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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Sarkisian’

No. 52: Washington

The Pac-12 has become a graveyard for defensive coordinators. The money’s good, the price is right and there’s opportunity for advancement, but enlist at your own risk: Chip Kelly awaits, as does Mike Leach, as do Rich Rodriguez, Noel Mazzone and Lane Kiffin. Many a defensive mastermind — Nick Holt, for instance — couldn’t keep pace with the new-look Pac-12. Who can? It takes two kinds: either a coordinator who has forgotten more football than most will ever know, like Monte Kiffin, or, like Oregon’s Nick Aliotti, a coordinator willing and able to adjust with the flow. Washington hopes that former Tennessee coordinator Justin Wilcox slides into the latter category. He’s shown a tendency to adopt non-traditional looks, most notably while at Boise State, a program that has historically made the most of its defensive personnel. But is Wilcox the missing piece of Washington’s puzzle? Ask again in September. Scratch that: Ask again in December, after he’s fought through the same gauntlet that tested and broke the will of last year’s defense.

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    The Year in Review: Washington (7-6, 5-4)

    Washington, like the Pac-12 as a whole, needs a big, strong, healthy dose of defense. The Huskies are sitting pretty when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, what with Keith Price under center and Steve Sarkisian pulling the strings, but the Huskies need a high-test defense to go with their high-potent offense. Perhaps improvement will come from the additions from Tennessee: Justin Wilcox and Peter Sirmon, two former Oregon Ducks, will be Sarkisian’s new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, respectively. Another two new defensive assistants come from the Pac-12, with defensive line coach — and ace recruiter — Tosh Lupoi coming over from California and defensive backs coach Keith Heyward from Oregon State.

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      Washington’s Moves Illustrate New Pac-12

      There’s money, there’s big money and there’s TV money, and the latter can help pay bills, buyouts and paychecks, as Washington has illustrated over the last three weeks. The Pac-12 as a whole is flush, thanks to its 12-year broadcasting deal with both ESPN and Fox, signed in May, that will pay out $2.7 billion in total over the length of the contract. That sort of monetary infusion, about $225 million per year, will trickle down to the league’s 12 teams: the deal pays out about an additional $160 million annually when compared to the Pac-12’s prior TV contract, and that’s some serious, landscape-altering money.

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        No. 46: Washington

        A short, to-the-point history of Washington football: good, great, good, bad, good, bad, great – Don James – good, bad, awful, good. Awful: Keith Gilbertson and Ty Willingham. The final good: Steve Sarkisian. That Washington’s current coach has lifted the Huskies back into relevance so shortly after hitting absolute rock-bottom under his predecessor bodes very well for the program’s future under his watch. Yet I wonder: Does Sarkisian have what it takes to lead U.W. back to the top of the Pac-12? That’s a question for 2012 and beyond, not 2011, as while Washington continues to improve with each season it’s clear that these Huskies aren’t quite built for Rose Bowl contention. But didn’t many say that it would take Sarkisian years to rebuild the roster after his predecessor’s nosedive? Well, it didn’t take long for Sarkisian and the Huskies to knock off the vaunted Trojans, to win five games in conference play and to win, not just reach bowl play, so perhaps we would be wise to not question Washington’s direction under its third-year coach.

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          March 28: Sarkisian Says a Mouthful

          That’s a mouthful. It’s been some time since Washington’s Steve Sarkisian had an opportunity to speak at length with the local media, so I’m sure had some things to share. Among the topics covered, per Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times: depth issues at cornerback; position moves on the second level of the defense, where the Huskies need to replace all-conference middle linebacker Mason Foster; the process of installing the no-huddle look on offense and pieces of the 3-4 on defense; and, most notably, that his team posted a program-record 2.76 G.P.A. for the winter quarter. Yeah, there’s been a lot going on around the program – hence the 1,557-word output. Hope Sarkisian had a bottle of water handy.

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            Holiday Bowl: Washington vs. Nebraska

            This game seems familiar, like we’ve seen it before. We have? Right, back in September — I remember now. Didn’t Nebraska take Washington behind the woodshed? I believe the final score was Cornhuskers 56, Huskies 21… or something along those lines. Well, hot dog, this was a game I was simply dying to see replayed. Thank goodness for those wise bowl committees; without them, I’m not sure if I’d even know what to think. See, before I heard that the Holiday Bowl would be a rematch, I thought the earlier date between these two teams was one of the ugliest, least exciting games of the season. I must have been wrong. Why else would the Huskies and Cornhuskers meet again?

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              A Most Unhappy Holiday (Bowl)

              Washington hosted Nebraska in September. The Cornhuskers return the favor next September. In between, the two will meet in next week’s Holiday Bowl. Three games in a calendar year? I suppose there’s reason for each program to be upset about this development, though one — Nebraska — has a bigger gripe than the other. Washington wants another shot at the Cornhuskers; the Cornhuskers just want to get to the Big Ten, sooner rather than the later, putting the final chapter in a messy divorce behind them.

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                No. 54: Washington

                Have your cake, Huskies, and eat it too. It's made of apples, in honor of the Apple Cup.

                It turns out Washington can have its cake — and eat it too. Ty Willingham, as it was famously put, was the best coach in America from Sunday through Friday. Who says a coach can’t put in seven-day weeks? Steve Sarkisian has shown he can get it done on the most important day of the week — Saturday — and has fans excited about the program’s potential under his watch; he has the rest of the Pac-10 nervous, it’s safe to say. Have your cake, Washington. And eat it, while you’re at it. And don’t forget to come backs for seconds: 2010 will see the Huskies back in bowl play. Finally.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.