LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Defensive end Nick Perry #8 of the USC Trojans sacks quarterback Keith Price #17 of the Washington Huskies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 40-17. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
It was starting to look as if the Washington Huskies could potentially be the up-and-coming contender to challenge the Oregons and Stanfords of the world. With a solid system quarterback in Keith Price and a host of talent at the skill positions, UW looked like they'd have at least the talent to contend for a top spot in the conference and put themselves in position to make some noise in the upcoming months.
But Washington isn't looking too good against the premier teams in the conference. And they were at their worst in their latest defeat to the USC Trojans.
UW has been outscored 139-55 in their three conference losses to Stanford, Oregon and USC. In the first game it was the defense that dropped the ball as they let Stanford ran roughshod all over the field for 400+ rushing yards. In the second game, Oregon's defense shut things down and made Price look extremely ordinary.
Getting run over by the Trojans was probably worse than both of those performances, as Washington lost the line battle on both sides and shut down Chris Polk and Price. Gekko Mojo of UW Dawg Pound elaborates on the continuing struggles of the Washington pass protection.
The O-Line is bad. I'm not talking about a young team that is showing signs of improving. I'm talking about flat out stink level. Our best blocker, Senio Kelemete, spent more time on his ass than on his feet and seemed completely flummoxed by the superior ends that he was facing in Nick Perry and Wes Horton. The right side is a complete disaster and the inability of Drew Schaefer to make calls at the line is a problem that needs to get righted. This unit has been run blocking much better that pass blocking throughout the year. The problem is that good D's are going to shut down the run once in a while - what do we do then?
The mistakes weren't just limited to the front five. Price was off all game and just couldn't adjust to the USC pass rush. Washington committed penalties, converted two of 13 third downs (both of them late in the fourth quarter when the game was done), gave up seven sacks and went three and out on seven of their first ten possesions (six punts and a safety). It was the type of performance that makes you wonder how low Washington's ceiling is, and whether they can really compete for anything other than middling bowls in the near future.
Steve Sarkisian has kept Washington on an upward trending path, but the same disturbing trends continue to reveal themselves when it looks as if the program could make a further leap. UW is 4-11 on the road in the Sark era and 2-9 against ranked opponents, with a majority of those losses being total routs. There are things to like from Sark's performance as Husky lead man, but he has to start showing he can get his team up and ready to play in the big ones. The program currently seems to have a pretty average ceiling, and he has yet to break through to the top.