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Washington season review

12/19/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Well, what to say about the only winless FBS team riding a 14-game losing streak?

What to say about Washington's worst season in program history, one that forced the university to fire Tyrone Willingham and seek its fifth head coach since Don James stepped down just ahead of the 1993 season?

What to say about an average margin of defeat of more than 25 points?

What to say? Well, it can't get any worse, can it?

The Huskies began the season knowing Willingham needed a winning record to retain his job. After an embarrassing blowout loss in the opener at rival Oregon, the Huskies then lost a heartbreaker at home to 15th-ranked BYU, 28-27.

When quarterback Jake Locker went down for the season with a thumb injury two weeks later in a 35-28 loss to Stanford for an 0-4 start, Willingham's termination became a foregone conclusion. Locker's replacement, Ronnie Fouch, completed 45 percent of his passes with 13 interceptions and four touchdowns.

The Huskies wouldn't play another competitive game until the Apple Cup on Nov. 22, which they lost 16-13 in double overtime after yielding what look like a decisive 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in the waning moments of regulation.

Turning point: Before the season, most folks believed Locker needed to carry the Huskies on his broad shoulders for anything good to happen. When he broke his thumb in the second quarter against Stanford, it became clear that the season was hopeless.

Offensive MVP: It's hard to celebrate an offensive MVP for a unit that finished 117th in the nation in scoring with just 13.25 points per game, but receiver D'Andre Goodwin led the Huskies with 60 receptions for 692 yards. One of those receptions went for a touchdown.

Defensive MVP: Defensive lineman Daniel Te'o-Nesheim had a good season playing hard every moment for a bad defense. He finished tied for fifth in the Pac-10 with eight sacks and fifth on the team with 65 tackles, 11.5 of which went for a loss.

What's next: Washington played 12 true freshmen in 2008, and nine of them started at least one game. So the hope is this youth will mature next year, and the return of Locker under the watch of new head coach Steve Sarkisian, who coached quarterbacks at USC, will mean significant improvement.

The first test for Sarkisian, however, is trying to cobble together a respectable recruiting class. At present, the Huskies' class looks like one of the worst in the country among BCS teams.

Here's the best news. Woeful Idaho visits Husky Stadium on Sept. 12, the second game of the 2009 season. It is there where a by-then-15 game losing streak -- the season-opener is a visit from LSU -- most likely will end.