Vince Grippi’s Keys to the Game: UW vs. WSU
What went right
Jeff Tuel threw for 149 yards in the final 15 minutes, doubling his total from the first 45, to keep UW from running away. Besides tossing the game-tying 16-yard score to Marquess Wilson, he also powered in to the end zone from 1 yard out on a sneak. “It’s a funny thing, momentum,” said receiver Jared Karstetter. “You start to get that feeling in the back of your mind that we can move the ball on these guys and we can do it.”
What went wrong
Much of the Huskies’ 315 rushing yards came as a result of missed tackles. It started on the first drive, when UW went 98 yards on 16 plays. “Early we didn’t tackle very well,” co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball said. “We had a chance on that first drive to get off on fourth down and missed some tackles.” The Cougars missed Jake Locker on that one, but they missed Chris Polk all too often as he rumbled for 284 yards.
Facing a fourth-and-1 on the WSU 31 with 1:18 left and the game tied at 28, UW coach Steve Sarkisian sent his field-goal unit on, then changed his mind. “You’ve got to stick with who you are,” he said. “You’ve got to make calculated, smart decisions. But you’ve got to be who you are.” The Huskies have been gamblers. This time they came up winners, when Polk broke free for 15 yards and a first down. Two plays later they were in the end zone.
Polk ran over, through and around the Cougars’ tacklers for his career-best 284 yards. He averaged 9.8 yards a carry and had runs of 72, 57 and 36 yards. “There was no doubt we wanted to give him the ball today,” said Sarkisian, who called his number 29 times. “On my call sheet, on both sides, it says pound the rock. We were going to make sure to run the football tonight.” They did, all the way to either the Alamo or Holiday bowl.