There are lots of people out there right now who are calling for the firing of Steve Sarkisian. A 4-0 start sparked hope of marked improvement, but an 0-3 skid to #6 Stanford, #2 Oregon, and #25 Arizona State had people thinking this was the same old team again. The same team that went 7-6 three straight years, always showing potential for more before falling to rampant inconsistency. I’m not going to say the Huskies are totally consistent this year, but they’ve only really played 4 quarters of bad football. Combine the final quarter against Oregon and the last three against Arizona State and the Huskies were outscored 64-17. Other than that, the Huskies have played at a much higher level. They are averaging 34.5 points per game while giving up 23.6 points per game, meaning in the average game they win by about 11.
Last year, the Huskies average differential was -0.2. In 2011, it was -2.5. In 2010, -7.5. If we take out the 56-0 win against Idaho State, which would make the schedule one of the toughest in the country, the Huskies are still outscoring their opponents 31.4 – 27.0, an average win of 4.4 points. What all does this really mean? The Huskies are closing the gap between themselves and the elite. Obviously, they aren’t there yet, but the last few years this team would’ve laid an egg against both Oregon and Stanford, lost to Boise State, had road trouble against Illinois, and had difficulties putting away both Arizona and Cal. Last year this team would’ve been 4-4 with very unconvincing wins and blowout losses.
Granted, the ASU game looks like one of the total collapses of the last few years, but the Huskies are mentally tough enough to recover and we will see the difference down the stretch this year, a place the 2012 squad faltered. This team is very capable of beating UCLA and Oregon State on the road, burying Colorado and Washington State at home, and beating a good Big-12 team to finish 10-3. The statistics have shown it, and if they play like they have in any game besides ASU or the 4th quarter against Oregon, they will do just that. The Huskies have the talent to win out. So the question then remains: do they have the maturity and mental toughness to play up to their talent level? I believe that they do, but we’ll have to wait and see.