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Apple Cup 2011: Nick Holt Coaching For His Job

The Washington Huskies are fading to the finish and are now in danger of finishing at .500 after such a promising start. The stumbling is likely to have consequences on the coaching staff.

Washington has actually probably just run into a tough rut in the schedule as Ted Miller of ESPN pointed out. Washington has played the top three teams in the conference in the past five weeks, and each of those losses took their toll on their limited depth. Nevertheless, it's a bad look for UW and Steve Sarkisian, and someone is likely to take the fall.

The obvious candidate for dismissal is his defensive coordinator Nick Holt.

Holt has had a really inconsistent track record since he arrived in Seattle. The defense was pretty bad. After a slight improvement in 2010, the Husky units ah, they look worse, and outside of Cort Dennison doesn't seem to have a consistent playmaker up front.

The stats bear it out.

Team & Year PPG allowed
Run YPC allowed Pass YPA allowed 3rd down conv allowed
Washington 2009 26.7 (70th)  4.51 (92nd) 8.0 (T-99th) 40.14% (76th)
Washington 2010 29.3 (79th) 4.67 (93rd) 7.0 (T-57th) 40.56% (71st)
Washington 2011 34.5 (105th) 4.78 (92nd) 7.4 (T-78th) 50% (114th)


Bob Condotta provides historical perspective.

Is this really one of the worst defenses in school history?

Through 11 games — and with just two now remaining that aren't likely to skew the numbers a whole lot in either direction — the answer is "pretty much."

Washington is allowing 34.5 points a game, the second-highest in school history behind only the 38.5 allowed by the 2008 team that went 0-12 and prompted the firing of Sarkisian's predecessor, Tyrone Willingham. It's also allowing 430.4 yards per game, third-most in school history behind 2008 (451.8) and 2007 (446.4).

The funny thing for Holt is that UW's defense has improved a little the past few weeks.  The offense has been malfunctioning with Keith Price facing the best of the Pac-12, and Nick Montana hasn't performed much better. Washington also seems to move away from the reliable Chris Polk a little bit more than they should, and the offense has suffered as a result. 

Still, the offense has been mostly good this season with a first-year like Price under center, and a dropoff was almost inevitable. Holt gets a great opportunity when he faces the Washington St. Cougars with Marshall Lobbestael at quarterback, but it's not going to be any sort of gimmee considering how many points they just surrendered to Sean Mannion and Oregon State.

The Husky defense has simply given up too many points the past few weeks, and Holt might need to reverse these trends in a hurry if he plans on sticking around for the next year of the Sark era.