STEVE: Keith Price made it momentarily interesting after he replaced Nick Montana in the fourth quarter, getting thumped 38-21 by a 2-8 Oregon State team has to be the nadir of Steve Sarkisian’s three-year tenure at Washington. Sarkisian described this game during the week as “gut-check time” and his Huskies couldn’t deliver. I don’t fault Montana for failing to produce a big offensive day (it was his first college start), but the UW defense tackled as bad as it has all year and gave up way too many big plays.
ART: I know it’s well past Halloween, but I swear I just saw the ghost of Tyrone Willingham.
STEVE: Now who looks like Barney Fife?
ART: Every quarter century or so the Huskies fall off the edge of the world against OSU. But to be fair, this was the seventh loss in the past eight games against the Beavs. So it wasn’t a shocker on paper. The shock was that Sarkisian during his tenure had been taking great pride in the Huskies’ resilience. Little was visible Saturday. The offense has the excuse of starting a freshman quarterback, but the defense, even with two backs out early with injuries, gave up 38 points and 484 yards to the Pac-12’s worst offense. Absolutely Tyronian.
STEVE: The heat will turn up again this week on defensive coordinator Nick Holt, but he simply doesn’t have enough Pac-12 caliber defensive players in the program to stop anybody. We’ve seen that repeatedly this year. We saw it again Saturday over and over — but most notably when Price came off the bench trailing 31-14 with 11 minutes left and engineered a quick touchdown. The ensuing kickoff return was fumbled by the Beavers and recovered by UW, but Price gave it right back with an interception at the goal line. UW was still in the game, but OSU WR Markus Wheaton undressed the ever-undressable Quinton Richardson for a 50-yard catch and run that snuffed Washington’s comeback aspirations.
ART: That was a 99-yard, 12-play drive by a lousy offense to clinch the game. Does it get worse? They let OSU QB Sean Mannion throw for 339 yards. To have no pass rush against an offense that can’t run the ball is a jaw-dropper. Alameda Ta’amu and his D-line mates have been epic busts.
STEVE: It’s a situation that can be remedied only next year, by the improvement of some of the freshmen and sophomores, and Sarkisian’s ability to recruit between the week after the Apple Cup and February. It would be great for the Huskies to get a bowl game (however anticlimactic to this season) in California, simply for recruiting purposes.
ART: Before they think about recruiting, unless things change in six days, they have a grand embarrassment awaiting them Saturday at the Clink in the Apple Cup. Washington State muffed a chance for a bowl bid Saturday by losing 30-27 in OT to Utah in a Palouse snowstorm, but they are on more of an uptick than Washington. The Huskies lost starters Justin Glenn and Will Shamburger early in the game, so the weakest link on the team is getting far worse. Grim to see the defense coming apart faster than Husky Stadium.
STEVE: I was going to say the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but Husky Stadium will do. And I agree about a pending embarrassment. This is shaping up to be Washington’s lamest bowl team since the 1987 Huskies literally bought their way into the Independence Bowl against Tulane just to keep their bowl streak alive.
ART: Sarkisian was as puzzled as anyone after the game: “The game was there for us to win,” he said. “We just couldn’t make plays at opportune times. We have to figure out why. It feels so bad, because it felt so close.” Yeah, and itf felt so bad for Huskies fans when they were routed by Stanford, Oregon and USC.
STEVE: I understand losses to ranked teams such as Stanford, Oregon and USC, they are completely mismatched against top-25 teams. They have a 50-50 chance against .500 teams if they win the track meet. And they are vulnerable against poor teams, such as Oregon State, if Price is unable to go. I think Sarkisian has a good plan. He doesn’t yet have the pieces in place to make it work consistently.
ART: Sarkisian was putting it mostly on the defense: “We didn’t hit home with the calls (from Holt), and we didn’t win the one-on-ones. We just couldn’t win the one-on-ones to get Mannion out of his comfort zone. After USC, our focus was on tackling, and we didn’t wrap up again. That was a killer.” The Huskies are the only football team to ever have whiffed more than the Mariners.
STEVE: I understand UW not winning the one-on-ones. I buy his frustration over the lack of tackling. But Sarkisian’s statement, “We didn’t hit home with the calls (from Holt),” doesn’t sound good for Holt.
ART: Sarkisian has already given Holt a couple of the dreaded votes of confidence. But it’s going to be hard to keep up his support when something as teachable as tackling continues to be unattainable. Bad as it was Saturday, the biggest contrast was two weeks ago between the tackling of the Ducks and the Huskies. I’m beginning to think that the graduated Mason Foster was the entire defense last year.
STEVE: Let’s go back to your choice of words: Holt’s tacklers are “Tyronian.” Never thought it would get as bad as that again. Maybe it’s worse.
ART: The defense has that same 0-12 haplessness, but it did get three turnovers. That led to zero points, so the offense without a healthy Price is on a slide too. The Cougars might have themselves a grand time in Seattle.