarterback for BYU. The Huskies though, would head for home losers once again.
At half time, the Huskies led 17-13, and it seemed that they had all of the momentum. However, in the second half, the Huskies were held scoreless, and a worn out defense could not hold the lead. It was an especially disappointing result because the Husky players and fans had to feel like they had that game.
Husky Defense Hungry Early
Nick Holt's defense was flying to the ball early in the game. They were playing with tremendous aggression, and it did not seem as if BYU would be able to do much offensively. Nate Williams and Desmond Trufant did an especially good job of penetrating the backfield out of the secondary. The front seven also did a great job of shutting down the run early.
Holes in the Husky Defense
The pass defense though, was suspect. The BYU play callers learned early that running in the first half was not going to work, but they were able to move effectively through the air. Many thought that BYU's two-headed quarterback system of Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson was not going to work. Surprisingly though, BYU passed with rhythm and pretty good timing.
BYU consistently picked up key play after key play through the air, and although the defense made a couple of red-zone stops, they just couldn't get off the field. As a result, BYU started to dominate time of possession, and the defense started to get worn out. There is some hope for the Husky defense this year though. Even with all of this, they only allowed 23 points.
Little Rhythm to the Offense
With little time of possession, the Husky offense was never able to get into any sort of rhythm. The offense showed moments of brilliance at times, but the Huskies could not consistently move the ball down the field. An effective offense lives off of consistency, and the Huskies did not have that this week. This was true with the run game. Chris Polk would be the beast that he is one series, and then the next series he would have no holes and be completely ineffective.
Look for Jesse Callier to get more involved in the run game as well. The freshman ran for 39 yards on his first carry, and then he was only given the ball one more time out of the backfield. His homerun caliber speed seems to provide a balance to Polk's bulldog like approach. Without out a doubt, Polk should receive the bulk of the carries, but Callier has the ability to catch the defense off guard every now and then.
Locker for Heisman?
As everybody knows, Jake Locker is one of the contenders to win the Heisman trophy this year. So of course, after yesterday's game, this question was all over ESPN. "Was Locker's performance Heisman worthy?" Locker had a pretty decent game, not his best, but he was effective at times. And sure, if Locker played every game like he played on Saturday, he would not win the Heisman. But for God's sake, it was the first game. The Heisman is not won or lost by any means on the first game. So to any doubters out there, give Locker another game or two.
Lots of scouts and fans were looking to see how his accuracy would be on Saturday. And to be honest, his accuracy does need to be better than it was against BYU. He would serve some balls right on the money, but he also had a few too many questionable throws. Part of it no doubt is that the offense is still getting into its rhythm. Expect Locker and the offense to have some huge games this year.
Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams
Special teams killed the Huskies Saturday night. It's hard to even know where to start. Usually, you expect the game to be won or lost by a team's starts on offense and defense, but on Saturday, the game was lost on special teams. There was the running into the kicker penalty, the long snap from Hell, Chris Polk handling kick returns like a pee-wee player, and probably a few more mistakes.
The Husky offense and defense was constantly thrown under the bus by the special teams. The offense started with terrible field position, and the defense had to deal with good field position for BYU. The announcers kept saying that special teams cannot be practiced at full speed so the first game is always a bit of a roller coaster. There is no excuse, though, for how the Huskies' special teams played.
Despite all of this, the Huskies amazingly still had a chance to win the game, twice. The defense shut down BYU twice and gave Locker a chance to lead the team down the field to the winning score. The BYU defense stepped up though, and Locker could not avenge his sophomore loss to the BYU Cougars. This game definitely hurt. Without a few dumb mistakes, the Huskies would have left Provo winners.