PASADENA, Calif. — All things considered, Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian was relatively upbeat as he addressed reporters after what he termed a “frustrating, frustrating” 41-31 loss to UCLA on Friday night.
The game, of course, did not go his team’s way. Not on the scoreboard, and not in the training room, either, as starting quarterback Keith Price was X-rayed after suffering a first-half shoulder injury.
But Sarkisian, plenty aware that the Huskies (6-4) must win two of their final three games — assuming a bowl bid — to eclipse that dreaded seven-win barrier, seemed confident they can attain that goal.
So, too, did Price, though the senior can’t be sure if he’s going to play in either of UW’s final two regular-season games against Oregon State and Washington State. Price was scheduled for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam on Saturday. Sarkisian won’t meet again with reporters until Monday.
By the time that day comes, the Huskies will have begun a week that will, once again, help define their season. Quite simply, it’s to the point now that Washington can’t possibly feel good about its progress as a program if it doesn’t win at Oregon State, a tough task considering the Huskies haven’t won at Reser Stadium since 2003.
“We’ve still got a lot to play for,” Price said Friday night.” We can still finish with a big-bang, 8-4 record. So we’ve got a lot to play for. We know it’s not going to be easy. Oregon State, it’s going to be tough going down there. They play very well at home. It’s just crazy that I’m injured again before Oregon State. It’s like déj vu all over again.”
That, too, is a good way to describe the general feeling after Washington’s loss at UCLA on Friday, one marked again by early mistakes that made it nearly impossible for the Huskies to come back and find a way to win on the road.
Washington is 7-19 in regular-season road games under Sarkisian, and in his five years as coach the Huskies have defeated just two teams on the road that finished the season with a winning record: USC (8-5) in 2010, and Utah (8-5) in 2011.
Asked again about why UW doesn’t beat quality opponents away from home — in specific reference to the UCLA loss — Sarkisian said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with his team’s approach.
“It wasn’t about our energy and it wasn’t about our schemes,” Sarkisian said. “It wasn’t about the guys not ready to play. We were ready to play. You turn the ball over twice to start the ballgame and put yourself in a 14-0 hole.
“You’ve got to fight and scratch and claw, and we did that. I’m proud of that. We’ve got to take care of the ball better and reduce our penalties.”
That starts, Sarkisian said, by practicing better. The Huskies might also be practicing this week with a different quarterback, depending upon the pain in Price’s throwing shoulder.
Redshirt freshman Cyler Miles completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 149 yards in the second half against UCLA, throwing two touchdowns and two late interceptions when he was trying to force the ball down the field with a 10-point deficit.
“He didn’t look like a backup in the game to me,” Sarkisian said. “He looked like a starter, which is really cool.”
Freshman receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow also showed some promise for the future, leading the Huskies with eight catches for 147 yards against UCLA.
“I think he has a chance to be a star for us,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a big-time weapon and we see how good he can be in one-on-one settings.”
They’ll see how good everyone can be in a can’t-lose setting this week in Corvallis, Ore.firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports