Losing Can't Hide Improvement

Donald Butler (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

That one really hurt. I know the loss to UCLA really hurt the team and coaches because I watched their reactions closely as it was ending. They had played tough, hard football only to lose again. It was tremendously disappointing and that was obvious, but it's just as bad for us fans. We suffer right along with them.

Losing on the road again, losing their third straight, and the fifth out of the last six games, is getting old. Ever since that great win over the Trojans, things have taken a turn. Much of the luster has come off the thought of an instant turnaround, a bowl game, and a return to our days of glory.

We're all probably going to have to keep reminding ourselves that this is a work in progress. It is going to take some time, and some day, some year, winning will replace losing on a consistent basis. I just wish it would hurry up.

We all let our expectations run away from us just because we looked so good after three games. Now the malaise of losing sets in again and we forget how much this team has actually improved. No one needs to remind us this is largely the same group of kids we watched all of last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, yada, yada, yada. I think everyone associated with Husky football in any way is just sick of losing - especially losing to a team you know you should have beaten.

But, for cripes sakes, when you get five turnovers, hold your opponent to under 100 yards rushing, knock their quarterback out of the game, and have a running back gain 132 yards on 15 carries, you ought to win the game.

Then losing by it by one, losing in the last minute, and losing to Rick Neuheisel only makes it worse. Come on Football Gods, give us a break. These kids are playing really hard, they're playing all the way to the finish, they're hitting hard, trying hard and deserve to win a game.

Let's go back to Donald Butler's hit if you want to be reminded of the good things. That was a great hit, and if hadn't been the quarterback, then there wouldn't have been a flag (I hate the way they try to protect one position). That kid was trying to advance the ball diving forward and got drilled because he did. That was a bad call, but a great hit. It is a great example of what is different about this team.

They're tougher, they hit harder, they try harder, they've been in seven of their nine games with a great shot to win all of them and even though they've failed six times they have always been competitive. They've played everyone tough. They believe in their new coaches, they don't back down, they respond to adversity when it strikes, they've played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and simply put, they are a lot better football team than what we've watched here in the last 6-8 years. They just need to win more.

Sure it may have been better to run the ball more, or get a better pass rush, or to not miss a field goal, or not throw that last and only interception. Those are just the obvious things that stand out, but no one play or one player or one call or one thing is ever responsible for losing in a team game. It is a collective endeavor, everyone goes down together. You don't fix the blame, you fix the problems. You try to get better, learn from it and try to win the next game.

That is precisely the process that is happening under Steve Sarkisian's watch. Just listening to him, you get a sense that he understands how big this project is. He knows the only way to really evaluate, grade, or critique his own program to let it run a full course of development. This season is just the start of that process. He has to believe in his own system and know he will be given time to complete it. I am positive he will. I think this team moves into the upper echelon of this conference next year and stays there.

There are so many things that show change is taking place. Unfortunately it just isn't happening in the win column. And the only way to change that is through recruiting. Coach Sark knows this and when the "Jimmies and Joes" match up with the "X's and O's" then Washington football will be playing for championships again. With all the improvement in work ethic, conditioning, and understanding of the system that is currently taking place, it is most likely going to happen sooner than we expect.

Realistically we should never had expected it to happen this year.

Dawgman.com Recommended Stories