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The good, the bad & the unknown: Arizona State

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The Huskies suffer another frustration in the desert.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Offensive yardage - The Huskies had an excellent game moving the ball around the middle of the field (especially early) to the tune of nearly 550 yards and 27 first downs. They somehow managed to have this lead to only 17 points, but on paper, they had a very nice offensive game from a strictly yardage standpoint.

First half defense - The defense was on point in the first half. They stuffed the Arizona State run game, got after Mike Bercovici and took him down when they had chances and broke up passes.

Lack of injuries - I may be wrong, but I felt like this was the first game in a long time where there weren't new potentially major injuries.

The Bad

Dropped passes - There are culprits that are maybe equally as guilty, but the cracks in the rolling Husky attack first started with dropped passes. Husky receivers dropped a lot of very catchable passes at key points that took points off the board and other than one amazing catch from Brayden Lenius, the receivers/tight ends failed to make the more difficult catches you have to make at least half of the time to have a healthy offense.

Offensive line meltdown - The offensive line started the process of the meltdown. After a fantastic start where they were doing a great job of picking up Todd Graham's patented blitzes, the offensive line suddenly fell apart. Their sudden inability to open up holes in the run game led to the Huskies having to resort to passing more than they should of and led to them suddenly no longer being able to protect Jake Browning.

Jake Browning meltdown - It started in the first half when Browning missed on a lot of open receivers, including ones that were going to be touchdowns and then took off in the second half when pressure came and he had to try and to force too many plays and ended up throwing interceptions. I'm not going to critique him too much for missing those passes because all quarterbacks miss passes like that sometimes and I think his receivers' perpetual dropped passes throw off his rhythm. However, you can't completely overlook all those misses and how they left points on the table and his three late interceptions that sealed the game for Arizona State.

Defensive meltdown - The next break in the chain was the defense breaking down. After  playing extremely well for a long time, the defense couldn't take any more and relaxed on their tackling fundamentals, loosened up their pass coverage and couldn't find a way to get pressure. Overall, they once again probably held the opposing offense to enough yardage and points to where their offense should have been able to get them the win, but they still continue to fail to make those big stops in crunch time to snuff out an opponent's momentum.

Adjustments - I remember hearing that Todd Graham basically openly expressed that Washington didn't know how to adjust when Sark was in town and it unfortunately looked like that didn't change under Petersen Saturday as the Graham made some tweaks that the Huskies were never able to counter. It may have just been poor execution, but it sure looked like the Husky staff failed to find answers to the changes Graham made like putting Antonio Longino on Kaleb McGary.

Turnover creation - The Huskies have failed to create a turnover in three out of their past five games and as good as their defense has been, it has really held them back, especially since they are carrying an offense that needs a lot of help.

Momentum (large and small scale) - The Huskies sure started the final quarter of the season out on a thud. They have two winnable games left on the schedule to get to bowl eligibility, but the utter collapse in the desert a week after a sloppy home loss sure have the vibe around the team looking dark. On the small scale, this team seems to really struggle with maintaining momentum and I think that is part of being young. Every time it seems like their offense is rolling a drop of missed passes seems to stall them. Every time it looks like the defense is locking in for the game to win it by themselves, they give up a drive that gets the other team going and then they can't get momentuQm back.

Washington against Arizona State - Obviously Arizona State has usually just been better than Washington the past 15 year, but what the hell? This streak is getting even more frustrating confounding than the Oregon streak. Not only do the Huskies always lose to Arizona State now, it always seems to happen in a strange fashion.

Washington in the desert - The state of Arizona has become a rattlesnake pit for the Huskies. They haven't won their since 2006 and every game since then has pretty much been a disaster, including the Cactus Bowl.

The Unknown

Will the meltdown continue? The Huskies have lost games by more points this season and had loses that hurt more, but none might be more worrisome than this loss because of the way it went. Will the Huskies carry the second-half meltdown against Arizona State into the next two games?

Elijah Qualls - I love how Greg Gaines and the rest of the Husky defensive front have filled in for Qualls, but I think the second half Saturday really showed how much they need him back. The defensive front looked worn out and Qualls is one of the top three or four defensive  linemen in the conference in my opinion and a huge difference maker up front. When will the Huskies get him back?

Can the Huskies avoid an upset next week? The Huskies get their by far easiest Pac-12 game next week at Oregon State, but there are no gimmes this year in the Pac-12. Oregon State may be 2-8, 0-7 in the Pac-12, but they are the best 2-8/0-7 team I can ever remember and they have to know that Saturday is their last chance to get a Pac-12 win this season. The Huskies absolutely cannot look Oregon State.

Bowl game? The Huskies now need to win their last two to get to a bowl game, what are their chances of doing that? I still think they have a good shot at pulling it off, but it will not be the least bit easy.

Youth excuse? I totally understand and believe the youth excuse, but it's reaching the point where it is going to start wearing thin soon. We are 10 games into the season and this is a different era of college football where teams are expected to reload and adjust each year with youth in a way that they didn't used to, especially since players come out of high school much more ready than they used to and since so many players now declare early and transfer.

Also, I think the Husky fanbase is particularly worn out with the youth excuse since it has seemed to be an empty promise of future success since 2001.

Jonathan Smith - I am not down on Smith as some others are and thought he actually called an excellent first half that should have resulted in 35 points being put on the board, but there is no denying he should be under the gun now. Outside of the Arizona game, the Husky offense has failed to put up more than 23 points against a Pac-12 team and that simply won't cut it.

Chris Petersen - I am still very much on board with Petersen and don't think he will have to really answer any questions until next season, but he giving himself a lot to prove from this point. His two teams have really struggled to play offense at a Pac-12 level, really lack signature wins and seem to play very sloppy.