Despite Loss, Washington Huskies Growing As A Team

Ian PetersonCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies is upended by Brian Smith #58 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As much as Notre Dame fans would love to tell me about the legend of Jimmy Clausen and his ability for the comeback victory, Washington lost that football game more than Notre Dame won it.

The Notre Dame goal-line stands were impressive, but Washington had eight tries and really should have punched it through to go ahead 31-22.

Regardless of how the game went, one fact remains in my mind:

Steve Sarkisian is going to make the Washington Huskies into a really good team.

The team is just plain playing better. They are competitive, energetic, and look hungry to play football.

Which you just couldn't say of the team last year. Truly, the team just didn't look that way under Willingham ever. 

At 2-3, the record doesn't particularly speak to how much the Huskies have grown up this season compared to last. The only really bad performance was against Stanford last weekend.

The Huskies showed good poise to stay in the game and force overtime. Let's not forget that Washington had their own goal-line stand earlier in the game.

The Huskies got gashed through the air, but kept the run in check pretty well. The Huskies have showed a Jekyll and Hyde defense all season, one game good against the run, the next good against the pass.

What the Huskies really need is an infusion of talent and depth to become more competitive.

The Huskies lost both starting safeties in the game, and it can be disconcerting with little to no depth in the secondary to speak of.

The Huskies do have a good recruiting class coming in this year, so far. It should be helped by the fact that the Huskies are showing well in competitive games.

It could get even better with a much softer part of their schedule coming up. The only ranked opponent coming up is Oregon, which the Huskies play at home. (Cal will not remain ranked at the rate they are playing USC tonight.)

The key for this season is Sarkisian keeping the players from getting disheartened. This Notre Dame loss was a heartbreaker, and the players could get pretty down on themselves.

Beyond that, the team needs to clean up the penalties, and the red-zone offense. 

The Huskies gave up 82 yards on 13 penalties, and the aforementioned goal-line stands were a serious problem.

The Huskies have a game-changer in Jake Locker, who should be able to give them some more quality wins through 2009.

Also, look at Chris Polk, he's put up solid games before today, then gashed Notre Dame for 136 yards today. He would have had a touchdown except that it was a 50/50 call that went against him. 

If you are a Husky fan, sure the game slipped through the fingers, but the consistent performances put together on the field should make you proud.

They certainly bode well for the team's future.