Now that is more like it.
A stress-filled week has passed for the Washington Huskies, who pulled through a must-win situation with a 35-34 double-overtime victory over Oregon State on Saturday night.
Suddenly, at 3-3, the outlook appears sunny again. And being 2-1 in the Pacific-10 Conference is even better, because it means UW is tied for second place behind Oregon.
“Obviously it’s a comfortable position – 2-1 after beating two really good football teams in Oregon State and USC,” Huskies linebacker Cort Dennison said. “We still have plenty of the season left. We’re not settling for anything right now – 2-1 won’t mean anything when it’s all said and done.”
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But it means plenty now.
Once again, the faithful fan base is hopeful. Players are a bit more relaxed, as they were Monday at the UW’s weekly press conference – laughing, telling jokes and gladly replaying the team’s exciting victory Saturday night.
“There have been some good things, but you’re always looking to get better,” UW quarterback Jake Locker said. “And taking out some mental errors is probably something I’m going to be focusing on the second half of the season here.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian pointed out some of the story lines within the team’s two Pac-10 victories this season.
First came the 32-31 victory at then-No. 18 Southern California earlier this month, snapping a 13-game road losing streak.
And on Saturday, the Huskies stopped Oregon State’s six-year winning streak in the series.
“(Winning close games) is huge, especially at USC on the road – from the psyche-perspective of going on the road and coming from behind was big,” Sarkisian said. “And then to beat a team that’s beaten you six years in a row, and who probably handily beat us the worst last year when you look at all our losses for our kids to respond that way and then finish the way we did, I was very proud of them.”
Now, it’s back on the road this week. The Huskies take on No. 15 Arizona, which will be without starting quarterback Nick Foles, who suffered a dislocated kneecap in a win Saturday at Washington State.
A win would give a 3-1 conference record. The last time that happened was 2001 – a season that ended with the Huskies playing in the Holiday Bowl.
On Monday, Sarkisian was asked to summarize the team midway through the season.
“We’re a resilient group, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think this team could have easily cashed it in at any point after one of those three losses, and they haven’t. So, if I could put one word on the first half – resilient.
“Hopefully we have a couple better words for the second half.”
Running back Johri Fogerson (upper leg), offensive tackle Erik Kohler (mononucleosis) and receiver Devin Aguilar (hip flexor) all returned to practice Monday – although the session was no-contact in shorts and helmets. Kohler practiced some at left tackle. Defensive end Cameron Elisara (shoulder), who saw his most significant playing time in a month against Oregon State, wore the hands-off red jersey, and did only light work during individual drills. Defensive end Talia Crichton (right knee) was at practice wearing a big brace on his lower right leg. On his radio show, Sarkisian said the injury appeared to be significant enough to keep him out an “extended” time, so he appears to be out Saturday. Both Locker and receiver Jermaine Kearse (school-record four touchdown catches) were nominated for Pac-10 offensive player of the week. The award went to USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Kickoff time for the Stanford game Oct. 30 has been set for 4 p.m., and it will be televised on Versus. Arizona coach Mike Stoops said Foles’ injury is not season-ending and the star quarterback’s status will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. Stoops said Foles has gone home to Austin, Texas, to have the knee re-examined and for “a couple of days” of therapy. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said he will refrain from giving daily medical updates on defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who is paralyzed from the neck down after being injured making a tackle in a game against Army on Saturday. LeGrand was hurt late in the fourth quarter while making a tackle on Malcolm Brown on the kickoff return after Rutgers tied the score at 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports
HUSKIES’ OPPONENT THIS WEEK
NO. 15 ARIZONA (5-1 OVERALL, 2-1 PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE)
7:15 p.m. Saturday, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.
TV: ESPN. Radio: 950-AM
Coach: Mike Stoops, 38-40 (seventh season)
Last week: Arizona won at Washington State, 24-7, while the Huskies toppled Oregon State, 35-34 in double overtime, in Seattle.
Against the Wildcats: UW leads, 17-8-1. The Huskies have won 10 of the past 15 meetings, including a wild 36-33 victory last season in Seattle. Arizona won the last matchup in the desert, 49-19, in 2008.
Washington connections: Puyallup High’s Adam Grant, who starts at offensive tackle, is a sixth-year senior at Arizona. Mike Tuiasosopo, the Wildcats’ defensive line coach, is a cousin of UW staff member Marques Tuiasosopo and a former Pacific Lutheran player.
Scouting report: Arizona’s ranking as the league’s top passing offense (308 yards per game) might take a hit now that quarterback Nick Foles (dislocated kneecap) is out at least for the game Saturday – and possibly longer. Matt Scott moves into the starting lineup, and is more of a runner than Foles. He does have three previous starts under his belt, all last season. A total of eight touchdowns is all the Wildcats’ defense has given up in six games, which is tops in the conference. Defensive ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed are the key to the unit. Elmore’s six sacks lead the Pac-10; Reed is second with 41/2.
Did you know? Ryan Milus, the son of former UW player and Lincoln High star Ron Milus, was recruited by Arizona in 2009 to be a defensive back. He left the program last spring to run track at cross-state rival Arizona State.
Todd Milles, staff writer
Sep. 3@ ToledoW, 41-2
Sep. 11The CitadelW, 52-6
Sep. 18IowaW, 34-27
Sep. 25CaliforniaW, 10-9
Oct. 9Oregon StateL, 29-27
Oct. 16@ WSUW, 24-7
Oct. 30@ UCLA
Nov. 6@ Stanford
Nov. 26@ Oregon
Dec 2Arizona State