Huskies Show Up To Fight

SEATTLE - I was all in favor of renaming CenturyLink Field Safeway Field but couldn't find any takers. The team that got called out last week for apparently being soft showed up Saturday night for a brawl. It was a point of pride for the Washington Huskies, and they won a hard-faught, tense, sloppy football game. In other words - it was perfect.

"I thought our kids showed a great deal of resiliency," Steve Sarkisian said after the Huskies' 20-17 win over No. 7 Oregon State. "At the end of the day I don't know how pretty it was."

Don't worry Sark: It was a ballet of brutality, a non-fiction work of ferocity, a slobberknocking symphony that Pete Carroll would have been proud to pen. Maybe Desmond Trufant bent the ear of his brother this week for that little extra motivation. Maybe Sean Parker took that Arizona stiff-arm to heart. Maybe it was the fact that they've never lost in black.

"I think the Blackout is contagious," Parker said after the game.

Some things will certainly have to be cleaned up. Three personal foul calls - two on sudden change plays in Washington's favor - could have really killed momentum for the Huskies. Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox left no doubt after the game that there will be consequences for those that put the game in jeopardy.

"I don't want to take away our stinger either, I thought our guys played with a real sense of purpose tonight," added Sarkisian.

All I know is that when Washington's toughness was tested by another top-10 team, the Huskies came back from each punch delivered by the Beavers with haymakers of their own. They could stayed on the canvas after Brandon Cooks' 54-yard sprint to the end zone mid-way through the third quarter, but the Dawgs remained on point, remained undaunted in the face of their own failures, their own mistakes and themselves.

"Everyone saw it - we knocked them out," Austin Seferian-Jenkins said post-game matter-of-factly. "We punched them in the mouth one time, we punched them in the mouth two times, we punched them in the mouth three times. They hit us a couple times, but we knocked them out."

In other words, they did exactly what Sarkisian asked himself to do earlier in the week; they worked through the problem. They made it happen through force of will, determination and a fighting spirit that, while it led to some unfortunate chippiness that cost them plenty of yards - it also revealed the heart and character of a program that can rise to a challenge and also finish the job at hand.

"It was a tremendous amount of adversity that they were faced with in the game and they continued to show the mental and physical toughness that teams need to possess to beat a top-10 ranked team," Sarkisian said.

And it wasn't just the players that came out Saturday night looking for a battle royale. Sarkisian stated his intentions early by appearing to try and go for it on a fourth-and-1 at their own 34, but it was merely to test the Beavers' patience. And when it came time for Sark to follow the prudent play in the coach's manual - running the ball on a third-and-four at the OSU 12 with the game tied at 17 and 90 seconds left, he went for the throat. His team had given their all to get to that point, and Sarkisian was not about to let off the gas, even if that meant possibly putting the game on the line. But true to Sark's nature, whenever he has a chance to determine his own fate, he's taken it. Touchdown? Absolutely.

"I just wanted to be me," Sark said. "I'm a relatively emotional guy. I locked arms with the guys too, I was right there with them...but I wasn't in the crowd watching, I wanted to be in the fight with them."

It shouldn't come as a surprise that within an hour of Oregonian columnist John Canzano's scathing indictment of Washington's apparent Charmin-esque qualities when it came to football, his words became instant bulletin board material.

"It's rough," UW Quarterback Keith Price said when asked if Canzano's column provided some extra motivation for the Huskies. "You try to tune things out, things that are going on outside our program. But when you hear things like we're soft and we're not resilient, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and re-gather yourself.

"It's hard to call a quarterback soft."

Price has been anything but soft these past few weeks as he's struggled with his own game. To say he's run the gauntlet of emotions recently is being kind. But the best way to work through any problem is to find success and build on it. Price believes his team has started that process with Saturday night's win.

"I think our team is handling this controversy that we've been dealing with," he said. "I think we're growing overall as a team. All the young guys can see that we can beat top-ranked opponents.

"The next thing is winning on the road."


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