Time to heal comes Sooner?

SEATTLE - Apparently the only real fight the Washington Huskies had in them Saturday was when they took on the Oklahoma Sooners in the tunnel pre-game. Once the whistle blew, the Sooners ran over, around and frequently against a Huskies' team simply outmatched in every phase of the game. The 55-14 result could have been a lot worse.

The 39-point margin of victory was the widest for a Tyrone Willingham-coached UW team since California marched into Husky Stadium and rolled to a 56-17 win in 2005. The 591 total yards the Sooners racked up is the seventh-best all-time for a Washington opponent, yet only the third-best this decade.

"It was obvious we played one of the best football teams that we've played since I've been here," Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said. "They were good in all aspects of the game and overall as strong a football team as I've seen."

"I think this is going to be a rare team," UW Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell said of the visitors from Norman, Okla. "They are very deserving of their rating. I didn't see any weakness on that team. On that day against them, we didn't match them."

From a purple and gold perspective, the numbers are hard to take: 274 yards rushing, 317 yards passing, five passing touchdowns, 8.3 yards per play. And the Sooners did it against a banged up Huskies defense that saw Johri Fogerson earn his first start as a true freshman. The O'Dea product is the seventh true frosh to start a game so far for UW: David Freeman, Devin Aguilar, Jermaine Kearse, Senio Kelemete, Chris Polk and Kavario Middleton are the other ones.

"They continued to fight, continued to battle until the end, and that's something we can take as we head into our bye week and try to get ready for the Pac-10 schedule," Willingham said of his team.

What remains to be seen is if the upcoming bye week is simply a quick respite to repair and rejuvenate a bruised and battered football team. Having been outscored 127-51, the Husky coaches are looking forward to having a chance to start anew.

"We haven't been in a huddle yet for three weeks and we're looking for positives," Donatell said, matter-of-factly.

"This football team has faced one of the most difficult stretches that any team has faced this season," Willingham said. "I think we are a better football team, and now we have to build on that and show it when we get this next portion of the season started."

It's hard to argue it. Oregon, BYU and Oklahoma could all very easily be ranked in the top-15 by next week. There's no question the Huskies' one-point defeat at home versus the Cougars will stand up favorably with the 59-0 whitewashing BYU handed UCLA. But patience in the Husky community is growing thin. Two years ago this same team was tied with Oklahoma in their house going into halftime. This year? 34-0. At home.

"I didn't give (the fans) anything to get excited about," Willingham said. "That's the honest truth." Then he referenced the schedule.

Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano even admitted that the coaches called the first three games of the season 'The Gauntlet'. Now that they are through, what next?

"This is a great opportunity," Lappano said of the bye week. "We need to get guys healthy. It's no time to take a vacation. We all know what's on the line with Stanford. That's a must-win game. It's going to be a huge game for us."

"We're making some progress," added Willingham. "I think you'll be able to see it before the year is over."

Will people wait that long? Like Clay Bennett versus Greg Nickels, Bob Stoops swooped down, grabbed the heart of sporting Seattle with both hands and took what he wanted with a smile on his face. Without a fight. Without even so much as a whimper.

Sooner or later, something has to give. A 2-15 record against BCS opponents at Husky Stadium won't cut it. A 6-21 conference record won't cut it.


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