Coach Steve Sarkisian was less than enthused about his team’s performance following Saturday’s 48-21 loss to the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis.
And while watching the game film can sometimes soften the intense emotion following such a disappointing loss, this wasn’t one of those times.
Sarkisian watched a recording of the game and came away with largely the same feeling he had on Saturday evening immediately after the game.
“It was probably our most disappointing ballgame of the year in all three phases,” he said during Monday’s press conference.
Which means it was more disappointing than the 34-14 loss to Stanford or the 43-19 loss to Oregon.
Sarkisian didn’t limit his criticism to any of the three phases, starting with an offense that amassed just 274 yards against a physical, aggressive defense.
“Offensively, we came out timid, did not play fast, did not play physical,” he said. “And in turn, ran into a defense that was not hesitant, to say the least, that was playing fast, physical football.”
It was glaring to Sarkisian on the sideline and he was certain it was glaring to anybody who watched the game in person or on TV.
“I think we all saw the discrepancy there, especially early in the game, where we were getting knocked back,” he said. “In turn, I think it created more hesitation on our end, where we started to take penalties that we hadn’t been taking all year. We dug ourselves a huge hole.”
That put pressure on a defense that simply isn’t equipped to handle such situations.
The Washington defense hasn’t been stellar in optimal situations, let alone in the situations it found itself Saturday.
OSU rolled up 372 yards of total offense, with Jacquizz and James Rodgers turning the game into a sibling highlight show, and quarterback Sean Canfield seemingly having countless seconds in the pocket to make his decisions and throws.
“Defensively, our kids played pretty hard, especially early on,” Sarkisian said. “They got put in some really difficult situations from a field-position standpoint, but played pretty hard and had opportunities there to create turnovers. There were four fumbles by Oregon State. We were unable to capitalize on them when the ball was on the ground, to maybe swing the momentum.”
Perhaps most surprisingly was the play of the special teams, which has been one of the team’s more consistent units. But punter Will Mahan and kicker Eric Folk both had subpar outings, and the kickoff cover team gave up an 84-yard return to open the second half.
“We didn’t kick the ball very well, whether it was on kickoffs or punt,” Sarkisian said. “For what reason, I don’t know. We’ve been pretty solid in that area all year. It’s been a situation where I love what Mahan’s done for us, what Erik Folk’s done for us. But we didn’t strike the ball well, and in turn, it caused us to not cover as good as we would’ve liked.”
Sarkisian also chastised UW’s return teams, which averaged just 21 yards on nine kickoff returns.
“And we’ve got to find a way to get the returns,” he said. “You get that many kickoff returns, sooner or later you’re supposed to hit something by executing, and we’re not.”
So where does it leave Sarkisian? Well, very frustrated, and questioning himself and not just his team.
“It’s disappointing, from the head coach standpoint, that we didn’t look like a team that was prepared to play – mentally or physically,” he said. “We got knocked off the football. It looked and appeared that Oregon State was playing harder than us, which, in my opinion, they were. So we have to address that. That’s not acceptable and that’s not OK.”
Worse, there were no signs in the days leading up to the game that it might happen.
“I thought we practiced really well. I thought we were really locked in to the game plan and what we wanted to do. If you were in our locker room before the game, you wouldn’t have thought they would have come out and played that way. I thought (the Huskies) were into it, they were excited. But it goes to show you that it’s not always what’s on the exterior of what your team looks like. You’ve got to find a way to get inside of them to see what they’re really feeling.”
If Sarkisian had his way, he’d just as soon skip the bye week and play on Saturday. It doesn’t matter the opponent – any team, any game – just to get the last one out of his and his players’ minds.
“Any time you get your butt kicked the way we did last week, you wish you could jump right back on the horse and play,” he said.
Instead, his team practiced on Monday and will go today and Wednesday before taking the rest of the week off. They will start preparing for the Apple Cup on Sunday.
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483