It’s year four of the Sarkisian era and the Washington Huskies have been a totally different team when it comes to playing on the road. Their grand total of road victories under Sark is four (5 counting their great bowl win over Nebraska). Obviously, he and his coaches would change anything that they are doing wrong because their team has been noticeably better when it plays at home (even this year when they really aren’t playing at home). Whatever, Seahawk Stadium has still produced just as many wins but in only one year.
It’s pretty obvious the home crowd can make a difference in the sport of football but that is especially apparent in Seattle where both the college team and the professional team benefit from the support of the loudest fans in football. Because of the double facing roofs, both stadiums actually bounce the sound back and forth and I tell you, I distinctly remember standing on the sidelines of Husky Stadium trying to talk to a player right next to me and couldn’t hear a thing being said because the crowd noise was sooooo loud it was deafening.
Reality is it shouldn’t make any difference where you play. You strap on the same pads, play between the lines on the same sized field, and in college you have the same age group of kids 18 to 22 years old. (Or 24-25 if you’re coaching at BYU).
It’s still pretty obvious that the kids feed off the energy of the crowd and vice versa. The Seahawks have borrowed from a tradition that started in Husky Stadium back in the 60’s and have further developed the same phenomenon of a crowd noise centered around the defense. Oh, the Seattle crowds like scoring, but they know they can help the defenses and that is exactly what they do. Unfortunately, the Huskies can’t take all those fans on the road with them.
I think it’s just that college kids are also really into routine and like to know what to expect on any given day. That is obviously disrupted when you go on the road and therefore the kids are out of sync to begin with. I also think that the change from college games being played on Saturdays to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays has made preparing a team that much harder. This week is an example because the Cal game is being played on Friday and that totally disrupts the preparation schedule. Today was yesterday if you know what I mean.
Usually on the road, kids from that particular area are further disrupted with family, friends and media. This is particularly the case in California where many of the Huskies hail from. Although natural and necessary those are hard to squeeze in simply because the team is usually restricted to the hotel but mostly due to schedule demands.
I have never spent the night before or on game day with a Sarkisian coached team so I have no idea what their schedule really is or how they prepare the kids when they are away from home. What I do know is that at this level of football every minute is accounted for and when you have to be playing at many different times on many different days it has to require constant readjustment to routine.
Many professors give exams on Fridays so the kids’ academic demands can often conflict with travel. Still it gets back to how the kids get themselves ready and maybe it’s about time for some leaders to step up and fire this team from within. They got something started against the Beavers and it proved their Stanford win was for real. They have won at Cal Berkeley before and know they match up well with this team.
Last weekend they stopped Oregon State’s undefeated winning streak and this weekend they can end Cal’s consecutive bowl streak. They can also get the monkey off their back about playing in someone else’s stadium.
There are amble reasons to win not to mention two Husky coaches who worked at Cal last season. More than anything though is this could help the Huskies finish second in the Northern Division of the Pac-12. They have now beaten two of their five division rivals, losing only to Oregon , and a win over the Bears would mean they are only one win away from qualifying for a bowl game themselves.
They can use the same formula for victory in this one. Don’t turn the ball over. Get three turnovers and three sacks and win the kicking game. Lastly, be the team that runs the ball the best and stops the run the best. Do those things and have Keith Price have his best performance and they can enjoy their first road win of the year.