Coach's Corner

Now that the "24 Hour Rule" has expired, it's time to move on to the Arizona State Sun Devils. Let's just hope that Sark's troops learn from their past and this time put together back-to-back wins and climb right into the thick of this conference race.

A year ago Washington shocked the Pac-10 conference with their stunning upset of the then Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans, only to go on the road and proceed to drop two games in a row. This time they get to come home for the next two and this time they are going to prove they are for real by holding their home court advantage.

Last weekend's thrilling victory in LA was simply a needed win for this program. First of all, it was absolutely great for the players and coaches and their families, and it was just as good for the administrators and the support staff, but it was also one of greatest wins for us fans, in a long, long time.

Those loyal followers who traveled south to cheer on the Dawgs saw a performance by Jake Locker and the offense that was simply amazing. They also saw a group of determined underdogs put an end to USC's 32 home night games winning streak, so in a way it was sort of like the 'Whammy in Miami' I guess, but that one was 59 home games and represented day and night wins.

Maybe they'll eventually call this win 'To Live and Die in LA'? A nod to Wang Chung, perhaps? Or 2Pac? Your call, but what we all can agree on is that the Huskies snuffed out the Trojans' streak with a shot at the buzzer. They beat the odds, they stopped a streak of their own, and they erased the taste that Nebraska put in their mouths. It was easily their greatest road win in over a thousand days simply because it was their only road win for a thousand days.

They believed they could win and they did. It was better than last year's USC win except for the fan celebration on the field.

Right before Erik Folk's successful field goal (his fourth of the day), Dave 'Softy' Mahler and Hugh Millen - my two partners on the radio - came by and grabbed me so we could exit the press box. You're not allowed to cheer in a press area because they want to keep it neutral and professional, something that we have a hard time adhering to. We went outside like three little kids skipping class just so we could take in the moment with little or no restrictions on our behavior.

Of course Lane Kiffin used his remaining timeouts to try and "freeze" Folk, and it only heightened our anticipation. I was thinking, we're going to win thing again just like I had predicted. Dave was literally praying and worrying about it missing, and Hugh was yelling, "You'd better not miss this", with a real serious tone in his voice. I was laughing when it went through the uprights. It was the best.

When Folk used his sand wedge to chipshot the winner, we went into a frenzy of high fives, back slaps, hugs, and general immature running in circles. We had just experienced why they play the games. On paper the better team did not win. Washington was better at two positions - quarterback and kicker - and that's all that was necessary. That and one more point on the scoreboard than the Trojans had when the clock read zeros.

Following the victory, and after watching the Huskies run around as wild as we were, I tried to go down through the crowd to bowels of the Coliseum just to experience the atmosphere. It was electric. Many players and coaches and their wives simply could not stop smiling as everyone was overcome with the "thrill of victory".

After all, nothing matters except for that very moment in time. It's what winning is all about, and the euphoria that goes with it is indeed overwhelming. I know there were Huskies everywhere watching on their televisions, drinking their own favorite beverage of choice, and experiencing the exact same exhilaration.

To see their faces and feel their joy after what had happened against Nebraska reminded me that you are only as good as your last game. They all know coach Sark only gives them 24 hours to dwell on the game before they have to put it away and move on to the next one. Of course you have to learn from your mistakes and the coaches will no doubt push the fundamentals necessary to improve the team, but it's really only the first rung on the ladder. It's only one win. A big one, but it loses luster if you don't win the next one.

It was indeed another signature win for coach Steve Sarkisian and this time it was done on the road in his old haunt.

Now Dennis Erickson brings his 2-3 and 0-2 Arizona State team into Seattle and the Huskies need to take care of business and somehow find a way to beat a team they should have beaten last year. Washington is now one of four undefeated teams in the Pac-10, and considering that two of the others - Arizona and Oregon State - face off this weekend, a victory over ASU would mean only three unbeaten teams will be left after a full slate of conference games.

The Sun Devils opened league play against the two unbeaten Oregon schools and although they played them both tough, they lost both games. They have a veteran coach who has won a national title and they will be tough to beat, but this game sets up well for Washington because they will be playing at home and Jake Locker will still be the best quarterback on the field and Erik Folk will still be the best kicker at the end of the game (although ASU's kicker is very good too).

To get off the canvas after that Nebraska loss and knock off No. 18 USC was huge as a team builder. This time around, the Huskies need to put together back-to-back wins and prove they are going to be contenders, rather than the pretenders they have been for the greater part of a decade.

You have to be encouraged that the team was able to finish what they started in a great game that saw seven lead changes and only one turnover by each team. It's easy to talk about finishing in everything you do in fall camp; that was how you finish under difficult circumstances. The game went back and forth, and the young Huskies never blinked, always responding no matter what was happening. It wasn't pretty, except for the play of Jake, but in the end it was as good as it gets.

The Dawgs were led by their quarterback and their coach, who called a marvelous game, and his team showed it wanted it more than the Trojans. Oh sure, the defense got pushed around at times and gave up just under 300 yards rushing, but they held up when it counted the most, and Jake and the offense marched the length of the field, ran off all the time on the clock and put the Trojans away the way you would expect a good team to do, and exactly like they did the year before.

This time around, they will back it up.

Regardless, any time you beat a team that has won 11 national championships, has had 31 bowl victories, produced 156 All-Americans, six Heisman Trophy winners, and 437 NFL players, you have won a big game. Beating USC every year has been a benchmark for this program and winning by one point in their house only makes it sweeter.

In another twist of scheduling, the Huskies' next two opponents actually played each other this last weekend in Corvallis, with Oregon State beating ASU 31-28. The Sun Devils are now losers of three-straight after opening their season against two cupcakes in Portland State (54-9) and Northern Arizona (41-20). They narrowly lost to a strong Wisconsin team in Madison before losing to the Quackers and the Beavers. At 0-2 in conference, the Sun Devils already have their backs against the wall so this one could be another nail biter. The Huskies need to put the Trojan game behind them and improve on their misses - as in missed tackles and missed catches. If they can simply clean up the drops and missed tackles they will immediately improve as a team. They made great strides in their kicking game against USC and must continue to improve if they are going to win this game.

This weekend will be the first time in 2010 that all 10 teams play in-conference games. There is no more important game than this Saturday night in Husky Stadium, when the Huskies hope to extend their own night-game winning streak to six games, whatever the heck that means (assuming anything from 3:30 and beyond is considered a 'night' game). Staying undefeated in conference play means enough in itself.

Go Dawgs, and by the way, thank you for that Trojan win. It was special. The "24 hour rule" of celebrating does not apply to us fans. Top Stories