My Take: Oregon 34 Washington 17

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OK, so the Washington Huskies are not at the point in their rebuilding where they can beat a Top 10 team yet. Let’s accept that. As much as we would love to end this streak against Oregon, our most hated rival, the team isn’t there yet. But, to let that get you down misses the big picture. This is a team that was 0-12 three years ago.

The cupboards were bare and Steve Sarkisian needed to revitalize the recruiting scene, team attitudes, and playbooks. Some of Steve Sarkisians’ play-calling may be suspect, we certainly know the defense needs work, but come on people, this is a team heading to a bowl game again. It is 6-3 with a really good chance of finishing 8-4. At the beginning of the season, I predicted the Huskies would finish 7-5 based on the schedule. So, an 8-4 finish would have to be considered a success, wouldn’t it?

I know there is frustration that they can not beat the top teams in the conference. But, you have to start somewhere. You need to begin by beating the bottom-dwellers, which is something this team couldn’t even do a few years ago. The last of Ty Willingham’s players are going to be moving on and soon this will be all of Sark’s kids. Kasen Williams, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Bishop Sankey, Nick Montana, Josh Shirley, and many others appear to have terrific futures at Montlake.

The day will come, perhaps as early as next season when Washington will return to its status as a contender for the conference title. There is a lot of reason to believe that will happen. USC will start losing 10 scholarships per season next year. Oregon faces possible sanctions. Stanford seems like a school that won’t be able to sustain its level of success over the long term. Things are always in flux at Arizona State and UCLA is already in flux. So, why not have Washington back on top next year or the year after?

In terms of what we saw yesterday against Oregon, I think Sark played scared. I saw him try to methodically run the offense to kill clock and keep Oregon off the field. A coach who changes his offensive game plan based on the opponent they are playing is coaching without confidence. That is probably the first major sign that the Huskies are not quite back yet. That being said, it gave the team a chance. They were only down 7 at halftime. The defense gave this team a chance, especially since Oregon had three possessions start on the Washington side of the field.

The one unit I blame the most the most in this game was the Offensive Line. Granted, they were playing a very good Oregon defense. But, there is no reason for Price to get sacked six times. Chris Polk did yeoman’s duty making yards when the holes were not there. Price did not have the time to look downfield and make the pass. If this team is going to get to the next level, then Sark needs to bring in the top linemen available on the west coast.

I saw a defense that was more patient and held its own against a vaunted offense. However, play calling remains suspect. On that huge 3rd down in the 4th quarter, where the crowd was going absolutely nuts and the team was still in it, Holt decided to dial up a blitz, leaving the secondary in man-to-man coverage. Oregon completed a long pass to its tight end. Holt needs to realize that this secondary is not there yet to handle that situation. Instead of bringing the blitz, he should have held that DB back into the center of the field. Make Thomas earn that first down, rather than giving him the easy pass up the middle.

There are certainly things to celebrate about how this team is playing and things to criticize. But, isn’t it a good feeling to know they had a chance for once? Isn’t it a good feeling to know how close this team is to competing again? Patience is not something most fans have. But, this team is showing progress…