Friday, October 26, 2007

Which Huskies Are Showing Up Saturday?

Last year Washington hosted Stanford who had the reputation as probably one of the worst teams in college football over at least the last decade. All the Huskies had to do was beat the Cardinal and they would still be on track for a .500 record.

During the week before the game Ty handed out pink slips to a number of juniors who expected to be back the following season. Many observers felt that it was a mistake, and that it affected the teams play against Stanford in a negative way contributing to the upset. We all know what happened in that game. UW was crippled at QB and couldn't get anything going on offense, and the Cardinal won their lone game of 2006.

For most it was the end of the honeymoon for Ty at Washington. Most fans knew when Stanback went down with a mid season injury that this team's bowl hopes were slight, but we all expected a victory over lowly Stanford. Rhe team did rebound the following week to beat WSU and finish 5-7, but that shot for a bowl game, and a non losing record went out the windows against the Cardinal.

Tomorrow we play Arizona, followed by Stanford the next week, both are must wins against two very beatable opponents. Win those two, it solves a lot of problems. It heals a lot of open wounds. Win those two and Washington is back on track for a bowl appearance. Win those two and the team should be able to be competive enough to steal one from Oregon State, or Cal which would put them in great shape for a bowl bid when they finish the season with WSU, and Hawaii.

The question I have is which Huskies are going to show up?

I think it is a valid question since this team has been through a meat grinder the past five weeks playing a constant diet of top ten teams. Do they have enough left mentally, and physically to take care of business? I ask this question because the Huskies lost two players the past week, or two who just walked off the team. Both players were in competition to see a lot of action next year, but for some reason they were unhappy, and decided to move elsewhere.

Quitting in the middle of the season is always bad form. I can understand when a kid decides to transfer at the end of the season, but leaving in the middle of the year is a selfish betrayal of the team concept. When you see things like that you wonder if it is an isolated incident, or if their are more problems waiting to surface.

Hasty, Bush, and Kosub were not going to contribute much this year, so their loss really means nothing for the immediate future. They do however represent links in a chain that form the team. A team is only as strong as it's weakest link. Once you start losing links out of that chain things can begin to unravel.

Was losing these three players just simple attrition, or is it a sign that the overall mental health of the team is suffering? Is it a sign that there is a developing disconnect between the players and the coaches?

Can the players, and the coaching staff keep it together in the face of a much lighter schedule? Can they keep the dream of a bowl bid, and a winning season alive?

Tomorrow at noon we are going to find it, and I think we are going to like the answer.

The answer of course is redshirt freshman Jake Locker.

Jake is the guy that makes this team go, and I think he is ready to flourish Staturday against a weaker opponent.

I watched the Oregon game in person last Saturday. the defense came out absolutely flat, and ill prepared to play a football game. We fell behing 14 points in the first two drives and it looked like the Huskies were willing to tank this one. What followed was an inspired performance by Jake and the offense which helped lift the defense enough to give the team a chance to win.

Jake is a difference maker, and that is what difference makers do, they lift the perfomance of the entire team by deeds, and example. I think Jake is the guy that is going to rally this team to a bowl bid, and I truly think we can win every game left on this schedule.

I think Washington is going to come out tomorrow, and kick the snot out of Arizona exactly the way they have the two previous years. That victory is going to give them the confidence, and faith they need to end the season with a strong finish, and bowl bid. That victory will send them to Palo Alto on a mission the following week to avenge last years surprising loss.

I think the best days are ahead for this club, and it all starts against Arizona.

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