SEATTLE – Washington opened the football season with a game-saving interception to squeak past FCS opponent Eastern Washington. The Huskies have been making progress since.
At 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12 North following Saturday’s 31-14 drubbing of Utah in Salt Lake City, Washington enters its bye week on a high.
The Huskies are on the verge of a Top 25 ranking, continuing the program’s resurgence after going 0-12 back in 2008.
While the season nearly took a troubling turn in the opener, a game that coach Steve Sarkisian said left him irked, the Huskies have looked better each week. That was by Saturday’s second-half domination of Utah.
“I didn’t like the way it looked, tasted, smelled, none of it,” Sarkisian said of the opener. “I couldn’t stand it. We were going through the motions versus Eastern.”
Sarkisian wanted more effort. More energy. He felt the opener was a departure from the way UW closed the 2010 season when it won four consecutive games, including the Holiday Bowl.
Since then, Washington has held off Cal at home and provided its most convincing win of the season on the road against Utah.
“We’re playing faster,” Sarkisian said. “We’re playing more tenacious football, in my opinion, in all three phases.”
The opening five weeks have brought various injuries, in particular to quarterback Keith Price.
Price has been excellent. He ranks second in the country with 17 touchdown passes. His completion rate is 68.3 percent. He’s second in the Pac-12, behind Stanford’s Andrew Luck, in passing efficiency.
But he has sprained both knees, and sprained his left ankle against Utah. It will be a quiet week for Price. That was coming even if he wasn’t hurt.
“Traditionally for me, the bye week, the quarterback is pretty limited regardless of the fact of what his health is,” Sarkisian said. “This is a chance to relax for a quarterback.”
Price’s success and an improved defense have led Washington to the edge of the AP Top 25. Washington has not been ranked since Week 4 of the 2009 season, when the Huskies were No. 24 following an upset of USC.
“Obviously, 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12 isn’t good enough to be in the Top 25, so we’ve got to get better,” Sarkisian said.