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Apple Cup 2011: Huskies Defense Dealing With Difficult Season

According to The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, there will not be a more scrutinized unit on the field during the 2011 Apple Cup then the Washington Huskies defense.

And with good reason. 

As Condotta points out, the Huskies began their season giving up an easy, early touchdown to Eastern Washington, and finished the game last week against Oregon State with a 99-yard Beaver drive that led to an eventual loss. In between have been a lot of question marks and head scratching, echoed by head coach Steve Sarkisian's comments about their defense against OSU last week:

"Frustrating," he said. "Frustrating. Numerous missed tackles and the inability to get off the field on third down was extremely, extremely frustrating."

Through 11 games this season the Huskies are allowing 34.5 points a game, the second-highest in school history behind the 0-12 2008 team (38.5 a game), the season that ended Tyrone Willingham tenure at UW. They also allow a whopping 430.4 yards per game, third-most in school history behind 2008 (451.8) and 2007 (446.4), as well on being on pace to set a new record in passing yards allowed a game, currently averaging 278.3 a game (the record is 275.7 in 2005). 

Just where did it all go wrong? Sark pointed to unfortunate injuries and lots of youth as possible issues, though never pointed a finger on his weekly radio show: 

"In spots right now we are playing with some young, talented guys who just aren't there yet," he said. "I think in two or three years they will be there, but it's a transformation of a program."    

UW has also lost five of their 11 defensive starters to injury at some point during the season, as well as losing one for the entire season, though Sark is putting the pressure on himself and his coaching staff to get better:

"They [the players] are fighting the fight and they will get better and I'm not as concerned about that - we're getting better," he said. "We have the answers in place right now, we've just got to continue to coach it so that our kids are in a great position to be successful."    

For more on the Huskies, head over to the UW Dawg Pound. For the Cougar side of things, check out Coug Center