Brock Huard lets loose on ‘baffling’ UW Huskies and coach Jimmy Lake
The downward spiral of the 2021 UW Huskies continued with a 26-16 loss to rival Oregon at home Saturday night, and the game featured a number of tough moments both on the field and on the sidelines.
On the field, the Huskies once again struggled to stop the run, allowing 329 rushing yards to the Ducks. The Huskies struggled to get anything going offensively, rushing for just 55 yards on 22 carries and totaling only 111 yards through the air.
And then there was a sideline altercation where it appeared head coach Jimmy Lake struck a player after pushing him away from an Oregon player on Washington’s sideline, resulting in a one-game suspension that will make Lake miss this Saturday’s home game against Arizona State.
Lake is in his second year as UW’s head coach after previously serving as a defensive coordinator under Chris Petersen, and his Huskies are 4-5 after Saturday’s loss after entering the season with Pac-12 championship expectations.
Brock Huard, FOX Sports college football analyst and former star UW Huskies quarterback in the 1990s, is unsurprisingly not pleased whatsoever with what transpired on Saturday, and really what’s happened throughout all of 2021.
“It just continues to just kind of baffle me. It’s baffled me all season long that they make football so hard,” Huard said Monday morning during his daily segment on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show. “… They just make football so, so darn difficult.”
Huard said that the Huskies’ top two cornerbacks and receivers are far and away the best players on the team, but that Washington for some reason doesn’t play to those strengths.
“They don’t take shots. They don’t. They’re not aggressive,” he said. “They let defenses just sit on you and dictate to you, and then defensively you give up 300 yards rushing again. You’re one of the 20 worst rush defenses in America … Yeah, their offense is bad, but stylistically they’re letting people just run and run and run and run … It’s been confusing to me since Day 1. And we’re nine games in, they’re 4-5, exactly where they should be.”
Part of why the Huskies are 4-5 is because of how they choose to play both on offense and defense.
Lake has made it clear that on offense, he wants to run the ball. On defense, the Huskies are not as strong up front as they have been in recent years under Lake, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing the same way.
Huard said that the Huskies are playing far too conservatively for his liking, and that choosing to punt multiple times in fourth-and-short situations as well as late in the game despite being down two scores shows that.
“We’ll keep it close, we’ll run and punt, we’ll just have a light box (on defense and) we’ll let them run for five yards a carry, will minimize possessions and we’ll try to keep these games close,” he said of the Huskies’ play style. “But you are never the aggressor, you never dictate it and I think these fans are sick and tired of it.”
Donovan out as OC
The Huskies made a big move on Sunday, firing offensive coordinator John Donovan, something many UW Huskies fans have been calling for weeks if not months.
“John Donovan is just, I think, the tip of the iceberg, of some of the challenges and issues there,” Huard said.
Huard also reminded Salk that he was opposed to Donovan’s hiring as OC, which took place before the 2020 season, from the very start.
“I said to you at the time this makes no sense. Absolutely no sense whatsoever,” Huard said. “He’s a northeast guy that had spent the last four years as an assistant running back coach in the NFL. That’s nothing. That’s a nothing job as far as planning and preparing yourself to be an offensive coordinator. And when he was, which I saw him multiple times at Vanderbilt and Penn State, it was a rough go and obviously (he was) let go at Penn State. So it was a bizarre hire at the time.”
So why did Donovan get hired in the first place?
“It felt like someone that Jimmy could totally control to do what he wanted to do, which is to play football in a style that I played in the 1990s, and that’s not football of 2021,” Huard said.
Sideline incident and Lake’s future
Speaking of Lake, Huard was asked about the aforementioned sideline incident and how it may impact his future.
“Out of control and just absolutely lost his cool,” Huard said. “… (The Ducks like) to talk, they love coming into Husky Stadium into the biggest stadium in the conference as far as capacity right now of attendance and love rubbing it in their face, and the Huskies did not respond. They didn’t respond on the field. That’s where you respond.”
Huard said that the Huskies tried to be “tough guys” after the game with a postgame skirmish at midfield, and that that’s not how you go about your business.
“Tough guy is responding during the 60 minutes on the field,” Huard said. “That is shutting their run game down, it’s hitting them in the mouth, it is being the aggressor. You’re not the aggressor. You were never the aggressor at all. You haven’t really been all season long. And yeah, I think it was just a total loss of poise and composure on the sideline.”
With Lake’s suspension, it seems unlikely the Huskies will move on from their head coach midseason like their rivals at WSU did, but Huard doesn’t think it would be as difficult to part ways with Lake as some are surmising it to be.
“I don’t think he has a big contract,” he said. “I think they’ve got more than enough money to pay for it.”
Huard said that if Lake was fired, he would coach again because he’s at the very least a “tremendous” defensive coordinator.
“And that’s what’s hard,” Huard said. “… Certainly as a defensive coordinator he checked every single box, but leading an entire group, leading an offense, leading the defense and special teams without ever doing it before? He’d never been a head coach at a smaller level. (He was) elevated to that position.”
Currently, the UW Huskies rank 54th in the 2022 recruiting class on 247Sports.com. Salk asked Huard how Lake’s sideline incident plays into that going forward.
“Not well, and nothing is playing well in recruiting right now,” Huard said. “… As tough as it’s been on the field, if you’ve got a top 20 recruiting class or top 15, your story is being sold and recruits and families and communities are buying it. That’s not the case.”
Huard said he looked back at recruiting classes under former UW Huskies head coach Tyrone Willingham, who had an unsuccessful tenure on Montlake, and after a rough first class, Willingham still did well in recruiting and got some notable players, such as quarterback Jake Locker.
Lake, meanwhile, isn’t doing as well in recruiting as many of the state’s top recruits are leaving for other schools or conferences.
Huard said that’s the worst sign of all.
“Your story is not being bought by high school kids, by high school coaches, by junior college kids, by communities out on the West Coast when you sit in the 50s right now as a recruiting class … If you don’t have greatness walking in the door, you can turn some good to great, but you need greatness walking in the door in college football.”
You can hear Huard’s full thoughts on the state of the Huskies program at this link or in the player below.