Pigskin pessimism

The Huskies have an offense but not enough defense against Stanford. No offense from the Hawks against Cleveland. But, stay tuned.

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This is coach Pete Carroll's first Super Bowl.

The Huskies have an offense but not enough defense against Stanford. No offense from the Hawks against Cleveland. But, stay tuned.

Have the Washington Huskies joined the Pac 12’s elite teams? Do the Seattle Seahawks have much chance of reaching the playoffs this season? Are both programs not worth watching anymore?

With apologies to Herman Cain, the answers after both teams’ losing adventures this weekend are, as the Germans say: nein, nein, nein.

The only sure thing about either team is that there aren’t any sure things, much less similarities. On Saturday (Oct. 21) the Dawgs and Stanford amassed 52 points during the first half alone, the Cardinal later triumphing 65-21. The next day the Hawks and Cleveland went in at halftime with the Browns up 3-0 on a 52-yard field goal, the hosts eventually winning just 6-3.

The Huskies excel (well, most of the time) on offense, gaining 430 yards Saturday. The Hawks are better (some of the time) at defense, not difficult given that UW let its hosts have 615 yards during 33 minutes of possession time. That’s about 18 yards per minute, numerically equal to nearly two first downs every 60 seconds.

The Seahawks, during the initial few minutes, looked to be playing a variation of flag football. Refs cited Seattle five times during the first half. Penalties and a sack meant that the Hawks spent their first eight plays gaining 12 net yards before punting.

A day earlier the Dawgs’ chances against what must be one of the best three teams in college football essentially ended when a Stanford defender picked off a Keith Price pass late during the second quarter. The opponent scampered 62 yards and scored to make it what proved to be an insurmountable 38-14.

Both local clubs had some noteworthy individual performances. Chris Polk seemed singularly bent on beating the 20-plus favorite Cardinal when, during a six-minute first-half interval, he hustled for 46- and 61-yard touchdowns. Polk’s 144 yards were seven more than the entire Hawk offense could manage.

Hawk defensive end Red Bryant, ahem, rising to the occasion, channeled Hakeem Olajuwon with two “blocked shots” of Cleveland field-goal tries.

The pro game posed an odd juxtaposition in that the three most recent team mentors were on the premises. Mike Holmgren, of course, is Cleveland’s team president. Coach Pete Carroll’s predecessor, Jim Mora, was giving color commentary in the broadcast booth. Mora’s main two contributions: During the first half he acknowledged that a lot of Hawks fans are glad he’s gone as coach: admirable given what some of us believe was management’s shabby treatment of him, dispatching him after just one season. During the third quarter Mora took great exception with a flagrantly bad call (one of several against Seattle) that resulted in calling back an apparent touchdown.

After the Stanford shellacking Husky coach Steve Sarkisian put the loss into its proper perspective. He noted that his minions, just 6-6 last year, are now 5-2, afterall. He didn’t need to add the obvious: The Dawgs ought to beat at least three more teams starting with Arizona Oct. 29 and including wins against Oregon State and Washington State. If so, the Huskies could wind up 9-3 if they also score a third-straight triumph over USC Nov. 12.

The Seahawk defense contained Cleveland for most of the game but grew visibly weary during the final quarter. Defenders sacked and pressured passer Colt McCoy. Still, McCoy had a better quarterback rating than Hawk Charlie Whitehurst, standing in for Tarvaris Jackson, who was nursing a pectoral-muscle injury. Whitehurst couldn’t count on much ground-game help because Marshawn Lynch sat out with back problems. A late penalty left Seattle with fourth and 15 with a little more than two minutes left and the offense was finished for the day.

Finished for the season? Well, not yet. The 2-4 Hawks play six of their final 10 at home so there could still be plenty of residual fan loyalty.  Would there be much support that Carroll et al could expect for an offense that continues to post the meager 137 yards it had in Cleveland?


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