Nick Holt is so animated along the Washington sidelines that some may wonder if during a prior incarnation the Husky football defensive coordinator was a Warner Bros. cartoon character.
In fact, Holt's only known show-biz connection seems to be that his granddad was athlete-actor Buster Crabbe, appropriate if only because Holt seems eminently crabby even when his players are performing well. Imagine, then, the demeanor of the defense mentor late Saturday. During Arizona State'ês final play from scrimmage, a Sun Devil receiver found himself what seemed to be about half a mile from the nearest University of Washington defender, grabbing a long pass and loping into the end zone. Seconds later the Devils won, 24-17.
It was a funny ending if you appreciate, say, Daffy Duck getting flattened by an anvil. The loss left the Dawgs'ê record deflated to 3-4 with five games remaining. As many as four could be winnable, though probably not Saturday'ês matinee against the not-so-daffy Ducks from Oregon.
For the Huskies to have a chance against subsequent division rivals Oregon State, UCLA, and Cal (they'êll probably annihilate Washington State in the Nov. 28 Apple Cup), Holt'ês meager defense, which gave up 464 yards to ASU, is going to have to improve as quickly as a cartoon character recovers from a catastrophe. Otherwise the re-emergence of the program under the tutelage of Holt and head coach Steve Sarkisian is going to stall to a 4-8 finish and obviously prompt no bowl appearance.
Husky defensive lapses inexplicably seemed to carry over the next day to afflict Seattle'ês supposedly professional team. The Seahawks, also against a nemesis from Arizona, let the Cardinals'ê offense own the first quarter of the game. Quarterback Kurt Warner (apparently unrelated to the Warner Bros.) led an 11-minute, nearly perfect touchdown drive. Then the Hawks fumbled the kickoff and a minute later it was 14-0. The Hawks finally got the ball, only to cough it and allow Warner et al to make it 17-zip.
Seattle fans weren'êt laughing but 'êyucks'ê were everywhere at Qwest Field: Visiting Cards partisans were yucking and the Hawks were yucky. This was, after all, a Seattle club that, just 168 hours earlier, had dispatched Jacksonville 41-0. But early in the second quarter, possession time favored division-rival Arizona by 15:39 to 0:43.
The 2-4 Hawks used a fake punt to set up a field goal but they couldn'êt capitalize on a turnover late in the second quarter, the half ending 17-3. Seattle came out in the third quarter oddly — and very unsuccessfully — trying a pair of running plays against the best ground-game defense in the league. Late in the third the Cards went up 24-3 as Warner hit on his 27th completion in 32 tries. Seattle 'êanswered'ê by stalling at midfield, punting yet again to the bemusement of the booing crowd. Some Hawk backers actually stuck around until the clock ran out with 'êZona up 27-3.
Both of the region'ês prize gridiron competitors can benefit from some time off. The Hawks, who probably need to win at least seven of their remaining 10 games just to have a shot at the playoffs, will be idle next weekend. The Huskies rest the following Saturday.
So far neither team seems capable of making 2009 a major turnaround year but fans obviously hope to avoid lapses and pratfalls better suited to cartoons. In any case, a few more losses for either team and it'êll be time to quote that porcine Warner Bros. character famous for saying 'êth-that'ês all, folks.'ê