Linebacker Travis Feeney (41) and the UW defense is coming off a rough performance last week against Oregon, and will have to matchup with the nation’s leader in rushing touchdowns this week in ASU’s Marion Grice.
Linebacker Travis Feeney (41) and the UW defense is coming off a rough performance last week against Oregon, and will have to matchup with the nation’s leader in rushing touchdowns this week in ASU’s Marion Grice.Photo by Joshua Bessex
Travis Feeney shrugs his shoulder pads and grabs at his collar bashfully. Maybe this team could go to the Rose Bowl, he says.
He won’t let himself get too far ahead though. He whispers the words “BCS bowl,” and says he doesn’t know what could happen in the Pac-12 in the second half of the season. However, he does know this: Saturday’s game against Arizona State at 3 p.m. in Tempe, Ariz., is a must-win, just like every game left on the UW’s schedule.
The No. 20 Huskies (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) are sliding on a two-game losing streak, heading into the desert after two physical losses to Stanford and Oregon. The game against the Cardinal slipped through the UW’s hands in the waning moments, while the Ducks extinguished the Huskies in the fourth quarter after a tight first three quarters. Head coach Steve Sarkisian is well aware of the UW’s current skid. But he’s not worried about it.
“We’re going to come out of the blocks playing fast, physical football like we’re capable of playing, and I think the guys understand that,” Sarkisian said Monday at his weekly press conference. “I think the sky’s the limit for this football team as we continue to move forward.”
On all but one of their first drives in the third quarter this season, the Huskies have scored a touchdown. In the other one, they were forced to punt against Idaho State when backup quarterback Cyler Miles took over the offense. In all the Huskies have outscored their opponents 87-48 in the third quarter, including last week’s 17-10 third quarter against Oregon. However, the Ducks blanked the Huskies in the fourth, with quarterback Marcus Mariota passing for 75 yards and a touchdown and running in another score in the final period.
“We just had a couple of errors, losing focus [in the fourth quarter] and that is key,” Feeney said. “You have to make sure you need to stay focused for all four quarters. We just had that one quarter, that’s what really turned the game around.”
This game against the Sun Devils is critical in steering the Huskies back on the right track going into the second half of the season. But the UW hasn’t beaten Arizona State since 2001. The Sun Devils have a dynamic offense that’s ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring with 44.2 points per game. Running back Marion Grice is “the best running back nobody’s heard of,” Sarkisian said. Grice is tied for first in the country in rushing touchdowns with 10.
On the defensive end, All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton leads the Sun Devils, paired with Carl Bradford, who is tied for seventh in the conference with 3.5 sacks.
“Their front’s very good,” Sarkisian said. “It’s probably the strength of that defense, so we have to have a plan for them depending on situations as the game unfolds.”
This season, Sarkisian and the coaching staff has been stellar with making changes to the game plan as the game unfolds, evidenced by their dominant third quarters. If they push the right buttons this time, the Huskies could be turning their season straight onto the road to Pasadena.
Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @thucnhi21
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