Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Huskies looking for better road play
By Kevin Gemmell
The fact that a team plays better football at home than on the road isn't exactly a stunning revelation. That's usually par for the course with almost every college football team in America. But in the case of the Washington Huskies, it isn't just a noticeable difference -- it's a glaring juxtaposition of success versus a complete lack of efficiency.
And the proof is in the numbers:
- At home, Washington is 4-1, averages 332.4 yards (130.2 on the ground, 202.2 in the air), averages 25 points per game with six penalties (46.8 yards) and they have a plus-four turnover margin.
- On the road, Washington is 0-3 and averages 305.3 yards (119.3 on the ground, 186 in the air), averages 13.6 points with almost 10 penalties and they are minus-four in turnovers.
- At home, Washington's defense hold opponents to 324.2 yards (132 on the ground, 192 in the air) and yields 16 points per game.
- On the road, Washington's defense is allowing 489 yards (272.6 on the ground, 216 in the air) while allowing 48.3 points per game.
Now raw data can always be slanted to make a point. Washington has played five games at CenturyLink Field and just three on the road, so there is a larger sample size to work with on home games. And two of those road games were at Oregon and Arizona, the Nos. 4 and 7 total offenses in college football.
But it should still be cause for concern, because the Huskies close out the 2012 campaign with three of their last four on the road. And it starts Friday night with a trip to Berkeley to face the reeling Bears.
Nov. 10 is the final home game when the Huskies host Utah before closing out on the road at Colorado and at Washington State. Clearly, it's a less taxing backstretch than the first eight weeks. According to the NCAA, Washington has played the second-toughest schedule in the nation. Its first eight opponents are 47-17 (.734) while the remaining four are 9-24 (.273). The Huskies' first five Pac-12 opponents are 31-8 (.795), with two of those losses coming against Washington.
Despite the perception of an easier road the rest of the way, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said his team still needs mature playing away from home.
"More than anything it's understanding what the challenge is and then embracing it," said Sarkisian. "It's not something to shy away from. It's a great opportunity for our football team to mature, to take another step in the right direction and understanding the focus that's needed when you go on the road as a team."
The Huskies have pulled off two of the biggest upsets in college football this season by upending a pair of top-10 teams in Stanford and, most recently, Oregon State with wins at The Clink. The challenge for Sarkisian & Co. is to match the energy and exuberance they play with outside of Seattle.
"[There's a] business-like mentality you take when you go on the road as a team and the understanding that you're going into a hostile environment," Sarkisian said. "It really is the 70 players, plus staff, plus whatever family members can make their way to where you are playing. That's what you have. That's all you have. And you can't rely on the 60,000 or so fans like we do at CenturyLink. We need to find that energy from within and play disciplined football with good execution and physical football. We have to understand where that energy has to come from. It has to come from within. We can't rely on outside sources."