SEATTLE – Tyrone Willingham said the ultimate responsibility for last Saturday’s failure to get a final play off against USC is his, but that doesn’t mean he believes there were “unique” circumstances at play that led to the confusion.
The Huskies lost to the Trojans 26-20 when they were unable to get a snap off with two seconds to play and the ball at the USC 15.
“Regardless of whether it was five seconds or two, I felt like we should have got the play off,” Willingham said during Monday’s weekly press luncheon. “I just didn’t do my job to get us up and over the ball quick enough to get that done.”
The tape of the game clearly shows that UW receiver Sonny Shackelford was brought down after a 20-yard gain with five seconds to play, but the play was not blown dead until there was two seconds to go. Willingham said the biggest confusion from the play came because the officials met to discuss how much time should be on the clock. Willingham said he was not part of the discussion over the time and that he was trying to get his team in position to get the play off regardless of how much time remained, but he said he failed to do that.
“You’re trying to figure out what (the officials) huddle is about, what the timing is,” Willingham said. “There’s suggestions that there could be five seconds on the clock, but then they made a decision that there was not and we have to be prepared to play, because we know the clock will start on the ready.”
The tape of the game shows the officials discussing the time remaining, with the Huskies on the field standing around in some confusion. The officials then break away into their positions and it appears as though the umpire – who sets the ball – is trying to get center Juan Garcia’s attention briefly and then back peddles. At that point, the clock starts but the Husky line is not set, and time runs out before Garcia can snap to quarterback Isaiah Stanback.
Garcia said after the game that the umpire changed the timing that had been given to him throughout the game on the last play, and that he was caught off guard when the umpire backed away and the clock started. But Willingham said he didn’t have an issue with the timing of that particular aspect of the play.
None of the Husky players were available Monday to discuss the play.
Rules do not allow for a replay to be used to determine how much time should have been on the clock. Willingham said had there been four seconds rather than two, Stanback likely would have spiked the ball to stop the clock, but with two seconds left, that was impossible. Willingham said the play called likely would not have changed.
The Huskies had a play set with four receivers spread wide, and Sonny Shackelford would have had the option to run to the back of the end zone or, in reading the coverage, come back to the ball.
Willingham had not sent his weekly officials report to the Pacific-10 offices, but he said he did have a discussion with the replay official after the game, though he would not say what the nature of the conversation was.
Willingham said it would have been a reasonable situation for an official to let Stanback know that the play clock was about to start, but that is not a rule. Stanback said after the game that he felt he was in position to receive the snap when the clock started.
“We were still moving around, feeling the officials, trying to get exactly where we were,” Willingham said. “It was my job to get them on the ball and get them going. …WE have to be up on the ball, ready to go, and that’s my job.”
The Other Question: Willingham said he also did not have an issue with USC’s fake field goal that turned into a touchdown in the first quarter. There had been questions as to whether receiver Steve Smith – who was wide open on the right sideline and scored the touchdown – was a legal player. But Willingham said upon review of the play, everything looked legal.
USC had seven players on the line of scrimmage, as mandated in the rules, but Smith was not one of them. Instead, he was several yards behind the line pretending to talk to a coach. He had also been in the huddle between the hash marks, another rule.
“I counted a legal formation,” Willingham said. “They did a nice job. That was a good call on their part, and we just missed it.”
Injury update: Willingham confirmed that safety Jason Wells and defensive back Dashon Goldson both suffered concussions against USC but he expects them to be ready to play Saturday. Goldson also had cramps against the Trojans but did not have any issues with his turned ankle. It is the second concussion suffered this season by Wells but Willingham said he doesn’t think it is an issue. Willingham said Isaiah Stanback was banged up after the game and when asked if it would affect whether Stanback could play this weekend, Willingham said, “I don’t know.” Also, linebacker E.J. Savannah is likely to return this weekend from a broken thumb that has kept him out the past two weeks.
Depth chart look: There was no significant change to the Washington depth chart, outside of Savannah returning to the chart as a backup to Scott White at outside linebacker.
Players of the Game: The Players of the Game for last week were: Sonny Shackelford (offense), Goldson (defense), Michael Braunstein (special teams) and Matt Houston, Donald Butler and Shelton Sampson (service teams).
Moore to play: Oregon State coach Mike Riley said Matt Moore would start at quarterback against the Huskies. There has been some talk that in the wake of the Beavers failing to score a touchdown the past two weeks, Moore would be replaced by redshirt freshman Sean Canfield.
Cal game on TV: The game at California on Oct. 21 will be shown live on Fox Sports Northwest. Kickoff is still set for 12:30 p.m.