No. 12 Huskies head into off week with sudden concerns
SEATTLE (AP) — Instead of easing as expected into their bye week, the Washington Huskies are dealing with offensive issues and injuries that contributed to a surprisingly punch-less performance in a loss at Arizona State.
Washington lost left tackle Trey Adams and cornerback Jordan Miller to season-ending injuries during Saturday’s 13-7 upset loss to the Sun Devils, which dropped the Huskies from No. 5 to No. 12 in The Associated Press rankings.
Adams, who has been mentioned as a possible first-round NFL selection, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Miller broke his ankle late in the game.
“It’s tough. You feel bad for those guys, and plus they’re good players, and feel bad for the team,” coach Chris Petersen said Monday. “But next man up. This is how it goes and our team knows that. We talk about it ad nauseum early in the season. You just don’t know when it’s going to hit, but it is what it is.”
Senior Andrew Kirkland replaced Adams against Arizona State but Petersen said they have several possible offensive line combinations to consider.
The Huskies (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12), who next host UCLA (3-3, 1-2) on Oct. 28, also must quickly address their kicking game and the general offensive inefficiency that resulted in Washington scoring just one touchdown Saturday.
“For sure, when you don’t play well, you want to get back right out there,” Petersen said. “For sure, this is painful. This is a painful two weeks, without question. I think everybody in the building would be like, ‘Can we please just go back out there and try to play better,’ certainly on offense.”
“But it’s also right in the middle of the season and a good time to really get a chance to look at ourselves and our tendencies and figure out what we need to change and tweak and clean up, and what we like about what we’re doing,” he said.
One area of immediate concern is the kicking game.
Freshman Van Soderberg missed chip shot field goals of 21 and 27 yards against Arizona State and is one-for-three on the season. Soderberg replaced senior Tristan Vizcaino, who is four-for-nine on field goal attempts and missed two extra points.
“It’s frustrating because if you watch them in practice, they would never miss those,” Petersen said. “It’s not even kind of, it’s like clockwork. And then for whatever reason, we get in the game and it changes a little bit. So, we’re back to work.”
“I think it’s more the mental thing than a technique thing,” he said. “Because they just trust their technique and focus on that, they’re going to be fine most of the time.”
Washington, which averaged 43 points in its six victories, managed just 230 yards of total offense against the Sun Devils, including 91 yards rushing in 31 attempts. Quarterback Jake Browning, pressured throughout, completed 17 of 30 passes for 139 yards without a touchdown and was sacked five times.
“I would say Jake played very solid, which I think is interesting, because again, we don’t score a bunch of points,” Petersen said. “It’s all driven through the quarterback. I think Arizona State did a great job. They took away a lot of his answers when he’s back there.”
Petersen said he was not concerned about how the loss would affect the Huskies’ chances to return to the College Football Playoff, where they lost 24-7 to Alabama in the semifinal last season.
“We don’t talk about that during the season at all,” Petersen said. “That has nothing to do with nothing, just like rankings don’t and all that. All we’re trying to do is get better and figure out a way to beat UCLA.”
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