Pac-10 Week 2 Notes and Observations: Washington Huskies
Washington Huskies 1-1 Overall (0-0 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Washington 42 – Idaho 23
Next Week’s Opponent: USC
The nation’s longest losing streak (15 games) came to an end in Seattle last Saturday, as Washington blasted Idaho to give coach Steve Sarkisian his first win at UW. For me, it felt like the losing streak ended week one vs. LSU because of the inspired effort put forth by the Huskies, but a win must feel awfully good no matter who it’s against.
Offensively, Washington is much further along than I ever could have predicted. Jake Locker has complete control of the offense right now. I never doubted his physical ability, but I was waiting to see if he could become a true field general, and right now, the answer is an emphatic yes. Sarkisian has done wonders for his decision-making and poise, as he routinely delivered the ball accurately and on time against Idaho (17/25 253 yards, 3 TDs). The thing I loved most about Locker’s performance was the fact that he hit nine different receivers, and that kind of balance should keep good defenses off balance.
The running game was a bit under-utilized, but I still came away impressed with Chris Polk’s performance (19 carries, 80 yds, 1 TD). Polk looks like a true feature back for UW, and it appears Johri Fogerson will give the Huskies a change of pace with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
As much as there is to like on offense, the defense may be what holds the Huskies back this season. I was particularly frustrated by the play of the secondary, as Idaho was able to gain 349 yards through the air and that is unacceptable. I understand that the coaches are shuffling players around in the defensive backfield, but it is critical that they find the right combination soon because that part of the defense is a glaring weakness right now.
It would help if the DBs benefited from a more consistent pass rush. I saw glimpses of it Saturday (3 sacks by UW against Idaho), but the d-line needs to be more consistent. I will be interested to see how often Nick Holt decides to blitz, because the four man rush had a little trouble generating pressure against Idaho’s QBs. I do love the Husky linebackers, and I think they will continue to flourish this season.
Now comes another measuring stick for this Washington program. Will Sark, Holt and the rest of the coaching staff have some surprises in store for this week’s familiar opponent? We shall see, as the USC Trojans head to Seattle fresh off of a huge win at the Horseshoe. The Huskies may be catching SC at the right time (maybe a letdown game for SC?), but it will take a near-perfect game for UW to pull off the upset.