And here most of us thought the huge renovation they’ve talked about at the University of Washington referred to the stadium – not the team.
But the appealing amenities of the new Husky Stadium don’t only include Jumbotrons, new seats and locker rooms, but also a team that plays defense, that tackles, that piles up yards and scores when the occasion arises.
The fact that the debut of the new digs resulted in a 38-6 domination of the No 19 Boise State Broncos was hugely significant as an indicator of Washington’s status. Even if it was only one game in front of a throaty crowd of 71,963 adrenalized by improved sight lines and the comforts of 21st Century restrooms.
It doesn’t take a long memory to recall the Broncos edging the Huskies 28-26 in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl in December. And, it’s fair to say the obvious, BSU has enjoyed higher national regard and visibility the past decade as the Huskies faded.
But Saturday night, on a stunning evening at the shiny lake-side facility, the Huskies appeared worthy of their new environs.
Their fans certainly were. With the old track removed, the new stands are on top of the sidelines. And the sonic effect is such that Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick, whenever calling audibles, had to go to each offensive lineman and yell the changes into their ear holes.
What a difference from the season-opener here two years ago when the Huskies held off Eastern Washington 30-27 in front of 58,088 fans whose loudest contribution was the collective sigh of relief at the final horn.
This gathering had reasons to be enthused as quarterback Keith Price, who was hobbled by constant defensive harassment last season, looked as young and effective as he did as a sophomore, passing for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It allowed him to overtake Cody Pickett for the UW career record for TD passes.
Price is perfect for the Huskies’ new up-tempo approach, as quick passes and bubble screens make it harder for defenders to punish him with sacks.
He was helped, again, by elusive back Bishop Sankey and his 161 rushing yards. And a new threat arrived, as freshman receiver/returner John Ross showed a great deal of zip and shake, although comparisons to former USC Heisman-winner/relinquisher Reggie Bush are a wee bit hasty.
From the start, it was clear that this would be an example of College Football 2013, a game of unrelenting speed-on-speed, as the teams combined for 47 snaps in the first 15 minutes of play.
As a generation of Broncos carved out their reputation, it was with a complex offensive scheme and an encyclopedic playbook. But the Husky defense looked almost perfect in their assignments all night.
We may assume that the level of preparation and execution is the product of having another year under talented coordinator Justin Wilcox.
This defensive effort was about more than assignment correctness, though, as UW looked more physical, too. One play was particularly illustrative. Late in the third quarter, BSU was moving and still within reach with the score at 17-6. Facing 4th-and-1 at the UW 45, the Broncos tried to power up the middle, but the Huskies controlled the line of scrimmage and stonewalled them.
It was Boise’s last threat.
Maybe BSU has fallen off a bit. But it seems like a very convincing outcome, especially, for coach Steve Sarkisian, who reshaped his defensive staff before last season, and who decided to shift the offensive attack into a higher gear.
Sarkisian is starting his fifth season with a 26-25 record before Saturday, and riding a series of middling 7-6 records. And at this point, it’s all on him. Nothing can be blamed on coaching predecessors or antiquated facilities.
The facility is obviously spectacular, and expectations for the team will be cranked up accordingly.
At one point in the second half, as the Huskies were pulling away, the band played the Beatles’ “Get Back.”
Yes, get back to where you once belonged.
It felt timely, and in fact it might not be a bad theme for this renovated football team.