Finding the silver lining in the desert debacle

HHB founding father Race Bannon has an expression he used each time the Dawgs did a face plant over the past decade: "Winners win and losers lose. That's what losing teams do, they lose."

With 1:41 left in the game yesterday, the Huskies had the game won. They had dominated Arizona with a smothering defense and an offense that dragged the Wildcats up and down the field.  

All the Dawgs had to do was run the clock out and they would have a road win against a top 25 opponent. But it didn't feel like a win, I thought. So many unforced turnovers and penalties and mental errors, it was hard to burst with pride over such a slopfest.      

But as the Huskies broke huddle and approached the line of scrimmage, Race's words flitted through my brain.  That's what losing teams do, they lose.

"Whatever you do here boys, don't fumble!" I shouted at the TV.

And then like a horrible train wreck, it all unfolded on the screen. Operating out of shotgun (which had been an embarrassing adventure all day), the handoff to Deontae Cooper, and then seeing Cooper wedge up into the line and the ball coming out. A delay while the refs sorted things out. And then the signal that the ball belonged to Arizona.

And those warriors on defense, who had played so well all day long, went back onto the field. Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson and Hau'oli Kikaha, as well as those freshmen DBs that had played so admirably under when thrown into the fire. They were put into a nearly impossible situation.

Moments later, the kick sailed through the uprights, and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez smiled the smile of someone who knew he had stolen a game he had no business winning. And Washington coach Chris Petersen, who had no answers afterward for one of the biggest collapses in Husky Football history...

As I type this on Sunday morning, I'm still stunned by what occurred. If Steve Sarkisian was still our coach, I would be chalking it up to the fact that the team is always a reflection of its coach. And Sark was and remains sloppy, undisciplined and unprepared.

Coming into this season, I assumed Petersen would have some issues washing the Sark stink off the players. But I took it as a given that the sloppiness issues would be largely resolved and that by November the Huskies would be, if nothing else, playing clean and precise football.

But every week under Petersen looks like August two-a-days. The Huskies are not a good football team and seem light years (to borrow a Sark term) away from a championship caliber squad.

There is one positive, however, that I noticed throughout yesterday's game from the opening kickoff to the final, devastating play. The Huskies played with urgency on both sides of the ball. There was no sluggish start or sleepwalking going on, like we've often seen this year in the first half.

The Huskies played with purpose and fire and passion for all sixty minutes. Somehow, those planets aligned in the locker room and we saw that effort on the field.

It's partially why this loss hurts so much more than the many other losses that have occurred since the fateful day that Mark Emmert hired Todd Turner and Tyrone Willingham.

They wanted this one bad and left it all on the field. For the first time this season. It's a good sign that Petersen and the team are in sync on some level.

The questions about sloppiness and mismanagement will persist, as well they should after such a devastating loss.

But this is something for fans to cling to as the pain of this defeat subsides, and we look to the future.