Tag Archives: Keith Price

A Q&A At A Square Table

After last weekend’s heartbreaking affairs, the Good Guys felt it was time to gather together and face the hard questions.  Okay, they aren’t really hard questions but there are some answers to a few questions.  Enjoy everybody!

After Saturday’s game, do you think Stanford is a top-5 team?  Does that mean the Huskies are a top-10 team based on their performance?

Dan:  I’m not sure if Stanford is a top 5 team because the offense and defense both seem good but not great. Top 5 teams have an elite “something” and I don’t see it’d on Stanford. I think both UW and Stanford are in the 7-10 range. Look, if your only loss is by 3 points on the road to the #5 team, and you outplay them in nearly all facets, you belong in the top 10.

Joe:  I agree with Dan that Stanford is a top 10 team, and that UW could be a top 10.  The problem I have is Stanford hasn’t been tested on the road yet, with two home games vs ranked teams, and in both cases, ASU and UW moved the ball just fine on their defense, out gaining Stanford in both games.  But I understand a win is a win, so I’ll let that sleeping dog lie.  I think Stanford is a very good football team, very well-disciplined, they just don’t beat themselves, and that’s why they are undefeated right now.
Matthew: I think Stanford is capable of beating anyone in the country, but I don’t think they’re good enough to go undefeated and win the championship.  I don’t know if that puts them in the top five or not, but I imagine they’ll hang in that range most of the year.  I see them losing to Oregon and maybe one more team. I would have the Huskies in the 10-15 range right now.  If they keep playing like they have been, however, I don’t see them losing many more games.  They could easily be a a top 10 team, and I think they’re playing like it right now.  It’s just a matter of keeping it up.
Andrew:  It appears that I’m in the minority here but I do believe Stanford is a top-5 team.  Outside of Alabama, I’m not sure that anyone has a better resume than Stanford right now.  I think their front 7 is elite and is probably the best in the country.  As for the Huskies, they really do look like a top-10 team to me.  I think they can play with anyone because of the weapons on their team and because of the growth on the coaching staff.  This weekend will go a long ways in showing whether the Huskies are or not.
What was your favorite play from Saturday’s game?

Dan:  I thought the 3rd and 1 stop with 2 mins left was amazing. Peters was off-balance and Hogan appeared to have an easy path to getting a yard or 2 outside, but Marcus recovered and made a phenomenal play that only elite D’s pull off.

Joe:  Any play that involved Bishop Sankey doing something awesome, and then seeing Grandpa Sankey go nuts.
Matthew: I’ll second both of those.  Grandpa Sankey was great, but that third down stop by Peters was incredible.  I’ve been raving about it ever since.  It came out of the same formation as Stanford scored (I think) their last touchdown: 8 lineman, shotgun, two backs beside the quarterback.  It’s very symmetrical and looks like a goal line offense.  Because of that, UW got sucked into the middle on the touchdown, and Tyler Gaffney was untouched going off-tackle to the right.  There are so many different plays that can be run out of that alignment. They can hand off either direction, go right up the gut, slip the tight end or a back out for a pass.  This time Hogan kept it, Peters mostly stayed home and then closed and made a difficult tackle.  Given the circumstances and level of difficulty, that was one of the better defensive plays we’ll see all year.
Andrew:  I can’t disagree with the Peters play.  It would have been my favorite UW play, maybe ever, if the Dawgs had pulled the game out.


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Washington-Illinois Review

The Dawgs moved to 2-0 on Saturday night against a feisty Illinois team.  From the get go it was obvious that U-Dub was the better team but the game was in doubt as late as the fourth quarter.  If you’re reading this, you probably have already read/watched/heard about the game so I’m not going to tell you what happened.  I’ll just add a few notes here and there and move on to this week.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a replay on TV (with it being on the Big-10 Network) and I’m not sure I want to hear those announcers for another 3 hours anyway.  In other words, I’m not going to do quite the breakdown I did against Boise.  I’ve made this weird little outline that pretty much encapsulates the main notes I have on the game.  Enjoy!

Distractions:  First, this trip seemed a little hectic for the Huskies.  On the radio show today, Sark said their bus showed up late at the airport when they landed.  He also mentioned that Northwestern University (their mascot is the Wildcats, if you need any more proof that they are stupid) cancelled on letting the Huskies having a walk-through on their field.  This led to the Dawgs having a practice in a large, public park in downtown Chicago.

Dumber Distractions:  Then, the officials happened.  Yes, the Huskies committed too many penalties, without a doubt.  The Huskies ended with 12 penalties for 104 yards.  I can remember 4 or 5 penalties I don’t particularly agree with.  ASJ was called for holding without touching anyone.  Danny Shelton was called for a late hit on a guy that was still in-bounds (although he did launch himself, this will usually be a penalty).  Jaydon Mickens was called for a late hit and was shown walking around while the player was being tackled, so I don’t know how it could be a late hit.  Josh Shirley was called for a roughing the passer penalty because he was pushed into the quarterback and his arm touched him.  There were a few other holding penalties that didn’t seem quite right.  If you take away just three of the four penalties I mentioned, the yardage is down to about 70 yards.  That’s not good but it’s not nearly as crippling, obviously.

Dumbest Distractions:  The Huskies also fought off a number of trick plays.  There was around ten trick plays the Illini tried.  Most of them worked for about ten yards.  One led to a big first down on a pivotal play and went for about 40 yards.  Other than that, the Huskies survived.  I hate those plays.  Not as much as my fellow Good Guys hate them but I can’t stand them.  It seemed fitting that the Huskies pretty much ended the game by intercepting a double pass.

The Real Story:  When you take into account and consider these first three points, the Huskies really dominated the game.  The offense racked up over 600 yards, led by a running back who should be considered for the Heisman Trophy.  The defense played fast in the first half and looked like the same team that played against Boise.  They had their lapses (more on those in a minute) but they dominated a team that played with a lot of confidence and tenacity.

Cause For Concern – Offense:  As I said, there were lapses on both sides of the ball.  First the offense.  In the Red Zone, the Huskies settled for field goals twice.  At the end of the half, the Huskies drove down into the red zone before stalling there.  The drive ended because of some really questionable play calling.  There was no running plays once the team got in there even though they had all their time-outs and there was plenty of time on the clock.  The other drive that resulted in a field goal ended similarly.  I know Kasen and ASJ are great Red Zone weapons but right now Sankey is our best weapon.  He needs the ball no matter where we are on the field.  I think Sark will remedy this problem but it’s something to be aware of.

Another Cause for Concern – Offense:  After really impressing in the opener, Dwayne Washington really struggled on Saturday.  He had 2 carries and 2 fumbles.  Not exactly the ratio you want.  Dwayne will get it right, but it was a tough day for the freshman and the Huskies need him to be effective as the season goes on.

Cause for Concern – Defense:  The big plays that were prevented against Boise came against Illinois.  The defense had a few blown coverages and Ducre was burnt for one long touchdown.  That touchdown kept Illinois in the game when it looked like the Huskies were about to put it away completely.  After being so sound defensively in the opener, the Huskies need to clean up some assignments and their mental game to prevent the big play.

Another Darn Cause for Concern – Defense:  In the second half, John Timu sat out because of a shoulder injury.  It is expected that he’ll be able to return, if not this week, next week.  It was apparent that Timu is very important to the defense.  In the second half, Illinois moved the ball pretty well and often ran right up the middle.  The defensive line got pushed around a little bit and the linebackers weren’t as effective because of that.  I’m curious to see if power teams will have success running right at us, even with Timu in.

Lots of Offensive Good News – Now that we have the lowlights out-of-the-way, let’s get to the good stuff.  The whole offense played really well.  I’ll just go position by position here.  Price played a great game.  He was very accurate and made good decisions.  He made a few really good plays and otherwise simply controlled the game.  At running back, Bishop Sankey was the star.  The guy is on fire and might be the best player on the team, right now.  Jesse Callier had a great return and added a few huge plays.  The receivers weren’t quite as good as the opener but were still dynamic and exciting.  Mickens and Smith continue to look fantastic.  I expect a big game from Kasen soon, as he seems to catch the ball every time it’s been thrown at him ASJ looked a little tired and didn’t perform his best.  He was on the field for over 80 snaps, which probably wasn’t the best move for his first game.  The offensive line had one of the best games in recent memory.  They gave Keith sufficient time and dominated the line of scrimmage.  Price was sacked twice but one of those he literally ran to the defender on his right and made sure he was tackled by him.  It was as weird as it sounds.

Don’t Get Defensive, There’s More Good News!  While the defensive came out to be the weaker link this week, they still did plenty of things right.  On the defensive line, Shirley had maybe the best game of his career.  He recorded three sacks, but what I think is more impressive is his two tackles for a loss.  Shirley has been called a liability against the run but he proved to be solid against it on Saturday.  Danny Shelton is not putting up numbers but the defense is noticeably worse when he’s taking a rest.  Hau’oli Kikaha continues to get better and better.  The rest of the D-line was so-so and many of the pressures were due to good coverage.  The linebackers looked very quick in the first half and were often in good position to make plays.  Their tackling, again, wasn’t the best but they are still one of the best groups on the team.  Timu truly makes a huge difference.  The secondary has played really well so far.  Ducre gave up the touchdown, but that was a great play by the offense, and then came back and sealed the game with an interception.  There were a few more blown coverages but the man-to-man defense was great.

Review and Preview:  All in all, it was a great victory by the Dawgs.  After the horror of the Apple Cup last year, the team didn’t buckle when Illinois made a run at them.  The Huskies toughened up when they needed to and ultimately dominated the game statistically.  As they move ahead they get an easy game this week against Idaho State and a home conference opener against Arizona.  The Huskies should be 3-0 and about to breach the top 15 by the time they open Pac-12 play.  It’s been too long since we’ve gotten to say that.

Until next time, go Dawgs!

Scott Lawyer!!

Scott Lawyer!!

– Andrew

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Keith Price’s Beginning

The Washington Husky football team and fans have turned their attention from their impressive victory against BoiseKeithPrice to the trip to Chicago this weekend.  Before we post our predictions for that game (which will be out tomorrow night), it seemed fitting to look at one more storyline from that perfect night 12 days ago.

In the second half against Boise, Keith Price took a snap and rolled to his left to avoid pressure.  While running left, Price threw across his body into the end-zone and completed a touchdown pass to Josh Perkins.

It was a perfect pass by Price to a seldom used tight end that gave Keith the school record for touchdown passes in a career.  If I was to guess who would catch Price’s record-setting catch before the season, Perkins would have been down the list around number 10 or so.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised though.  Our smiling quarterback wasn’t always known as a prolific passer.  In 2010, when Price was a skinny backup who might not ever see the field, Jake Locker went down in a close game against USC. Keith Price sauntered into the game and every Husky fan thought, “Hand the ball to Chris Polk.”

Keith took the snap, rolled to his left and back pedaled.  He lofted a ball into the end zone and it was caught by seldom used Chris Izbicki.  It was Price’s first of many touchdown passes. (Check the 3 minute mark of the video)

Izbicki finished his career with 5 catches at UW.

I don’t know how Price’s career will end. He could become the most prolific passer in Husky history.  He could return to his 2012 version and get his job taken away.  Whatever happens, he’ll have this school record and it all started so innocently and small.

We’ll always have Price to Izbicki.

– Andrew


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Washington-Boise State Review

Yesterday, Matthew wrote a few thoughts on the Huskies victory on Saturday night.  It was a great night and the stadium was everything I hoped it would be.  We plan to do a further review on the stadium, complete with pictures, after this weekend.  This post is all about the game.  I wrote about 3 pages worth of notes on the game while watching the replay and tried to go pretty in-depth.  With that being said, I’m not sure how to format this so bear with me as I try to figure it out.  If I get to continue doing this for every game, these posts will get better every week.

For now, I think I will just go with a few main stats on the offensive side of the ball and then lots of bullet points.  My numbers are a tiny bit off (I must have missed a play here or there) but they are only a yard or two off in places.  Enjoy!NCAA Football: Boise State at Washington

Offensive thoughts:

I don’t think anyone is questioning the move to the no-huddle offense after that performance.  The offense did go more to spread concepts, although Sark said they may not use those as much when ASJ plays.  The quarterbacks didn’t take a single snap under center, it was all in shotgun or pistol.  Double tight-end sets were used on multiple occasions and a fullback was used in 3 or 4 drives.  One interesting formation was with Price lined up in the pistol and two tight ends (Perkins and Hartvigson) would both line up on the same side of the line.  The Dawgs had a good bit of success running behind that formation.  Both tight ends did a good job of getting to the second level and making blocks all game long.

While it looked like a completely different offense, it wasn’t.  All of these were things that Sark had used in previous years just not to the extent of what they did Saturday night.  Easy throws, a staple of the spread, were a common occurrence on Saturday night although they didn’t do that as much as I had thought when initially watching.  About 35% of Price’s throws were behind the line of scrimmage. 

These passes behind the line of scrimmage almost always worked.  I only counted one pass behind the line of scrimmage that ended up in a loss of yards.  On the first Husky touchdown drive, the Huskies faced a 3rd and 9 in which Price threw to Mickens 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage.  He took it for a 12 yard gain and a big first down.

Boise didn’t shift a lot when the Huskies sent guys in motion (which was often).  Usually the linebackers would shuffle over but nothing more.  Boise was commonly in a zone and the Huskies took advantage of that.  Our wide receivers were well prepared in who to block in what formation.

The running game was fantastic all night.  There was a good balance of running and throwing in the offense and a pretty good balance of which direction the team would run.  These numbers are a big trivial but I had the Huskies gaining 47% of their rushing yards running to the left side, 27% to the right side, and 26% up the middle.  I’m guessing a big reason for this is that Boise’s star defensive end, Demarcus Lawrence, lined up on the right side of the line so the Huskies ran away from him.  I’ll be interested to see if these numbers keep up in the next few games.

The pass blocking was very good as well.  Riva constantly dealt with Lawrence and he hardly sniffed Price.  Hatchie wasn’t noticed at left tackle, which was a good thing.  The offensive line was clearly in good shape and played well throughout the night.  Yes, Price got rid of the ball quickly but he threw down the field a few times and had plenty of time in those situations.  The one sack the Huskies did give up was on Price, as he could have stayed in the pocket much longer.

Speaking of Price, he played a fantastic game.  When throwing downfield, his receivers would find holes in the zone and sit in them, Price would almost always find these guys.  I counted Price throwing the ball more than 20 yards downfield 4 times.  One sailed over the head of Ross and the Boise safety.  Another pass was completed to Smith on a beautiful throw that fit right between the corner and safety who seemed to be playing a cover two.  The other throws were in succession to Kasen.  The first was a back shoulder throw that was perfectly placed.  Following that came a touchdown in which Kasen found himself wide open.  Why was he wide open?  The safety bit on a slant route that was really a slant and go.  Why did he bite on it?  Maybe because, up until that point Kasen had been targeted by Price 3 times.  2 of those times had been on slant routes.  All in all, Price finished 3/4 on balls that he threw 20 yards+ downfield.  You could count his touchdown pass to Perkins as another but that was right on the border of 20 yards.

In the first half, Price managed the game.  In the second half, Price controlled the game.  Both of these were effective but, obviously, he was the better player in the second half.  He created more plays without forcing them.  Even if Price just manages the game, I think this team will be successful.

A few more thoughts on the offense:

  • Ross and Mickens were fantastic.  They will both be a handful to cover for everyone involved.
  • Deontae Cooper’s first carry was negated by a chop block penalty.  In watching the replay, that looked like a really bad call.  From what I saw, all of the other penalties looked to be right.  (More on Cooper later this week).
  • On the second touchdown drive of the second half Boise put subs in to get their guys some rest.  The Huskies absolutely ran them over.  There wasn’t a gain of less than 6 yards on that drive until the starters came back in for Boise.
  • Dwayne Washington looked great and just ran over some guys.  Him and Bishop could be a very good combo this year.

Defensive Thoughts:   Continue reading

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A Few Thoughts on a Perfect Husky Win

HSThe 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.

    From Our East End Zone Seats

    From Our East End Zone Seats

  • 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.


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UW vs. Boise State Predictions

Hello Dawg fans!  Husky football’s biggest night in over a decade is finally here.  It promises to be a magical night, full of the type of ceremony and occasion reserved for the uniquest of games.  Hopefully the pregame magic carries into the game.

I usually write something at the beginning of these predictions, but all of the Good Guys wrote novels this week, so I’ll keep it short. I did hear something this morning while listening to Rick Neuheisel that caught my attention, though.  He was giving an overview of the Pac-12, which he expects to be very strong.  He then said that the conference is loaded with talented young quarterbacks.  This caught me by surprise, because I kind of think of the conference as down in QBs right now.  Mariota and Hundley are elite. Taylor Kelly’s very good.  After that, there are a handful of veterans who are solid and could get better, and then a bunch of underclassmen in their first seasons as starters.  It doesn’t seem loaded to me.

Neuheisel didn’t elaborate, so he could have been referring mainly to Mariota, Hundley and Kelly.  Maybe he’s seen some of the young starters and thinks highly of them.  Whatever he meant, it will be an interesting year to watch the quarterbacks.  For years, the leaders of the conference could be determined by who had senior quarterbacks that year.  That’s changed slightly as offensive systems have changed and so forth, but it’s still the most important position and always will be.

The implications for the Huskies are obvious, and have been all off-season.  If Keith Price is good, the Huskies should be good.  If Price is great, the Huskies should be in for a special season.  It could be as simple as that.


2013 is the dawning of a new era in Husky football:  the opening of new Husky Stadium.  Don’t underestimate the importance of this. When AD Scott Woodward took over in 2008, renovating Husky Stadium was number one on his to-do list. Coming from LSU and helping oversee renovations to their athletic facilities, as well as seeing first hand how Nick Saban won a national title in 2003, gave Woodward the blue print for success: find the right head coach and get the football facilities upgraded to first class.  With the hiring of Steve Sarkisian, Woodward went all in and gave the reigns of the program to Coach Sark, therefore freeing him up to focus on renovating Husky Stadium.  Five years later, on Aug 31, 2013, Husky Stadium will re-open to the public as arguably the most state-of-the-art college stadium in America.  This was the plan all along, to compete at the highest levels of CFB.  A lot has been made of the past four seasons under Sark.  Year one going 5-7, bringing respectability to the program after the darkness that was the Willingham era.  Then three straight 7-6 seasons have left some wondering if Sark has the ability to take the next step.  I say he does, but with a caveat:  let’s see how the next couple years play out with the new facilities as the recruiting tool we all think it can be.  This program has been in “facilities limbo” for the better part of three years, which doesn’t help recruiting.  Now being settled into home sweet home, let’s let this regime prove one way or another it belongs with the elite.
On the field, Saturday night’s game is the most important early season home game since hosting Miami in 2000. Short and simple, it’s a must win, for many reasons.  Obviously, it’s big because it’s the opening of the new stadium, it’s national TV, it’s a rematch against a team you probably should have beat in the Vegas Bowl nine months ago.  But for me it’s huge because of the toughness of UW’s schedule (we’ve been down this road before) and the perceived expectations put on the program by fans.  UW *must* go 3-0 in non conference, and then beat Arizona in their Pac-12 opener at Husky Stadium to move to 4-0.  The consensus is UW has to get to *at least* 8 wins, but probably 9, maybe 10.  In order for that to happen, their margin of error is nil.  A 7-0 home record is a must in light of their conference road games: Stanford, ASU, UCLA and Oregon State.  Have fun Googling the last time UW won at any of those road venues.  It’s been a while.  And with the mediocre road performances by Sark’s teams in the past, the “8-10” win confidence from UW fans leaves me a bit scared, but not upset; I love the high expectations.  So you can see the math here:  UW going 7-0 at home (includes beating Oregon which they haven’t done in nine straight tries, none of which were close), then 1-3 on the road gets them to 8-4.  Razor thin margin of error.  Hence, the importance of Saturdays game.  Throw in the fact UW’s last two games were total heart breakers to the abysmal Wazzu Cougars and Boise State, and this team has a healthy Mt. Rainier size chip on their shoulder.  Add all of this up and I see a UW victory Saturday night.
Prediction:  UW 30 – Boise St 21
Finally, it’s here.  I’ve been counting down for 91 days.  I just spent half an hour watching Husky highlights and I have some other games in mind for later this evening.  This game comes with hype and no lack of story lines.  Last night, news broke that ASJ has been suspended for this game, met with the media’s approval.  We have Deontae Cooper’s first game in a Husky uniform after working back from 3 ACL tears.  We have two teams playing a rematch from last season’s bowl, which was a very close football game.  Not to mention, this is the first game of the year which holds it’s own excitement.  None of these really matter to me.
Tomorrow night, a new age of Husky Football begins.  A renovated Husky Stadium will be open after 20 months of Dawg fans being held out of it.  There have been only been rave reviews of this place from those that have gone inside and toured.  It’s expected that Husky Stadium will now be considered one of the very best stadiums in the nation.  With this new stadium comes a new team that is as talented as any team the Dawgs have had in a decade.  There is more depth, potential stars, and speed than Sark has ever had.
Boise State comes to play the Huskies tomorrow night and I can hardly focus on the game.  I’m just so excited to be back in one of the places that I grew up.  With that being said, how can I pick a Husky loss?  The renovated stadium brings hope and that hope transfers over to the feelings I have for this team.  Yes, I’m concerned about Boise State’s pass rush against our offensive line.  I’m concerned about the defensive line holding up against BSU’s up and coming running back.  Yes, I’m concerned about their tall receivers against our smaller cornerbacks.  Yes, I’m concerned about how efficiently Boise usually operates under Coach Petersen’s great coaching. But, that’s not enough for me to think even once about picking the Broncos.
I believe the crowd will be rocking and no amount of training will get Boise ready for the noise they’ll hear on that first third down. Like Green Bay at the Clink last year, it may take them a whole half to adjust to the noise.  I believe the Huskies will have some more playmakers step up in ASJ’s absence (if he is indeed suspended), notably John Ross and Kevin Smith.  I believe the defense will speed around like we haven’t seen in years.  I believe that Keith Price will finally be back to himself after a year hiatus.  I just believe in this team.  It’s good to be home.
Prediction: Huskies 31 – Boise 21
Anyone else sick of Boise? I won’t be heartbroken if we don’t play them for another decade, but for tomorrow, they are the perfect opponent. Boise commands respect, and the Huskies know it first hand, so whereas some opponents may get overlooked with all the hype surrounding this game, I am confident UW is focused on Boise. Speaking of the hype, all forms of mojo will be on Washington’s side. The stadium, night game, revenge from last year, you name it. Tomorrow really will be a special night, and I can’t envision a script that doesn’t end with the Huskies winning. The ASJ suspension hurts, but it is not a death blow by any stretch. These teams were as even as could be last December in the Vegas Bowl. Fast forward to now, and you have a Boise team bringing back 6 starters, the fewest in the country. UW brings back 20, and is playing at home. I think the defense will carry the Huskies, and the offense will have enough to send us all home happy.

Prediction: UW 24 – Boise 16

I see three keys to this game.  First, the Husky defense must make Boise State one dimensional.  I don’t expect them to stop the run and the pass consistently, but they have to do a solid job against one of them.  Second, the offensive line has to make it’s presence felt, both in the run game and while protecting Keith Price.  Finally, a receiver (or two or three) need to make a difference, especially if ASJ is indeed out.
I have to admit, this game scares me.  BSU is talented and the type of team that doesn’t usually get rattled first game of the year.  They should be ready to go and well-prepared.  They’ve also likely never played in an environment like this game will have, so to some degree, this game will be a test of who better handles the moment.
Too often of late, we’ve watched the Huskies come out flat or inconsistent, losing games or making them closer than they need to be. It makes it hard to trust them.  If the Dawgs are going to take the next step this year, playing with consistent toughness and effort while minimizing mistakes will be key.  Ultimately, the Huskies just need to be better.  I think it will be readily apparent early on what type of team this will be.  They don’t have to blow out Boise State, but I expect a higher level of proficiency this season.  I’m crossing my fingers that UW is able to feed off the excitement rather than being distracted and burdened by the moment.  I think a magical night will end with a win.
Prediction: Huskies 30 – BSU 24

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Looking At The Dawgs – Offense

In past years, I’ve tried to do position previews before Husky football season kicked off.  Usually these previews fizzled out somewhere between the linebackers and the secondary.  In an attempt to end this, I have simplified the previews this year.  I will be previewing the offense in one post and the defense in the next.  I will do a general overview of each side of the ball first and then break down the position groups (although I’m not going to make those all that in-depth).  I don’t plan on listing all 90-plus guys on the roster over these but I will try to give an idea of what I think about the starters and the depth at each position.  With these things in mind, let’s get started with the offense!130318123323-keith-price-top-single-image-cut

Offensive Overview:

Heading in to 2012, the Husky offense was thought to be a strong point of the team.  They had lost their top receivers and one of the great Husky running backs of all time but they had a stud tight-end, a few exciting prospects at running back, a returning offensive line, a decent receiving group, and a Heisman contender at quarterback.  Things didn’t exactly go to plan.

Before the season began, the Huskies were already down a few offensive linemen.  That continued throughout the season and caused the offense to fall apart.  The tight-end was great.  A star was found at running back.  But, the offensive line couldn’t pass block, a second, third and fourth receiving option was never found, and Keith Price went from a Heisman dark horse to a guy that some people wanted benched.  The offense was a disappointment, but it was one that people could make excuses for.

In the spring, the Huskies started to implement a no-huddle offense.  This has continued and will be used this season.  Apparently, the playbook is close to the same.  While they may have simplified it some, Sark has not moved to a spread offense.  I will talk about how this affects the defense in the next post but it has yet to be seen how it will affect the offense.  If the playbook really hasn’t changed much, I think the offense has a chance to special.  Sark has always been good at taking advantage of match-ups on the offensive side and as long as this is the focus of the offense and not just ‘going fast’ I feel confident in what the team can do.  The offensive line returns almost everyone and the depth of the whole offense could make running the no-huddle effective.

Position Previews –

Starter – Keith Price (RSr.)
Keith Price was extremely efficient and productive in his first year as a starter in 2011.  Last year, he was a shadow of himself.  Price couldn’t move around very well, was constantly pressured, and made questionable decisions.  His efficiency in the red-zone, which was what made him great in 2011, slipped dramatically.  Price seemed to want to be too perfect at times and played scared at other times.  I’m hopeful that playing in the no-huddle offense will limit his thinking and get him back to just playing ‘Keith Price’ football.  He is only a few touchdown passes short of breaking the UW career record.  He’s had an amazing career, regardless of the last two games of 2012.  Here’s hoping he gets back to his improvising, accurate ways.  I’m glad he’s our quarterback.
The Depth – Cyler Miles (RFr.), Jeff Lindquist (RFr.), Troy Williams (Fr.)
It seems like what is listed above is the pecking order.  Miles has separated himself as the backup.  He is a good athlete and a play-maker.  His weakness seems to be his arm strength.  Lindquist came in with Miles and, while he may have fallen behind him now, appears to be in the running for the starting job next year.  Jeff is from Mercer Island and has a stronger arm but maybe not the big play ability of Miles.  Williams is a true freshman and was highly recruited around the country.  He is mobile and said to throw the best ball out of all of the quarterbacks (maybe not the most accurate, but the strongest and best spiral).  Expect Williams to redshirt unless everything falls apart.  Unlike last year, the quarterback depth appears to be in solid shape and they seem to be capable backups.   Continue reading

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UW vs. Oregon Predictions (Or Not)

As has become our tradition, there will be no Husky predictions for the game versus Oregon tomorrow.  This is nothing more than a sidestep around an honest prediction, because none of us could truthfully pick Washington to win this game.  When the Huskies regain their footing in this series, we will make predictions.  For now, take our silence as acquiescence to the Ducks domination.

That’s not to say that the Huskies aren’t making some level of progress.  I expect a closer game than we’ve seen recently, although that potentially still means a blowout.  I think the improved speed and simplified scheme of the Husky defense, not to mention Justin Wilcox’s creativity, gives them a chance to limit Oregon in a way that would have been incomprehensible last season.  The Husky offense is the danger here.  While Oregon’s defense is not as physical and pounding as Stanford’s and LSU’s were, it is faster and near the same talent level.  The Huskies must find a couple extra seconds for Keith Price to throw and running lanes for Bishop Sankey to fill.

While Oregon is undefeated and number two in the country, they are somewhat untested.  They demolished Arizona, who is probably not much worse than UW, if at all, but Arizona is a much different team: offensively talented but still seeking identity, with a spotty defense.  It’s unclear exactly what the Huskies are, still, but that’s also true of the Ducks.  An incredibly soft out of conference schedule has left open the potential for a Duck squad waiting to be exposed.  Their offensive line isn’t quite as dominant as usual, and LaMichael James’ departure has left them just a tiny bit short in the dependable playmaking department.  Throw in a freshman quarterback who occasionally makes freshman mistakes, and there’s a chance of something happening here, but the chance is slim.  Oregon is still fast and disciplined and coached by a genius.

It’s common for teams to play the Ducks tight for a half.  The Cougars just did it, and the Dawgs have done it before.  I hope to see more than that this time.  If the Huskies can keep Oregon within arm’s reach into the fourth quarter, I’ll be happy.  There are no moral victories, but sometimes an actual victory takes a few steps, and a competitive game throughout would be the first of those steps.

Go Dawgs.


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