The Good News

October 3, 2007 - The USC Trojans blew into Husky Stadium Saturday looking to put another notch on their armor as the AP's No. 1-ranked team in the nation. They left with a 27-24 victory marred by 16 penalties, 2 interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt, including one interception that senior strong safety Mesphin Forrester returned for a 54-yard touchdown.

USC Coach Pete Carroll looked upset, sometimes confused and totally aggravated by his team's inept showing, and well he should have been because Washington could have easily won the game if not for its youth and exuberance.

At one point Jake Locker, the Huskies' redshirt freshman quarterback, had senior wide receiver Corey Williams wide open heading for in the end zone, but could not connect.

Junior cornerback Byron Davenport had an apparent interception in the end zone that a replay showed was incomplete when the ball hit the ground before he gained possession. USC went on to kick a field goal that proved to be the difference in the game.

Washington, trailing 27-17, pulled within 3 when senior cornerback Roy Lewis blocked a punt, returned the ball the USC 9 and Locker ran it in. However, USC got possession on the ensuing onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.

Once again, the Huskies could not finish off an opponent due to errors and missed opportunities.

It is amazing that Washington allowed two Trojans to rush for more than 100 yards, gave up 224 yards rushing and 236 yards passing which allowed USC 9 minutes more of possession on offense, and Washington still only lost by a field goal.

Washington honored its 1960 national championship team members Saturday, and the Huskies played in 1960 replica uniforms which unfortunately could not block, tackle, run, pass or catch the ball.

Before any die-hard Husky fans get upset about another loss, consider these facts:

1) USC has had 5 consecutive seasons of national top-4 finishes, BCS bowl appearances and Pacific 10 (Pac 10) Conference titles.

2) The Trojans came into the game with the 10th best rushing offense in the nation, and the 8th best rushing defense.

3) USC was ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 Poll and rated as the No. 1 team by Sagarin.

The Huskies are off next week before traveling to Arizona State on October 13 to face Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils, who are 5-0 after beating San Jose State, Colorado, San Diego State, Oregon State and Stanford.

Arizona State is ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll and rated No. 8 by Sagarin. The fact that Sagarin rates them No. 8 means the Sun Devils are better than their No. 18 ranking.

I do not expect Washington to upset Arizona State, which would drop the Huskies' season record to 2-4. No big deal. I also expect Washington to lose to California and Oregon at home.

I see the Huskies biggest game of the season against Arizona at home for homecoming. This is the first game Washington must win in order to have a winning season and secure a bowl bid.

Then Washington needs to get the best of Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State and Hawaii to post 7 wins against 6 losses. Can they do it? I will be personally disappointed if they do not.

I consider the losses to Ohio State, UCLA and USC, and future expected losses to Arizona State, Oregon and California as learning experiences for the wins to come.

Should Washington upset Arizona State, Oregon or California it would be a sweet reward for some deserving first-year players who are playing their hearts out and getting embarrassed too often.

In order to win the games I am projecting, Washington needs to immediately improve in at least two areas.

First, they need to open holes for senior tailback Louis Rankin. All of this crap about Rankin not being able to get rushing yards is just that - crap. Rankin has more in common with Seattle Seahawks Shaun Alexander than people think.

Alexander does not get yardage unless the Seahawk offensive line opens holes for him to run through. Give Rankin any running room and he will gain big yardage.

Second, Jake Locker needs time to throw, and he needs to become a more accurate passer so that when his receivers get open he delivers the ball and they catch it and run.

USC teed off on Locker and darn near injured him with vicious hits, even helmet to helmet shots. Locker may be as tough as nails, but no one can put up with the hits he has been getting while trying to do too much. He needs more of his teammates to step up and become the players they were meant to be.
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