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May 10, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Sark says “I’d like to think” Huskies can contend in Pac-10 in 2010

The Washington Huskies were the focus of about the first five minutes of ESPN’s College Football Live show today, which included a brief interview with Steve Sarkisian and commentary from former UW players Brock Huard and Ed Cunningham — each now employees of ESPN.
Sarkisian was on for just a couple minutes and asked, I think, just three questions.
Notably, he said when asked about the plaudits he got for last season’s improvement, he said that “I like to remind everybody that they didn’t bring me here to win five games, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
And when asked if the Huskies can contend for the Pac-10 title this season, he said “I’d like to think so” noting that there is a good foundation of senior leaders with Jake Locker on offense and Mason Foster on defense.
“We’ve got some nice athletes,” he said. “The challenge for us in the Pac-10 conference is your ability to stay physical up front. This is a very physical conference and when you get on the road, you’ve got to be able to run the football and stop the run. But I like where we’re headed. I like the mentality of our football team right now. But as always. you’ve got to get lucky in this league.”
Huard and Cunningham then batted around a few thoughts on UW, including the schedule.
Huard called it “really tough, especially early,” and said “it’s going to be very difficult. They’ve got to start fast” to build momentum for the rest of the season.
Cunningham said that UW can win its first two games, at BYU and against Syracuse, but that “I don’t think they are good enough to beat Nebraska at home. … Nebraska is starting to look like a great program again and I don’t think (UW) can beat them at home.”
So he said losing to Nebraska will then set up a key critical juncture with the Huskies then having a week off before opening Pac-10 play at USC the first Saturday in October.
“If they get beat up there (against Nebraska) it could affect the rest of their season,” Cunningham said. “. … This is still a rebuilding program. You lose a tough game (to Nebraska), you get a week to lick your wounds, how do you recover from that?”
Both also talked about Locker’s Heisman hopes and the school’s plans to mount a campaign on his behalf. Each said they didn’t think the campaign would impact Locker negatively. Cunningham said the Huskies “have to win eight or nine games (for Locker) to even be in that conversation and I think Washington can do that if Locker plays well.”
He also said he hopes that Sarkisian will take the reins off Locker a little more in 2010 to allow him to run (something that happened in the last two games of 2009).
“I’d like to see him running the ball a little bit more,” Cunningham said, saying that Sarkisian seemed to focus on keeping Locker in the pocket last season and that “I’d like to see that change a little bit.” He said Locker running more is “the only way he can win” the Heisman.
In a later segment that focused on the conference as a whole, Cunningham was asked if WSU can win a game this season and he said “let’s not rule out the Apple Cup” and noted that the Cougs will have two weeks off prior to the game. “That’s a long time,” he said. “Maybe they can get healthy and win that one.”

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