Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Huskies, Beavers to play 'Frustrated Bowl'
By Ted Miller
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian used the term "frustrating" seven times in his news conference on Monday, according to the Seattle Times' transcript. He diversified by using the term "frustrated" five other times.
The Merriam-Webster definition of "frustrate" is "to cause (someone) to feel angry, discouraged, or upset because of not being able to do something."
Washington could be without quarterback Keith Price at Oregon State on Saturday.
What Washington hasn't been able to do is take a step forward in the Pac-12, to beat good conference teams, to win on the road. After a strong 4-0 start that earned the Huskies a No. 15 ranking, they've lost four of their past six games. At 6-4, the specter of a fourth consecutive 7-6 finish is haunting Sarkisian and his players.
Fans, by the way, are frustrated with that possibility, too.
"Believe me," Sarkisian said. "If they could jump inside me and my heart and my head, nobody feels more frustrated and worse about it than me."
The Huskies foe on Saturday can identify. Oregon State was 6-1 on Oct. 26 and ranked 25th. Since then it has lost three in a row.
The losses for both teams have all been to ranked teams. Three of the Huskies' losses have been on the road. Still, there was an expectations in the preseason that both would be good enough to be ranked and win like a team deserving of a spot in the top-third of the conference.
"We’re tired of being close," Sarkisian said. "I have to admit it. We’re tire of being close."
There will be an air of desperation in Reser Stadium when the Huskies and Beavers meet. It's not unfair to say the loser of this game will have officially defined its season as disappointing, while the winner still has hope for redemption.
"[Washington] is a good football team that has been just kind of like us," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "They were doing great and then the hit a lot of tough games with Stanford and Oregon and UCLA. They kind of had murder's row in there."
Said Sarkisian, "The reality of it is, we’ve got to go play a team that’s hungry and upset because they’ve lot three heartbreakers in a row, too. So we don’t have time to sit around with the woe is me mentality."
Both teams have issues. For Washington, it's QB Keith Price's shoulder. He hurt it against UCLA and was forced from the game in favor of backup Cyler Miles in the second half. Price won't attempt to practice until Thursday. While there's no structural damage, he's decidedly questionable.
Miles, a 6-foot-4, 223-pound redshirt freshman, completed 15 of 22 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the 41-31 loss at UCLA, a game in which the Huskies fell behind 27-7. Miles, the likely starter in 2014, is also a good runner.
"His legs need to be a factor in the game, if he's playing," Sarkisian said.
Signal-caller Sean Mannion and the Beavers offense have struggled in their three-game losing streak.
Oregon State doesn't have injury issues, but its offense has gone south. It entered the Stanford game averaging 44.1 points per game. The Beavers have averaged just 14.3 points during their losing streak. Through the first eight games, QB Sean Mannion threw three interceptions. In the past two, he's hurled seven.
The Beavers defense has greatly improved over the second half of the season, but it seems the one-dimensional offense -- all pass, no run -- has been figured out by opposing defenses.
Both coaches said their players are still focused and hungry, believing there's still plenty to play for, including an uptick in the bowl game pecking order.
"There's disappointment but this is a good group," Riley said. "They are not quitting or anything like that. I'm not worried about that. We've competed hard we just haven't played well enough to win. Of course, we've played all the good teams lately."
The fact is that both the Huskies and Beavers thought they were good teams at midseason. The winner Saturday has a chance to make a case that it's, at least, pretty good.
Frustrated? Absolutely. That's on both sidelines.
"I think we have a great deal of resolve in our locker room," Sarkisian said. "Nobody is happy."