- Mason Kelley, Reporter, Recruiting Nation
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SEATTLE -- Washington went into Thursday’s game against No. 8 Stanford wanting to disrupt the Cardinal’s rhythm on offense. And, with Stanford clinging to a 6-3 lead after two quarters, the Huskies have done just that at CenturyLink Field, slowing down the Cardinal’s ground game while generating enough offense to maintain some momentum.
Stat of the half: After allowing Stanford to rush for a school-record 446 yards during a loss in Palo Alto, Calif. last season, Washington dialed up its run defense in the first half Saturday. The Huskies held the Cardinal to 27 rushing yards in the first quarter and allowed a total of 47 yards on the ground in the first half.
In fact, The Huskies actually outgained Stanford on the ground in the first half, rushing for 62 yards.
Player of the half: Kasen Williams. With Washington needing to make a play to generate some early momentum, Williams split double coverage down the sideline, hauling in a 35-yard pass from Keith Price on third-and-10 that helped set up Travis Coons’ 43-yard first-quarter field goal.
With defenders draped all over him, Williams was able to get his right foot down inbounds, making up for a drop on previous possession. The sophomore receiver caught five passes for 61 yards in the first half.
What’s working for Washington: Offensive tempo. There were moments in the first quarter when Price was wildly waving his arms at teammates, trying to get them to the line quickly with the Huskies running a no-huddle offense. Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian has talked about his program playing fast and it did that early Thursday, helping the Huskies move the ball against the Cardinal.
What’s working for Washington, part II: Stanford stuck to its gameplan in the first half and tried to run right at Washington. The Huskies were determined to keep the Cardinal from pushing them around though, and played the physical, attacking brand of football defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox had been looking for.
Play that sparked a big play: Leading by a field goal in the first quarter, Stanford faced a third-and-5 in its own territory. Quarterback Josh Nunes lofted a well-thrown pass down the sideline to Ty Montgomery. However, before Montgomery could pull in the pass, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant was able to knock the ball out of Montgomery’s hands.
That play forced the punt that led to Williams’ diving third-down catch, which resulted in Coons’ field goal.