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The Good, The Bad & The Unknown: Cactus Bowl

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The good, the bad & the unknown of Washington's loss to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Second half - The Huskies turned it around after an utterly horrifying first half, outscoring Oklahoma State 22-6 in the last two quarters. Not sure what happened at half time, but the Huskies looked like two different teams by the half and the second half version actually outplayed a decent Oklahoma State team that was better in the moment than its record indicated coming in.

Jaydon Mickens - Mickens was one of the only players that I could single out as having a good game, and it could have been much better had the quarterback play been acceptable. Mickens made the only real explosive offensive play of the game on his reverse and was responsible for the unit's only two touchdowns of the game.

John Ross' return TD - Ross did his usual thing and took a kick back in incredible fashion and thanks to their not being a Pac-12 officiating crew on the field, it was not called back for a ticky tack penalty. His return touchdown also truly got the Huskies back into the game.

Budda Baker's first interception - It was not the best game for the young secondary, but Baker's first career, one-handed interception was a thing of beauty and should have gave the offense some momentum to get things going, but it didn't.

Kasen Williams - Kasen obviously didn't have a Reggie Williams-level performance, but it was a fantastic one for a player who has had as tough of a past two seasons as I can remember a major Husky player having. Having his Husky career end with a good game was one of the few bright spots from the contest.

The Bad

First half - What the hell was that? I would love to get an honest explanation of why the Huskies came out so flat and why they did so frequently earlier in the season.

Cyler Miles - Miles simply did not look good enough to be a starting quarterback in the Pac-12 that is going to get you wins over good teams and I am sure Oklahoma State saw that in film and game planned around it. His numbers ended up being fairly decent, but numbers with quarterbacks are horribly misleading these days in college football, he simply played like a liability, especially early in the game.

Offensive line - This unit simply played the way they did most of the season - banged up, ineffective in run blocking and pass blocking. In all fairness to Miles, they did not do him any favors and the jumbled group without Dexter Charles looked really out of sync again.

Special teams outside or Ross' return - A missed short field goal, a horribly frustrating botched punt return, bad punts and perpetual poor field position, outside of Ross' bright spot, special teams were far from special. Not really something that the Huskies did, but it was nice to have an opposing kicker miss a late crucial field goal for the first time in as long as I can remember.

Pass rush(or lack thereof) - Yes, the Huskies ended up getting three sacks, but overall the pass rush seemed to disappear for most of the game, especially considering that Oklahoma State was one of the nation's absolute worst teams at protecting the passer coming in. What everyone expected to be a huge advantage was not much of one and it really left the young secondary on its own.

Curtain call - This was simply a very tough way to see the Husky seniors and Shaq Thompson finish their Husky careers. I was truly shocked to see such an uninspired effort with such a large group of seniors.

7-6 - Take away the stupid extra non-conference game and the Huskies were right back to 7-6 for the fourth year in five.

The next nine months - This is going to be a long off-season. I have not been less enthused about an upcoming Husky season since coming out of the 0-12 2008 disaster and going into Sarkisian's first season. There is not much to get excited about.

The Unknown

Slow starts - I touched on this earlier. I would love to know the source of the frequent slow starts to games in 2014. At this point, there is no way that they were just coincidence.

Legacy of the season - What will this season be remembered for in the long run? Right now it looks like a frustrating transition that squandered some great stars on defense with a dismal offense, but who knows how it will play out in the longer picture of the Petersen era and Husky football.

Chris Petersen and his staff - It is very hard to judge a coach in a first season... or is it? I truly do not know what to think of Petersen right now. There is nearly nothing that was shown in games during the season to suggest that Petersen is going to have the same kind of success that he had at Boise State at Washington or is any kind of upgrade over Sarkisian. I have hope, but that is all that it is... hope.

Who is the starting quarterback going forward? Cyler Miles had the chance to put his stamp on the starting quarterback in the Cactus Bowl after finishing the regular season strong, but did anything but that. Miles' performance was so bad that I have to think that there will be open competition in the spring, especially considering the positive buzz about K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning.

Who is starting at nearly every position actually? With so many starters and key contributors leaving at nearly every position and so little truly entrenched experience coming back, I have a hard time figuring out what Washington's starting lineup will look like in 2015, especially on the offensive line.

Future leaders? Which players will be the face of the program starting right now? I have no idea.

2015 expectations? What should be expectations for Washington in 2015? Personally, I am sadly thinking that getting to 7-6 once again would actually be a major accomplishment given the talent and experience returning and the strength of schedule. Is that too pessimistic?

Excitement? Maybe more important than simple expectations and goals, what is there to be excited about right now with Husky football? Chris Petersen's coaching prowess? Simply did not see many concrete examples in 2014. Young talent? There is a bit, but is it honestly on par with the teams in the Pac-12 that are beating Washington year in and year out? I don't think so.