One of the few constants this season for the Washington Huskies has been a lack of offense. That consistent result is a product of inconsistent play.
Draped in all-black uniforms last Saturday against Oregon State, Washington trotted out its sixth starting offensive line combination of the year.
Personnel on the left side have been stable with Micah Hatchie at tackle and Dexter Charles at guard, plus senior Drew Schaefer has been the center all season. Saturday, the fluctuating right side of the line was manned by Ben Riva, who recently returned from a fractured forearm, at tackle and Mike Criste at guard. Washington allowed just two sacks against the Beavers, neither of which were by Scott Crichton, the conference leader in sacks (8).
But the offensive struggles persist. Washington has not scored 22 points or more against an FBS opponent this season.
On Monday, coach Steve Sarkisian placed blame more on the Huskies, rather than crediting opponents’ staunch efforts on defense.
“It’s all on us,” Sarkisian said. “Our inconsistency is glaring to me. It’s not one guy, it’s not two guys. I just feel like we keep taking our turns. Sometimes it’s the play call that takes its turn.
“For some reason or another, we just stub our own toes with mistakes we shouldn’t really be making. So, that’s the fight for us. I know we’re better than the way we’ve been playing. I’m waiting for the game to come when we put it all together.”
Keith Price has also been among the inconsistent and a victim of unsteady play.
He was a solid 18-for-30 passing against Oregon State on Saturday, throwing two important completions, both to Kasen Williams, which were indicators Price is changing his game.
The first was a 29-yard pass on first down up the left sideline that a covered Williams caught at the Oregon Statet 1. The second completion was Williams’ 19-yard catch in double coverage on a third-and-7 play during the Huskies’ final drive. But even with Williams in heavy coverage, Price threw to his receiver, giving Williams a chance to make a play rather than throwing the ball away or holding it for too long.
After weeks of waiting for receivers to be clearly open, Price went with the belief Saturday that throwing to a covered Williams, his hotel roommate, would reward him.
“Kasen isn’t a guy that’s going to create five yards of separation with speed; that’s not the way he’s set up,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a really strong guy, he’s got tremendous leaping ability. … He’s got great body control when the ball is in the air. So we need to understand that that’s his game. So the types of throws that we make to him have to be the ones that allow him to do what his strengths are.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
Washington is now 4-4 with a legitimate chance to finish 8-4. If the Huskies make a bowl game and win, the 9-4 record would be their best since going 11-1 and winning the 2000 Rose Bowl.
The path to get there is much lighter than the one to 4-4, despite Washington playing three games on the road, where it has lost six consecutive. The trips start this week at Cal and include games in Boulder, Colo, and Pullman. The next four opponents are 9-24 overall and a paltry 4-17 in Pac-12 play.
There is a staunch difference between Washington’s play at home versus on the road. Against FBS opponents, Washington has allowed 18 points per game at home, where it is 3-1. The only loss was a 24-14 defeat by USC.
On the road, Washington is 0-3 and has allowed an average of 48 points. Two of those games were against teams ranked No. 2 in the country at the time, LSU and Oregon. Two of those three teams also run a hurry-up offense which Washington cannot seem to corral.
Sarkisian chuckled Monday when asked if the Huskies were doing anything in particular to fix the team’s problems on the road.
“We’ve got a few things,” Sarkisian said. “More than anything, it’s understanding what the challenge is and embracing it. We can’t rely on the 60,000 or so fans like we can at CenturyLink. We have to find the energy from within. Understand where that energy will come from. It comes from within, we can’t rely on outside sources.”
Washington received eight votes in the latest Associated Press poll. Six conference teams, Oregon (2), Oregon State (13) Stanford (15), USC (18), Arizona (24) and UCLA (25) are in the Top 25. … Oregon State coach Mike Riley announced that Cody Vaz will be the Beavers’ starting QB this week after Sean Mannion threw four interceptions against Washington. … Sarkisian said his team’s health is pretty good, and that the injuries they have are the season-ending ones they’ve known about for some time. … The Huskies nominated cornerback Desmond Trufant for the Pac-12 defensive player of the week. … The start time for the Nov. 10 game against Utah will not be announced until next week.
HUSKIES’ OPPONENT THIS WEEK
CALIFORNIA (3-6 OVERALL, 2-4 PACIFIC-12)
6 P.M. FRIDAY, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.
TV: ESPN2. Radio: 950-AM, 102.9-FM
COACH: Jeff Tedford (82-53, 11th season)
AGAINST THE HUSKIES: Washington leads all-time series 50-38-4.
WASHINGTON CONNECTIONS: Washington has three former Cal assistants on its staff. UW offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau was at Cal from 2002-05 and again last season. First-year defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi played and coached in Berkeley, beginning his playing career in 2000. Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Dan Cozzetto worked for the Bears from 1990-91 under Bruce Snyder. Cozzetto and Cal O-line coach Jim Michalczik were on the same staff at Oregon State (2000-01).
SCOUTING REPORT: Cal was blown out last week by a low-scoring Utah team that put up 49 points on the Bears. Cal’s leading rusher, C.J. Anderson, averages 56.9 yards per game. He splits carries with Isi Sofele, who ran for 1,322 yards last season.
DID YOU KNOW: Saturday was the first time since November 1982 that the Huskies beat an undefeated team at or past the halfway point of their season. That was a 9-0 win over Arizona State.
Cole Leininger 4441.3 0
Sept. 1 lost to Nevada, 31-24Sept. 8 d. So. Utah, 50-31
Sept. 15lost to Ohio St., 35-28Sept. 22lost to USC 27-9
Sept. 29lost to Ariz. St., 27-17Oct. 6d. UCLA, 43-17
Oct. 13d. Wash. St., 31-17Oct. 20lost to Stanford, 21-3
Oct. 27lost to Utah, 49-27Friday Washington
Nov. 10OregonNov. 17at Oregon Statetodd.firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas email@example.com