'60 minutes of effort' not enough

When Sean Douglas booted a snap with 6:06 left in the third quarter in Washington's football game against Oregon State Saturday, there was a palpable sense of 'here we go again' in the air. After all, with two OSU drives with less than six-and-a-half minutes left in the game resulting in six points - despite a combined 13 yards for both drives - it's hard not to fault the effort of the defense. They came to play the full game, and UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham was quick to point that out.

"We just didn't do enough offensively to match and give a total team effort," Willingham said after the game, a game that saw the Beavers slog their way to an 18-10 win. The final statistics bear that out. Oregon State outgained Washington 263-226 in very soggy and windy conditions. More impressively, they earned a 35-25 minute time of possession advantage over the Huskies, time Washington desperately needed to find an offensive spark.

"It was great conditions, I thought it was fun," Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley said after the game, clearly relishing his team's effort and fortitude despite less-than-ideal circumstances. I really think it was a great challenge for a team and every team ought to get to do that in football once in a while, to have to deal with that."

The Huskies have had a tough enough time just dealing with the 11 players on the other side of the ball, let alone a wicked rainstorm. It caused the Washington coaching staff to dig deep in their bag of tricks to find a winning edge.

Willingham even made the choice to bench starter Isaiah Stanback in favor of Johnny DuRocher in the second half. Stanback outgained DuRocher by a yard in passing yardage, but DuRocher put points up on the board.

"We really made that decision in the second quarter, but the timing of the game didn't allow it to take place," Willingham said of the choice to go with his back-up quarterback. "So we decided to stay with it when we started the third quarter."

"(It was) just to help our football team get a win. At that time, the way the football game was going and what had taken place, that was the decision to make."

At the end of the game, Willingham couldn't tell you who played better. He just knew that neither effort was good enough to get Washington a win - a win that would have put an end to 14-straight conference losses.

"We didn't execute offensively the basics - blocking and catching," he said. "We didn't do that. Those are things we have to do. Their team played under the same conditions."

And as of right now, the quarterback position is officially up for grabs between Stanback and DuRocher. "We look at them just like any other position," Willingham said. "If their performance is not up to a certain level and we think it's in the best interests of the football team, we'll make a change. And our guys understand that. It's team first."

At times this season, Washington has excelled for a few series here, an odd quarter or two there - but it hasn't been for an entire game. Willingham - not looking for moral victories - did concede that continued progress is being made.

"I think they gave 60 minutes of effort, but we didn't have 60 minutes of execution," he said. "If we do some things right, we have some big plays. We didn't do that. I told our football team that I loved the way they fought. That's what I expect of them and that's what they should expect of themselves."

So what does Willingham and the Washington football have to play for going into their final two games of the season? Pride? To show people that they are capable of winning? To Willingham, it's a question that doesn't need to be brought up, it's just part of the reason you play the game. "They haven't quit, they haven't given up," said Willingham. "Their play has been criticized, but I like the fact that they are hanging in there, they've continued to listen, take coaching and do the things their coaches want them to do."

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