Husky fans have become more than accustomed to getting blown out by teams during the Steve Sarkisian era. Most of these games are excused because the Huskies are playing the nation's elite and fans/media are able to admit that the Huskies just aren't ready to play with the big boys. But Saturday was different. The Huskies were outclassed in every facet of the game Saturday against a 3-3 Arizona team that had yet to win a Pac-12 game and had one of the worst defenses in the conference in a sleepy stadium that looked to be about a third empty. The Huskies took a team that was asking themselves many of the same questions they were themselves and made them look like Oregon in what is the toughest loss to swallow in the Steve Sarkisian era in Seattle.
The heat has now been turned up for the rest of the season, and while it is unlikely that even losing the rest of the games in 2012 would result in Sarkisian losing his job, the seat in his office is going to start to get warm. No one expected the Huskies to be getting blown out by teams like Arizona in the fourth year of his tenure, and while fans really, really want the Huskies to succeed under Sarkisian, it's simply impossible not to question the direction of the program after a beating like the one they just suffered at the hands of the Wildcats.
The Bad (Special Deluxe Extended Collector's Edition)
- Keith Price - Of all the bad games Price has had recently, this was the worst. He was off on almost every pass he threw, his lack of confidence and attitude seems to be infecting the whole team and he once again had a number of turnovers. The worst of which, essentially ended the game when right when Arizona gave them the chance to maybe make it a shootout early in the second half.
- Game Plan - There really only seems to be two ways to play with a team that runs the hurry-up well, which Arizona does, and that is to either go toe-to-toe with them and outscore them, or take the air out of the ball, run a lot and limit their possessions. For reasons unknown, the Huskies appeared to really do neither as they would suddenly reach for unsuccessful home runs play that stalled methodical drives and then tried to turn it into a shootout too late, after they had already dug themselves a deep hole.
- The Defense - After looking improved and solid almost all season, the Husky defense suddenly looked like the Husky defense of old. The defensive line couldn't produce any pressure or slow down the run game while the back seven missed tackles on almost every play and suddenly looked lost in the secondary, just a week after handling USC's aerial attack.
- The offensive line - A lot has been made of the injuries here, but now halfway through the season, it's time to put away the excuses. Left tackle Micah Hatchie was slated as a starter before the season started and has struggled mightily. They took an Arizona front that was dead last in sacks in the conference and made them look ferocious. Giving up sacks to even 3-man rushes.
- Special teams - The Huskies covered all their bases with the poor performance as they averaged 33 yards per punt while almost getting another one blocked and then also allowed a less than feared Richard Morrison to get the first punt return for a touchdown of his career.
- Penalties - The Huskies had 10 for 100 yards. Another telltale sign of sloppy, undisciplined play. Some especially hurt as they took back much needed positive plays on offense.
- 3-4 - Personally, I just don't know if the Huskies have the personnel to run a 3-4, or if just isn't an affective defense against the run. Against Oregon, USC and Arizona, it has looked like the 3-4 defense has allowed running backs to automatically get a five yard running start against the light front before they get to the linebackers. Will the Huskies stick with it as their base if it can't hold up against the run?
- Identity - Sarkisian has talked about it for a long time now. What is the identity of this team? In an era of college football where teams are simplifying things and thriving with game plans and schemes that are closer to that of high school teams than NFL teams, the Huskies still look like they are making things too complicated on offense. It seems like most successful teams right now are either running the hurry-up and challenging opponents to try and outscore them, or putting their best athletes on defense and shortening the game with their running game, while the Huskies are trying to run USC style schemes, but without USC level personnel.
- Is there anybody home? - Saturday's game has all the recipes for an upset. Oregon State is probably overrated and have looked very beatable in their last two conference games against the likes of Washington State and Utah while the Huskies are better than they have played and at home against a team that upset them last year. But do the Huskies the will and leadership to turn things around quickly and turn things around?