SEATTLE (AP) Chris Petersen acknowledges he’s awful when it comes to handling losses.
”I’m a bad loser. That’s a flaw that I have and even when we win can’t wait to put on the tape to figure out what went wrong,” Petersen said after having the weekend to think about Washington’s 30-22 loss Friday to Stanford. ”When you lose you always think we didn’t play hard enough, our energy wasn’t right, whatever. Those kids played hard and my hats off to them.”
The 16th-ranked Huskies (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) were regrouping Monday after a second consecutive road setback. The loss to Stanford not only knocked Washington out of consideration for the College Football Playoff but also put a major roadblock in the Huskies’ path to the Pac-12 North title.
The only team that controls what happens in the North is Washington State, which can earn a spot in the conference title game with a win over the Huskies in the Apple Cup. Washington needs Stanford to lose to California this Saturday to have any chance at a second straight division title.
Washington should know shortly after kicking off against Utah on Saturday night what its title chances are since Stanford and California play earlier in the evening. Petersen said he won’t be seeking updates on what is happening in the Bay Area.
”There’s still so much football to be played in these two games, so much crazy stuff happens. And it doesn’t matter what happens (elsewhere),” he said. ”We have no say over that. All we can control is playing as hard as we can. Let’s play this week, let’s get to the following week. These will be two really tough games and I know this: We’ll feel really good about ourselves if we can get that done. Because these are going to be tough challenges.”
Washington entered last week with the top defense in the country in yards allowed per game. But they were picked apart by the Cardinal, whether it was Stanford throwing to its taller, bigger receivers downfield or letting Bryce Love cut and slash his way through the Huskies defense.
Stanford’s 406 total yards were the most allowed by Washington this season and most in 17 games dating to last season against Oregon. Most impactful was Washington’s inability to get off the field on third downs. Stanford was 10 of 18 on third-down conversions, 1 of 1 on fourth-down tries, all helping lead to a 12-minute advantage in time of possession.
”They held the ball, converted third downs, ate up the clock, ran the ball well – that’s what they do,” Petersen said. ”And they did it better than us. I tell our guys, if we’re playing with all we’ve got and our mind’s right, our energy is right and we’re physical and someone beats us, we don’t like it. It’s tough to stomach, but you tip your hat and move on. That night, those guys played better than us.”
Almost as troubling was Washington’s offense going stagnant for the entire middle of the game. After Myles Gaskin scored on a 15-yard run with 11:37 left in the second quarter, Washington went three-and-out on three of its next six possessions, fumbled once and turned the ball over on downs when it was unable to convert fourth-and-1 at the Stanford 18 midway through the second quarter.
”That’s a little frustrating that you start fast and disappear at certain times during the game that you’d like to be a little bit more consistent,” Petersen said. ”At the end of the day it’s about scoring points, so you’d like to score more points than 20 points.”
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