BOULDER, Colo. — It’s difficult to find disappointment in a 38-3 win. But really, had the Washington Huskies played a little cleaner and executed a little better in the first half, the final score should have been 60-3.
While Huskies might not have blown out Colorado to the extent that some of their Pac-12 brethren have in this season, Saturday’s decisive win at Folsom Field assured their best regular season record under head coach Steve Sarkisian. Not that the Huskies (7-4) are satisfied.
“The goal is to get to 9-4 this season and we couldn’t do that without getting win number seven,” Sarkisian said.
Win number seven was never really in doubt — Washington is that much better than Colorado. But there were times it was difficult to see that in the first half.
Washington’s offense was deplorable in the first half. The Huskies gained 190 yards of total offense, but penalties, incomplete passes, a missed field goal and Bishop Sankey fumble meant UW led just 7-0.
How bad was that? Well, it was the least amount points the porous Colorado defense had allowed in the first half all season. Stanford scored 35 points in the first half against CU, and Oregon scored 56 in the first half.
“I thought maybe we were our own worst enemy there in the first half,” Sarkisian said.
With the offense looking disjointed and out of rhythm in the first half, the Huskies defense kept them in the game — something that didn’t happen once last season.
“The offense couldn’t catch a break in the first half,” safety Justin Glenn said. “We knew we just needed to keep battling.”
Washington dominated the hapless Buffaloes. Colorado managed just 71 yards of total offense, didn’t register a first down and never crossed the 50-yard line.
“The defense carried us,” Austin Seferian-Jenkins said.
But Sarkisian simply wasn’t going to allow that to be the case for the entire game.
He had some stern words for his players at halftime.
“There was a little bit of tough love there in the locker room,” Sarkisian said. “They have set a standard of play that is acceptable around here, and what we were doing in the first half … was unacceptable.”
Players didn’t really elaborate on how Sarkisian delivered that message.
“He got his point across in the locker room that’s for sure,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
Sarkisian’s point was also aimed at his quarterback.
Keith Price’s first half numbers weren’t horrible — 11-for-14 for 118 yards and a touchdown pass to Cody Bruns.
But those three incompletions were bad misses, including a wide-open Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone. Price just looked out of sorts and the offense followed his struggles.
“We came in and challenged him,” Sarkisian said. “I think he responded and the rest of the team responded in the second half.”
The numbers look sort of the same. Price was 11-of-15 for 150 yards in the second half. But four of those completions were for touchdowns to four different receivers.
The five touchdown passes tied a school record.
Price understood why Sarkisian was on him.
“He wasn’t real pleased,” Sarkisian said. “He just felt I could’ve played better. He wants me to succeed. I’ve just got to do a better job and not get too amped and relax.”
Washington’s first possession of the second half bogged down because of a pass interfence call on Seferian-Jenkins.
But a receiver helped the Huskeis get the ball back immediately on the ensuing punt. Travis Coons’ punt hit off the shoulder of Colorado’s Nelson Spruce and was headed for the sidelines. UW’s Kevin Smith, an all-league high school hoops player, made the alert play of running to the ball, leaping before the sideline and knocked the ball back into play. It landed in the arms of teammate Will Shamburger.
With the ball back in the hands of UW’s offense, Price needed just three plays to connect with Kasen Williams on a 17-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 14-0. That was all the spark Price needed.
Washington recovered a fumble on Colorado’s next possession and two plays later Price threw short to Kendyl Taylor, who turned the play into a 23-yard touchdown. The Huskies continued to light up the scoreboard. On their next three possessions, they got a field goal from Coons and touchdown catches from Seferian-Jenkins and Jaydon Mickens.
Once Washington’s offense came to life, any hopes Colorado might have had for a victory were destroyed.
The Buffaloes used two different quarterbacks — Connor Wood and Jordan Webb — with no real success. They managed just 141 yards of total offense and 10 first downs and a field goal. It was the first time a UW opponent failed to score a touchdown since the 2009 Apple Cup.
Washington now heads into the 2012 Apple Cup against a reeling Washington State team and a chance to finish 8-4. Colorado, now 1-10, faces Utah to end the season.
For Glenn, he saw the Colorado players slogging their way through the end of a miserable season and it reminded him of the winless 2008 season when he and Bruns were freshman.
“They looked dead,” he said. “Cody and I were talking about that because we’ve been there. I think back to our freshman year, and you just don’t have any hope. Coming into a game, it’s just not the same. It feels great to be on the opposite end of that.”