By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
BATON ROUGE, La. - Keith Price and Austin Seferian-Jenkins each emerged from the locker room and a tented tunnel at the base of Tiger Stadium. The offense's leaders then did something that will serve them and the Huskies well long after this forgettable weekend in the Bayou.
They stood tall.
"You don't mind if I stand up, do you?" Seferian-Jenkins said after sitting for a radio interview following Washington's 41-3 loss to No. 3 and physically far-superior Louisiana State on Saturday night.
The 6-foot-6 tight end then spoke from up high with a valuable perspective and poise, traits the Huskies have come to expect from their mature-beyond-normal sophomore.
"No one's all crazy and freaked out," Seferian-Jenkins said. "We're going to get better. We have to get better. And we will get better.
"Within our locker room, we're fine."
LSU sacked Price four times, drilled him dozens more and harassed him almost every time he tried to throw in Washington's first trip into the Southeastern Conference since 1983.
Yet for all the Tigers did to him, they could not take away the quarterback's big-picture view of UW's still-infantile season.
"It's only the second game," Price reminded, knowing Washington (1-1) has one more non-conference game, next Saturday afternoon against Portland State at CenturyLink Field, before Pac-12 begins.
That's when the chase for all of Washington's goals begins in earnest.
"We've just got to keep on pushin', keep on getting better," Price said.
In the end, after getting out-gained 437-170 and scraping together a mere 26 yards on 24 rushes with an in-flux offensive line that added more issues here, the Huskies were no different that 222 of 286 teams that came in here before them on a Saturday night in Death Valley.
LSU (2-0), who played for last season's national championship, improved to 223-60-4 all-time in night home games in its raucous party house.
"At the end of it, this is one of 13 games," coach Steve Sarkisian said, repeating his conviction that this season will end like the last two - with a bowl appearance. "There is plenty we can learn from playing in this environment, playing on the road against a team like LSU."
Washington did it without two injured starters on its young offensive line and with lead running back Jesse Callier lost for the season to knee injury sustained last week.
The Huskies failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 21 games. That dates to Oct. 30, 2010, in a home shutout loss to Stanford during Sarkisian's second season as coach.
Washington began the season with two quick touchdowns last week against San Diego State. Since then, its offense has scored three points in seven quarters.
"It's crazy," Price said. "But stuff happens."
And stuff must change.
"We've got to figure out our identity offensively," Sarkisian said. "We were still searching again (Saturday).
"Right now we have to figure out, who can we go to, to lean on when we are struggling or things go astray offensively? What are our bread-and-butter (plays)? Who are our bread-and-butter guys? What are the types of plays we can go to, to get our rhythm back again?
"But we will find it, (to) get Keith back on track."
Leaving Louisiana will help immensely.
Last week while beating San Diego State 21-12, Price claimed he was "terrible."
Saturday, he was terrorized.
Price often had no chance by LSU's swarming defensive front full of top NFL prospects. He finished 17 for 36 for 157 yards passing with one interception, in the second half well after this game was decided.
Last year's UW record setter with 33 touchdown throws and a 66.9-percent completion rate left with 2 minutes left, as Derrick Brown got his first action as a Husky.
A Huskies contingent of nearly 6,000 swelled the crowd to 92,804, the second-largest for a non-SEC game in Tiger Stadium history. They watched the Huskies take a 3-0 lead after getting a fumble on the opening kickoff - and then get out-muscled throughout their deflating first half, when this game was decided by LSU's power-running game and pass rush.
"It's definitely frustrating," senior cornerback Desmond Trufant said. "We know we are better than this."
UW's only points were off a short field goal by Travis Coons, after Will Shamburger forced an LSU fumble to begin the game. Thomas Tutogi recovered at the Tigers 20. Sankey dropped a pass in the middle of an open field inside the 10 on second down. Then Price nearly had a touchdown pass to Jaydon Mickens on third down in the back corner of the end zone, but the freshman could not keep his feet inbounds before he caught the ball.
One minute in, it seemed to be Washington's last chance at momentum.
The Huskies' offense began by throwing short, safe passes and screens to wide receivers and running backs in an attempt to slow LSU's vaunted pass rush. Then even those became problematic when Erik Kohler, who had moved from guard to tackle this week to replace injured Ben Riva, went out in the first quarter with a dislocated knee cap.
It's the same injury the three-year starter had last month. He missed two-plus weeks of fall camp then. After the game Sarkisian did not yet know how long Kohler may be out this time.
"You have to play with what you have," Sarkisian said, when asked how much the O-line's situation shrunk the playbook.
The Huskies didn't get consecutive first downs on a drive until their final one before half time, and LSU extended that drive by committing two penalties for offsides on third downs.
Two short punts from deep in Washington's end by Korey Durkee set up LSU with drive starts at the UW 38 and 47 in the first quarter. The Tigers dutifully turned those into touchdowns, a 21-yard run by Alfred Blue and 1 yard by fullback J.C. Copeland.
Washington's defense stopped LSU three times inside the 7, one a great pass defensed by Tre Watson in the end zone. That forced an 18-yard field goal by Drew Alleman that had LSU up 17-3 early in the second quarter.
Alleman's 32-yard field goal later in the second quarter made it 20-3 Tigers at halftime.
The Huskies rushed nine times for minus-11 yards in the half.
The total yards at the break: LSU 231, Washington 70. UW's final six possessions ended with punts, after the early field goal. They didn't gain any more than 29 yards on any of the seven drives.
A bright spot: The continued, incremental progress by the more-aggressive defense. Danny Shelton, all 320-plus pounds of the big defensive tackle, was all over the field. He was leaping over two players deep into the fourth quarter despite the deficit.
When was the last 10 a UW defensive tackle had 10 tackles, as Shelton did Saturday?
"We faced it all playing here. The heat. The crowd. We faced everything here," Shelton said. "We are going to keep pushin' it. We are learning.
"We are ready to move on."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Sarkisian said starting LB Travis Feeney sustained a subluxation of his shoulder, DE Talia Crichton sustained a concussion, S Justin Glenn played with flu-like symptoms, and Mickens has turf toe. The coach didn't know the severity of those injuries as the team boarded the plane home late Saturday night. ... Trufant played in front of about a dozen family members on his dad's side that live in the nearby New Orleans area. ... LB Thomas Tutogi had a team-high 12 tackles. ... Seferian-Jenkins led UW with six receptions.