The bowl season is always a good time to sit back and ruminate on the regular season that has passed. For the Huskies, this was the most unexpected of seasons. Our offense sucked, our defense was pretty good, we beat the Cardinal, the Beavers finished ahead of us in the North and, well, the Huskies were the team Cougin' it in the Apple Cup.
It wasn't exactly how any of us drew it up. Some things were better than we could have hoped. Many things were surprisingly worse. A few things went as planned. Such is the nature of a college football season. With that, I thought I'd create this random list on those things that most disappointed me relative to my preseason expectations.
You knew we were going down a road that, unfortunately, is well known to us when OG Colin Porter was forced into a medical retirement as a result of two arthritic shoulders. The journey down that road continued when the tragic football experience of Deontae Cooper was exacerbated by his third torn ACL, this time to his "good" knee.. As the fall camp continued, significant injuries would strike key players like Hau'oli Jamora, Nate Fellner, Jamaal Kearse and James Johnson. Before the Pac12 season had even started, we had lost significant contributors like Kevin Smith, Jesse Callier, Colin Tanigawa, Ben Riva and Lawrence Lagafuaina. While we have definitely seen some bad injury rashes over the years, this was a full on epidemic and it literally stole the season away before it even got started.
- Keith Price
There is no way to avoid calling this out. When you go from directing the 7th most efficient passing offense in the nation to the 77th most efficient, you are going to get some consideration in the "most disappointing season" category. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances. Not many of us can recall seeing as poor of offensive line play as we saw this season. Replacing Chris Polk took several weeks and, honestly, our receivers never rose up to meet the standards of the receiving corps from last season. That said, Keith's regressions transcended the deterioration of the parts around him. His decision-making lapsed at critical times in ways we never saw before. His accuracy, a hallmark from last season, completely escaped him. His fundamentals - particularly his footwork and his release - looked like those of a true freshman. Although fully healthy, he actually looked less mobile this year than he did last year. There has been a lot of speculation that Keith played injured this year and I would be inclined to believe that notion as to chalk up this season to one massive regression is almost unthinkable.
- Drew Schaefer
I don't know how, exactly, to measure the poor performance of our starting C throughout the course of the season. But, like hard-core porn, you know it when you see it (thank you Potter Stewart). The Apple Cup was the perfect conclusion to a season that saw countless instances of missed adjustments made at the LOS, pocket breakdowns from the inside out and a constant flow of DT's making plays in our backfield. Simply put, Drew Schaefer needed to be stellar in order for our offense to survive the losses in personnel, and he was whatever the opposite of that is.
- Josh Shirley
Unlike both Drew Schaefer and Keith Price, the disappearance of Josh Shirley for long stretches of the season cannot be explained away by the lack of qualified personnel around him. Coming into this season, the UW defensive line boasted some experience in the middle and some talent on the edges. Shirley, in particular, was considered a huge breakout prospect coming into a season where he was tied as the top returning sack man in the conference. I think we were all looking for Josh to come in with a little extra weight so that he could become a legitimate every down player and still be that QB harassing threat that we so desperately needed. Obviously, that didn't happen. Josh was pretty much useless against the run and, while he had a few flashes that reminded us of what he was capable of in the pass rush, he regressed substantially this year.
- Steve Sarkisian
I admit it, I've lost confidence in Sark. Not a wholesale loss of confidence, mind you. But lost confidence, nonetheless. This was supposed to be "our most talented team". This was the year that we were to "take the next step". With big games against powers like LSU, Oregon and USC, we were supposed to show our maturation as a program by challenging the big boys and demonstrating how bright the future of the program really looks. Instead we got a bowl full of husky poo to feed on throughout the whole season. A jumpy QB. An abomination of an offensive line. A complete lack of big plays (0 passes and only 1 rush over 50 yards all season). Continued blowouts against the better teams on the schedule. Even a W or two that were more embarrassing to explain than rewarding to boast about. The fact that Sark couldn't find a third receiver, couldn't figure out how to be more competitive on the road, couldn't find a way to overcome the penalties that were killing his team and couldn't find ways to start games stronger were all problems that good coaches don't keep having. Sark didn't deliver the goods this season and, as such, has put himself in a "deliver or else" situation for next season no matter the result of his bowl game. It shouldn't have turned out like this, especially once you consider the good defensive hires and the quality of the recruiting that is underway. Yet, here we are.
Those are my thoughts on the disappointments from the regular season. What disappointed you? Oh, if you are worried that I'm harping on just the negative, stay tuned. My pieces on pleasant surprises and things going as planned are still to come.