When a team is up 45-0 at halftime you rarely see expressions of desperation (by that team) on the sidelines but last Saturday it was there for all of us to see on national TV. Sark gathered his team on the sidelines and chewed them out collectively in front of 60,000 fans after the first half ended with a late hit out of bounds and some assorted trash talk.
Despite the 45-0 lead Sark knew that the overall performance of his team still wasn't good enough to survive the impending three game gauntlet the team will face in coming weeks. The 2012 edition of the Washington Huskies are soft, beat up, and currently lacking the maturity to climb the mountain that is right in front of them.
Sark is trying to get his teams attention. He is trying to wake them up to the reality of who they are and who they need to be over the next four weeks. This team isn't meshing together for some reason. The chemistry isn't right. They aren't playing well together. They make way too many stupid mistakes.
"It was such a big point of emphasis this week in practice, but it didn't hit home as completely as I hoped," he said. "I was a little emotional myself. I felt like it had to be addressed immediately. I didn't want them to jog 65 yards to the locker room. I wanted to get them right there. Hopefully, the point got made."
You start to get the feeling that there is some type of disconnect between the players and the coaches. Jim Owens felt that type of disconnect back in the late 1950's and he punished his team into submission with the infamous "Death March". Don James was losing control of his team and his career in early 1977 and he sent his players and coaches a message by moving into his office.
DJ was on the Softy show last week and he commented that he would be willing to move into his office again if it would help Sark out. All coaches hit crossroads of adversity during their careers. How they handle and conquer that adversity determines how long they are going to be able to stay in the profession.
The '77 Huskies started the season 1-3 with losses to Mississippi State, Syracuse, and Minnesota. The lone victory was a 24-3 stunner over San Jose State in front of only 36,489 fans. DJ saw the writing on the wall and got the attention of his players who responded the next week with a 54-0 thrashing of Oregon in Eugene.
The 2012 Huskies have been challenged by plenty of injuries but they have the depth and talent on the roster to be playing much better. They need to meet the challenge and define their identity over the next three games. Is this the team that breaks through to the other side or will it be the one that keeps getting consistently spanked by top twenty-five opponents?
Tune in a week from this Thursday to find out.
Pac 12 Power Rankings
1. Oregon...The Ducks are the class of the league right now but the lack of a competitive schedule early in the season could leave them unprepared for conference play. Up next is a challenging game against surprising Arizona at Autzen. The Ducks need to be on their toes because the Cats can trade points with anyone.
2. Stanford...This team reminds me a little bit of the 1984 Huskies. The offense is challenged but the defense has the ability to win games on its own. Looks like the Tree is reloading rather than rebuilding. Next up is Washington on the road.
3. Southern California...No national championship for SC this year. Kiffin said that Barkley made some of the worst decisions of his career on Saturday. Kiffin says he is pretty beat up mentally and physically but will start against Cal on Saturday.
4. UCLA...The Bruins had no trouble with Houston but this week they are going to be severely challenged on the road by resurgent Oregon State. Are the Beavs playing good defense or was Wisconsin that bad? We find out for sure this week when the Bruins invade Corn Valley.
5. Oregon State...The Beavers return to action this week against UCLA after enjoying a bye week after their monumental win over Wisconsin. Can the Beaver defense slow down Hundley and Franklin enough to give their offense a chance to win?
6. Arizona...The surprising Cats rolled over SC State 56-0. This week they get Oregon on the road in a game that is going to be lot more competitive than most people thought before the season began.
7. Washington...The Huskies did what they needed to do against overmatched Portland State but there is still a lot more questions than answers. They need to figure that out before Stanford marches into the Link a week from Thursday.
8. Arizona State...Solid performance on the road for the Devils despite the close loss to Missouri. Up next is a tough test on the road against Utah.
9. Utah...The Utes picked up an impressive win against a really good BYU squad. This week we find out how competitive they will be in conference play when the Sun Devils visit Rice-Eccles.
10. California...The Bears came oh so close to upsetting Ohio State on the road but lapses on defense kept them from picking up the win. This week they hit the road to play an angry USC team in Los Angeles.
11. Washington State...The Cougars picked up win number two against UNLV. This week they play for the honor of being the worst team in the conference when the hapless Buffaloes visit cow pie stadium.
12. Colorado...Fresno State whacked the Buffs back into the stone age 69-14. This week they play the only conference team that they have a chance of beating when they travel to Pullman to take on the Cougs.