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November 7, 2011

Huskies looks to clean up act against USC

Steve Sarkisian didn't sugar-coat it.

"We were awful offensively," the University of Washington football coach said Monday as he reflected back on the Huskies' 34-17 loss to Oregon. "We've got to be better. We've got to perform better up front. We've got to make better decisions at the quarterback position. We've got to catch the ball."

The Huskies (6-3 overall, 4-2 Pac-12 Conference) will look to bounce back from a loss for a third time this season as they travel to the Coliseum to take on the USC Trojans (7-2, 4-2 Pac 12) Saturday.

If the Huskies want to knock off USC for the third straight time, they'll need to be better on the offensive side of the ball.

The Huskies defense, which has been a problem for most of the season, performed admirably against Oregon's nationally fifth-ranked offense, holding the Ducks to 381 total yards. That's more than 100 yards under than the Ducks' season average.

Still though, Washington couldn't keep up as the offensive line gave up six sacks and had quarterback Keith Price under pressure all night long.

"We were poor at best up front," said Sarkisian. "We'll get it fixed though, Danny (Cozzetto) will get it fixed. I'll get it fixed. We'll be much better Saturday night."

And "much better" they will have to be if the Huskies want to pick up their first road win in over a month.

USC's is averaging just over 446 offensive yards per game, which is 22nd best in the nation. If the UW's offense line doesn't protect Price, the Huskies will have a hard time keeping up in game that the Trojans' prolific pass attack will likely turn into a shootout.

"If I'm an NFL head coach right now, I'd pick Matt Barkley ahead of Andrew Luck," said Sarkisian about USC's junior quarterback. "I think he's playing at that high of a level. I think where he fits into the National Football League and his pocket presence and what Lane (Kiffin) is doing with him. He's fantastic to me."

That's certainly high praise, but with the way Barkley is playing right now, he just might deserve it. Barkley has thrown 28 touchdowns on the season to just six interceptions and seems to be getting better with every game.

He has two terrific weapons in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, and if the Huskies aren't careful, they could get burned early and often.

This game could be bigger than usual for Price as he travels back home to start in front of friends and family for the first time in his college career. But he seems unfazed by the idea.

"I try not to worry about that," Price said. "It's just another game. It's nice to play at home but it's not like I can go home and hang out with all my friends. We're just going to treat it like another game and hopefully we can get another win."

To add to the multiple storylines headlining this game, there should be a lot of big recruits at the Coliseum on Saturday.

"You know they are going to have a bunch of recruits at the game. That's no secret. They do a great job of that," said Sarkisian. "If you can go out and perform well it',s a great way to advertise for your program."


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