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Your 2014 UW Husky Offensive Preview

Hey readers, long time no write! New content here has been next to non-existent for a while, but college football season always inspires The Good Guys. I can’t promise the inspiration will last, but we’ll at least get the season started right.

With Seahawk fever now a permanent Seattle epidemic, the Huskies aren’t getting a lot of attention yet.  I don’t know whether that will change at all, but they deserve some buzz. This team has the potential to be the best Husky squad since the Tui-led Rose Bowl team. That’s not saying a ton, and this team has questions, but there’s the chance of something special on Montlake.

I debated what type of preview to write, but I think I’m going with a good old position-by-position write-up. While a lot of these players have been around, some of the focus is shifting from the departed offensive stars to lesser-known guys. I’ll start with the offense tonight. Here we go!

Quarterback

Most fans would say this position is the key to the Huskies season, and it’s hard to disagree. I don’t know that the Dawgs need elite QB play this year, but they need an unproved guy to be dependable and reasonably mistake-free. Who the QB will be is still somewhat in doubt. Jeff Lindquist gets the opening start in Hawaii. He’s big and athletic with a good arm but next to no experience. There’s no reason he can’t be effective, but game action is the only true determiner. Lindquist narrowly beat out freshman Troy Williams, who has maybe the biggest arm and most potential of the group, but the least experience. Should Lindquist struggle, Williams could see some time. Hopefully more likely, he’ll see mop-up duty in Hawaii.

Lurking behind these two is Cyler Miles, suspended for the opener for his off-season shenanigans. The common assumption is Miles will take over week two, but I don’t consider that a fait accompli. Miles brings a bit more experience and excellent running ability, but he’s generally considered to have the weakest arm on the roster and missed all of spring practice. Should Lindquist impress at Hawaii, it’s no given he’ll lose the spot just because Miles is available.

Running Back

Replacing Bishop Sankey is impossible, but the Dawgs have the talent to maintain an elite running game. Dwayne Washington will get the first carries. He’s taller for a back and fast, but runs with a good amount of power and violence. Fumbling issues held him down early last year, but he recovered to log the most yards of any back besides Sankey. His time as a receiver should theoretically be of benefit in the passing game. RS freshman Lavon Coleman has garnered raves since arriving in Seattle. He’s a big back with star potential.

Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier are still around and should see plenty of carries. I’ve never been a huge Callier fan, but he’s a dependable change of pace from the bigger Washington and Coleman. It’s hard not to continue to hope for Cooper to regain everything he was rumored to have before his injuries. If he were to do so, he could easily take over the starting job and be one of the best in the conference. More likely, he’ll get a decent share of carries but not quite have the burst to be a star. No matter what, he’s one of the great stories of perseverance the Huskies will ever have.

Shaq Thompson looms in the shadows, awaiting the day the Dawgsignal summons him to the offensive backfield to deliver justice and retribution to Ducks and Bruins alike. 

Receivers

This is a talented and fairly deep group, but how dominant they are could depend on how effectively Kasen Williams returns from last year’s injury. He’s not yet at full strength, but he’s close enough to play this week. Kasen’s size and experience is needed as a counterpoint to the speed of Jaydon Mickens, John Ross and friends.  Mickens matured into a go-to receiver last year, and he could be a monster in 2014 if he can diversify his game a bit. Ross is the most electric player on the roster and could make a huge jump himself. There are capable bodies behind the three, but a breakout or two would be welcome.

Tight end is a little hard to figure, due to Austin Seferian-Jenkins departure and questions as to how a new staff will use the position. Josh Perkins showed himself capable of making big catches a year ago. Michael Hartvigson has never had the impact many expected, but he’s valuable as a blocker and might catch a few more passes this year. Darrell Daniels is easily the most talented guy here and one of the better athletes on the team. Hopefully he can translate all that into football skills. If he can catch the ball, he could be huge as a bigger threat to complement Kasen. 

Offensive Line

For the first time in a long time, UW is deep, talented and experienced on the O Line. Six guys have extensive starting experience, and there’s some young talent behind them. Tackles Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva are dependable if unspectacular. LG Dexter Charles, the lone junior starter, has been considered an awards candidate in waiting since his freshman year. Colin Tanigawa supplanted Mike Criste at C this fall, potentially a good sign since Criste was a solid starter all of last year. That move could be largely about getting mammoth James Atoe into the line-up at RG. This line might not be as dominant as some of the great lines of Husky days past, but they should be better than anything the Dawgs have had lately. Count me as one who believes the coaching change could have a huge effect here too, both in performance and recruiting. Dan Cozetto’s lines never seemed to reach their expected level, and new guy Chris Strausser is renowned as a teacher.

That’s enough for tonight. Defense is next in a day or two. Go Dawgs!

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Who are these Dawgs? Offense

Andrew did a nice job recapping the defenders in the Huskies 2014 recruiting yesterday.  I’ll be honest: he got the more interesting of the two groups.  Between Budda, Kaleb McGary and all those defensive backs, there’s a lot of talent and potential on the defensive side of the class.

The offense has plenty of intrigue as well, though.  It’s short on elite recruits, but there are plenty of guys who should contribute and could really blossom.  Under-the-radar recruits are and will be a theme of Petersen’s recruiting.  That’s true for everywhere outside of USC and Alabama, but Petersen provides more confidence these sleepers will turn into contributors, given his track record at Boise State.  We’ll have to wait and see if he has the same success at UW, but this coaching staff turned a lot of lightly regarded recruits into very good players at BSU.

I’ll keep the same format as Andrew, with a quick blurb and the likelihood they’ll play as true freshman.  Barring massive injuries, I expect fewer offensive players to play early.  There just aren’t many major impact guys, and the offensive depth is as good as it’s been in years.  Let’s do this!

QB K.J. Carta-Samuels – It didn’t appear Sarkisian was planning to take a QB in this class, but Petersen wasted no time finding one. His first target, Jaylen Greene, was committed to UW for less than a week before Sarkisian stole him away to USC. It ended up working to UW’s advantage when KJCS became available after Vanderbilt, to whom he had committed long ago, underwent a coaching change of it’s own.  QBs usually commit early, with most of the top guys committed before they ever start their senior seasons.  Getting a four-star, extremely talented guy like KJCS this late was huge and lucky.

Carta-Samuels is a big guy with a big arm. He’s a bit of a project, as his high school didn’t run an advanced offensive system, but he should have plenty of time to improve before he might be needed.  He’s the fourth 4* QB on the roster, and while competition will be tight over the next few years, he could easily be the starter down the road.  Should Cyler Miles find himself suspended or off the team after his recent legal troubles, or if someone else transfers, this signing could end up being huge in 2015 or ’16.  Chance he plays as a true freshman: 2% (barring injury, there’s nearly no chance he plays)

RB Jomon Dotson – Running back might be the place where the coaching change hurt the most.  Sark was in on a couple of the top guys in the country in Joe Mixon and Demario Richard, but Pete was left scrambling a bit.  Dotson isn’t a bad pick-up, but he’s not likely to challenge for time right away.  He’s listed as 6′ 165 lb., so he’ll obviously need to bulk up significantly if that weight is accurate.  What he does bring is true breakaway speed, a dimension the current Husky backs lack.  Even with Sankey’s early departure, the Dawgs have a lot of backs, so don’t expect to see Dotson for a year or two, unless they want his speed on special teams. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 20%

WR Dante Pettis – Pettis might be the most likely to surprise right away.  He’s the cousin of former BSU star Austin, and a lot of people consider him one of the more underrated recruits in the west.  He’s not huge at 6′, but he’s big enough to play outside and is an excellent all-around athlete.  He could play defense if needed, but there’re thin numbers at receiver too, especially if Stringfellow finds himself off the team.  Pettis could fill a roll similar to what Kevin Smith had last year, and he could do it quickly. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 70%

WR/TE Brayden Lenius – Lenius is one of those guys who gives reason to think he could become a star, but given the distance he must go to get there, it’s more likely he won’t.  In his case, the positives start with the fact that he’s 6′ 5″.  Add in good hands and solid speed, and his limited football experience, and the hope is that he can become a major threat on the outside, or at TE should he bulk up significantly.  I wouldn’t bet on it, because Pac-12 football is hard, but he’s worth watching for, and if everything comes together, he could become one of the better receivers in the conference.  Chance he plays as a true freshman: 35%

TE Drew Sample – Sample is a local guy, from Newport High, who had been committed to BSU but flipped almost immediately upon receiving an offer from Petersen at UW.  He’s a fairly traditional tight end, known more for his blocking than receiving, but he has good size and solid athleticism.  I don’t know how the new offense will use the TE, so it’s hard to say a ton more.  Sample does fill a bit of a hole as a blocking-oriented TE, so it’s possible he could see the field early, but more likely he will redshirt to gain some muscle. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 40%

OT Matt James – As long as McGary stays on defense, James appears to be the gem of this offensive line class.  He has good size, and the athleticism and footwork to potentially stay at tackle, where the Dawgs will need bodies soon.  James, from Coeur d’Alene, was one of three UW commits Sark had from Idaho. Strangely, once UW hired a coach from Idaho, that number dropped to one, with Sark taking one to USC and the other eventually switching to BSU.  In my opinion, the Huskies kept the right one in James, given their needs and James’ upside. People who know much more about the offensive line than I do think he could be a star. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 5%

OL John Turner – Turner isn’t highly rated (the same could be said of the next two guys, as well), but that doesn’t always mean a lot on the line.  It’s a hard position to scout and project.  Turner’s recruitment seemed to pick up late in the cycle, and Cal, among others, was on him toward signing day.  Some people seem to like him a lot.  I honestly can’t say.  Sark and Petersen both wanted him, so that’s enough for me at the moment.  He could potentially play RT or guard. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 1% (these next three will all be 1%, but they’re essentially guaranteed to redshirt.  A new staff presents enough questions that I’m not confident enough to claim any absolutes.)

OL Jesse Sosebee – I feel a little bad, but I have almost nothing to say about Jesse.  It’s nothing personal, Jesse!  If you somehow read this and want to do an interview, I’d love to hear more. He’s just a guy that didn’t get a ton of coverage, he’s not highly ranked, and the O line doesn’t lend itself to highlight reels.  Most I’ve seen think he’ll be a guard. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 1%

OL Devin Burleson – Devin’s a really big boy, at 6’7″ (or more) and at least 260 lbs. He’s another who’s new to football in the last couple of years, and he’s been more of a basketball player before this year.  That has some excited, as the basketball footwork is a good sign for an offensive lineman.  He’s like Lenius as a bit of a physical freak with a long way to go to be a star.  As I said before, usually these kind of guys never quite hit their potential, but sometimes they do.  Burleson is certainly worth taking a shot on, and I personally won’t be at all surprised if he’s starting at tackle in a few years. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 1%

K/P/Boss Tristan Vizcaino – Vizcaino seems to be capable of doing pretty much anything related to kicking the football. He has a shot to be Travis Coons 2.0, as he could take over at punter, kicker or kick-offs, or some combination thereof.  He even spurned the Cougars to be a Dawg.  Way to go!  The UW specialist spots are really up for grabs, post-Coons.  K Cameron Van Winkle just underwent back surgery, and there’s a chance he might not make it back.  P Korey Durkee struggled for a few games as a true freshman in 2012, and hasn’t seen the field since.  Hopefully, they return to health/kicking proficiency, but Vizcaino could be a huge signing, and a busy man come fall. Chance he plays as a true freshman: 95%

So there it is. Recruiting for 2015 is already rolling along, by the way, but we’ll wait a while before we get into that.  As always, leave any thoughts or comments below.  We’d love to hear from you. Go Dawgs!

-Matthew

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UW Recruiting Update

Signing day for college football is a week away, so it’s time for  an update on the 2014UW recruiting class. Normally, we write quite a bit about recruiting, but it’s been hard to get a handle on the class this year, mostly due to the turmoil created by the coaching change.

No area is impacted more immediately and significantly by a coaching change than recruiting.  Despite what they say, most players commit in large part to the coaching staff, so a change in coaches means lots of changes in the recruiting class.  The Huskies only had seven commits before the change, and only two of them still remain committed to the Huskies, with one just decommitting tonight and another still undecided.  Major changes like this are the norm in these transition years and are just one of the reasons these classes tend to be lackluster.

I don’t know if lackluster is an accurate description for this Husky class, however.  It’s certainly not spectacular, but after a slow start, Petersen and company reeled in over a dozen recruits this month.  They’re a solid bunch that should fill holes in the depth and provide some solid starters down the road.  There are few if any obvious stars, but those are the hardest ones to get any time. It’s even harder in this case, since the staff is largely recruiting players they were after at BSU, and BSU just didn’t have the wherewithal to land many guys who are clearly elite.  Still, this is a good group that looks much better than the last few coaching change classes.  Put simply, it’s a better class than I expected, but probably not as good as the staff will need in the future to win the Pac-12.

Current Commitments

After an unfortunate decommit from TE Chase Blakley tonight (to BSU, strangely enough), the class currently sits at 16.  It’s unclear how many the coaches will take, but there’s scholarship room for 22 right now, and they might take a full 25, expecting more transfers before the fall.  As I said, the class looks solid but not incredible.  It’s heavy on defensive backs, the one roster group clearly short on numbers, and the rest of the positions are distributed pretty evenly.

The highest rated player is QB K.J. Carta-Samuels, who the Huskies landed after he was the victim of a coaching change himself. A longtime commit to Vanderbilt, he opened up his recruitment when James Franklin left for Penn State, and the Huskies were the lucky recipients.  He’s another big, athletic QB with a good arm, and gives UW an impressive stable of young QBs and some insurance should one decide to transfer.

After KJCS, it’s hard to pick another standout right now. Sydney Jones, who committed last night, is drawing a lot of excitement as a big athlete who could play CB, safety or even WR. Offensive tackle Matt James is one of the few Sarkisian holdovers and projects to be a solid starter at a thin position. A trio of safeties, Darren Gardenhire, Jojo MacIntosh and Lavon Washington, all look good and could compete for immediate playing time, although it’s possible one or more might show up at safety instead.  There are a number of other notable current commits, but we’ll talk about them when they actually sign.

Who’s Left?

At the top of the board are two Washington state standouts: Budda Baker and Kaleb McGary. Budda, a Bellevue High safety who could also play some offense, already endeared himself to Husky fans by dropping his Oregon commitment, claiming he couldn’t imagine living in Eugene for four years.  He’s now choosing between UW and UCLA, and no one really has any clue what he’s going to decide.  He’s a major impact player who could start immediately for the Huskies.

McGary, from Fife, is a huge athlete at 6′ 8″ 280 lbs who will likely play DE, or possibly OT or TE.  He’s a bit of a project, albeit a highly rated one who looks like he could grow into a star.  He’s looking at Oregon State and Wisconsin along with UW. While he grew up a Husky, he’s said he’s more of a country guy and might choose a smaller town over Seattle.

They’re in on a number of other guys as well.  DE Jaylen Johnson is a big DE who was committed to BSU with Petersen.  Most expect him to switch to UW soon, although these things are never a guarantee.  RB/LB Kalen Ballage is an ASU commit who visited last weekend.  He’s an incredible athlete and would be a major steal.  CB Naijiel Hale, son of the late rapper Nate Dogg, is visiting this weekend, although it seems a longshot he’ll become a Husky at this point.  S/LB Drew Lewis, another local boy, was a longtime Husky commit, but is waiting to see if USC will make a late offer before he decides.

There aren’t any more glaring holes to be filled on the roster, so I imagine the staff will look to fill the rest of the class with the best players they can get.  Another WR would be nice, and maybe a linebacker and D tackle.  The fun part of a new coaching staff is that new names pop up every day.  Don’t be surprised if something major happens in the next week.

Signing day is on Wednesday February 5th, and we’ll be back then, if not before.  If you’re looking for more updates, leave a question in the comments, or follow http://www.uwdawgpound.com and dawgman.com.

Go Huskies!

-Matthew

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Apple Cup Predictions

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the frustrations of sports.  Seattle teams lose much more than they win, and it can get frustrating.  Some level of aggravation is normal, as it would be with any interest when it goes poorly.  It can be easy to let it get out of hand and take over one’s life, though, and that seems a shame.

Sometimes we need to step back and remember that sports themselves are great.  For every frustration, there’s the simple fact that sports are fun and exciting and entertaining. Is there anything better than sitting at Husky Stadium or Century Link or Safeco on a clear day?  Seattle is blessed with professional and major college teams, and whether they’re good or not, not everywhere is so lucky.

I hope the Huskies win Friday, and I hope the Seahawks make the Super Bowl this year.  I really hope the Mariners are good again in my lifetime.  Even if they’re not, I’m thankful I get to go to Husky games with my dad and brother and sister.  I’m thankful for the countless memories and hours of enjoyment sports have brought me.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and thanks for reading.

Joe

The Apple Cup is a rivalry game. Rivalry games, as they say, you can throw the records out the window, they don’t matter.  I am usually lukewarm about that assertion, because usually records do matter, and do reflect reality.  Your record is who you are. In the case of this year Apple Cup, I agree, records don’t matter. In the sense that WSU isn’t as good as theirs indicates, and UW is better than theirs indicates.

I have had an ongoing discussion with the other good guys regarding how opposite these two schools conference schedules have been. In a nutshell, WSU has had all their tougher opponents at home, UW, conversely, on the road (the exception being Oregon for both schools).  WSU has had the fortunate circumstances of not playing UCLA, getting Lane Kiffin’s USC team early, and catching a sleeping Arizona a week before senior day.  UW played Stanford, ASU and UCLA all on the road.  The point of all this is to say that I believe WSU’s 6-5 record is a bit of a mirage, aided by favorable conference scheduling and timing.  Conversely I believe UW’s 7-4 record is misleading as well.  I maintain if UW had WSU’s conf schedule, the Huskies would probably be at 9 wins already. They are that good of a football team.  And I think it will show Friday.

WSU will throw exclusively and be buoyed by a stingy defense, but in the end the Dawgs have two huge factors in their favor: Husky Stadium and revenge.  In sports, home field and a desire to get back at a rival almost always leads to victory.  It will Friday.  Watch for UW to establish a running game early no matter what, and watch for one of UW’s WRs to have a 100+ yd game (Stringfellow). WSU’s inability to run will lead to multiple Halliday interceptions that will kill WSU drives.  Late 3rd qtr the Dawgs will start to break WSU’s will with the run game.  Cougs go back home empty handed.

UW 38 – WSU 19

Matthew

Andrew’s written before about how my predictions always seem to go wrong.  I’ve done pretty well picking games this year, but if I make a proclamation in game, the opposite generally happens.  So, I’m a little hesitant to say this, but I have a really hard time seeing the Huskies losing this game.  The Cougars are better than last year, but I don’t think they’re very good.  I think UW, when focused and clicking, is a pretty dominating team.  Plus, they’re playing at home, which is generally all the difference they need against middling opponents.

I’m curious to see whether last week’s blowout win will function as the proverbial light bulb going on for this team.  Sometimes guys just need to see what can happen when they come out and play exactly as hard and as smart as they can.  Hopefully the dominating results  from that effort will give them confidence and motivate them to prepare and play like they did last week in the games and seasons to come.

As for the Apple Cup, I could see a close game, but I could also see the Huskies coming out hot again, reeling off a couple of scores and cruising to a big win.  Connor Halliday might be the difference between a close game and a blowout.  He can be very good at quarterback, and then he can be absolutely horrible at the flip of a switch.  The Huskies need to get some pressure early, hit a couple of passes over the top, and let Bishop carve up the Cougar defense.  I don’t think Black Friday will hold any good deals for WSU.

UW 45 – WSU 27

Andrew

After the beatdown the Huskies gave the Beavers last Saturday night, Husky fans are truly feeling good about the team for the first time since they were 4-0.  These good feelings should continue on Friday afternoon.  WSU has improved and will no doubt be ready to play.  They have rode a beneficial schedule to bowl eligibility but they are a better team than the one that the Huskies lost to last year.  The difference this year is that the Huskies will probably show up to the 4th quarter.  This Husky team is angry and ready to prove that last year was a mirage.  If the Huskies jump ahead early this game could get ugly, but, since it’s the Apple Cup, I expect this one to stay close throughout.

UW 35 – WSU 24

Dan

A bit late to get my prediction in, but here’s my quick take.

It’s impossible to know if the Huskies will be clicking tomorrow like they did last week. If they play well, there is no doubt in my mind the Dawgs will roll. I’m biased, sure, but I really believe the Huskies are a much better team than the Cougars. But again, we can’t know which UW team will show up and if Wazzu is the better team for 60 minutes tomorrow, they can absolutely win, and have major bragging rights in what would be their 6th apple cup in the last 10. The Pac 12 has been tough to predict, and rivalry games often surprise too, so anything can happen. If I were betting, I think the Huskies will win comfortably because I don’t see Sankey and the UW offense being contained, nor do I see the Cougs’ one dimensional offense having it’s way against the home team’s D. Expect an inspired, revenge seeking performance by the mighty men who where purple and gold. Go Dawgs!

UW 41 – WSU 24

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UW Recruiting Update

The current Huskies have been frustrating to follow of late, so I’m here to give an update on the future Dawgs.  Recruiting is starting to pick up as high school seasons end.  While the Huskies have nine current commits and dozens more scholarships offered, much of the coaches’ work will come in the next two and a half months before signing day in February.  December and January will be filled with official visits by prospective Huskies.

To give some info for those who don’t follow recruiting closely, the NCAA allows schools to take 25 new players per year.  Teams get around this by having players enroll early or late, but most classes won’t go over 27 or so at the very most.  Schools are also limited by only being allowed 85 scholarship players per season.  This is where the Huskies are facing some trouble.  Due to a small senior class this year, the Huskies are expected to only take 15-20 players.  It’s no big deal and happens to every school once in a while, but it does effect the coaches’ strategies and the types of players they’re after.

I’m mainly going to run through the current commits in this post.  It’s still pretty early to talk much about others.  There’s no guarantee these nine will even sign with UW come February.  Nothing is binding until then, and several of the current commits have visited or plan to also visit other schools.  All that said, here are the current guys.

  • WR Rashead Johnson – Johnson committed well over a year ago, and while he’s taking some visits, most expect him to be a Dawg.  He’s in the Mickens, Ross mold, speedy and hard to bring down.  Very well-regarded, and a guy who could at least challenge for playing time early.
  • WR Erik Brown – Brown’s a bit bigger.  Think Jermaine Kearse, maybe.  He’s a funny one, because his high school team is fairly bad and he hasn’t put up the numbers one would expect from the 18th ranked receiver in the country.  Brown has impressed in camps and could really blossom with better QB play.  He’s also taking trips and seems like a possibility to go elsewhere.
  • TE Chase Blakley – An excellent receiving TE prospect from Coeur D’Alene, Blakley sounds like a poor man’s ASJ: not as big or athletic, but who is?  That’s no knock, as Blakley’s one of the top TE’s in the country and could play early and often at UW.
  • OT Matt James – Blakley’s teammate, James is currently the Huskies’ lone OL commit and a guy who should grow into a solid tackle.  He purportedly has good athleticism and just needs to get bigger and better.
  • DE Don Hill – UW’s third Idaho recruit, Hill unfortunately suffered an Achilles injury that’s wiped out his season.  When healthy, Hill is a guy who figures to man the rush end spot.  He’s a bit under the radar, but he has the length and athleticism UW is seeking.
  • DT Natrell Curtis – A big man out of Arizona, Curtis could also play OG, but he seems like a good bet to replace Danny Shelton at nose tackle eventually.  Some recruiting guys think he might never become a Husky due to a combination of grades and family issues, but that’s speculation at this point.  If he makes it to Seattle, he could be a cornerstone of this class.
  • LB/S Drew Lewis – A local boy, Lewis plays safety in high school but will likely be a linebacker at UW.  He fits the mold  of linebackers UW is after, as a lanky guy who can run and cover.
  • S Lavon Washington – I don’t really know much about Washington, but he’s a sleeper who’s raised his standing quite a bit over the season.  It seems to be required for the UW to take a guy named Washington every season or two.
  • CB Jonathan Lockett – Growing up, it seemed like CB was always a trouble spot for UW, but that has changed dramatically since coach Keith Heyward came aboard.  Lockett could be another star.  It’s good to see the Huskies getting at least one potentially elite CB prospect each year, and Lockett keeps that tradition going.

This is a good group but lacks any surefire stars.  They are drawing interest from a lot of guys still, so there’s little to worry about yet.  Expect at least a couple more OL, a DL or two, a running back, and a DB or two.  They might hold steady with receivers, but they’re actually a little low on guys at that spot, so don’t be surprised by 1-3 more guys there.  While numbers are tight, the Dawgs are recruiting plenty of guys for whom they would clear space if they needed to. Something can always be done to make room for the right guys.  Unless something changes, this class will not include a QB.

Surprisingly, the Huskies have received more commits recently for the 2015 class than for 2014.  Last weekend, DL Jacob Daniel from California committed, which is huge if it sticks.  He’s the top D lineman on the west coast for his class.  Tonight, Marysville Pilchuck RB Austin Joyner pulled the trigger.  He’s the top running back in state and a monster pick-up.  The 2015 class is loaded in Washington, particularly at RB and OL. Joyner is one of three top RBs in state, along with O’Dea’s Myles Gaskin and Federal Way’s Chico McClatcher, all of whom are high on the Dawgs.  OT Trey Adams from Wenatchee has already committed as well.  He’s one of three top OTs to already have UW offers.  There are plenty of players at other positions who could be major players in college as well.  February 2015 is a long way away, but UW is off to a great start.

That’s all for now.  I’ll check back in a month or two, when rumors are flying and there are a few more commits to discuss.  The most important thing for recruiting is for UW to keep winning.  Three wins to finish out the season would go a long way toward a strong finish for this recruting class. Go Dawgs!

-Matthew

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UW vs. UCLA Predictions

The Huskies have had difficult schedules for years, whether the team was good or bad.  They nearly always rank among the national leaders in strength of schedule, and for years they were one of the only schools to never play a Division II (or FCS) school.  Partly the difficulty now comes from playing in maybe the best division in the country, partly from seeking out top non-conference opponents.

Since Scott Woodward and Sarkisian have taken over, the scheduling has changed slightly, which is a good thing for the Huskies win total, although maybe not for their entertainment value.  They now schedule an FCS team every year, and limit the top opponents to one per year.  Some years it doesn’t even work out that way, like when Boise State has an off year.

This year, the Huskies have faced a different kind of difficult schedule.  The non-conference slate turned out to be pretty easy, but the Pac-12 has worked out horribly.  Look at this: here is a ranking of the Huskies toughest opponents this year, if the game were on a neutral field.  This is subjective, but I think most would agree on the majority of the rankings.

  1. Oregon
  2. Stanford
  3. ASU
  4. UCLA
  5. Oregon State
  6. Boise St.
  7. Arizona
  8. Illinois
  9. WSU
  10. Cal
  11. Colorado
  12. Idaho St.

Four of the top five, the Huskies face(d) on the road.  Only Oregon was a home game.  Teams ideally want their home games to be against the teams they are closest to in talent, where the home field might be the deciding factor. For the Huskies, that’s the 2-5 group.  Oregon is a tough game for them no matter where they play.  BSU and Arizona are games they should win on the road, but might not.  Still, I would gladly go to Tucson if it meant having Stanford at home this year.  If the Huskies could face teams 2-5 at home, instead of those bottom four Pac-12 teams, they might be looking at 1 loss season and a Rose Bowl.  Or maybe not, but it would make things much easier.

That’s just the way it goes, I guess.  Every team has obstacles to overcome, and the Huskies have thus far done a mediocre job of overcoming this one.  They can change that over the next two weeks, where wins in L.A. and Corvallis would be huge steps toward a successful season and an improved future, when some of these games are at Husky Stadium again.

Dan

This game is huge, and not just because 7-3 feels way better than 6-4. What makes this game huge is that it is yet another opportunity for a Sark led Husky team to win a big game on the road, and in doing so, take that “next step” in the program’s growth. A loss would mean a 7 or 8 win season is likely, not exactly the growth we are hoping for. As is usually the case in these tough games, the Huskies have the talent to beat UCLA, there’s no question about it. But to pick UW to win on the road against a tough foe, you’ve got to see it happen first. As for the game plan, look for Washington to rely heavily on Sankey and quick reads in the passing game, to keep Keith comfortable. The D will have its hands full but if Hundley is not on his game I like the Dawgs chances. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

UCLA 27 – UW 20

Andrew

We’re at the stage in the season again where the Huskies play their most important game in a decade.  This has happened 3 (maybe 4 or 5) times this season already.  You could say that it’s a bit of an overstatement, and surely there were bigger games but I disagree. I’ll look into that further in a few days.  This game really does mean a lot though.  I fully expect the Huskies to finish with at least 8 wins.  I don’t know where the 8th win will come from (OSU, the bowl game or this game) but I think they will get there.  If the Huskies pull this game out though, 10 wins really isn’t out of the question.  It would be a huge step forward for the program.

I do think the Huskies are at least even, if not slightly better, than UCLA in most of the important phases of the game.  UCLA’s offense the last few weeks has consisted of Hundley scrambling and a freshman linebacker running wild.  Their O-line is beat up.  Defensively, they’re very athletic at the linebacker position and are solid everywhere else.  If the Huskies win the turnover battle, get a well-disciplined pass-rush, and score TD’s in the red-zone I think their chances sky rocket in this game.  I do expect to take UCLA’s best shot.  They are going to be just as motivated and hungry as the Huskies are.  They have more to play for than the Huskies too.  If this were a home game, I think the Huskies would win but since they’re on the road against a decent team I don’t think I can pick them.  I usually pick them and then end up being wrong.  Let’s hope I’m wrong this week.

UCLA 34 – UW 27

Matthew

I don’t really know what to make of this game.  Both teams are really similar, in that they’re talented but a bit inconsistent.  UW has the better offense, UCLA the better defense.  UCLA gets an edge because its pass rush can cause major problems for Keith Price, which sometimes throws him completely off his game.  They get an even bigger edge because they’re at home.  As usual, if the Huskies can come out and execute well and consistently, they can win this game.  They don’t usually do that, so I have to pick the Bruins.  This whole season I’ve been waiting for a breakout from the Dawgs.  I think it could come tonight, but the odds are it won’t.

UCLA 31 – UW 23

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UW vs. Colorado Predictions

The Huskies have four regular season games left, and the season could go almost anywhere at this point. Today’s game should be a win, as should the Apple Cup, although one never knows.  At UCLA and Oregon State will be tough but winnable games.  Win all four and this season is an unmitigated success.  Win three and it’s still a decent season, especially if they can tack on a bowl win.

There are plenty of interesting storylines to watch the rest of the season, but one I’m especially curious about is the development of a few true freshman.  John Ross has had the biggest impact thus far, and that should only increase in the absence of Kasen Williams. Fellow WR Demorea Stringfellow hasn’t done much thus far, but he too could blossom with increased opportunity.  It sounds like the coaches expect or at least hope he can take over the position.  Stringfellow is a mountain of a man at 6′ 3″ and at least 220 lbs.  Don’t be surprised if he has a breakout similar to Kasen’s at the end of his freshman year.

After watching Stanford’s defensive line demolish Oregon this week, I’m hoping to see quick improvement from maybe the two most talented ends on the Huskies roster, freshman Joe Mathis and Marcus Farria.  Both have had their moments in limited playing time thus far.  I don’t know if they’ll see a ton more playing time, but Sark raved about them during the bye week.  Both bring a combination of size, length, tenacity and quickness that could allow them to be stars as they mature.

The Huskies don’t lose a lot of players after this season, which means the improvement of young players will either lead to upgrades at positions or quality depth, which the Huskies have not had much of in a long time.  Hopefully 2013 brings five more wins and plenty of bright moments for the young guys.

Dan

The Huskies had a bye last week and if all goes as it should, tomorrow ought to be a semi-bye too. Colorado is bad and anything other than a UW blowout would surprise me. It feels like the Huskies haven’t played in a really long time, and they may have some rust to knock off, but by the second half I suspect the Huskies run away, literally, by running the ball. Maybe the Buffs will be good in a couple years, I think that would be good for the conference. For now, they are relying on a true freshman QB from Tacoma who had exactly 1 offer from an FBS school. Although he did torch my Bothell Cougs last year so maybe he’s the real deal. Dawgs roll tomorrow, and hopefully stay healthy in doing so.

UW 42 – CU 13

Joe

UW comes off a much needed bye week to face lowly Colorado.  The Buffaloes showed signs of life at UCLA last week, keeping the game competitive and in doubt into the second half, which is a vast improvement over the Buffs previous blow out losses.  I have a feeling that game may have been CU’s best effort; couple that with a rested and ready UW squad, and I see a solid, big win for UW Saturday night. The Huskies know what is at stake:  win, and they are bowl eligible, which yes, that is a big deal.  It would be four years in a row Sark has guided UW to a bowl, which is only a year removed from the 0-12 abyss he inherited.  At some point the 0-12 excuse must end, frankly I think this is it, but that said, a bowl eligible Husky football team in early November hasn’t happened in a decade, and should be cause for celebration among Husky fans.  The fun part is there is still much to be gained with the rest of the season.  9-3 is a very real possibility with the scuffling Bruins and Beavers left, and then the wretched Cougars at the end. Tomorrow is the first step to Sark’s best record year yet.

UW 39 – CU 17

Andrew

I’ve seen a good amount of talk about how the Buffaloes are going to give the Huskies a tough game and they are no push over.  This could be the case and credit Colorado for playing hard the last few weeks.  But, the Buffs played their best game of the season last week and still lost by three scores.  UCLA didn’t especially look great last week either.  This game may be close for a while but it would be because the Huskies aren’t playing well, not because Colorado is the better team.  I think the Huskies will be focused and ready to set the tone for the last 1/3 of the season.  While Colorado may keep it close for a quarter, I think the Huskies will have this wrapped up in the 3rd quarter.

When I used to pitch in Little League, my dad would coach.  When it was a really important inning he would get this look about him as I headed out to the mound.  Once the inning started, I would hear this voice come out from the dugout.  “9, Andrew!”  I’d fire in a strike.  “Alright, 8 more!”  After every strike he would count down one more until my team was back in the dugout.  Coming into this season I think the goal needed to be 9 wins on the season (including the bowl, in my pre-season prediction).  That goal is going to take a great focus, one that we haven’t seen out of Sark’s team.  Now is as good of time as ever to start.  Go get ’em, Dawgs!  4 more, and it starts tomorrow.

UW 45 – COL 14

Matthew

Colorado is not a pushover like they have been, but they’re not a lot better.  Paul Richardson is one of the scariest wide receivers in the country, but they don’t have a lot of offensive firepower otherwise.  The defense is nothing to be afraid of.  This is a game the Huskies should win handily.  The best case scenario would be an early blowout and some rest for Price and Sankey and Danny Shelton.  Bigger games are coming.  These Huskies are a bit unpredictable, so who knows what to expect, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to practice some consistency and play a complete game.  It might stay close for a bit, but the Huskies should win this one easily.

UW48 – Colorado 17

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UW vs. Cal Predictions

It’s been a pretty bad week for Husky fans.  On the heels of the debacle in Tempe, word came that Don James had passed away.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and all those left with a hole in their lives by his passing.

The death of a beloved sports figure is kind of a complicated thing for fans, in my mind.  Life and death and all of their trappings are so much more important than sports. It sometimes feels silly to claim grief as a fan when others actually knew the person.  It feels like we need to push sports completely aside in these times, like the football pales in comparison to the gravity of his death.  I never met Coach James, and I don’t even remember his teams terribly well.  His personal influence on me should be next to nothing.

And yet the impact Don James made on me is huge.  I hear it when my dad talks about those Rose Bowl winning teams, and I remember it, hazily, in memories of childhood Apple Cups in the snow and my dad yelling as Napolean Kaufman broke down the sideline.  I witness it on Saturdays in the fall as I walk into Husky Stadium with my family.  At those moments, there is no place I’d rather be, and that is due largely to Don James’ legacy.

I never met Don James, but without him, a huge part of my life might not exist.  That pales in comparison to the hole his wife and loved ones are experiencing, but his loss shouldn’t be diminished for those of us who are just fans.  Instead, it’s just another testament to the full life Coach James led, on the field and off.  He was a man who touched thousands of lives in countless ways.  To me, that sounds like the definition of a life well lived.

Thank you, Don James.  We appreciate everything you did, and we are thankful your  impact does not end with your death.  We will remember you every time we walk into Husky Stadium and with every moment of joy Husky football brings us.

Andrew

Last week was awful.  It’s time to move on.  This week the Huskies play an opponent that is extremely different than the three previous weeks.  They play an opponent that is bad.  Cal’s defense is awful and their offense has struggled as of late.  The Huskies should be able to regain their confidence and get healthy during this game.  I expect a heavy dose of the run game, as well as a focus of getting the ball to ASJ and Kasen.  The only way I see this going bad is if Cal gets out to a lead and the Huskies lose their confidence like last week.  I’m guessing that won’t happen.  On a night where the school honors the best coach ever to grace Husky Stadium’s sidelines, this year’s Husky team will pound a conference foe just like James would have.

UW 38 – CAL 13

Dan

Last minute entry! Cal is really bad. Haha you suck Cal! Dawgs win big because I see no other possible outcome.

UW 33 – CAL 17

Matthew

The Huskies were terrible last week, and it’s generated the expected despair from fans.  Luckily, Cal is really terrible right now.  They’re missing over half of their starting line-up to injuries, and they probably wouldn’t have been great to start.  The one good thing they’ve had going for them, a dynamic passing attack, has faded as true freshman Jared Goff has lost his accuracy and confidence after getting pounded for much of the season.  This is a game the Huskies will have to work hard to lose, especially since it’s in Seattle.  I hope to see the Dawgs figure out what they want to do on offense.  Can the line function with Erik Kohler filling in for Dexter Charles?  Will they find a balance between the run, downfield passing and perimeter passing?  This should be a good week to find answers.  The Huskies are a much better team than they showed last week, and a blowout would go a long way to reminding the players of that.

UW45 – Cal 16

Go Dawgs!

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