In Oklahoma’s first year, there were two losses. Ditto for years 2 and 3. Two of these defeats occurred during the college football qualifiers, including one in overtime.
High school was even better. Unbeaten in second year at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, then 14-1 in junior in Calabasas (Calif.), Then undefeated in senior at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Suffice it to say, Huskies junior defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles – an Oklahoma transfer better known as “Bookie” – isn’t used to losing. So having four of them in six games this season must be particularly hard to digest.
But that’s the new reality in Washington, where the season’s results made up for the preseason hype. The holes are glaring and no correction seems imminent.
Perhaps Friday’s game against Arizona without a win, following a 34-0 loss to Colorado, will provide temporary relief. Then again, just assuming it could mean the Huskies haven’t learned anything.
“Learning experiences, growth, growth in general, identifying what you’ve done wrong, ownership,” Radley-Hiles said when asked how he was battling the losses in Washington. “These are all unfavorable situations, of course, but it’s about identifying who you are. No one likes to lose, period. Losing isn’t in the spirit of a winner, but you do learn a lot about yourself and your team in these times because you can identify with yourself and look at yourself in the mirror and really see who is going to get back to work.
This is probably little comforting to fans, who are witnessing one of the most disappointing start to a Huskies season in recent history. No one wants to hear about players getting to know each other – they want to see them deliver results. But Bookie appears to have kept his balance in what is arguably the most grueling season of his footballing career. Will his defensive teammates be able to join him?
There is no doubt that there have been gaps on this side of the ball. UCLA racked up 237 rushing yards on 40 carries in Saturday’s win. Oregon State had 242 rushing yards on 50 carries in a win the previous Saturday. And Michigan totaled 343 rushing yards on 56 carries in a 21-point Week 2 loss to the Huskies.
Washington (2-4, 1-2 in the Pac-12) is 104th nationwide in rushing yards allowed per game. So, is there anything that databases can do to help stop the race?
It’s not usually a back-end issue, after all.
“As a defense it’s also a problem for us. DBs are also on the ground, ”said Radley-Hiles. “We need to be more in the box, we can also step up more in this area. Better tackle, making sure our visual control is correct, our shoulder lever is appropriate. … It’s a question of identification, it’s a question of ownership. As Coach (Jimmy) Lake said, we all need to invest one percent more.
One percent might be a safe number. It’s hard to say the Huskies have had a truly impressive victory this season. The offense stammered. The defense endured the aforementioned common woes.
Little evidence has surfaced that there is going to be a turnaround. And that puts increasing pressure on Lake, whose off-field recruiting has similarly struggled and his team’s performance on the field. In his defense, Radley-Hiles called Jimmy a genius on Wednesday. He said Lake – a former defensive back coach and defensive coordinator – has been the secret sauce to Washington’s secondary success over the past few years.
But being a head coach is a whole different job.
Washington has what looks like a giveaway coming to Tucson, but then comes what could be the most turbulent part of its schedule. There’s a game at Stanford (2-3, 3-4) over Halloween weekend, then a home game against Oregon (5-1, 2-1) on the first Saturday in November, then another home game against Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) the following Saturday.
Top-class men like Bookie will be decisive in whether the Huskies come out of this stretch with a chance of reaching a bowl game.
“In these kinds of situations, leaders have to step up, and we have to make sure that we do the physical presentation – which means our youngsters are watching us, so we have to make sure that our chins are up and that the chest is up and that we keep moving forward, “said Radley-Hiles.” No matter how hard it is, even if it’s hard to be that guy – it’s hard to be that guy at any time – but when you are placed in certain positions, that is what you are now. “
Radley-Hiles is certainly in a new position. He’s not used to losing. He doesn’t want to get used to it.