By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The midway point of Washington’s football season had Steve Sarkisian standing in the locker room, delivering a halftime speech.
“We’re a 4-2 football team. I think we’re 20th in the country. We played a good first half of football against some really good teams,” Sarkisian said during his Monday press conference. “But just as we’ve been all season long, we’re an excellent second-half football team. We’re going to go out in the second half and play a great half of the season, and it starts Saturday against Arizona State. We’re going to come out of the blocks playing fast, physical football and play like we’re capable of playing.”
By Sarkisian’s admission, the Huskies didn’t do that during Saturday’s 45-24 loss to No. 2 Oregon at Husky Stadium. In that game, Sarkisian said, “unfortunately there was a little bit of lack of execution on our part, and not great coaching on our part, quite honestly. It wasn’t our best game. To beat that football team you need to play one of your better games.”
In any game, Sarkisian said, there will be a handful of plays who upon further evaluation, he wishes he’d called differently. Saturday was no different, though the examples of regret are probably pretty obvious.
Yes, the first-and-goal from Oregon’s 5-yard line that resulted in a sack of quarterback Keith Price is a play Sarkisian would like to have back. He said he thought the call was fine, but the outcome wasn’t, and “I have to live with that call.”
Same with the third-and-8 interception thrown by Price late in the second quarter, when the Huskies trailed 21-7 and Sarkisian said he would have gone for it on fourth down.
For that reason, he wished he’d “maybe (tried) something more intermediate to give us a chance to go for it in a fourth-and-short-type situation. So a couple of those types of things I’ll carry with me and learn from and get better from.”
They all need to get better in a hurry, because Saturday’s visit to Arizona State (4-2, 2-1 in Pac-12) provides another legitimate challenge to a Washington team that has lost two consecutive games.
ASU’s losses are to Notre Dame and Stanford, and the Sun Devils run an up-tempo, no-huddle spread offense that averages 496.5 yards per game, good for 18th in the nation.
Oregon isn’t the only Pac-12 team with dynamic athletes. ASU running back Marion Grice leads the nation with 15 touchdowns — 10 rushing, five receiving — and receiver Jaelen Strong ranks eighth nationally with 678 yards receiving in six games.
“We have a tall order this Saturday going to Arizona State, 3 o’clock kickoff in the heat, in that environment,” Sarkisian said. “It’s a tall task, but I think it’s one that we can be up to if we do it right this week.”
Sarkisian said left guard Dexter Charles left Saturday’s game with what the coach termed a sore shoulder. Charles, who is from Stanwood, could “potentially” miss the Arizona State game. It’s likely Erik Kohler would start in his place. … Price, who has been bothered by an injured thumb on his right throwing hand, was not limited during Monday’s practice, Sarkisian said.