It's a Process That Will Take Some Time

At the end of the Stanford game the "OVER-rated" chant began in Stanford Stadium and I could do nothing but agree. The Washington Huskies had no business being considered one of the top-25 teams in the country just because they beat a questionable and depleted USC team and almost beat an undefeated LSU team.

They are getting better and they showed it by keeping themselves within striking distance right into the fourth quarter.

Let's consider that Stanford is in the third year of rebuilding under Jim Harbaugh, while Washington is in the first year of theirs. Stanford had six senior starters on their defense alone while Washington only had six total seniors.

Coach Harbaugh endured the exact manhandling in 2007 at the hands of Washington when Louis Rankin ran wild and the Huskies couldn't be stopped on the ground. Sound familiar? That time it was Stanford who was in the first year of rebuilding their program.

I think maturity does play a factor. It takes time to put in a system especially with regard to recruiting and that showed. It takes time for a quarterback to develop within that system and Andrew Luck had been in theirs for two years. Jake Locker is only four games into the first year of Coach Steve Sarkisian's system, and the difference showed.

At times the Huskies were getting physically dominated at the line of scrimmage; at times they continued to miss obvious tackles on the back end of the defense, and at times appeared helpless at stopping the run. Yet, there they were at the start of the fourth quarter, with the ball, in the midst of a thirteen play drive - a drive that if successful would have put them down only six points. They were in the ball game. They were playing it tough on the score board and even though it looked ugly, they did have a chance of winning the game. They knew that and Stanford knew that. Everything could change with a six-point margin.

Stanford got really creative after stopping that fourth down play. Had Washington scored it would have really changed everything. After Locker had just rushed 10 yards to the Stanford 42, giving the Huskies a first down, I thought here we go, Jake is going to win it with his legs. He had already run twice on the drive and Chris Polk was giving his typical hard yards and the Huskies were moving the ball on the ground.

Then they decided to pass to Jordan Polk, run Chris Polk for 3, pass to Johri Fogerson, and on 4th tried to pass again to a weak-looking Karvario Middleton. Three out of four plays were passes and all were incomplete. The only running we saw on that series was Jake running for his life.

Stanford takes the ball and it's Toby Gerhart for 7; Gerhart for 5; Luck for 26 (off a fake to Gerhart); Owusu on a reverse run for 15, and Luck on a keeper of 9 yards for a touchdown.

Game Over.

Run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense is where it all starts: That's what wins football games and that is how the Huskies will keep themselves in games. I don't see this team blowing anyone out. Their game management is to play it close. If they can keep the ball on offense by running the ball it will take pressure off the defense.

The defense, for its part, must continue to get turnovers by forcing them and by always being around the ball. They will probably have to use some run blitzes and guess with line stunts where the opponent is going, but they are definitely going to have to stop the run by making a few more plays in the backfield.

They are at least competing until the end, and even though they got slugged in the mouth they fought back. They just made too many big mistakes to win this game.

Locker is the first to admit he didn't play well enough to win. He knows he threw two interceptions and almost a third. He knows he lost a fumble at the worst time. He is learning a new system and he knows it is based on not turning the ball over. Jake Locker did not lose this game: However, the team did. Jake is still the best player on the team and he is only going to get better as the season goes on.

They simply got beat by a mature team who is now at 3-1 and in first place in the Pac-10. The Stanford Cardinal is a good, tough football team and they won a hard fought game. Give them credit, they played the game physically and deserved to win.

The Huskies also played two more true freshmen, with Nate Fellner and Jordan Wallace both seeing time on special teams. That brings the total to seven first-year players contributing on game day. That has to tell you something because you don't usually have to play first-year players if you have a mature team.

The constant changing of this program (five different systems in a 10-year period) has totally wiped out any continuity, and starting over three times in the past five years has likewise has taken its toll.

Putting in a system simply takes time and that's not to take anything away from Washington's great victory over USC. But to win consistently you have to go through bumps along the way. It happened at USC in Pete Carroll's first year and it happened at Stanford. It happened at Notre Dame and it happened at Michigan. This Husky team is already better than they have been in years and they will win more games this year. They will learn from this and they will be ready to see what they can do against Notre Dame. Top Stories