SEATTLE -- This was supposed to be the point in the schedule where Washington would turn the corner and enter an easier second half of the season.
Things don't always work out the way they're planned.
At the halfway mark, four of the Huskies' six games have come against teams ranked no lower than No. 11 in the AP Top 25, with Stanford their only upset win. Despite making it through a daunting gauntlet that also included LSU, Oregon and USC, the schedule doesn't get any easier in the coming weeks.
"As we consider this halftime, we've got to come out and play the second half of football with a real sense of urgency, a real focused mindset at the task at hand that lies in front of us," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. "I'm confident that we can do that.”
It starts Saturday with Arizona, a team that is desperate for a win after dropping its first three Pac-12 contests. The Huskies follow that up by hosting No. 8 Oregon State, a surprise conference contender.
But first, the Huskies (3-3) have to take care of business in Tucson, where they haven't won since 2006.
Washington will face an offense similar to Oregon's, which torched the Huskies for 52 points on Oct. 6.
"I think the biggest similarity is the tempo on which they operate," Sarkisian said. "They both operate at extremely high tempos. Arizona, I think the goal is to run 100 plays a game. Which, if you look at it, last week (USC) ran 60 plays, we ran 58. So imagine playing two games.”
If the Huskies are to use the halfway mark as a springboard for the rest of the season, they'll have to change the way they start games. Two weeks ago, Oregon jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and all but put the game away before halftime. Saturday against USC was more of the same as the Trojans took a 10-0 lead and were up 24-7 at the half.
Sarkisian has addressed the issue with the team and plans to keep discussing it throughout the week. The problem, he believes, might be that Washington is a bit too emotional at the beginning of games, not focused on the task at hand.
"I think you have too much attention," Sarkisian said. "Maybe you're too wired in to everything and not really just: `This is the call the coach is calling for me in the position that I play, this is my responsibility on this play, this is the formation or the defense or what our opponent has come out in, no matter what they're wearing and this is my job to do on this snap."'
The Huskies will also need improved play from junior quarterback Keith Price, who is still struggling to replicate his standout performances from a year ago. The second-year starter immediately put his name in the school record books last season, and has the highest career passing efficiency and completion percentage in UW history.
But Price is averaging just 180 yards passing per game this year and has thrown six interceptions to go along with his seven touchdowns. He spoke last week of trying to relax and get back to enjoying the game after admittedly trying to do too much with the Huskies' offense beset by injuries early in the season.
Price played better for stretches against the Trojans, but also committed four turnovers -- two interceptions and two fumbles -- half of which were the result of him attempting to prolong a play.
Sarkisian said he doesn't plan to rein in his quarterback. The focus will shift to how Price can use his athleticism without coughing up the football.
"He's a confident kid," Sarkisian said. "He did a lot of really good stuff the other night. It's unfortunate some of the plays that stand out in all of our minds are the glaring mistakes, but he did a lot of really good stuff for us that gave us a chance in that game to be successful.”