The Washington Huskies have had a strong start, but they hope to finish even better.
No. 20 Washington (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) started its season 4-0 but struggled recently against the conference’s top teams, losing to then-No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon in back-to-back weeks.
After those difficult losses, Huskies’ coach Steve Sarkisian said his team is looking at its matchup with ASU (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) as an opportunity.
“These last two games have been tough, hard-nosed football games man,” Sarkisian said. “I think we are a little bit more mentally tough than we’ve been in years past. They’ve kind of embraced this role of going on the road and … I think they see this as an opportunity more than a challenge. … We have the opportunity to do something really cool on the road Saturday, that if we do it the right way we can accomplish it.”
Comparing the season to a football game, Sarkisian thinks his team will turn things around in the second half and try to avoid a fifth consecutive season with a three-game losing skid.
“We’re at halftime. We’re in the locker room right now. We’re a 4-2 football team. …We’ve played a good first half of football against some very good teams,” Sarkisian said. “But, such as we’ve been all season, we’re an excellent second half football team. We’re going to go out in the second half and play a great half of the season, and we’re going to start Saturday against Arizona State.”
One thing the Huskies will have to do is contain ASU redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Kelly and senior running back Marion Grice who Sarkisian called “probably the best running back nobody’s heard of.”
Kelly ranks eighth in the country in passing yards per game (327.5) and seventh in total offense (355 ypg). Meanwhile, Grice leads the country with 15 touchdowns.
“He’s just a scrappy guy, man,” Sarkisian said of Kelly. “He makes all the plays when he has to make them. He runs when he has to run. … He throws the back-shoulder fade to (redshirt sophomore) Jaelen Strong extremely well.”
Continuing on his in-game metaphor, Sarkisian noted that his team has scored on every opening drive of the third quarter this season. His team is now looking to do the same by getting a win over the Sun Devils.
“We’ve played six ball games and the first drive of the third quarter of every game that we’ve played up to this point we’ve gone down and scored a touchdown as an offense,” Sarkisian said. “This is the third quarter of the season. Here’s our first drive. … I think it’s important for us to come out and make a statement with this drive and the way we play this Saturday.”
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