Coach's Corner

The WSU Cougars are charging hard and the UW Huskies are reeling. These are two programs heading in opposite directions as they now enter their annual showdown this coming weekend. Don't blink if the Huskies end up double figure underdogs in their own stadium.

The way the Cougars have played all season long, and for the past three years for that matter, they certainly deserve to be considered the heavy favorite. If the past two weeks are any indication, then the game could become a rout.

Things are that dark right now at Montlake.

The only good thing about the Huskies the past two games is that both games were on the road and neither was on television. Unfortunately, I had to attend both in person and I really believe the Dawgs have hit rock bottom.

Earlier in the season I kept saying that this team was not great but it could be a very good team. Well, now at the very least, they are simply awful.

The defense was embarrassing. They refuse to take the right angles to make tackles and then missed them once they got there. They are obviously struggling on defense and fall behind so quickly that their offense never even gets to try the run because they are too far behind.

Of course, the only way to see if you can run the ball is to actually call running plays. The Huskies regularly throw 5 or 6 passes in a row but never have run it more than 3 or 4 times in a row except of course in the games they have won. This should raise a red flag.

To consistently win football games you have to do three things:
- Play good defense
- Run the football
- Be solid in the kicking game.

Right now the only thing that appears close is the kicking. Punter Garth Erickson could be considered the most consistent player on the team. He has really had a nice year and it's a shame he is a senior. This is what a good walk on program can do for you if you were allowed to have one.

The Cougars on the other hand come into the Apple Cup with an excellent defense built around speed and guys who like to fly to the ball. Their kicking game has been steady and when their two JC running backs are on and healthy, then they have also have a solid rushing attack. In short, it goes right back to the defense. The Cougars are coming off another good defensive effort against ASU and the Huskies are coming off the worst defensive performance in probably the history of the school.

As bad as the game was, I need to say that I was proud to watch Randy Hart keep battling on the sidelines. He never stopped working nor did he ever quit trying to get the kids going. He was in constant motion and never stopped fighting. If the players had as much fight in them as he did they would have certainly tackled better, or at least tried to. I also watched co-defensive coordinator Phil Snow and saw a tremendous show of positive energy coming from him in spite of just a horrendous showing by the defense.

But while the entire coaching staff is battling, they are losing. It is sickening to watch them work so hard, yet their team is certainly in distress and totally lacking in confidence.

If you can't stop the run, first and foremost, then you rarely win football games. Last Saturday the Husky defense couldn't stop a dripping faucet. It was not only sad, it was difficult to understand. Words like heart, and desire, and will, and toughness start flashing across the screen. One can only hope that the Huskies themselves are watching the same movie.

Changes are needed and Keith will have to make some very difficult decisions in the off-season, but he will.

Looking back at the year in the Pac-10, the two best teams in the conference are USC and WSU. Looking back at these two programs since 1995, here is what you have:

1995 - USC tied for the Championship with the Huskies and WSU was 3-8
1996 - USC was 6-6 and WSU 5-6
1997 - USC was 6-5 and the Cougars won the Championship
1998 - USC was 6-5 and WSU 3-8 and 0-8 in conference
1999 - USC was 6-6 and WSU 3-9 and 1-7 in conference
2000 - USC was 5-7 and WSU 4-7
2001 - USC was 6-5 and WSU was 10-2 but Washington won the championship

From 1998-2000 the Trojans were second to last in the Pac-10 in league play. During the same period the Cougars were 3-21 in league play. Dead last.

Both of these programs have come back and rebuilt their programs to the point where they are nationally ranked teams. They did it with patience and with the understanding of transition and what it entails.

Washington must now retool, rebuild, and redirect their program. It may not happen in time to beat the Cougars on Saturday, but it will happen. The problems of this program can and will be fixed. The changes won't be easy ones, but they'll be made. Top Stories