The Washington Huskies Football Team is now at the midpoint of the season and it’s anybody’s guess as to who the “real” Huskies are?
On the season, the Huskies are currently 4-2 overall with a conference record of 1-2, which has come as a surprise to many.
In analyzing both defeats that the Huskies have suffered this season, there is one big common trend that is at the forefront.
The losses have come when the Huskies have had late night 7:30 p.m. kickoff times, where the Huskies haven’t been at their best.
“I think that is just coincidence at this point quite honestly,” tight ends coach Jordan Paopao told DubLife this week.
One thing is for sure, the Husky coaches and players are not giving into that notion and narrative this week, as the message seems to be the same.
The team either is really well coached up by Washington head coach Chris Petersen on what to say, or maybe they really feel that the late starts don’t bother them at all?
Well..let’s look at this aspect more in depth…..
In both losses this season, the Huskies appeared to come out of the gate sluggish and almost “stuck in the mud,” so to speak.
Earlier in the season against the Bears, the Huskies got off to a slow start offensively, and didn’t score a single point in the first quarter.
Did the team just have an “off” first quarter, or did the late night kickoff have something to do with their slow start in that game.
Last weekend, while facing the Cardinal, the Husky defense was the one responsible for the slow start on the opening drive.
Stanford marched straight down the field against the Husky defense with an 11-play, 80-yard drive, which resulted in a field goal and ate 5:09 off the clock.
While both losses and slow starts have a connecting trend, the Huskies still staunchly deny any correlation with the late night starts.
“You know, I don’t think so. I think down the road there can be a cumulative effect when you’re back to back on the road and getting home late, getting guys back on schedule and keeping up with sleep,” Petersen said about the aspect of late starts affecting his team.
A significant factor in both late night starts is the fact that one loss occurred at home and the other took place on the road.
When suffering a stunning lost like the one the Huskies had last weekend down on “The Farm”, it causes you to evaluate all aspects of your program.
The Huskies hold their practices in the mornings, which wrap up around 11:30 a.m., and then they meet with the media afterwards.
In three of the Huskies fastest starts this season, the kickoff time for those games were between the 12:00-12:30 p.m. time frame.
With the Huskies bodies and internal clock already acclimated to playing around that time during practice everyday, one can wonder if this affects their performance?
It would seem that the home field advantage vs. playing on the road is not the biggest factor, but rather the late night starts.
What can the Huskies do to get themselves more ready to play in these “Pac-12 After Dark” games?
Should the Huskies start practicing at night time around similar times of their kickoff starts for each respective week so their bodies get used to it?
Bringing the emotion and energy is easier and also harder to generate at certain points of the day for all human beings, even skilled football coaches and players.
Past regimes have practiced at night time more frequently to circumvent these concerns about being sharp during the latter times of the night.
Is it time for Petersen and his staff to evaluate their protocols and procedures?
Would such a move towards night practices put a strain on the players academics and force them to feel stressed about balancing their schedule?
One thing is for sure..the late night starts have affected the Huskies ability to start fast and garner the fire and energy it takes to pull of those wins.
The Husky coaching staff’s message to their team remains the same, regardless if there is any truth to the “late night” start mystery.
“You know..I’m not so sure that it’s the time. Both games came down to execution and finishing on all parts,” defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe told DubLife.
Give credit to the coaches for keeping the narrative between the white lines with their players and focusing on getting things right this week.
Is it the chicken or the egg?
The home loss to the Bears has a different set of circumstances, with the Huskies waiting all day long to play in the comforts of their home environment.
With losing to Stanford last weekend, the “all day” waiting game came on the road with being at the hotel, eating, watching other games and last mintute walkthrough responsibilities.
The answer to this complex riddle for the Huskies will likely come this weekend as the Huskies face their latest kickoff time of the season at 8:00 p.m. PT.
Besides playing at night, the Huskies have had their challenges when traveling down to the desert and trying to come out with a win.
Still..the Huskies remain focused on what they can control on the field and they will stay focused on the task at hand. They are not rattled by another late night and the possibility of another loss at night.
“I don’t think that factors into it at all. We have to be ready to play whenever we play and wherever we play, so we can’t let that factor into it,” sophomore tight end Cade Otton told DubLife.
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