By Derek Johnson
Maybe we should've seen it coming. After all, the Huskies had not been in a game of this magnitude in a generation. A game where so much was on the line and also where they were favored to win.
They had all the stars and planets aligned. Momentum from a tremendous season. A roster stacked with future NFL talent. A sold out Husky Stadium, housing a rabid crowd foaming for Trojan blood.
But the Huskies lost to USC 26-13. And it wasn't just the loss of a perfect season that hurts so much this morning. It also confirmed doubts harbored all season by a skeptical college football nation, that the Huskies were an untested team playing in a dreck-laden conference.
On defense, the Huskies constantly rushed four, reluctant to blitz. They seemed content to keep everything in front of them. Instead of going after freshman quarterback Sam Darnold and forcing him into errors, they allowed the talented youngster to sit back in the pocket for luxurious amounts of time, contemplating which target to throw toward.
How can the so-called Death Row Defense compare itself to the 1991 Husky defense? If you look at DVDs from the '91 season, the linebackers all go downhill. On running plays, they're not only mauling the ball carrier, they're blowing up the center and guards too. Total mayhem.
The current Husky linebackers are good at hitting the ball carrier and gang tackling. But they seem reticent to destroy the line of scrimmage. When combined with a timid game plan from the coaches, is it any wonder that USC's great athletes were able to move the ball with impunity?
Meanwhile on offense, the Huskies came out throwing the football all over the place, so quick to abandon the run. USC's front is tough and physical for sure, but far from invincible. The Huskies never gave themselves a chance to see what they could manufacture. Myles Gaskin was underutilized as both a runner and receiver. Lavon Coleman only had two carries for the day. Often times, the game plan seemed hellbent on accomplishing everything in one play instead of being methodical.
It equated to a horrible loss that never should have happened. But happen it did.
Husky fans are waking up this morning shell shocked from last night. Many are frustrated with certain players, and especially at offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith.
But the buck stops at the desk of head coach Chris Petersen. He did not have the team ready to play and part of the reason was his ultra conservative defensive game plan.
Opportunities like last night obviously don't come around often. And the Huskies blew it. They almost definitely lost a shot at the playoffs, and therefore lost much more than just a game.