Dawgman Diary – 11/1/2005

Another week, another Pac 10 loss. Another game, another set of problems for the Washington coaches and players to work on the following week. The Huskies have now lost 13-straight conference games. Is there hope on the horizon? The team held a "players only" gathering following their full meeting on Sunday and two of them spoke about the intensity of the team and gave a taste of what was discussed behind closed doors.

"We just got an idea of how everybody was feeling," senior running back James Sims said Monday. "We just had to make sure we let the young guys know where we stand with them and how we're going to respond and how we're going to play for them.

"We're trying to lift up the whole team, Isaiah (Stanback) especially too, because he takes the role of the leader, especially offensively. He feels that if things aren't getting done on the field it's on his shoulders.

"I think sometimes Isaiah tries to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, especially when it comes to the team and winning. He needs to know that we're all behind him and that he's out there for a reason."

To Stanback's ears, talk is cheap.

"Talking is talking," Stanback said matter-of-factly. "You've got to go out and do it. That's what it comes down to. We can sit here and say all the positives in the world and all the motivational speeches you want to have, but until you go out on the field and execute, it doesn't matter."

Stanback had his worst game of the season, almost reverting to his 2004 form, with an 8-of-20, 171-yard, one interception effort against the conference's sixth-ranked pass defense. Stanback, taking Sims' cue, took the blame for the loss on himself.

"I played bad," the junior signal-caller told reporters on Monday. "I didn't make any progress this past week, but I'm confident in myself. I know I'm going to compete regardless. Like I said, if I have a bad game I'm going to come back even stronger and that starts today and in practice.

"Good plays don't make for a good outcome some of the time and my bad decision-making and bad throws overshadowed my good plays. I couldn't care about the good plays I had."

Coming back even stronger is something the Huskies must see from Stanback as they face a struggling Oregon State team coming off back-to-back losses at the hands of UCLA and Arizona. Stanback attributed some of his struggles to bad technique and poor decisions.

"I missed on a lot of throws I normally make," a bewildered Stanback said. "My technique was just messed up. The ball sailed on me. The ball wasn't going anywhere near where I wanted it to, because my technique was messed up.

"I went back to the Notre Dame game, when I felt like I was throwing the ball well and it was like night and day. I can't really explain why my technique was messed up, it just was. I watched that game earlier today and it showed me how different my technique was."

Even with the losses mounting and the team upset about their play, Sims says the players are focusing on the tasks at hand and not letting the negativity get to them.

"Last year there was a little bit of bickering and coming apart at the seams, but that's one thing we're making sure doesn't happen this year and we're trying to keep everyone together," Sims said.

"That's why I think things have been going a little bit better than last year, because we're staying together not blaming and pointing fingers at who's doing what and breaking it down to the individual. That's not happening."

This past week the Huskies tied their season-high with 213 yards rushing, and much of it was due to Sims running harder than a Husky has run in quite some time. He finished with a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns, but Sims said Washington's focus on physicality doesn't mean the team needs to come out frothing at the mouth.

"We're physical up front and as a team that's something we've been focusing on ... just trying to come out and be a more physical team and I think, for the most part, we've been getting that done," Sims said.

"We don't need to come out screaming and hollering because sometimes that takes away from an actual game and you can come out with a focused and quiet mentality and that can help boost your team a little more, because they're not out there going crazy. You know you've got a goal and you're working towards it."

This weekend the Huskies will continue on their quest toward their first Pac-10 win since the 2003 Apple Cup.

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