I bark for Sark. The phrase that has been spread around the U-District for the coach that has been portrayed as a savior.
And, what’s not to love about Sarkisian? He improved the win total of his predecessor by five, and has drastically improved the recruiting prestige of his school beating out teams such as LSU and Texas for five star plays like Austin-Seferian Jenkins and Kasen Williams.
But let’s not kid ourselves. No coach is perfect. Not even Urban Meyer. Not even Nick Saban. Not even Pete Carroll.
Steve Sarkisian is far from that perfect either, and it makes me sick when Husky fans get anxious on me for talking anything bad about him.
This is a criticism I’ve had about him since the dawgs took on LSU last season: When you have arguably the best rushing quarterback in College football, why do you not use him?
It’s obvious that if Jake Locker is to be successful on the next level that his passing precession is going to need to increase, and it’s great that Sark has helped him increase this. But it is also fact that is Sark is to be successful as coach of the Washington Huskies that he needs to take advantage of the talent that he has inherited. He has not done this.
A prime example of this would be last season against Notre Dame on goal situations when he counted on his offensive line to punch holes for the light framed Chris Polk, only to be denied of the endzone, instead of trying to split out receivers wide or make room for Jake Locker. Once again, in the all important season opener for the Huskies, Sark has been exposed for the stubborn offensive play caller he is. With the game in question, BYU up by six points, and a fourth and 2 with the Huskies requiring a first down, he chooses to go down field with a tight end formation instead of splitting out four or five wide and taking advantage of unarguably the best rushing quarterback in college football. Infact, Locker ran eleven times for 29 yards, which means a majority of those runs were improvised passing plays because of broken passing plays.
The dawgs had a fourth and 2 in the fourth quarter down by six points, 23 to 17, and Sarkisian elected to have a tight end formation in which his quarterback threw down the field.
I was screaming at the television for the dawgs to go four or five wide and utilize their quarterback, but instead it was a pro style set that saw the dawgs unsuccessfully go down the field. It was frustrating, and made me draw the last straw for Sarkisian for similar sins against UCLA and Notre Dame the year previously.
It’s very understandable that Sark is trying to instill his philosophy, his offense, and his system.
But this much is clear. Sark’s job IS NOT to get Locker to the NFL. Sarkisian should care less what Locker’s NFL future is. Sarkisian was hired at the UW to win football games. Instead, on fourth down situations Sarkisian is gambling, being selfish, and being cocky assuming that these plays are givens. A given play would be lining Locker up in the shotgun and letting him impose his will on fourth down.
Now, the Huskies are entered into a difficult situation. It would be nice to assume that Syracuse, a team Washington destroyed in the Carrier Dome in 2007, is a gimme win, and talent wise, it would be crazy to assume otherwise. However, the schedule coming up after that, it’s a little more iffy.
Sarkisian’s mishandling of the team has made it difficult. The Dawgs have Nebraska, a top ten team, coming to town afterwards. And in conference play, have road games against Arizona, USC and Oregon. It’s not Sark’s fault that for the last five years the Huskies have played a top ten schedule in term of toughness each and every year, making his rebuilding effort difficult. But he has to realize the team he has at his disposal. Especially defensively and the fact that even against inexperienced quarterbacks, his offense needs to keep pace.
Now, questionable games against teams like UCLA and Arizona become must wins. Now, we see what this team really has against Syracuse.
There is no argument whatsoever that this team SHOULD win it’s next game. But after what we’ve seen against BYU, it’s fair to question the legitimacy of this regime when it comes to in game coaching and whether or not he takes his Willingham given talent seriously or not.