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Can UW Offensive Coordinator John Donovan Survive the Weekend?

A third consecutive defeat with offensive shortcomings would send the Husky fan base into a more frenzied state.
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In a color-coded college football game, the Purple and Gold will host Red Wolves on Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium with perhaps a pink slip at stake in this non-conference encounter.

It's the University of Washington football team against Arkansas State.

John Donovan vs. a chorus of boos.

An embattled offensive coordinator fighting off unemployment.

USC quarterback Todd Marinovich memorably once said following a humbling Husky Stadium visit, "All I saw was purple."

For Donovan, if the weekend doesn't go well, he'll encounter only red ... angry, red faces.

Throw in a lot of rain for this one, and it could be 50 Shades of Husky Gray.

If his offense fails to show up for a third consecutive game, Donovan most likely has called his last play for the Huskies.

The UW stands 0-2 for the first time since the Willingham Ice Age of 2008. 

Offensive ineptitude left the Huskies exposed and ripe for a 13-7 upset loss to an FCS team in Montana.

The failure to move the football and find the end zone gave the UW no chance at Michigan, where it checked out of Ann Arbor with a 31-10 defeat.

Now comes Arkansas State, a team as rich in points and yards as Jimmy Lake's squad is bereft. 

The Red Wolves, a Sun Belt team coached by another Nick Saban reclamation project in Butch Jones, come to Seattle after losing 55-50 to Memphis and beating Central Arkansas 40-21. They like to throw it, launching it 66 times last weekend. 

Should these vastly underperforming Huskies somehow lose their third consecutive contest to open the season — to a more than two-touchdown underdog no less — and struggle offensively while doing it, repercussions are most assuredly one of the weekend byproducts.

Lake won't be given the Clay Helton indignity of an in-season firing, which is what happened to the USC coach earlier this week. Yet someone will need to be the Husky scapegoat.

The administration will need to send a message to prevent further alienating an already slow-to-return fan base, which filled only two-thirds of the stadium for the opener when the team was 0-0. 

Donovan has never been warmly received by Husky supporters following his early 2020 hiring, to replace the similarly unpopular Bush Hamdan, a Chris Petersen hire who was let go by Lake. 

People were fully aware that Donovan had been unceremoniously dumped at Penn State in 2014 for similar transgressions, for pushing an offense with little imagination and coming up with limited results, and they wanted more. 

In his first UW season, Donovan oversaw an offense that actually averaged 30.2 points per outing in four games, but was criticized for its simplicity. For instance, tight end Cade Otton was the primary target and led the team in receiving over the short season. 

It was enough for five wideouts and a pair of quarterbacks to enter the transfer portal, though some of them did that because they weren't going to play much for Jimmy Lake. 

It was enough for Lake to try and explain his pro-style offense to outsiders, concerned that opponents were unfairly maligning his approach to prospective recruits.

People will be ready to pounce if there isn't big change in the Husky offense on Saturday, if the siren that comes with a hometown score doesn't wail more than a few times.

They expect Dylan Morris or Sam Huard, or both, to heave the ball downfield. Richard Newton or Cam Davis to get out and run and pile up significant yardage. Michigan transfer Giles Jackson to locate a straightaway, whether running or receiving, and find some open space. 

Finally, the Huskies likely need to double the amount of points in one day that they've previously scored in two outings to satisfy the masses.

An offensive coordinator's livelihood likely is depending on it.

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