Coach's Corner

I know how painful it was. I could feel the disappointment and discouragement in their voices. They were humbled. It was the first and only time all season that they just didn't match up with an opponent. It gets very difficult to remain positive after a loss like last Saturday occurs.

Oregon pretty much had their way with the Dawgs and the Huskies pretty much acknowledge it afterwards. The better team clearly won the football game. Lose with dignity, mourn the defeat, process it and move on.

The day will come when Oregon has to play in Seattle again and they will get their due. Their run game was stellar, they played excellent run defense, and they won the kicking game with a punt return for a touchdown. Now these were precisely the things I said the Huskies had to do and would be the keys to winning the game. I was right on, except I had it for the wrong team.

My optimistic nature doesn't allow me to dwell too long on the negatives. Therefore, I would rather look ahead to a chance to win again. A chance to get to five wins and then, who knows, maybe go into Pullman and pull the upset and become bowl eligible. That dream and that goal are both still alive. It's worth it to forget about the Ducks, and think about winning again.

So what is it going to take to beat Stanford?

Hopefully, Kenny James returns and bolsters the rushing attack. Hopefully Sean Douglas returns from an off game. Hopefully, Carl Bonnell runs when it's there and converts more third down throws. Hopefully, no one else gets hurt. Hopefully, the defense returns to stopping the run and going after the quarterback. Hopefully, Stanford is in such a state of despair that the Huskies can end their losing streak and start another winning one.

That is a lot of "hopefully's", but there you have it.

The schedule has them matched with a team that they will be favored against and should beat. Stanford, like the Huskies, has suffered from their lack of depth. Injuries have hit both schools and it is here that the uncertainty of this game becomes interesting. Both programs have been basically wrecked by a continuous change over in coaches.

Come to think of it both schools have also turned over their athletic administrations at the same time.

It takes time to build a system and get the right people in the right places.

There is always the transition year when you turn over coaches in which recruiting usually takes a hit. It happened between Lambright and Neuheisel for the 1999 signing class and happened again between Neuheisel and Gilbertson in 2003 although not as so much because Chuck Heater, their recruiting coordinator, stayed on thru the transition of recruiting and signing.

There was also to be a third transition year between Gilbertson and Willingham in 2005 that ended up only adding about 10-12 total players. Most of those classes were simply so low on numbers in the first place that they affected the overall depth of the program. Combine those low-numbers classes with players lost to injury, with players who left the program, with players who didn't even get admitted, and with some players who were mistakes in evaluation and you end up with a program that is lacking in both depth and quality in lots of different position areas.

It applies to both schools.

The exact same scenario has happened at Stanford over the past six years. Coach Willingham left there to go to Notre Dame. When he did, the following transition recruiting class at Stanford was also small and relatively weak. Consequently, that class directly impacts Stanford's current depth today and then their depth took another transitional hit when they changed coaches again two years ago. Firing coaches screws up your recruiting continuity and process. Each system of football has its own culture. It takes time to implement a system.

Both programs are suffering from lack of continuity in both football and administration. Washington has had 4 head coaches and 3 Athletic Directors in less than 8 years, while Stanford has had 3 head coaches and at least a partial AD turnover as well in less than 5 years.

Now Stanford's coaches are trying to convince them that the Huskies are their best chance for a victory. They will look at the Duck Game tapes and think, "hey, we got a shot here."

It will probably not be a blow out and it will probably end up being a hard fought victory. It might not be pretty but it is oh so important for the Huskies to get a win.

They know it and expect that of themselves. They will work hard this week towards that end. The system they are in demands they think right. They probably are a better team than Stanford. They have been better or just as good as every team they have played - except the Ducks.

They now have to go out and make the plays and get a win. Hit someone in the mouth, pick them up, and hit them again. Don't just block your man, bury him. Talk to your teammates. Encourage each other, get the energy flowing, play with an attitude. These sorts of things were missing last weekend.

Bring it back before the home crowd. Send the seniors out with a victory, because this is their game. It is their last time out the tunnel for a Husky home game. They are a mix of the last two recruiting classes of Coach Rick Neuheisel and have banded together and have stemmed the tide of defeatism that had transcended over the program for the past five years. Now they just have to go out and lead their teammates to a victory in their last home game.

And then there's a little matter of the Apple Cup, but that's a week away.

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