Huskies Aren't Alone Dealing With Penalty Issues
Nov. 5, 2012
Nov. 5, 2012
• UW Game Notes (vs. Utah)
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE -It's not only with Washington that every game day becomes Flag Day.
Eight of the 20-most penalized teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision play in the Pac-12 Conference. That includes the Huskies, 109th out of 120 FBS teams. They average eight penalties accepted against them per game entering Saturday's home finale against Utah at CenturyLink Field.
UW (5-4, 3-3) won at California last weekend despite a dozen more penalties against it, including an unclear personal foul late against Travis Feeneyfor hitting quarterback Allan Bridgford near the waist while he threw. A week before that, the Huskies beat No. 7 Oregon State despite 13 flags against them, eight of which the Beavers accepted.
Huskies coach Steve Sarkisianhas said the 72 flags against his team in nine games is inexcusable and that his guys must play with more discipline for UW to be the team he thinks it can be.
But on Monday he said he has sent recent plays to the league office in hopes of getting clarification on some calls.
"My job isn't to be an official. Maybe when I get done doing this I'll go be an official and have fun doing that and stay on the field," Sarkisian said, impressively keeping a straight face at that thought.
"You know, they call it and you've got to play it. You play the hand you're dealt. We can't control what gets called and what doesn't. I thought our kids played a really hard, physical game. I thought some of the things called we didn't agree with. We sent it into the Pac-12, and we'll see what the response is."
Sarkisian isn't alone at being puzzled by all the penalties. Other coaches in the conference have acknowledged how tightly the league games are being called, and like Sarkisian are accepting it as a fact of life in the conference.
The Pac-12's teams have 798 total accepted penalties against them this season. Six league teams - half the conference - have more than 70 penalties.
The total of 70-flag teams in the rest of the five BCS conferences combined: three.
The Big Ten, with 12 teams, has had 647 total flags against its teams. Only one of its league members has 70 or more penalties (Ohio State, 70).
The Atlantic Coast Conference's 12 teams have been penalized 640 times. No ACC team has 70 or more flags against it.
The Southeastern Conference, with 14 teams, has a total of 735 penalties. LSU (75) is the only SEC school with as many as 70 flags.
Out west, UCLA (8.9 flags per game) and USC (9.4 per game) are the most penalized teams not only in the Pac-12 but in the country.
Utah (4-5, 2-4) comes to Seattle this weekend with 69 flags against it. That's seventh-most in the conference.
Sarkisian emphasized he isn't trying to say his Huskies are never in the wrong; "We have to be realistic and understand and when we're right and when we're wrong," he said. And to be sure, some of UW's recent personal fouls, such as for late hits out of bounds and for taunting, have been earned.
"If by looking at our game and by looking at (Saturday's) SC-Oregon game, and I believe there was one other I was watching ... there's a lot of penalties called," Sarkisian said. "But like I said to the team, as long as everybody's getting the same penalties called on them and it's a level playing field that's all you can ask for.
"But there's some stuff we definitely want clarification on so that we don't get the same penalties called on us in the future."
The Huskies would do well to cut down on the flags this weekend, since rugged Utah figures to keep Saturday's a tight, low-scoring game in which penalties could be decisive.
The Utes are just behind Stanford and Arizona State in the conference in total defense, allowing 336 yards. They allow 22 points per game, also third-best in the league. They are anchored by a veteran defensive line of 6-foot-4, 320-pound tackle Star Lotulelei and brothers Joe and Dave Kruger, who are 6-8 and 6-5 at end and tackle.
That will be a huge test to UW's offensive line with four first-year starters. Those new regulars have recently plowed lane for Bishop Sankeyto run wild - 189 yards and two scores last week at Cal, six days after 92 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon State.
Someone asked Sarkisian if the Huskies might wear their black uniforms again on Saturday, after beating top-10 Stanford and Oregon State in them at home already this season.
"I don't know," Sarkisian said, chuckling. "I'm just trying to get a first down against Star Lotulelei and the Kruger bothers. They've got some goons up front, so that's been the focus the last 48 hours."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: The Huskies had a handful of regulars banged up at Cal, especially on the defensive line. The most notable - and noticeable - injury was CB Desmond Trufant leaving in the first half with leg pain. The senior standout returned for a few plays but then stayed out the remainder of the game. Sarkisian said he will learn more Tuesday but "I don't think anything will be a significant time where somebody's out. I just think it's guys getting banged up and that's football in November." ... The Huskies will recognize their Olympians from this summer at Saturday's game, "which is pretty cool," Sarkisian said. Washington had 19 current or former Huskies at the London Games in August, then several more such as rower Eleni Englert in the Paralympics at few weeks later in London. ... UW will also recognize Veteran's Day Saturday night. ... The Nov. 17 game at Colorado will kick off at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time. The FX cable network will televise it nationally.