I've been hesitating to write this because I don't want to think about the Arizona game. Washington had it won, then found a way to lose.
It was heart-breaking. It was gut-wrenching. It was...a positive?
Yeah, Deonte Cooper fumbled with about a minute and a half left in Washington's end, setting up the eventual game-winning field goal as time expired.
It really was, though. The UW went on the road, in a place they haven't played well for six years, played a good, ranked Arizona team and almost won. The Dawgs played their best game of the year — by far — and a guy whose never fumbled in a Huskies uniform put one on the ground.
Unfortunate? Yes. Discouraging? Absolutely not.
There was a ton — and I mean a ton — of flak caught by Chris Peterson for his decision to run it there instead of kneeling it. Columns were written, comments were posted, anger was abound.
But I still think it was the right decision. It's the decision I would make every time. You need a first down there. You don't want to send the punt unit out and trust the punter to make a good football decision. You don't want to turn the ball over on downs and give Arizona a spark of life. If Washington gets the first down — there would have been about a minute left at that point — the game's in hand. It's got a nice little bow on it and the Dawgs have a fun flight home.
It didn't work out that way. And the flight was probably worse than an eight-hour trip with a baby in front of you and the person behind you going through barf bags like they're running out.
Immediately after the game my dad called me. We both had roughly the same emotions and outlook on the game. We agreed it was tough and hard to swallow, but Cyler Miles played like an FBS quarterback. The defense, with the return of Shaq Thompson at OLB, played championship-caliber football. Running back Dwayne Washington looked unstoppable and the rest of the team followed those guys. It was a splendid display of football and it hurt even more they didn't win.
I guess that's why people were so upset. One guy went insofar as to say if Washington loses then Peterson's job is up in the air. That's baloney. Take a look at the first season's for Washington's two best head coaches ever: Don James and Jim Owens. James went 6-5. Admittedly, he did beat some ranked teams, but that's beside the point. The record wasn't sparkling. Owens went 3-6-1 and lost the Apple Cup 27-7 to a mediocre Washington State team.
Moral of the story: first years aren't usually good. There are a lot of moving parts with these things and it takes time for the program get to the level the coaches envision. I've used the p-word all season and I'll refrain from it this time, but it's still important.
So now: Oregon State. I'll be brief. Washington's secondary is playing better and better, and the pass rush is still frightening. Add in a run defense that shut down Arizona last week and it should be difficult for the Beavers to move the football. Again, should be. Oregon State didn't have much trouble moving it last week against a decent Arizona State defense.
On the other side, Miles is obviously getting better. He looked comfortable in the pocket. His passes were accurate and on time. His running was purposeful and tough. Kasen Williams was involved more. The without-Shaq running game showed up. The Dawgs are on the right track. But it would be great if they were 7-4 instead of 6-5. Those are the break, though, and they'll learn from it. I'd expect so see a hungrier, more determined Huskies team this week.
And if Cooper gets any carries, he'll have two hands on the ball at all times.