Pac-10 Week 8 Notes and Observations: Washington Huskies

By Sam Saig, October 27, 2009 1:47 pm

Washington Huskies 3-5 Overall (2-3 Conference)

This Week’s Score: Oregon 43 – Washington 19

Next Week’s Opponent: BYE

Count me in as one of the many prognosticators that expected a nail-biter between Oregon and Washington. I guess we will have to wait at least another year before one of the Pac-10’s greatest rivalries returns to form, as the Ducks blasted the Dawgs for the sixth straight season.

Husky fans, Saturday’s game can’t be characterized as anything other than disappointing. What happened to the team that outworked USC on both sides of the ball? I refuse to write the performance against the Trojans off as a fluke, but the last few weeks (including the win against UA) have made it tough to believe in Sarks‘ Dawgs.

Certainly Saturday started innocently enough (3-0 Huskies after a quarter), but the punt block TD (followed by a walk-in two pointer) was a game-changer, to say the least. Special teams proved to be a killer, as the Huskies fell victim to Chip Kelly’s unconventional tactics on more than one occasion (the Nate Costa fake punt scramble never should have happened).

Nick Holt’s defense was also a big disappointment. The Huskies relied on surprising red zone resiliency to keep opponents from scoring up to this point, but the Ducks were able to score four times in the red zone. Statistically, Washington is now ranked at the bottom of the country in rushing yards allowed (91st nationally), passing yards allowed (102nd nationally), total defense (107th nationally), and scoring defense (95th nationally).

Of course, the biggest disappointment of all was the play of QB Jake Locker. I take nothing away from the toughness and tenacity of Nick Aliotti’s defense (the Ducks D is legit no doubt), but Locker didn’t look like himself. He was hesitant throughout the game as both a passer and runner, and Oregon was able to sack him four times while also picking two passes (he went 23/44 266 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs).

The most important thing for Locker to do now is put this one behind him, as the Huskies can still accomplish a lot this year but not without Jake at his best. Looking for a positive on offense? Look no further than RB Chris Polk (18 caries, 104 yards 1 TD), who ran hard all day even when everything else was going wrong.

Washington has a bye this week, giving Sark and the coaches a chance to reevaluate and regroup. The Dawgs have three wins and therefore need to win three of their remaining four games to reach the postseason (@UCLA, @OSU, WSU, Cal). Is it possible? I still think so, but the players must compete with the same fire that was clearly present a few weeks ago, and the defense must be MUCH better.

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