Washington Huskies

Huskies lament missed tackles in 30-24 loss to California

Washington’s defense attempts to take down Bears running back Vic Enwere in UW’s 30-24 loss to Cal on Saturday.
Washington’s defense attempts to take down Bears running back Vic Enwere in UW’s 30-24 loss to Cal on Saturday. The Associated Press

That wasn’t Marshawn Lynch barreling through the Washington Huskies defense on Saturday at Husky Stadium.

And while California Golden Bears running back Vic Enwere isn’t the easiest guy to tackle at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, the Huskies made it appear much more difficult than it likely really is.

Enwere’s 12-yard touchdown run to put California ahead 10-7 in the second quarter was the most striking example of UW’s poor tackling — he pinballed out of the arms of several defenders before surging across the goal line — but it wasn’t the only time the Huskies could have prevented a bigger gain by simply wrapping up with better technique.

“I saw a couple times that we definitely need to wrap up,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “In fact, I was shocked that a couple of our guys just took shots without wrapping up. A couple of our good, experienced guys. That was really disappointing.

“… They get those big splits, create 1-on-1 matchups, and they run through them. I did see some lack of wrapping up there that’s disappointing. You see what happens if we don’t wrap up, especially with backs like that.”

Cal still only averaged 2.7 yards per carry on 51 attempts totaling 139 yards. But Bears running backs — and even quarterback Jared Goff, whom the Huskies sacked five times but could have hit even more — escaped the clutches of UW defenders more often than the Huskies would have liked.

Enwere carried 23 times for 84 yards, many of them after contact.

“It’s always frustrating,” third-year sophomore defensive tackle Elijah Qualls said of the missed tackles. “Again, it’s our youth and our aggressiveness, which in all honesty, I wouldn’t trade for anything, because I love how aggressive we are on defense. No one is ever going to out-physical us, and we take pride in that. It’s just wrap the ball carrier, because we definitely had him for no gains, if not (tackles for loss). They just made plays. That back, he ran really hard, and he just made plays when he could.”

California ran 92 plays to UW’s 55, and the Bears’ offense was on the field nearly twice as long as Washington.

But Qualls said he didn’t think the Huskies’ defense wore down.

“When you’re on the field playing, adrenaline is going and everything like that,” Qualls said. “I was trying to be on the field as much as possible, because I want to help make that stand.”