Saturday, December 31, 2011

Huskies fire Nick Holt plus two other defensive coaches

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies have announced that defensive coordinator Nick Holt, linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills have all been fired. After the debacle of the Alamo Bowl where the Huskies scored 56 points and lost this was a move Steve Sarkisian had to make. The Huskies offense in year three under Sarkisian showed great improvement as quarterback Keith Price threw for a school record 33 touchdowns while rushing for three. The Huskies also saw running back Chris Polk rush for a career high 12 touchdowns yet the Huskies still only went 7-6 losing four of their last five games. The defense was bad all season long allowing 35.9 points per game and went 0-5 against ranked opponents allowing 51.4 points per game.

When Nick Holt came to Washington there is plenty of hype surrounding his hire. Sarkisian referred to him as the top defensive coordinator in the nation. Scott Woodward made him the highest paid coordinator in the conference making more than Washington State Cougars head coach Paul Wulff.  During Holt's first season the defense improved greatly including the first shutout of the Cougars since 1964. Since that first season the Huskies have regressed each year. During 2009 the defense allowed 26.66 points per game and 389.5 yards per game. In 2010 despite making a bowl game the defense regressed allowing 31.2 points per game and 401.2 yards per game. In 2010 the defense did finish strong holding their opponents to seven points in three of the final four games. In 2011 though the defense struggled all season long having just one game where they allowed fewer than 20 points. For the year the defense allowed 35.9 points per game and 453.3 yards per game. The defense regressed each season under Holt which meant a change had to be made.

Sarkisian showed guts in firing his friends who he had begged to follow him from USC. Sarkisian showed how important this job is to him. Sarkisian also isn't off the hook quite yet. Firing Holt was one of many steps that needs to be done in saving this defense. Who Sarkisian hires as his next defensive coordinator will utlimately decide his legacy as Washington. He has built up a 10 plus win offense already. With just an average defense the Huskies go 10-3 this year in year three which would have gain Sarkisian national attention. As head coach Sarkisian is in charge of the entire football team. He must also help out his defensive coaches by recruiting better defensive players. Sean Parker and James Sample who are both young safeties appear to be the only studs that Sarkisian has landed on the recruiting front. If the defense isn't saved with the new coordinator then it will be Sarkisian who will be asked to turn in his coaching whistle at the university.

In conclusion, Sarkisian did the right thing and handled it with class. Instead of letting the media decide the fate of his coaches he personally told them. This was a tough move as this program was 0-12 just three years ago and this staff has led them to back to back bowl games. I'll thank Holt for the 2010 Holiday Bowl which was won by the defense and his three apple cup wins. However, this was a move that had to be made. This program is at a point where they are ready to take off and must have a quality defense if they ever want to be where they once were. This next month will be the biggest month in the Sarkisian era which will forever determine his fate at this program. Sarkisian made the bold move but next time he won't be able to blame the coordinator. He just used up his one free fire the coordinator card next time this will fall squarely on his lap.

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