The Huskies christened the new Husky Stadium on Saturday with their best win in years. They’ve had wins against better teams, like the upsets of USC and Stanford, but it’s been a long time since they dominated a good team so thoroughly. I’m not sure how good Boise State will be this year, but they looked like a solid team and were still outclassed in every way by the Huskies. I’m not going to give a full recap, but here are a few thoughts:
- First, the stadium. Simply put, it is everything fans could have asked for. It’s not glitzy and opulent, but it’s classy and open and perfectly designed for the fans. And it is so close. The proximity to the field without the track is what grabbed me immediately. It’s such a sizable difference, there’s no real way to describe it. You really have to walk through the stands and see it for yourself. If you weren’t there Saturday, I’d make every effort to see a game this season. You won’t be disappointed. There are also a full day’s worth of high school games there this Saturday, including some big-time local match-ups and quite a few Husky recruits. I can’t imagine a better place to watch a college football game. The location has always been perfect. Now there’s a building that not only doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall down, but is also up-to-date and beautiful and possessing all the amenities anyone could want.
- Sean Parker may have saved the season. The air had gone out of the stadium a bit after Price’s interception and BSU’s first few plays going for easy yardage. Who knows what would have happened had BSU gone for a touchdown to start the game. Luckily, Parker saved them with a beautiful interception that reignited the crowd. The offense went straight down the field for a TD, and there was no looking back from there.
- Speaking of Parker, the whole secondary looked excellent. The two new starters, Greg Ducre and Will Shamburger, were solid, particularly Shamburger, who was everywhere. Marcus Peters made multiple plays and showed a physicality unseen in a UW corner for a while. This group had questions before the year, but for one game, they looked fast, physical and good.
- The defense was excellent and had a ton of guys make plays, but Danny Shelton really stood out to me. BSU ran the ball decently, but that was to be expected. It was quite noticeable when Shelton left the field. He did a solid job all day moving the middle of the line. By the third and fourth quarter, he had completely worn down his opposition and was getting pressure right in Joe Southwick’s face. Shelton is the key to the defense, and the signs are very impressive after one game.
- One last thing on the defense. They gave up yards, but they came up huge when they had too. Peters’ pass break-up in the back of the end zone at the beginning of the third was huge. So was the fourth down stop toward the end of the third. My favorite play was the third down stop in the first before the blocked field goal. Kikaha (great for his first game back) broke into the backfield to get the first hit, and then the Dawgs swarmed Ajayi. He ended up going down in a pile of about eight Huskies.
- I wrote on Friday that a key would be finding a receiver or two to contribute. The Huskies did better than that. Jaydon Mickens and John Ross were revelations. The Broncos had no answers for them when they caught a screen or quick pass to the edge. The Huskies had significantly better playmakers all day, and it feels like that might not change for much of the season. Kevin Smith also had a solid day, and while the back-up tight ends didn’t do a lot in the receiving game, they blocked well and did get a touchdown on a beautiful play by a scrambling Price to Joshua Perkins. I don’t think there was a Husky skill player getting regular minutes who didn’t do something impressive.
- Keith Price and his offensive line were excellent as well. Price shook off the interception to be nearly perfect. He looked loose and confident, and he got more creative and exciting as the game progressed. The quick throws are a good fit for him. It helped to not be on his back every play. The line did an excellent job in both pass and run blocking. They need to clean up a few penalties, but they made a good case Saturday that they are night and day better than last year. I’ll be curious to watch them improve as the season goes. It’s still a young group. Also interesting will be seeing if the Huskies will start to throw deep more and how ASJ’s return will influence defenses. In case you forgot, the Huskies were playing without an All-American.
There was nothing to dislike about this game. The Huskies gave up yards, but they didn’t give up a play of more than 18 yards or a touchdown. I wasn’t excited about the Husky pass rush while I was at the game, but it looks better rewatching it on TV. Mostly, the Huskies looked like a team taking the next step. They executed crisply, didn’t make mistakes, and didn’t let up at any point. They were athletic and skilled. This is what we’ve been waiting to see, and if the Dawgs keep playing like this, they’re going to win a lot of games.