SEATTLE After Jon Embree took over at Colorado, he took a look around his new surroundings to glean examples of how other schools in the Pac-12 went through the rebuilding process.
The two he came back to most: Stanford and Washington.
There were two programs in which I looked at and tried to get a feel for, and that was Washington and Stanford, for just what they were doing, Embree said. How they were built and building depends on which one I think Stanford is finally at the place where they want to be and with Washington continuing on the path that theyre on.
Embree will get another chance to measure where the Buffaloes (1-5, 0-2) are in his rebuilding plan when they travel to Seattle to face the Huskies (4-1, 2-0) on Saturday.
Embree got a look at Stanford last weekend and a really good indication of how far the Buffaloes still need to climb in a 48-7 loss to the Cardinal that extended Colorados road losing streak to 20 games.
The seniors understand how the clock is running; and then part of it is having a lot of young guys who are still playing, and it is still their first time going through it, so there is natural excitement on their part. So its been a good blend, Embree said. Our staff has done a great job in keeping them focused at the task at hand and keeping them motivated and energized.
While Embree is trying to keep Colorado motivated, Washington is on the verge of adding another milestone in its rapid ascent back into the national picture. A win would give Washington its first 5-1 start in a decade. It also likely would move the Huskies back into the AP Top 25 for just the second time since midway through the 2003 season. Washington was ranked for one week in 2009 after its upset of then-No. 3 USC.
But a ranking now would be more meaningful.
And itd set up a showdown next week at No. 7 Stanford.
I think that stuff takes care of itself. Its obviously a perception of who we are. It doesnt necessarily mean thats who you are. I think we are a little bit better than where we are ranked, but perception is what it is, coach Steve Sarkisian said. If we want to be in the top 25, we need to get our perception changed of who we are. To do that, you have to go out and play. And you have to play in a style and a manner that is impressive. We havent been impressive enough in perceptions eyes.
If one player has erased preseason perceptions its Washington quarterback Keith Price, who despite getting last week off with a bye still is tied for second in the country with 17 touchdown passes in five games. Hes already tied for seventh in school history for most touchdown passes in one season.
And Price is as close to fully healthy as hes been since early in the season opener against Eastern Washington when he sprained his right knee. A week later, Price sprained his left knee and added a sprained left ankle two weeks ago at Utah when the Huskies picked up an impressive 31-14 victory. He sat during the Huskies bye last week and is nearing full health.
This is the best Ive felt all season, Price said. Its going to be fun this week.
Price is leading an offense that has scored at least 30 points in every game this season. Only twice in school history have the Huskies scored 30 or more in their first five games: 1924 and the Huskies co-national championship season of 1991. In each instance, the streak ended at five.
It could continue this time considering Colorado is allowing 33 points per game. The Buffaloes have been decimated in their secondary by injury and suspension and may start converted receivers at cornerback.
They have a lot of good athletes; great skill players try to spread us out. Its going to be a challenge, Colorado linebacker Jon Major said.
If there is a concern for Sarkisian, its Colorados impressive pass rush. The Buffaloes are tied for the conference lead with 17 sacks, while Price has taken too much punishment for Sarkisians liking. Linebacker Josh Hartigan leads Colorado with four sacks, but three other teammates have at least two.
A year ago, Washington didnt get its fifth win until the penultimate week of the regular season and needed a season-ending victory over rival Washington State to earn bowl eligibility. Now they have a chance to reach the mark by the middle of October.
I think we learned our lesson earlier in the year of not coming out and playing our brand, our style of football. So now I dont envision us coming out and taking a step back in that manner, Sarkisian said. That doesnt always mean you are going to play well or execute well. But I do think well prepare very well; well be enthused, and we will play hard.