SEATTLE – After their upset win over Southern California two weeks ago, everyone with Washington's program preached this year would be different, that they wouldn't follow an important victory with a flop.
Then the Huskies went out against Arizona State and put their preseason goal of reaching a bowl game for the first time since 2002 in jeopardy.
Washington's 24-14 loss to the Sun Devils on Saturday was a damaging hit to the Huskies' bowl hopes, especially with a four-pack of difficult games ahead and all against ranked teams: No. 24 Oregon State, at No. 17 Arizona, home for No. 14, Stanford and at No. 2 Oregon.
But Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian is cautioning against looking at all that awaits his team, even if Washington might be bowl ineligible by the second week of November.
"I'm not even looking at that. I think we get in trouble as a football team when we start looking at the 'what-ifs' down the road and the consequences of a loss or the what-ifs if we win," Sarkisian said on Monday. "I think that's when we get in trouble. We need to focus on the task at hand."
The biggest task for the Huskies (2-3, 1-1 Pac-10) this week might just be finding some healthy bodies.
Quarterback Jake Locker was one of a handful of Washington players suffering from illness in Saturday's loss to Arizona State. Locker was sick for most of last week, but Sarkisian said he didn't realize the impact of his cold until early in Saturday's game when Locker would get winded on the slightest rollout or quarterback run.
With Locker unable to provide the punch his running usually does — and a week earlier was so vital in the upset of USC — Sarkisian limited his play calling. He asked Locker to stay in the pocket more, just so his QB could physically get through a series of downs.
The result: Locker was 23 of 38 passing for 209 yards and one touchdown and one interception. But he only ran six times for 11 yards, after running for 110 yards against USC. He was sacked three times and Sarkisian said Monday that Locker also suffered a slight quad contusion.
After practice Monday, Locker said he went to the hospital to receive an IV, but said he expects to be healthy by Saturday.
"It was hard to catch my breath," Locker said. "Like I said, it was weird. I just had trouble catching my breath sometimes."
"At times I felt more tired than I ever felt," Locker added.
Overall, Sarkisian believed Locker not feeling 100 percent was representative of his entire squad.
"I thought our energy level wasn't where we've been. I thought I saw that with Jake. I thought I saw it with Jermaine (Kearse). All week, that can add up. ... Our football team as a whole — not that we didn't try hard or not that we weren't excited to play — I thought our energy level wasn't as where I've seen it before."
With Locker so limited in what he could physically do, Sarkisian thought about turning to redshirt freshman Keith Price to give Locker an extended break, but opted to keep his senior in there.
"I just felt like (Locker) has done so many good things for us and has given us opportunities to win ball games before that I felt like I owed it to him," Sarkisian said.
As for other health issues, Sarkisian said the team is moving forward as though freshman offensive lineman Erik Kohler will not be able to play against the Beavers after missing the Arizona State game with mono. Kohler has started two of Washington's five games.