Once again, Huskies must rally
The Huskies are 3-4 overall and need to win three of the last five just to get to 6-6 and qualify for a postseason bowl.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
Even after the game was over, the Arizona Wildcats knew how to hurt the Washington Huskies.
As UW players walked off the field after a 44-14 loss at Arizona Stadium, a group of Wildcats students gathered near an end-zone railing overlooking the UW locker room, chanting "Wa-zzu's be-tter."
It was a reference to the fact that Arizona had beaten WSU just 24-7 the previous week in Pullman before returning home to rout the Huskies, despite playing with backup QB Matt Scott.
The Huskies players didn't seem to hear it, however, surely lost in their thoughts after a game as disappointing as any all year in a season threatening to enter the disappointing category as well.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian has tried to keep his team in the moment, so there was little talk afterward of the big-picture ramifications of the loss to Arizona.
"There's still a lot of football left," UW quarterback Jake Locker said.
The margin for error, though, is getting rather thin. The Huskies are 3-4 overall and need to win three of the last five just to get to 6-6 and qualify for a postseason bowl. And that means beating UCLA and WSU, the only two games in which UW would be favored, and then upsetting either Stanford at home next Saturday or winning later games at Oregon or Cal.
It's a scenario that will call for the Huskies to once again prove their ability to be "resilient," the word Sarkisian had said last week best described the first half of the season.
Locker said he didn't think that would be an issue.
"I think going forward we will put this one behind us, like we always do, and go out and have a good week of practice again and get ready for another football game," he said.
The more relevant question may be whether there is time for UW to fix the ills that were apparent against Arizona.
Foremost may be the health of Locker. Word began to circulate before the game that the quarterback, who was already playing with a thigh bruise and a sore shoulder, was also suffering with a case of sore ribs, with some speculation that he may have at least one that is broken.
Neither Sarkisian nor Locker would directly confirm the nature of the rib injury, but neither denied that Locker has sore ribs, for which he appeared to wear extra padding during the game.
He apparently suffered the injury in the Oregon State game and that was the primary reason he was limited in practice all week, which Sarkisian had said was due to soreness of "his whole body."
Sarkisian said Locker's condition impacted the plays UW ran against Arizona since the coach didn't want to "expose" Locker to further injury.
Locker disputed that a little bit, saying that "I felt normal" and thought he was as fast as he usually is and that "I'm not going to blame anything on health issues."
And while the offense was far from sterling Saturday night — UW was shut out in the second half of regulation for the third time this year and held to just 290 yards, the lowest other than 246 against Nebraska — the defense was the real issue against the Wildcats.
Washington allowed 356 yards in the first half against Arizona with Scott — who hadn't started in more than a year — completing 14 of 16 passes. After UW took a 7-0 lead on its first possession, UA outscored the Huskies 30-7 in a span of 22:26 to pull away. That included consecutive scoring drives of 62, 56, 92, 78 and 54 yards.
"They are a great team, but I feel like we could have done a lot better," said UW linebacker Mason Foster.
Why they didn't, no one seemed to know for sure, though Locker was among a couple players who later said the intensity wasn't quite the same as it had been in the Oregon State win.
"I thought we would come out with a little more energy and play a lot better football game today," Locker said. "There wasn't anything really alarming throughout the week of practices. It was pretty similar to the Oregon State game. For one reason or another, we just didn't come out and perform the same."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.