Last we looked, two games and a like number of losses into the University of Washington's 132nd season of college football, everyone still has their jobs and no one's entered the transfer portal. Husky Stadium is still standing.
Of course, all of that could change in a weekend's time. This football program clearly is on egg shells right now.
For now, heavy rain is in the forecast. Doom and gloom throughout the fan base is not far behind it. Yeah, and that little thing called a global pandemic hasn't gone away either.
Oh, what happy days in Huskyville.
So here we are awaiting a UW-Arkansas State game that offers far more intrigue than it did when first appearing on the schedule. Everyone initially thought this would be just another blowout, a chance to see the walk-ons play, a gimme.
Now we're wondering if this could be a tipping point for the U.S.S. Husky that is listing badly in the Montlake cut?
In uncertain football times like these, we ponder the curious and the unimaginable. We prepare for anything to happen. We neither promote the petition to fire the coaching staff or dismiss it. We simply sit and watch and write about what happens next.
Take it from someone who was there in 2004 when the Huskies — four years removed from beating Drew Brees and Purdue in the Rose Bowl — went into a death spiral and finished 1-10. Bad things can happen without warning.
For those of you too young to remember, that UW team with Keith Gilbertson reluctantly coaching it several months following Rick Neuheisel's firing, was supposed to be just like any other, competitive and representative.
Instead, it completely tanked, setting off the darkest era for Husky football.
Tyrone Willingham came in as the next coach and made things far worse. Five years of total despair and really bad college football resulted, capped by an 0-12 season. The Huskies had zero NFL draft picks on the UW roster that year. None the next season.
Seattle just doesn't seem right when Husky football becomes a big mess.
The difference between those down years and now is football talent. This Jimmy Lake team has plenty of it. Still, there is a general sense of things beginning to slip away. Like that sweater that has a loose thread and comes completely undone.
Here are 5 things to ponder as an extremely pivotal Game 3 on the 2021 schedule approaches:
1) Jimmy Lake
Coordinators come and go, they hit and miss, they're easily replaceable. How about this head coach? Just 21 months ago, the fan base didn't object to Lake's instant promotion to replace Chris Petersen. A year ago, he won 3 of 4 games. He seemed to have everything under control coming out of spring practice. He's personable, tough, hard-working. Yet has he made fateful decisions that could set the program back and blunt his coaching career? Like choosing the wrong offensive coordinator and trusting a John Donovan offense that hasn't worked so far this season. The early reviews on Donovan's pet project no doubt sent talented players scurrying from the program to more passing-minded outposts such as Fresno State, UCLA and BYU in the offseason. This has greatly strained the defensive play. Lake won't get too many chances to make some changes and fix things.
2) Offensive Line
The Huskies had all five starters returning and they tinkered with this veteran, cohesive unit. For reasons not provided, the coaches deemed Ulumoo Ale, one of the largest human beings in the Pac-12, unworthy of reclaiming his starting spot at left guard. Was this bad karma? Because it seems everyone else has missed a lot of blocks since Ale went on the shelf. Also, we've been told a lot of the backups could start at other Pac-12 schools. How about if some of those guys, the Myles Muranos and Roger Rosengartens, start here?
One man's absence should not weigh so heavily on a football team. You know, next man up and all that. Yet Zion Tupuola-Fetui's unavailability at edge rusher while he recovers from an Achilles tear has been profound. A year ago, he made every opposing offense extremely nervous, have to game plan specifically for him and then get manhandled by him. The Huskies have zero turnovers in two outings. ZTF used to have at least one by the time he walked out of the tunnel. Expect him back within a month, if it's not too late.
4) Sam Huard
The chatter remains elevated, similar to U.S. intelligence agencies hearing about the escalation of foreign and domestic terrorist activities, that the Huard camp is not confident at all with the direction of the Husky offense. The suggestion here is to play the freshman immediately and let the offense evolve around him rather than watch him hit the transfer portal unused. He's the future of UW football. It's like a chess move to prevent checkmate. Lose him, a legacy player who enrolled early and has prodigious talent as advertised, and we shudder to think of the ramifications.
5) Arkansas State Loss
Coming up short to this Sun Belt team was unthinkable when the season began. It's a real possibility now. If this happened, the fallout would be similar to that of the north-side deck coming unhinged and crashing to the ground during installation back in the late 1980s. The earth would shake like it does in an earthquake. Everyone would check the scene for casualties. It would be extremely costly to fix. No one would want to hear any excuses. It would be time to start over.
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