Washington's 2-0 start to the season, their first since 2007, is the latest sign that Steve Sarkisian has this Husky team headed in the right direction. Considering that as recently as 2008 this team was winless, finishing last a season with a bowl win and starting this season with two wins is huge in terms of progression for the program.
Indeed, this team has certainly learned it is a capable of winning and knows what the feeling is like.
Convincing the team that they are capable of winning was an early phase of the rebuilding project for Sarkisian and his staff. Now comes the next step, and it is a step that not everyone can take. The difference in attitude between coming to the field expecting to lose and believing you can win is great, but the next step to expecting to win can be just as great of a leap.
Winning programs have a certain swagger about them. Not just Sunday Through Friday, but when they take the field on Saturday. There is an aura of we are here to win, no matter who lines up across from us, and it will be more surprising not to win. Talking to the talk in a press conference is one thing, but showing it out on the field is another.
Washington has progressed to the point that they believe they can, and do not sound intimated when discussing upcoming opponents. However, this team still needs to EXPECT to win. The Hawaii game was a perfect example of this, as well as keeping Washington fans away from the ledge after an incredibly disappointing game against Eastern Washington.
Look at the offensive production. 42 points is an impressive number. Price lived up to his distributor title by going to nine different Huskies, producing 315 yards and four touchdowns. A team that for the last few years has been the Locker and Polk show, instead relied on production from all over the field. Of course Polk got his carries, but the impressive part is how Price included the weapons at wide receiver and tight end, making this a very balanced and dangerous offense.
Despite that offensive surge, there is a feeling when watching Washington jump out that they don't keep their proverbial foot to the opponents throat. They slow up, play more cautious football, and start to play in a not to lose fashion. For a team that is struggling to turn the culture around, such as last year, this isn't the surprising. The team finds themselves in the unusual position of dominating, and don't want to screw it up.
Now is when we need to start seeing the Huskies display that killer instinct. The talent is there on offense to keep putting up numbers. Is it is case of not wanting to run up the score,or playing too cautious? A little of both most likely plays into the final result.
That said, had the defense held them to say 21 points rather than 32, this game has a lot different final look. The defense which was taken to the woodshed by the Eastern Washington aerial attack was once again bombarded through the air by Hawaii, giving up 333 yards passing, letting Hawaii hang into the game far to late.
The offense looks to be a step ahead of the defense in terms of turning itself back into a confident team that rolls out of the tunnel expecting to take on all comers. The Huskies have figured out they are capable of winning some games, now it is time for them to expect to. This weekends opponent of Nebraska gives the Huskies a national stage to show that their dominating of the Cornhuskers in San Diego was no fluke, and that this team is dangerous to anyone lining up across from them.