Get real, Husky fans, this team isn’t that good

  • John Sleeper / College Sports Writer
  • Sunday, November 11, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

Relax, Huskies honks.

Saturday’s 49-24 loss to Oregon State may not be as devastating as you might think.

Sure, Washington has issues. How did it happen, anyway? It was 35-10 before you could say “Dee Andros.” The Beavers converted more third downs than George W. has advisers. The Husky offense was about as dynamic as Yoko Ono’s career.

But really, looking at the Big Picture, the Beavers didn’t do that much harm to Washington’s bowl chances as you wake this morning from what must have been a Nightmare on Elm Street.

As thorough as the whipping was, things could be worse.

Your season hasn’t turned to what Cal has to look forward to. Believe me, Mississippi State wishes it had your problems. And don’t even talk about Temple, although they may have a slight edge in men’s basketball.

And really, before Saturday, hadn’t you really, in your heart of hearts, conceded the Pacific-10 Conference title to Oregon?

C’mon. Be honest.

I know. To you, conceding anything to the hated Ducks is like handing over your BMW keys to Lamar Odom. But step back a moment and lament:

Oregon’s very good. The Ducks have hit their stride. Onterrio Smith and Maurice Morris have helped Joey Harrington approach Heisman status. Their defense is tightening up. Truth is, they’ll beat anyone the downtrodden Big Ten can muster up.

And even if they trip up against Oregon State Dec. 1, they’ve got you in any tiebreaker you care to bring up.

So, even before Saturday’s meltdown, the realistic goal was a second-place conference finish and a berth in the Holiday Bowl. In San Diego. Sunshine. Seventy-five degrees. Mission Beach. Old Town. Hotel del Coronado. Great zoo.

And maybe a chance to beat Colorado and Gary Barnett three straight years.

What’s wrong with that?

Of course, all you have to do is beat Washington State.

You know. The 9-1 Cougars. The No. 9 Cougars. The Cougars you beat 51-3 last year. The Cougars you love to razz (“We’ve got sidewalks – clap-clap, clap-clap-clap”). The Cougars who will have as many as five all-Pac-10 first-teamers.

Yeah, those Cougars.

Shouldn’t be a problem, really.

Of course, before you take on Washington State, there may be a few things you might want the team to correct. It’s not much. Just a few things on offense. And defense. And special teams.

One, you might want to have your medical personnel look at quarterback Cody Pickett a tad more closely. After a hit on his separated shoulder late in the first quarter, Pickett’s prodigious arm strength was rarely in evidence. Deep balls? Forget it. Timing patterns? No time here. Rifle shots on out patterns? Forget it.

And check him closely. Do you really think Pickett’s going to tell anyone his shoulder hurts too much to keep him out of a game? He’d rather bleed from his eyes.

Ah, yes, the running game, so promising in the prior three weeks, which squeezed out just 88 yards against the worst run defense in the conference Saturday.

By now, you’ve relived the problems on defense. Matador run stoppers. A soft secondary. Loose cannons that produced four personal fouls.

To his credit, UW coach Rick Neuheisel isn’t wringing his hands in public. Things need fixing, he said. It’s not time to fret about the postseason.

He’s right. Worry about the next practice. Then the one after that. And the others during the week. Then the Cougars. Not Miami. Not a bowl game.

Because you know what happens when you blow off the immediate future.

John Sleeper is the Herald’s college football writer.

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