The honeymoon for Steve Sarkisian and his staff ended last Saturday in Corvallis.
A disapointing loss against a team they shouldn't have lost to along with some very questionable decisions along the way have knocked the young Washington coach off the pedestal he has been on top of the last three seasons.
A loss this Saturday to cross state rival Washington State was unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago but it seems as if the Cougars possess most of the momentum headed into Saturday's clash at Century Link Field. WSU is completely focused on beating Washington.
The Huskies on the other hand seem more interested in winding down the season and getting back to class. If you have been watching the body language on the sidelines over the past few weeks it is evident that this team has been playing more like "Turtles" than "Huskies" because they tend to stick their head backs into the shell at the first sign of adversity.
Sarkisian and his staff need to turn that around against the Cougars. They need to create some excitement in the first ever neutral field clash between UW and WSU in Seattle. A big win this weekend could rekindle some local interest and excitement headed into the height of recruiting season.
As we have learned over the last month the levels of talent, experience, and overall numbers aren't there yet to compete at the top level of the conference. The key to getting there is solid and consistent recruiting with an emphasis on keeping the in state best talent home.
The Huskies got off to a nice start on the recruiting trail early this season but they have been stuck in neutral since the middle of August. The top local commits are taking their time and in some cases they are seriously looking at leaving to play elsewhere.
The news hasn't been good lately. Lakes DB Cedric Dozier is headed to Cal. Two other Lakes kids that UW passed on are headed to Colorado. Giant OT Walker Williams is headed to Wisconsin. Legacy linemen Zach Banner and Josh Garnett are reportedly enamored with several big name schools out of state. RB Keivarae Russell is rumored to be a silent commit to Oregon. TE Caleb snubbed UW over summer.
Steve Kelley from the Seattle Times says that there is a growing disconnect between the UW staff and coaches in the state. The rub is that Sark favors California kids over Washington kids as far as offers are concerned which supposedly means that there are more than a few noses out of joint in the local coaching community.
Kelley is no fan of the Huskies and usually I would just blow this off except that his son Mason Kelley does an excellent job of covering high school sports for the Times and that is probably where most of his information is coming from. Perception is everything in recruiting and the Huskies seem to have a few fences to mend over the next couple of months.
The honeymoon is indeed over, but a solid win over Washington State in the Apple Cup, an invitation to the Sun, or Holiday Bowl can help rekindle the momentum for the program heading into the off season.