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Huskies Look To Keep Momentum Vs. Arizona State
Release: 10/08/2010
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Oct. 8, 2010

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Game Coverage
Gametracker Live Audio Gameday Central
TV: FSN Northwest Radio: Washington ISP Sports Network

by Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE - Mason Foster and his Washington Huskies are enjoying the ride atop the emotional wave still rolling from last weekend's win at USC.

After all, it's their duty. Coaches' orders.

"All week long coaches have said, "`You just keep rolling. Embrace it and keep rolling with it,'" said UW's linebacker and senior co-captain, the Pac-10's top tackler averaging 12 per game.

"And it feels great. I feel Coach Sark is right - just keep rolling with it."

Yes, Steve Sarkisian says his players have internalized that message for Saturday night's game against Arizona State.

The Huskies' first home game in three weeks kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Northwest, broadcast on radio on the Washington ISP Sports Network and followed with Gametracker and a live, in-game chat on gohuskies.com.

Sarkisian's approach in the days following Washington's mammoth road win against the Trojans has been opposite the one he used after UW's home upset of USC in 2009. The then-first-year head coach admittedly created a letdown last season, insisting those Huskies "come back to Earth," as he put it this week. Then they lost six of their next seven games.

Now, to hear Sarkisian tell it, you are more likely to find sun inside Husky Stadium Saturday night than evidence of a post-SC letdown.

"You can never tell (for sure) until Saturday night," Sarkisian said after his Huskies (2-2, 1-0 Pac-10) finished their final full practice of the week on Thursday. "As of right now, that's not my concern. ... We had a really good week of work. I thought we practiced with energy, with passion."

He attributes the lack of an emotional dip this time to confronting the issue head on beginning with meetings on Sunday night - and to unwavering confidence within his resurgent team.

"We didn't say, `We can't have a letdown, we can't have a letdown,'" Sarkisian said. "We told those guys, `We're not going to have a letdown, and here's why.'

"We're confident in our ability. And that's how we practiced. ... They responded extremely well."

So instead of a letdown, the Huskies are more concerned with the talent of the speedy, aggressive Sun Devils (2-3, 0-2). Sarkisian sees them as dangerous, and victims of their own mistakes rather than of being outplayed in their losses.

Arizona State, the top passing team in the Pac-10 so far, had an extra point blocked late in a 20-19 loss at then-No. 11 Wisconsin last month. The following week Sun Devils quarterback Steven Threet threw for 387 yards as ASU pushed high-flying, fifth-ranked Oregon before losing 42-31.

Last week, Threet threw three interceptions and Arizona State allowed Oregon State to sack him six times - yet the Sun Devils still almost won in Corvallis before falling 31-28.

"The games they are losing, it's not because of their opponent. It's they are making a mistake here or there and shooting themselves in the foot to cost themselves a ball game," Sarkisian said. "I just hope they don't put it all together against us. That's why they are so scary to me.''

Washington's Jake Locker had one the best games of his career with 310 yards passing and 110 yards rushing last week at USC. He and a Huskies offense that has Jermaine Kearse leading the Pac-10 with an average of 107.5 yards receiving per game meet a defense that many saw as the conference's best defense entering the season.

Arizona State is second in the conference in run defense, allowing under 120 yards per game. But the Sun Devils have given up yardage through the air. They are ranked seventh in the conference defending the pass, allowing opponents to complete 59 percent of their throws for an average of 229 yards per game.

"They are athletic and fast and they are going to try to knock the hell out of you. That's just the M.O. of that defense. It always has been," said Huskies offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto, a former Sun Devils assistant under long-time mentor Dennis Erickson. "They don't do a lot of blitzing. They play the same way they did when Dennis was at the helm in Miami ... they just go get you."

Locker still thinks about last season when the Huskies appeared to be headed to overtime at Arizona State, until he missed on a third-down pass with less than a minute left in regulation. ASU then threw a 50-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds left to win 24-17.

"We had an opportunity to win the game and we didn't do it," Locker said this week. "(We) gave them an opportunity to win the game. As an offense your goal any time you get the ball in that opportunity to put the game away is to get two or three first downs and run the clock out and win the game."

That's exactly what the Huskies did last weekend at USC, when Locker threw to D'Andre Goodwin to convert on fourth and 11, and then Locker gained another first down on third and 8. That got Erik Folk in position to clinch Washington's first road win in three seasons with a 32-yard field goal on the final play.

"It's been a point of emphasis since the coaches got here, finishing," Locker said.

"It will be another focus for us this week.''

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