5 Questions for Sark after a bad loss

Oct 18, 2009, 12:16 AM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm

by Mike Salk

5 questions for Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian after Saturday’s 24-17 loss at ASU:

Huskies 21. Why did your team struggle to tackle so badly on Saturday?

The Huskies allowed 464 yards on Saturday, but it seemed like 200 of them must have come after first contact. The 75 yard run by RB Cameron Marshall was the most obvious example, but it was by no means the only one. If you don’t tackle, it doesn’t matter what kind of scheme you’re in!

2. What was your plan when you got the ball back with 1:17 left to play in the game?

I can’t figure it out.

You had the ball at your own 10 yard line with 1:17 left to play in a tie game.

If you are trying to win the game in regulation (which was possible considering you had time, timeouts, and the best quarterback in the game), why run the ball twice? Especially when you had struggled to run effectively all night? Why not put the ball in Locker’s hands and let him make plays (like he did against a much better USC defense a few weeks ago)?

If you are trying to play for OT, why throw the bomb on 3rd and 1? It was a low-percentage pass and the incompletion stopped the clock and allowed ASU to take a shot at the end of the game.

I guess the plan was to do both. To hope for a big play without designing one. To let the clock run and protect yourself in case you couldn’t move the ball.

But I don’t like it. If you think the risk is too great from your own 10, then run the ball three times and play for overtime. If you think you have a shot to win, then take it. I think you can make the argument for either strategy. But don’t try to do both – too often you end up with neither.

Was it just indecision? The first play of the drive took just five seconds, but the team wasted another 20 seconds before the ball was snapped again. The second down run took just six seconds, yet another 16 seconds ticked off before the ball was snapped again. Those times seem very “in between” to me. Too long for “going for it;” too short for playing for OT.

3. What the heck happened on the final touchdown pass?

I’m not going to pretend to understand the intricacies of zone coverage. I’m not going to say they should have had players waiting on the goal line to defend against the bomb (because a field goal would have won the game). But how the heck does that happen?

There is a great replay of the catch that shows ASU WR Chris McGaha literally by himself on the screen. And it wasn’t exactly a tight shot! Where were the safties? What was FS Nate Williams looking at while two guys got deeper than him? Who had McGaha? CB Desmond Trufant was the closest Husky, but he looked like he expected safety help. Why was the closest player to him one of his teammates (TJ Simpson)?

I have literally never seen a player that wide open on a play in that situation. It simply can’t happen.

Holt4. What’s going on with Nick Holt?

I love the defensive coordinator’s intensity and I have no problem with his antics on the sidelines. I love to watch him fire up his team and he seems to be getting quite a bit out of a group lacking in talent at key spots. But his defense allowed an embarrassing touchdown at a terrible time. And what’s worse, it looks like it happened because of a mix-up. It also appeared as if he cost his team 15 yards earlier in the game by coming too far out on the field. I love the way he builds up his players but he also can’t step over the lines!

5. Now what?

It will be interesting to see where these Huskies go from here. At 3-4, they need to go 3-2 to become eligible for a bowl game. Three of their opponents (Oregon, OSU and California) are a combined 13-5. To win three games they’ll likely need to hold serve at home in the Apple Cup, win on the road against a mercurial UCLA squad, and find a way to beat one of those three teams.

All the “fans” posting anonymously on websites that Sark should be fired are totally insane. This program is turning around in a hurry. But getting this team to bowl eligibility this year took a serious hit in Tempe.


One last note on Jake Locker and the 2010 draft:

I’m not sure yet about the severity of the injury to Locker’s shoulder. He looked to be screaming in pain and yet he was back in for the final play after he injured it. But if Sam Bradford is seriously hurt (and he appears to be), and if that was the real Colt McCoy I saw for Texas today, Locker is now the number one quarterback on the NFL Draft board. And that’s according to both Mel Kiper Junior and Todd McShay.

I just can’t see him (or anyone) returning for another season when they are the top quarterback prospect on the board. Especially when you see what has happened to Bradford this year! And even more so when we consider a possible change in the NFL’s rookie pay scale that could severely limit the payoff for a top pick in 2011.

The scare Locker got today should be a reminder and warning that the money isn’t guaranteed until you get into the league!

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