Dawgs Back On Home Turf To Face 'Cats
Oct. 10, 2009
By Jeremy Cothran
SEATTLE - There are so many areas where frustration could set in for the Huskies. Even with the normally upbeat Steve Sarkisian.
Coming off a disheartening 37-30 overtime loss to Notre Dame, the Washington football coach nevertheless remained positive during his weekly press luncheon. He praised the effort of his players against the Fighting Irish, trumpeted the awesome atmosphere of Notre Dame Stadium and discussed areas where he thought his team showed marked improvement, particularly with the continued excellence of Chris Polk at running back and the emergence of freshman cornerback Desmond Trufant.
And as bitter a pill as the loss was to swallow, the Huskies have moved on to a bigger issue at hand - a Pac-10 Conference game tonight against a difficult Arizona team (7 p.m., FSN-NW) at Husky Stadium.
In order to rebound against the Wildcats (3-1, 1-0), the Huskies (2-3, 1-1) understand they must do a better job of converting scoring opportunities, a troublesome theme that emerged from South Bend. A brutally tough schedule - the Huskies have played the most difficult slate in the nation to date - awaits the team the rest of the way, so the Huskies know this a trend that shouldn't continue.
'Our kids responded with a game of tremendous effort,' Sarkisian said. 'If we look at the ball game, the bottom line is that we didn't execute in the critical moments. We didn't execute in the way we are capable.'
Washington sure had its opportunities. Late in the fourth quarter, the Huskies were up 24-22 and driving towards the Irish end zone. But with 1st and goal from the ND 1, the Huskies were not able to punch the ball in, despite having a new fresh set of downs after a personal foul on a field goal attempt. On their previous drive, which also stalled at the ND 1, quarterback Jake Locker was not able to move the pile on two consecutive QB sneaks. In both instances, a touchdown might have sealed the win.
Locker blamed, in part, the slippery turf at Notre Dame Stadium, which was saturated from a steady rain, on the two failed sneaks. His cleats provided no traction, and therefore he was unable to generate any momentum against the Notre Dame defensive line.
'That was the tough part. Getting down and getting push on that field was difficult. My feet were sliding out,' Locker said. 'Once I made contact with people, it was hard to change their momentum ... I wasn't able to get really good footing.'
Sarkisian admitted he would have changed up some of those calls on the late red-zone attempts if he had a reset button, particularly the second sneak call with Locker. But he's not worrying about it this week.
'There's always roughly 7-8 calls where you say, `I might do that differently. I might have called this here or that there,'' Sarkisian said. 'This game was no different. There's always stuff you look at or do a little differently and take back, but you learn from them and you move on. You can't second guess yourself.'
It's a similar vein to how Sarkisian is handing the replay controversy, where the Huskies had an apparent touchdown from Polk taken away. The coach also handed Locker a 'mulligan' for not speaking to the media following last Saturday's game. Locker admitted he was too emotional afterwards, considering how close the Huskies were to escaping Notre Dame with a win.
'When you put that much effort into something, it's hard when you don't come out with the outcome you would like,' Locker said.