If there ever was a week to take off to go up to Canada to do some fishing this was the week to do it. It was a great time to take a break from Husky football. I bet Sark, his staff, and the players wish that they had the same opportunity to get away from it all to recharge and forget that nightmare.
Since I have been gone I have kept up by reading the opinions of those on this blog and also over on the boards at Dawgman. There aren't a lot of happy campers and obviously there shouldn't be. The Nebraska game was a complete disaster and as Sark mentioned in his press conference some of the players to say the least didn't give the type of effort needed to make a game out of it when things started going sideways.
"One of his biggest disappointments in reviewing the Nebraska loss was some of the lapses in the team's competitive nature,'' especially as the deficit grew in the second half. Sarkisian promised that that "will never happen again'' and said it's on him to make sure that it doesn't. UW will always compete for 60 minutes from here on out I can promise you that.''
Lets face it for the first time in Sark's tenure this team quit on a Saturday. He and his staff are faced with the immediate task of repairing that. Quitting is a cancer that is hard to eliminate once it starts or in this case resurfaces.
Quitting was the hallmark of Willingham's tenure at Washington. His teams did not play up to their ability and to make matters worse they often quit when faced with adversity. More than anything else that ended his career as a football coach more than a decade earlier than he expected.
As I said above quitting is a hard habit to break and in this program it dates back to Keith Gilbertson's first season as head coach. Obviously the upper class-men in this program have only known losing and quitting because with the exception of last season those are the two things that have defined Husky Football for close to a decade.
How many of you honestly thought that Sark or any other coach would have gotten this turned around completely after only one season? There are going to be ups and downs in year two because for the most part he is playing with inherited talent which simply isn't up to par mentally or in many cases physically.
Take the offensive line for instance. This is a seasoned and veteran line. How many of these guys are keepers with the exception of Senio Kelemete? Erik Kohler is starting as a freshman. He is grading out higher than his more experienced line-mates.
What does that tell you? It shouts out that the talent they are bringing in is better than what they already have. It is just a matter of getting it seasoned and out on the field as soon as possible. Haouli Jamora is a good example of this over on the defensive side of the ball. He is outplaying guys that have been in the program for 4-5 years.
Look for the 14 players who they chose not to redshirt to get increased playing time as the season progresses. Washington is still playing for 2010 but they are doing it with an eye sharply focused on 2011 and beyond. I still think this team will win more than they lose this season but what they accomplish during the two week gap between Nebraska and USC is critical to achieving that goal.
The fan base needs to be patient because the coaching staff recognizes the problem. The first step in solving any problem is to identify it and acknowledge it. I think Sark did a pretty good job of doing that on Monday. This staff isn't trying to spin anything. They are going to address the problem and work on it till it gets fixed.
Washington is very capable of beating USC next weekend in Los Angeles. The Trojans are undefeated but struggling against weaker opponents. It is a trend that may continue tomorrow in Pullman. USC is going to win by 2-3 touchdowns but it will be a rougher than expected ride against one of the weakest teams in the BCS.
Win or lose next Saturday we need to see the return of four quality quarters of effort by every single member of this team. If that doesn't happen it is going to be a long and painful season. This team isn't talented enough to simply mail it in on game day.
The Huskies can still turn this around. They are not nearly as bad as they appeared last week. They need to give the maximum effort each week or they are going to lose the majority of games left on the schedule. If Sark can deliver on the promise that UW will compete from hear on out for 60 minutes each week this team has a good chance of rebounding during conference play and going to a minor bowl game.
I think in general with the exception of Oregon, Arizona, and Stanford the conference is down this year. I think Washington can beat teams like USC, Cal, WSU, UCLA, ASU, and even Oregon State. This season isn't over and if Washington can use this bye week to get healthy and solve some problems the Huskies can still be a factor in the conference race come November.
My advice to Husky fans is to be patient and reserve judgment on the direction this coaching staff is taking this team until the end of the season. Sark and his staff understand the urgency a lot more than the common fan does. This staff is fully vested in making this program a winner sooner than later and I sincerely believe that they will be successful over the long term.