Washington Huskies Still A Step Behind Pac-12 Elite

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Head caoch Steve Sarkisian of the Washington Huskies leads his team down the tunnel for the game with the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

What can Washington Huskies fans take away from the team's performance against top-tier Pac-12 competition? It doesn't look like this team is a contender yet, but Husky fans should be patient as the coaches are still nurturing and teaching its young talent.

"I am a duck. Curious how all the delirious Huskies feel about their prematurely anointed QB and the best all around back in the country???? Pathetic, finally play some real teams and they are reduced to pretenders. Long way back, clearly a middle of the pack team."

As much as the words of "BJducklove" from the Seattle Times comments section hurt, I agree with him. And to answer his question, I feel like I was delirious when I was writing this column titled, "Overwhelming Positive Thoughts After Washington's Vicory Over Utah." After witnessing my first Husky game in-person of the season, I was tempted to title this column "Overwhelming Negative Thoughts After Washington's Loss To USC."

A 23-point defeat at the hands of USC wasn't pleasant to watch from my seat in the corner of the end zone with other Husky fans. Walking into the Coliseum, I was expecting another Husky victory and envisioned another Erik Folk game-winning field goal. Instead, I saw the Huskies thoroughly out-played and out-executed from the opening kickoff to the final horn.

Ugly is the only word suitable to describe the Huskies' performance in their past four games. Any team in the nation will have a tough four-game stretch when having to face top ten teams in Oregon and Stanford and then a road game against USC. To reiterate the wise words of BJducklove: Washington is a pretender and isn't a contender yet.

I argue that now is the time to stop comparing this team's accomplishments to the dismal 0-12 2008 team. 2008 was three years ago. While it's comforting and an easy thought-process to follow after any letdown, it's time to start holding this coaching staff more accountable for how the team plays on a week-to-week.

Steve Sarkisian has set a new high standard at Washington, a standard that hasn't existed since pre-NCAA gambling Rick Neuheisel was head coach from 1999-2002. I applaud Sark for his accomplishments thus far, but the due date for changing this good team into a great team is at the end of next season.

Great teams tackle consistently. Great teams have a killer instinct. And above all, great teams don't get ever get blown out. Great teams are competitive.

Besides the Arizona win, in the past four games the Huskies have not had any of these qualities. Washington is a good football team right now, but not great quite yet.

Players are still young and the lack of talent is apparent in the Huskies' defense personnel and the team's offensive line. However, next year, the talent on the field will all be products of this coaching staff's recruiting and development. Any and all failure — including the inability to tackle should fall on the coaches' shoulders.

As a fan I'm upset that this team couldn't pull off one upset against the quartet of Nebraska/Stanford/Oregon/USC, but am happy that the Huskies have won every other game that they were "supposed" to win. And I'm at peace with the fact that the Huskies have improved in every single year under Sarkisian.

Despite the embarrassing showing at the Coliseum this past Saturday, I couldn't look you straight in the eye and tell you I am completely disappointed with the Huskies this season.

The team is still two regular season wins away and possibly a bowl win away from ending their 2011 campaign with a 9-4 record, a two win improvement from 2010-11. Bowl projections say the Huskies will appear in the Alamo Bowl if they take care of business against Oregon St. and Washington St. in these next two weeks.

The big picture tells us this team is still on the rise and hopefully on the way to becoming a great team.

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