SEATTLE—Washington coach Steve Sarkisian gives his players and coaches 24 hours after a game to digest and process what happened, win or lose.
Washington's 37-30 overtime loss at Notre Dame on Saturday pushed the limits of that rule.
Some Huskies are still holding onto some resentment over the difficult loss where Washington led 27-22 with three minutes left, then had to rally in the final seconds to force overtime before ultimately falling short in the extra session.
Asked about a couple of disputed calls, running back Chris Polk said Monday that the officials' decisions played a role in the loss.
Polk was at the center of the most controversial call. He appeared to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter that would have put Washington ahead 31-22 with about seven minutes remaining. The call on the field was a touchdown, but replay officials overturned the ruling, saying Polk's knee hit the turf before the ball crossed the goal line.
Washington was then stuffed by Notre Dame's defense, running five plays from the Notre Dame 2- or 1-yard-line and failing to get into the end zone. The Huskies eventually settled for a 24-yard field goal.
Sarkisian said Monday there is no excuse for why the Huskies weren't able to score a touchdown there, or in the third quarter when they were stopped at the Notre Dame 1 and turned the ball over on downs.
But asked about the disputed calls, Polk questioned the decision on his touchdown and on Notre Dame's two-point conversion later in the fourth quarter that gave the Irish a three-point lead.
"I'm at peace with it because the nation knows we should have won, and they (the Fighting Irish) know we should have won," Polk said. "As long as they know that, I'm OK with it."
Polk was then asked why that is.
"If they watch the replays, they know that on the two-point conversion (the Notre Dame runner's) knee was down. And they know that when I scored, it was a touchdown," Polk said. "They didn't beat us, the refs beat us, in a sense."
While not what Sarkisian probably wants to hear from his young running back, the missed calls became a focal point for Washington fans in the aftermath of the Huskies falling to 0-8 all-time against Notre Dame.
But the real problems were Washington's struggles in short-yardage on offense and the inability to slow down Notre Dame's passing game.
Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw for 422 yards on just 23 completions and receiver Golden Tate had nine catches for 244 yards. Sarkisian felt the Huskies defenders became so concerned about being burned on the outside they were lax in covering throws in the middle of the field.
It was the most passing yards allowed by Washington since Hawaii threw for 442 in the final game of 2007.
Most egregious for the Huskies offense were the problems inside the Notre Dame 5. Aside from their five failures in the fourth quarter, the Huskies also failed in the third quarter when Locker was stopped on a pair of quarterback sneaks from the Notre Dame 1. A touchdown there could have given the Huskies a 31-19 lead.
Locker thought he might have gotten in on the first of his two sneaks and Sarkisian said he almost challenged the call. How close Locker got enticed Sarkisian to call for the sneak again.
"Hindsight is 20-20," Sarkisian said. "You look back at it, (I) probably should have done something else on that play."
Locker was so frustrated after the loss he refused to speak to the media. Locker said Monday he wasn't in the right emotional state and didn't "want to have to sit up here today and explain anything" he might have said afterward.
"I felt bad for our guys, I felt bad for our coaches," Locker said. "When you put that much effort into something, it's hard to not get the outcome that you'd like."