Coach's Corner

As it is every week during the football season, the "24 hour rule" is in effect, so it's time to move on. Certainly, the loss to ASU has to sting, but the Huskies have got to move on and they can't dwell on the loss because the they can't change it anyway. There is an even better team coming to Husky Stadium this weekend, and a win over Oregon State would be as huge as their victory over USC.

When breaking down the ASU/Oregon State game last week, it was obvious to me that the Beavers are probably better than the Sun Devils on both sides of the ball. Now it looks like they might have found their quarterback in Ryan Katz, who threw for 393 yards in their 29-27 upset win over Arizona. Considering that the Arizona defense went into that game ranked as the No. 2 unit in the nation, giving up only 230 total yards per game, it makes the Beaver performance look even more impressive.

Now granted, the Wildcats padded those stats against the likes of Toledo and The Citadel (you've got to be kidding me), but they also had beaten Iowa and California and they were already pretty good on offense.

Those of you who were disappointed in the performance by the Husky defense can rest assured that nobody is playing good defense in the Pac-10 right now. The passing total of Katz against Arizona was greater than the total offense of ASU against the Huskies.

The Huskies haven't beaten the Beavers in ages (since 2003, to be exact, but it feels like ages). Following their win against the Huskies in Corvallis last year, a smiling Mike Riley burst into his locker room in front of cameras and pronounced, "We always beat the Huskies", to a round of applause from his team. If he had added "lately" it would've been fine with me, but they don't always beat the Huskies, and this is a great time to prove it.

I think it only bothers me because before Riley returned to Corvallis, the OSU/UW rivalry had been completely one-sided, and Don James, Jim Lambright and Rick Neuheisel could have just as easily said, "We always beat the Beavers". From 1975 to 2003, the record was 25 wins for the Huskies and two for the Beavers. During that time the Dawgs ran off 10 and 13-game winning streaks.

Are they a better team than Washington is right now? Probably. Are they better in the lines? Probably. Will they be favored to win? Probably. Would this be an upset? Probably. Whatever, the Huskies still need to take from the positives and get themselves ready for another fourth quarter finish, because that's how the Beavers have been winning their games.

As bad as the final outcome was in the loss to ASU, the Huskies had still positioned themselves to win the game in the last stanza. Trailing by two scores they had closed the gap to 21-14 early in the fourth quarter. They then got a key interception in the next series from Cort Dennison and were in business, only to go three-and-out on their next possession. All the momentum from the TD and interception was lost.

The Sun Devils then marched down the field only to be stopped and forced to kick a field goal. The Huskies were to get the ball for two more possessions but again came up empty. Even though they had outscored ASU 7-3 in the second half, the Huskies essentially gave the game away right at the end of the first half when following a Jermaine Kearse drop, they allowed ASU to quickly march in for their third touchdown, and that proved to be the difference in the game. That momentary lapse right at the end of the half ended up costing them the game.

As badly as they played, they still had their chances and just couldn't close the deal. It would appear that this may be the same scenario they will face throughout the remainder of their schedule. That means hang around and give yourself a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.

Certainly a healthy Jake Locker would have helped, but it still gets down to finishing games. Against USC they did, against ASU they didn't. It's really that simple. You don't get any style points in football, so an ugly win is still a win. Despite the weather and some stupid penalties the Huskies had still put themselves in a position to snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat, only to run out of gas coming down the stretch.

Washington protected the football again, giving up only one desperate interception at the end. They played toe-to-toe with a team that had gone to the wire with Wisconsin and the two Oregon schools, and they didn't look all that great doing it. The just didn't have enough bullets to take down Steven Threet - the desert gun slinger - dropping them back to 2-3 on the season and in a deficit to make a bowl game.

A win over the Beavers now becomes critical to everything the Huskies and their fans expect out of this season. They can't do anything about the ASU loss but they can clean up their act by eliminating stupid penalties and simply catching the ball both by their receivers and their defensive backs. Not missing tackles and staying on blocks would help as well, but they were not that far from winning that last game. Of course, each unit on the team knows what they can do in order to win, including the coaching staff. It will take a collective belief but they can play better and no doubt will.

Losing is hard on everyone and this program has had its share of that over the past eight years. This team needs to continue to work on the little things, and the next time they get into the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game, they have to finish the job. No excuses. Those two lapses - the one at the end of the first half and the other one right after the interception - essentially cost them the game. And you can't have lapses and expect to win games in the Pac-10 this year.


Dawgman.com Top Stories