I’m sold on the Huskies. They are the hot chick you think you might be into, but aren’t quite sure about until all your friends meet her and say, “Dude, that girl is smokin’ hot.” That kind of sold. Validated and cross-checked kind of sold.
It’s not that I didn’t believe before this. I’ve always believed in the Dawgs. It’s just that this team was one giant enigma entering the season. And as a result, no one really knew how to accurately temper their hopes for the new year.
I liken my expectations of the 2011 Washington football team to my expectations of R-rated movies as a kid. Until you see your first R-rated flick, you really don’t have any assumptions about what you might encounter. You figure you might see some things you’ve never seen before, but what those things are, exactly, you can’t quite be sure of. Will everyone be naked? Possibly. Will there be new and exotic swear words, the likes of which you’ve never, ever heard? Potentially. When you’re young, God only knows what secrets lie shrouded beneath that mysterious R-rated label.
Prior to UW’s opener back on September 3rd, I treated this team like a 10-year-old moviegoer might treat The Hangover. Would the season be good, bad, somewhere in between? I had no idea, and I’d wager that most people felt the same way. It certainly wasn’t like last year, when we had the hype machine swirling around Jake Locker and his teammates, when a bowl bid was all but expected. No, while we all secretly hoped that this year’s Huskies would take that next step — yet another trip to a bowl game and a couple more wins, presumably — we were absolutely unsure. Graduating your best players on either side of the ball will present more questions than answers, and that’s exactly where we stood with the 2011 Dawgs.
After five games, the picture is much clearer than it was a month ago. This team is 4-1. They’re just a few blunders away from being 5-0. They have a conference road victory to their credit. They’re undefeated at home. Statistically speaking, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. These are all characteristics of upper-echelon college football programs. Washington has the building blocks in place to join the elite.
There are still questions, of course, but questions will always linger. Injuries remain a factor, the vulnerability of the secondary continues to be an issue, and the schedule — with the toughest games yet to be played — undoubtedly plays a role.
But behind an improving defense, a potent offense, and on the shoulders of a superhero in Keith Price, it’s much easier to believe in the Huskies now than it was a month ago. And that’s saying a lot. Because as Seattle sports fans, scorned lovers that we are, it takes more than a little optimism to buy in to any ball club. Maybe it’s the grey skies or the rain, or perhaps it’s just due to the fact that we’ve endured one of the worst sports decades of any city in America, but either way, we tend to be cynical. As such, we rarely embrace the opportunity to fully climb aboard a moving bandwagon. Maybe this time it’s different.
The first R-rated movie I ever saw was Starship Troopers. It was a friend’s birthday. His older brother bought our tickets and chaperoned the event. I didn’t know what to make of the moment until Dina Meyer took her shirt off. At that instant, I was on board. At that very point in time, my world had changed. Innocence was shattered, any reservations were dead, and I couldn’t help but enjoy the thrill of seeing this beautiful, topless woman projected onto a giant screen before my very eyes.
The 2011 Huskies are our Starship Troopers. Keith Price is our Dina Meyer — well, more or less. Our expectations aren’t changing, per se, but the moment is being redefined. Hope is transcendent. Belief is incessant. You may as well buy in now. This team is for real and they’re treating opponents like giant alien bugs determined to eradicate the human species.
It’s time get sold on the Washington Huskies.