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November 19, 2012

Huskies making strides under Sarkisian




Heading into this season it was common to hear national media figures question just where Washington stood as a football program.

"What do fans think about Sarkisian?" was one of the more popular questions I field on radio programs around the country.

With one game remaining in the regular season there is now no question where the Huskies stand and where they are going. The program is in as good as spot as it's been in for a very long time.

Washington (7-4, 5-3) may just be in fourth place in the Pac-12 North, but the Huskies defeated two of the teams ranked ahead of them: Stanford and Oregon State. They knocked off both squads while they were undefeated, too.

And it's not like the Dawgs have taken any head-scratching losses. Their only defeats came at the hands of LSU, Southern Cal, Oregon and Arizona. Three of those losses were on the road, and the one home loss was still a respectable performance.

If Washington wins the Apple Cup as everyone expects they will, the Huskies will be positioned to win nine games, as their bowl game will likely be very winnable as well. The Huskies haven't won that many games since 2000 when Rick Neuheisal guided Washington to an 11-1 record.

But what's most impressive about the Huskies record and performance this year is the manner in which Washington has been progressing, and winning.

Most folks believed Washington would still give up a lot of points this year, though the defense might marginally improve, and if the Huskies won it would be in shootout fashion.

Washington has undergone a total makeover as a football team. Gone is the finesse and the shootouts are no more. In one season Steve Sarkisian and a new defensive staff have transformed the perception of Husky football.

There's even more talent on the horizon with one of the Pac-12's top recruiting classes poised to join the program next fall. And now not many questions remain.


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