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September 17, 2013

By the numbers: Huskies handle Illini

You probably weren't able to listen to the Illinois radio show after the game on Saturday, but if you did you would have heard an interesting take.

The commentators were surprised, and pleasantly surprised, that the Illini had kept it so close. In fact, they commented that Illinois wouldn't face many teams of that quality the rest of the season. And they said it was one of the nation's most explosive offenses.

The numbers bear all that out. Illinois escaped in a virtual home game with a ten point loss but the stat sheet shows a far worse beat down.

Washington's 615 yards in Soldier Field was one of the school's best offensive performances of all-time. The balance (342 passing, 273 rushing) went beyond yardage. The Huskies ran it 50 times and passed it 35 times.

Yes, that's a total of 85 offensive plays. That would have led the nation last year if it were an average over the course of the season. Several teams are running that many plays this year, or at least in that ballpark, but it's just a sign of how quickly the Dawgs are adapting to this new tempo. Consider the move to the hurry up a success, at least at this point. And there really can't be a debate.

Washington ran 23 more plays than Illinois, but only held a two-minute advantage in time of possession. That should tell you the kind of tempo the Huskies were playing at.

The defensive stats were just as impressive. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was pressured into a terrible performance: Just 10 of 26 for 191 yards, one touchdown and one pick, and four sacks. As a defensive coordinator you would take that every day.

If you're looking for an area to critique it would obviously be the penalties, especially in the first half. For the game the Huskies were flagged 12 times for 104 yards, and in some cases those yellow handkerchiefs really kept the Illini closer than they should have been. Penalties can be an overrated statistic, as often the nation's top teams are flagged more (because they're more aggressive). But in Saturday's case they did hold Washington back from their potential and what should have been a blowout early.

Bishop Sankey had a career day (35 carries, 208 yards) and who didn't feel great for Jesse Callier? He got into the action in a big way (six carries, 66 yards).


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