Coach's Corner

Thank heavens for the Seahawks. I'm so desperate for a winner that I quietly root for them because I don't want to jinx them. They play with confidence and they play like they are a good team. They run the football well, protect the quarterback, are much improved on defense, and are solid in the kicking game. They are my salvation.

I confess that I am a regional sports junkie. I follow and watch and go see the Huskies, Cougars, Seahawks, Mariners, and Sonics. I have been a season ticket holder, a supporter, a fan, and follower of all these teams as long as they've been around. They feed my sports addiction and I admit to being partial, biased, and a homer for all of them. But, Lord knows, these are trying times.

Each weekend, since the Sonics burned out in the playoffs, has been one disappointing blur after another. If it wasn't for the Seahawks I'd be going crazy. Will somebody please wake me up when this period is over? All of this losing is killing me. I'm sure some of you are just as desperate as I am. I know there are other loyal Huskies out there who are suffering every weekend as well. I can read it on the message boards here at Dawgman.

I know there are a lot of us out there who sat and watched the Mariners all summer long even when they were out of it in June. This UW football season is similar in nature. I know there are other Dawg followers who are asking themselves, "Are we really this bad?"

It appears we are.

Oregon State was another beatable team. Washington could have won that game. Let's face it, this Husky team could have and should have beaten Air Force and UCLA. Their scores against ASU, Notre Dame and Oregon State don't show the real picture of how close the Huskies actually were in all three of those games. They held USC to its lowest offensive output of the season as well. They show up every week determined and with good game plans. They're not that bad, are they?

Well, to be perfectly honest, yes. In terms of winning, they are simply that bad. It is getting old to always be looking for improvement and not expecting to win. This two-year stretch is the worst two years for any football team I have ever rooted for. That spans a 50-year period. They have lost 18 of the last 20 games. That is just plain awful. Considering they have only beaten San Jose and Idaho in that stretch, these kids haven't beaten a conference opponent since November 22, 2003.

Now they head back to the desert to play Arizona at precisely the wrong time. The Wildcats are no longer the Mildcats. They are coming off two straight wins, including absolute butt kicking of the UCLA Bruins. They must be licking their chops considering their only previous conference win of the past two years was against these same Washington Huskies.

This Husky team is certainly better than it was last year. I really believe that, but there seems to be no way of getting around it - these Huskies are not very good.

It is almost like Goundhog Day. This season just keeps repeating itself over and over. They somehow get creative to give games away. They drive the length of the field against the Beavers only to have a senior player jump offside inside the 5-yard line. Come on, give yourselves a chance! The running back goes from running full speed and downhill against ASU to being tentative and indecisive against the Beavers. It was almost like he was afraid to fumble and was being overly protective of the ball. Of course he had fumbled twice before against the Beavers and had dropped the rock in his last play against ASU. The receivers who had improved so much this season have again become "dropaholics". When you don't catch the football and you are a receiver, then you don't belong in the game. What really hurts is that all the drops are by their starters and not some inexperienced players.

No matter the record, you really have to admire Coach Willingham. This is all new to him. I can't believe he or any member of his staff has ever been through a mess of this stature before. They are certainly being tested as coaches. They are putting in long hours, working hard in practice, coming up with solid game plans, and are staying positive and upbeat no matter what continues to happen on the field. You can bet they will respond by having the Huskies ready and willing to take on the Wildcats.

Their problem, however, is not in the planning, scheming, or physical preparation of this team. All of the opposing coaches I've talked to say the same thing, so this is not just me blowing hot air. I am convinced that this is a mental thing and that sooner or later it is going to have to come from within the players themselves.

There are only two more opportunities for this group of players to win a football game. Two more chances at self-redemption. It will take a full 60 minute effort by each and every one of the members of this year's Husky football team. I think it is still possible that they and the rest of us will once again feel the thrill of victory. I think they will answer the Bell.

That would be Mike Bell, the Arizona running back who holds their all time rushing record against, you guessed it, the Washington Huskies.

I think Washington will finally break into the win column before this season is over. It doesn't really matter what I think, though. This team has to believe it before it will happen. As miserable as we all feel about this repeat of last year, can you even imagine how terrible those kids and coaches must feel. No one enjoys losing. I know how they are dying inside after every loss. I know they are working hard trying to physically do whatever it takes to win. Now if they only believe they can, they just might pull off an upset in one of these last games.

I'll take a win over Arizona and their out of control coach any day, starting on Saturday.

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