SEATTLE — Five out of six. That was the topic of conversation among Washington fans Saturday, and for more reason than one.
Yes, the Huskies scored touchdowns on five of their six possessions against Colorado to establish an insurmountable lead. But more significantly, after beating the Buffaloes 52-24, Washington has now won five out of its six games this year — a feat the program has not achieved since 2000.
“It’s good to reach our goals that we set at the beginning of the season, We’ve put so much hard work into it,” Huskies offensive lineman Drew Schaefer said. “It’s finally all starting to come together.”
Such jelling was most prominently displayed in the first half, in which Washington’s offense flirted with perfection. The Huskies (5-1, 3-0 in the Pac-12) found the end zone on each of their first five drives, quarterback Keith Price seamlessly picking apart the Colorado defense.
Through the first 30 minutes, the sophomore had thrown for 230 yards and four TDs on 18 of 23 passing. And Price was hardly discriminatory when it came to targets, hooking up with four different receivers in the end zone to lead Washington to a 38-10 halftime lead. Needless to say, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was impressed.
“The first half was obviously one of the best halves of football we’ve played since we’ve been here,” said Sarkisian, adding that the offense’s potency reminded him of his days as an assistant coach at USC. “Our guys responded and they played passionate football, they played physical football.”
And they played team football.
The Huskies’ seven touchdowns Saturday came from seven different contributors. Jermain Kearse, Chris Polk, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Devin Aguilar each caught scoring passes from Price, while Kevin Smith, Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey each added touchdown runs.
For Callier, Sankey and Smith, it marked the first touchdown of the season.
“It’s fascinating. I haven’t been this way in a long time for myself personally, and when you’re calling plays, I’m not calling plays for a specific guy, said Sarkisian, whose team will likely move into the top 25 in the next poll. “We’re calling the best plays for the moment and not concerned about who might be the guy and ‘can he make that play.’ We have such belief in the guys on our football team right now.”
Colorado (1-6, 0-3) never got closer than three touchdowns in the second half, and finished the game with 269 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tyler Hansen went 18 for 30 and threw for 155 yards but was also sacked three times.
However, the primary problem for the Buffaloes lay on the defensive end, and Coach Jon Embree isn’t quite sure how to fix it.
“I don’t know what the issues are,” he said. “Mentally, to not know who you’re covering or to cover your guy and not just cover him or stop after five yards, doing those kinds of things. That’s not acceptable.”
Sarkisian, on the other hand, was pleased with his defense. He said the winning formula for his program is running the ball well on offense, and stopping it on defense, and considering Washington amassed 295 yards on the ground and limited Colorado to 62, he was pleased.
Polk led the way for the Huskies with 118 yards on 18 carries, Callier added 83 on 10 and Sankey contributed 71 on 8. Price finished the day with 257 yards and four touchdowns on 21 of 28 passing, although he was taken out late in the third quarter.
His replacement? Freshman Nick Montana, the son of Joe Montana, who saw action for the first time this season. Montana finished the game 2 of 2 with 10 yards passing, but fumbled on his first snap.
The Huskies are 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1997, and players were largely encouraged after the game. But they also realize that a much tougher test awaits when they travel to undefeated Stanford next week.
The game plan? Simple.
“We just need have to execute,” defensive end Josh Shirley said. “We need to be ourselves and have fun, that’s it.”