Huskies reevaluate after Alamo Bowl defensive setback

SEATTLE – The rapidity of the touchdowns was dizzying. So were the numbers on the stats sheet.

Baylor gained 777 yards, a record against Washington, and scored 67 points, the second-worst effort on the books.

Ultimately, though, the number the Huskies were most left to ponder was 7-6, their record for a second straight season.

After a 67-56 Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said he was satisfied with the progress of the program under third-year coach Steve Sarkisian.

The Alamo Bowl, however, accentuated what fans had seen all season – a team developing a dynamic offense but saddled with a fatally flawed defense.

Sarkisian said he soon would evaluate every aspect of the program and see if changes need to be made.

“It’s obvious we need to improve,” Sarkisian said. “We need to get better on the defensive side of the ball, and it’ll be addressed and addressed as quickly as possible.”

Washington officials said there was no credence to a report Friday morning on the website that UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt and safeties coach Jeff Mills would not return next season.

Holt told the Seattle Times, after returning from San Antonio, that the report was “news to me.”

Asked if he expected to be back in 2012 he said, “Absolutely, yeah.”

Like every other member of the Huskies coaching staff, Holt’s contract runs through the 2012 season. He is scheduled to earn $650,000 next year.

Even if no other changes are made, the Huskies’ defensive coaching staff will undergo a shake-up because of the recent departure of cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin, who left for UCLA earlier this month. With a vacancy to fill, Sarkisian could also shuffle other jobs.

Something, surely, needs to be done to fix a UW defense that finished as the worst in school history in yards allowed per game (453.3), passing yards allowed per game (284.6) and total points (467).

All weaknesses were on display Thursday against Baylor. The Bears’ eight rushing touchdowns tied a UW opponent record and their 482 rushing yards were second most. Sarkisian said the stats only meant so much.

“Numbers are numbers, records are records, all that kind of stuff,” he said. “That doesn’t change your perception or view of things. There’s a style of play in which I think we need to pride ourselves on playing, and that didn’t happen (Thursday). That part is the frustrating part.”

As Sarkisian noted, Baylor had the second-best offense in the nation this year, averaging 571 yards heading into the Alamo Bowl. But the Bears had never before topped 700 yards (in fact, their 777 yards were the most by a team in any bowl).

Baylor had 331 rushing yards in the second half, including 257 in the third quarter as it began to rally from a 42-24 deficit.

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