SEATTLE (AP) — For now, Steve Sarkisian can put fixing Washington’s problems on the road behind trying to snap a three-game losing skid with No. 7 Oregon State coming to town.
But the reality is that before this season is out, Washington (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) will need to correct its trend of being uncompetitive on the road or its goal of reaching a bowl game for a third straight season will be unattainable.
The Huskies were smarting Monday following their 52-17 thrashing at the hands of Arizona on Saturday night. Quarterback Keith Price struggled again, but the Huskies defense also was gashed for a season-high 533 total yards.
It was the Huskies’ sixth straight road loss dating back to last season. They’re giving up an average of more than 48 points per game on the road this season and more than 44 points away from home for the past two seasons. It’s a disturbing trend to Washington fans.
Granted, Washington’s road opponents this season have been tough; they lost at then-No. 3 LSU 41-3, at No. 2 Oregon 52-21 and then came the loss to Arizona. In all three losses, the Huskies were being blown out by halftime.
The success of this season will be largely determined by what happens away from home. After hosting Oregon State, the Huskies play three of their final four on the road.
“For whatever reason, it has happened so quickly. That’s the part that’s been discouraging on the road for me. Very few times we’ve gone to the locker room and it’s a tie ball game or three-point game. It feels like we’re fighting an uphill battle from the second quarter on and that’s not a great position to be in on the road,” Sarkisian said. “So we’re going to continue to dig around and look and try to understand what that is but it’s a definite issue with us. We’re going on the road and we’re not playing very good football.”
The loss to Arizona was Washington’s third straight after moving into the AP Top 25 following its win over then-No. 8 Stanford on Sept. 27. In each of Sarkisian’s four seasons, Washington has endured at least a three-game skid. The Huskies have just one four-game losing streak, back in 2009.
But they’ve been in this spot in each of the past two seasons with three-game losing streaks that were defined by blowout defeats. In 2010, the Huskies were outscored 138-30 in losses at Arizona, vs. Stanford and at Oregon. In 2011, they were outscored 112-55 in losing to Oregon, USC and Oregon State.
So being blitzed 128-52 over the last three weeks seems familiar.
“Unfortunately, but fortunately we have been here before. So I only know one way and that’s through hard work to find your way out of it, to go back to work and to grind away at it whether it’s individually or collectively,” Sarkisian said.
Perhaps no one needs more belief than Price, who had two interceptions and a fumble against Arizona, bringing his total to 10 turnovers in the last three games. His 256 yards passing and 29 completions were season highs, but much of that came late when the game was decided.
“My goal is that he believes in me and in my ability to prepare him, to put together a game plan and to call plays that he can execute and execute at a high level. And if they don’t work, I’ll be the first to tell him that, ‘Hey, Keith, that’s my fault,’” Sarkisian said. “I just want him to believe in me as much as he’s believing in himself.”