If you hold your nose and peer closely, you can see signs of a good foundation being built. With strong young linemen and exciting talents like Myles Gaskin, Budda Baker and Azeem Victor, there is some reason for optimism with Husky Football. You can especially see the makings of what should be an outstanding defense in 2016 and 2017.
But like a full eclipse of the sun, the horrible Husky offense is overshadowing any positives taking place. It doesn't seem possible that an offense could be any worse than last year's edition. But this year's team stinks just as bad. Cyler Miles is somewhere cackling as this dreckfest proceeds without him. After all, he shouldered 99% of the blame for last year's disastrous offense.
Chris Petersen isn't who we thought he was. He arrived at Washington in December 2013 with the reputation of an offensive guru and a two-time Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award winner.
But his selection of the raw and inexperienced Jonathan Smith as his offensive coordinator raised eyebrows. Some idiots like me endeavored to give Smith a chance. But 21 games into the Petersen regime, it's clear that hire was a colossal mistake.
The Huskies have no identity on offense. They often make such illogical decisions you'd almost think this was an inside job geared toward sabotage.
Last week's game against Stanford was a prime example. Freshman quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels made his first career start. Considering how good UW running back Myles Gaskin has been, common sense dictates that the running game would be emphasized. No need to put most the pressure on your young QB who is bound to struggle. Go with ball control, run the clock., shorten the game, and hope to win the battles of special teams and turnovers. In short, give the Husky defense a chance to keep the team in the game.
But no sir. Not with this brain trust. Three consecutive series in the second quarter were maddening and illustrate the overall point.
In the first series, the Huskies threw the ball three consecutive times. The result was a three-and-out and a punt.
In the second series, Gaskin ran on first down for 14 yards. He ran again for six yards. A moment later it was third and two yards to go. What does our offensive brain trust decide to do? They have Carta-Samuels pass, which was thrown into the dirt for an incomplete pass. Another punt.
In the third series of this sample set, the Huskies again threw consecutive times. All incomplete. Another punt. Elapsed time of fifteen seconds off the clock.
The Husky defense played over 22 minutes in the first half and were already wearing down. And it wasn't like Stanford had eight guys in the box and daring UW to throw. The Cardinal played a very straight up vanilla defense against the Dawgs.
Of course, when the Huskies temporarily emphasized pounding the rock in the second half, they marched down the field and scored a touchdown. But in subsequent series, Smith was back to his usual dreckfest playcalling. It's like he's up there in the box with a spin wheel determining which plays to run.
It's bad enough that Jonathan Smith didn't have the wherewithal to create a dynamic Husky offense. What's worse though is that his head coach, Chris Petersen, sits by idly and allows these atrocities to occur. What happened to the head coach who once led Boise State to the thrilling win over Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl?
This horrible offense is overshadowing the several good things that Petersen is doing to build the program.
After this season ends, does he have the humility to acknowledge he made a mistake? Will he let go or reassign Smith and go find a dynamic playcaller to take over the offense?
Husky fans are losing interest in the program and goodwill is being burned with each passing week. If Petersen refuses to make dramatic changes this winter, then it's clear this football program is doomed to mediocrity for as long as he is here. There has never been a sense of urgency from AD Scott Woodward to field a champion. After all, Woodward allowed a juvenile drunkard like Steve Sarkisian to remain as head coach FOR FIVE YEARS. And Sark would still be the coach, had USC not swooped in hired him away (Praise be to Pat Haden).
Husky Football reaches a critical crossroads this winter. Does Petersen have what it takes to pull the trigger?