Huskies Insider Blog

Day after: Optimism, playoff hopes dying slow death

No explanation.

No excuse.

Arizona dismantled the Huskies, 44-14, on Saturday in the desert. The Wildcats certainly buried the bones from last year's unexpected loss by looking like one of the best teams in the Pacific-10 Conference.

Then the bumbling, stumbling Huskies? What you saw, and I saw is almost beyond description, and way past explanation.

And in typical fashion, the players took the we-stand-tall, we-stand-proud, we're-not-dead-yet stance. For a porous UW defense that gave up 467 total yards to the Wildcats, it was the Jake Locker and company that took the blame for not being on the field enough.

Flip-flop, the defense accepted responsibility for fault in the UW offense, defense, special teams, coaching and why the showers in the locker room malfunctioned.

Get my point?

Brief observations (because I am still in the press box at Arizona Stadium, it's past midnight and I know I won't be sleeping before I board a plane in seven hours):

* Defense: Sooner or later, losing a Cort Dennison for a game, or a Victor Aiyewa - or Cameron Elisara unexpectedly in a game, like it was again Saturday - it hurts. Experience is replaced by inexperience, and that is enough to turn little mistakes into big, game-changing plays.

In this instance, Hau'oli Jamora made his first start at defensive end, and Princeton Fuimaono made his first start at outside linebacker. Both are true freshmen.

"Hau'oli (learned) ... it’s a little different when you’re playing every snap of a ballgame," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We weren’t able to generate the pass rush I thought we would be capable of generating."

It's plainly obvious, this defense struggles enough when its starters are a tad off, as was the case Saturday as no pressure was put on Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, who was very, very good.

What would you expect from a true freshman amid the circumstance of playing in the Pac-10 race?

* Offense: Last week, it was a quick start, and a longstanding burnout - the equivilent of 42 scoreless minutes against Oregon State.

On Saturday, again the Huskies scored early, got another touchdown in the second quarter, then went on a drought for nearly 38 minutes to finish the game.

How does that happen?

"I don’t know. I thought when we had that lull late in first quarter and early in second quarter, man we were missing opportunities. There were plays there for us, and for whatever reason we weren’t able to take advantage of them – whether a protection broke down, or we don’t hang onto it, or miss the throw or get a penalty that knocks us back," Sarkisian said.

"We’ve got to continue to clean those things up so we can continue with the rhythm we started the last couple weeks."

It was pretty evident Locker played hurt Saturday night. He did not attack the Arizona defense like he normally does. He tried to stay away, for the most part, from contact - content to be a dropback passer.

Sarkisian confirmed it was Locker's ribs that were sore. He said he called a game plan that would not put his quarterback at risk.

"He’s just beat up," Sarkisian said. "I just didn’t want to expose him, I didn’t want to do that to the kid. "

Again, like it's been stated on this blog the entire season, if the UW is going to pull out of this, it has to come from this side of the ball. If Locker can't do it - if he's not healthy enough - then maybe the coaches need to look at somebody else as being the centerpiece of the attack.

Maybe Chris Polk, the team's most consistent performer?

I know it's too late for that. The UW offense is at another crossroads, and with it, so is the season.

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