“Welcome to Death Valley”
This week the Washington Huskies got destroyed in yet another big game in the Steve Sarkisian era as they lost to #3 LSU Tigers 41-3. Now I have the tough assignment of choosing only five things that went wrong in this game.
First of all I think it’s obvious to say everything went wrong.
Here then in my opinion are five areas that REALLY went wrong in no particular order as I felt the entire team failed to show they are ready to take that next step.
No running game at all leads to a lot of third and longs
The Huskies as a team were starting sophomore running back Bishop Sankey in his first career start. This was a day that Sankey would soon love to forget. Sankey was held to only 16 yards rushing on 8 carries (2.o YPC).
As a team the Huskies ran for 26 yards on 24 carries (1.1 YPC). Most of those stats came late when the game was over.
At halftime Sankey had carried the ball four times and rushed for negative two yards. The Huskies as a team ran the ball nine times for negative 11 yards.
So with nothing in the running game that led to several third and longs which the Huskies were 4-16 on.
The Huskies were also 1-3 on fourth downs.
Keith Price was terrible ineffective
If the Huskies had any chance at all this game it had to be led by junior quarterback Keith Price having a big day. Instead Price had a terrible day. He was 17-36 (47.2 %) passing for only 157 yards (4.4 YPA) with zero touchdowns and one interception.
Last year the worst completion percentage Price had in a game was 53.3% against Arizona. Only once was Price held out of the end zone all last year.
This was the first time in his career that he threw an interception without throwing a touchdown pass. This was only the second time in his career that he threw more interceptions in a game than touchdowns.
At halftime Price was 10-23 ( 43.4%) for only 81 yards (3.5 YPA) as the Huskies trailed 20-3.
Dropped passes set the tone early and often
A big part of Keith Price’s problem was early dropped passes. Huskies recover the ball deep in LSU territory after the opening kick. On second and six Price hit a wide open Sankey who could have ran inside the five yard line instead he dropped it.
On the following play Price hit true freshman Jaydon Mickens for what should have been a touchdown but he bobbled the ball going out of bounds as the play was correctly ruled incomplete.
The Huskies would have four drops in this game as the receivers didn’t help Price out at all. True sophomore Kasen Williams was held to just three receptions for 19 yards.
Mickens had only one catch for nine yards.
The Huskies rush defense is still terrible
All offseason we heard about the improved play of the defense under new coordinator Justin Wilcox over fired coordinator Nick Holt. After a strong week one performance the defense once again was shredded losing 41-3.
The Huskies allowed 437 total yards, 242 yards on the ground on 52 carries (4.7 YPC). Wilcox saw his defense record no sacks or force any turnovers.
The Huskies only forced three punts all game while allowing touchdown drives on the first three possessions of the second half.
LSU had converted 7-12 on third downs against the Huskies as well. You couldn’t tell one difference between the defense this year or the past three years under Nick Holt during this game.
Sarkisian’s offense once again fails to deliver in a big game
The dirty little secret regarding Steve Sarkisian and his program is in big games his offense doesn’t deliver. Against good defenses his teams have struggled in the past.
In three years against Oregon the Huskies have scored 19, 16 and 17 points. In three years against USC the Huskies have scored 16, 32, and 17 points.
In three years against Stanford his offense has scored 14, 0 and 21 points.
Only one game out of nine did the Huskies step up against a good defense. Once again his offense was shut down as they currently rank 117th in the nation in total offense.
The fourth year head coach has seen his offense not score a point after the first two drives of the season (remember defense scored the other touchdown last week and that field goal was handed to them by special teams this week).
In year four the Huskies rushing stats are terrible as Sankey on the year has only 82 rushing yards on 30 carries ( 2.7 YPC).
I’m not worried about Price as he’ll deliver but this running game looks pathetic with no signs of hope on the horizon.
Sarkisian began his career 4-4 vs ranked opponents but is now 1-8 since then.
If Sarkisian can’t seem to turn this round and avoid these constant embarrassments he might not be the Huskies head coach for very much longer.