university of washington blog

Washington Huskies vs. Arizona Wildcats: What went wrong for UW?

Here we go again…

The Washington Huskies continued their Pac-12 schedule Saturday, heading into the desert to take on the Arizona Wildcats. The game got out of hand quickly as Arizona kept striking against an inept Washington defense.

They kept striking to the tune of a 52-17 total in favor of the Wildcats.

This “What went wrong” piece is usually organized, thorough, and concise. I’m going the opposite direction this week. While I maintain my cool for the most part when we see our Seattle-based teams perform poorly, there are times when I lose it.

It took me from Saturday night until today, Monday, to accept the drubbing and the effects it may have on this program.

Keith Price, Washington Huskies

This is the Keith Price of old – smiling, poised

Getting over a bad loss is normally not a big issue for me.

It’s usually against teams where Washington came into the game as underdogs to teams like LSU, USC, and Oregon this season. This loss, though, against Arizona is a whole different story.

It made me fear for the future of this Husky football program and it’s staff, current players, incoming players, and prospective players.

Allow me to vent

I’m not going to lie, I turned the game off at halftime. It took a lot for me not to turn it off sooner. I did, however, go back and watch the second half on dvr and the results made me even more sick than I was after watching the first half. And that says a lot.

For the first time in the Steve Sarkisian era, I questioned the direction of the Husky football team.

Let me start with my biggest “wtf” of the season – Keith Price. Is it just me or is this year’s Keith Price the exact opposite of last year’s Keith Price?

Last year, we saw a Price who was poised, cool, calm, collected and deadly accurate.

We saw a quarterback who never game up, who always had a big smile on his face, and who adapted to the conditions of the game.

We saw a Keith Price who would throw deep, accurate passes to his receivers. We saw a Keith Price who would tuck the ball and run if he needed to despite his badly hobbled knees.

We saw a Keith Price who could spread the ball out to his players in order to make as many plays as possible.

Keith Price, Washington Huskies

This is the new Keith Price. Sloppy, indecisive, doesn’t hold onto the ball.

We saw a Keith Price who had no problem stepping up in the pocket to throw a pass despite knowing he was going to get leveled by a defender. We saw a Keith Price who was unafraid to make decisions, who trusted his coach and the game plan.

This year’s Keith Price has been the exact opposite

Price has seemed rattled and shaky this season. He has played like he is afraid. He seems to be in a foreign country at times and seems very unsure about everything he does.

He is taking too long to make plays.

He is trying to force balls to receivers instead of just finding the open guy.

He is not holding onto the ball and it has cost him. He is making poor decisions on where to throw the ball. He is taking sacks that could easily be avoided by throwing the ball away.

The smile from Price’s face is mostly gone. Instead, we see him sulk by himself on the sidelines. He’s not gathering his receivers or lineman to formulate a plan to improve in the game. He’s not working with coaches to see what he could be doing better.

This raises a bigger concern for Huskies fans

Was last year just a desert mirage? Did Chris Polk really have that big of an impact on how teams played the Huskies?

Were opponents so keyed into stopping Polk that it allowed Price to spray the ball down-field, making Price look much better than he is?

Washington lost lots of offensive output when Polk, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar departed after their senior years. Yes, 3000 yards of output is a tough loss.

There are other play-makers, though, who should’ve been able to help fill the production gap left by the departed seniors.

It’s been a night and day difference and I don’t understand why.

Keith Price, Washington Huskies

With the leader down and out, it leaves the Huskies vulnerable and weak.

Gone is Polk, Kearse and Aguilar. Staying, though, is Kasen Williams and Austin-Seferian Jenkins. They also have “journeymen” Cody Bruns and Kevin Smith. They also had to go to true freshman Jaydon Mickens in the pass game.

These are still weapons, and I would argue that the duo of Williams and ASJ could easily produce a big chunk of yardage that was lost in the offseason.

It hasn’t been that way for the most part this season.

Then you have the running game

To make up for lack of production, Washington was going to go to running back by committee, using Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey mainly. Callier went down with injury early, but Sankey has more than stepped up.

They threw in Dezden Petty and Jonathan Amosa for a change of pace and it has been less than successful. Now they are using freshman Kendyl Taylor to help alleviate the big plays expected from Sankey.

And it’s paying off.

Steve Sarkisian has gone against his game plan far too may times this season, resulting in a panicked offense and thinly spread defense.

Am I calling for Sark’s head?

Absolutely not.

What I am calling for is a sound game plan using whatever advantage you may be able to win with.

The Injury Excuse

This team is handicapped by injury and it is never easy to win with back-up players. Losing your last 6 road games by an average of 50 points per game is not an improvement, nor is it acceptable in any way shape or form, no matter how you look at it – even with the big win(s) at home.

I’m not even going to harp on the defense. I will just say that despite their several poor performances this season, this is STILL better than last year’s Nick Holt frankenstein defense.

The rest of the Huskies’ schedule looks more promising, even hosting #7 Oregon State this weekend.

If the Huskies don’t get this thing turned around by the end of the season, they are in serious danger. While I wouldn’t expect Sarkisian to get the axe, his job will be under a serious microscope.

Not only that, but if this team does not improve and show serious progress, they can kiss any legitimate incoming recruits goodbye next season.

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About Brandon Choate

Guest reporter on "Real Rob Report." Raised on Eastside of Seattle, a super fan of every sports team in Seattle. Bleeds Blue, Green, Teal, Purple and Gold. Likes video games, food, and poor attempts at comedy. Connect with Brandon today!
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