Tag Archives: UW Husky Football

UW vs. Stanford Predictions

I don’t have much time, so I’ll be short on the intro here.  I just want to point out that today it is absolutely perfect in the Seattle area.  It’s supposed to be sunny and in the 60s, with a sky as blue as UCLA’s jerseys.  Anyone remember last Saturday?  That time when the the Huskies played Arizona, with a bunch of high level recruits in the stands and rain seemingly defying the laws of gravity to blow up under people’s ponchoes and raincoats.  What a difference a week makes.  Come on nature!  Figure it out!  One rain game a year is enough.  I like football in the cold, but here’s to a night next week, with Oregon in town, that’s as clear and as crisp as this morning has been.  Here’s the picks.

Dan

How big would a Huskies win at Stanford be? Consider this. If UW pulls off the upset, they will likely jump to about 10th in the nation, and would host college gameday next week for a matchup vs. #2 Oregon. That would be monumental. If UW could do the unthinkable and win their next 3, at Stanford, vs Oregon, at ASU, the Dawgs would likely be ranked 1 or 2 in the country. Now, the odds are slim, but how many teams in America can think about winning 3 games to jump into the top 3 in the nation? This really is a cool opportunity awaiting the Huskies.

As for tomorrow’s game, I think Washington goes down and knocks off Stanford…once or twice if they played 10 times. Stanford is really good on both sides of the ball, and they will want to avenge the loss they suffered last year in Seattle. The Huskies are good too, maybe even great, but this feels like UW is walking into a buzzsaw. The Cardinal are ranked #5 in the country, and the Huskies last road win at a top 5 team came at Wazzu in 2002. There is reason to think UW’s speed and up tempo offense might give Stanford trouble, but it will take a near flawless game to do the unthinkable. A win would put the Huskies among college football’s elite, but I just don’t see it happening.

Cardinal  35 – Huskies 17

Matthew

I would love to pick the Huskies in this one, but I just can’t quite do it.  I think they are quite capable of pulling out a victory.  If it were in Seattle, I might even call for the upset.  In Palo Alto, against a surging Stanford team, I just can’t quite do it.  Stanford is big, physical and disciplined.  Although they’re creative in their schemes, they don’t feel like they’re trying to pull anything over on you.  They just play like they’re better and smarter than every other team.  Their emerging passing attack is the missing link for them, although I’m still not convinced it’s as good as it’s looked the last couple of weeks.  This is as tough as winnable games get.  The fact that it’s eminently winnable is a testament to how much the Huskies have improved.  I see three keys here (I’ve learned that these always come in threes): 1. The UW defense has to make the Stanford offense relatively one-dimensional. 2. The offensive line has to give Keith Price enough time to react and not feel nervous and constantly overwhelmed.  3. Price has to have a phenomenal day and the receivers have to get open and make at least one guy miss each play.  They can do those things, but it will be a tall order.  I see a close game, but I think the Huskies trail and ultimately lose for the first time this season.

Stanford 27 – UW 20

Andrew

Leading up to each Husky game, my brain goes through several stages in analyzing the game.  First, I assess how the Dawgs did the previous week.  Then, I move on to the opponent, what they did the previous week, and their whole season.  Next, I move on to the keys for the Huskies to win and their chances of winning.  After that, I do the same for the opponent.  These stages flip-flop until I come up with who I think will win.  Then, it ends in me being incredibly nervous and excited come game time.  These stages take different amount of time each week.  Let me take you through this weeks stages in abbreviated form.

1.  The Huskies played a great game last week.  Danny Shelton may have had his best game as a Husky and the defense carried the Dawgs until the conditions allowed for the offense to get rolling (yes, the conditions were that bad).
2.  Stanford had their most dominating win of the season, pulverizing WSU.  They have come on strong in the last two weeks and they look to be worthy of the lofty ranking they have.  Personally, I’d have them at number two in the country right now.  I think their front 7 on defense is the best in the nation and their offense is getting stronger every week.
3.  The Huskies could win this game.  They have superior statistics to Stanford in almost every facet of the game and have probably played a tougher schedule so far.  The key for the Huskies to win while on defense is making sure their corners (Peters and Ducre) don’t allow any big plays in pass.  They need to be left out on an island in order for the safeties to help with the run and can’t be beat while being out there.  Stopping the run is obviously huge and the front 7 need to be as stout as ever.
On offense it’s a little trickier, I think the Huskies need to stay true to who they are.  Run the ball even when it’s not working, use your speed in the passing game and take a shot or two to keep the defense honest.  Speed is where the Huskies have the edge on this side of the ball and they need to find ways to take advantage of that.
4.  Stanford, frankly, has a great chance of winning this game.  They just have more experience in this type of game and are incredibly physical.

So, all in all, I think I will go with Stanford.  To win, the Huskies need to play their best road game in… a decade? Two decades?  They are more than capable of that but I don’t know if they will.  Intensity and readiness shouldn’t be a problem.  I just think Stanford has too much going for them this week.  I hope I’m wrong and the Huskies get their biggest win since 2000.  Go Dawgs!

Stanford 28 – UW 24

Joe

Washington comes into this week starting the “October Gauntlet” of Stanford, Oregon and ASU three weeks in a row.  Thankfully, UW is 4-0, so their margin of error is not razor thin, but it’s close.  Many fans would take a 1-2 record with a win over Oregon.  I say 2-1 is acceptable.  The one loss?  Unfortunately, it will come Saturday night on The Farm.  I think Stanford is a legit national title contender, and I think they show it vs UW.  I don’t think this game is as much about how good or bad UW plays, but a show case for how good Stanford is.  The Cardinal don’t ever beat themselves, play tight, tough defense, and with Hogan at QB are able to throw the ball down field.  In order for UW to win, the Huskies will need to play flawless and hope Stanford is sloppy.  Any scenario with UW turning the ball over or committing penalties will result in a blow out.  I do think UW will play well, I think Sankey will get his yards, but I don’t see UW overcoming Stanford’s discipline and skill.  The game will be close and well played, but the Cardinal win.

Stanford 30 – UW 20

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UW vs. Idaho State Predictions

tumblr_mqjxrzgzcx1rftit5o1_500Yep, that’s a shopping cart of Huskies.

Matthew

It’s been hard to muster a lot of excitement for this game.  There’s a reason the Huskies are 50+ point favorites.  Idaho State is a fairly bad FCS team.  The Huskies are a top 20 team in the nation.  The Huskies have played bad teams, and they’ve played FCS teams, in years past, but I don’t know if they’ve played anyone at Idaho State’s level.  This should be a game that is over in a quarter or less.  The Huskies need to come out with energy and execute immediately.  They need to dominate continuously and make it possible for the back-ups to play most of the second half.  This season is about the Huskies taking the next steps in their maturity, and a big part of that is dominating the teams they should dominate.  This is a game that should never be in doubt.  I don’t know if they Huskies will cover the massive spread, but only because Sark doesn’t like to run up the score.  I think the Huskies win this one easily and get some good rest for the starters before the schedule gets interesting next week.

UW52 – ISU 10

Dan

Few times can you go into a weekend knowing your 2 hometown teams will win barring a collapse or natural disaster or 35 injuries. But that’s the case this weekend, with the Huskies and Seahawks a combined 73 point favorites. In UW’s case, they are 53 point favs and the question is not if we will win the game, but by how much, and how much will we see from the backups. In essence, this is a preseason game played in season, that counts. So I guess it’s the opposite of a preseason game. But anyways, I know nothing of Idaho State other than they are 2-0 and probably hate the Vandals and Broncos. Over in Pullman, the Cougs will take on Idaho, so this really is a Washington vs. Idaho weekend. Here’s a question…if you combined the rosters of Idaho and Idaho State, would they be able to knock off Boise State? I tend to think not, but what say you?

UW 55 – ISU 10

Joe

Washington comes back home for two games, ISU and UA, that will feel very different from each other.  The Idaho State Bengals will not present a challenge to UW despite the mighty cats from Pocatello’s unblemished record of 2-0 (They hung 40 on Dixie State…).  I expect the Dawgs to score early and often, and to overwhelm ISU defensively.  My biggest concern here is injuries.

UW 46 – ISU 12  (Next week vs Arizona in the conf. opener is the real match up to be excited about. Enormous game for both programs!)

Andrew

The Huskies search for their first 3-0 start in over a decade on Saturday.  They should easily find it.  They play a team that is the third best football team in Idaho (and that might be generous).  Idaho State has really struggled in the past years and that is with playing FCS competition.  They lost to Portland State (the team the Huskies played last year) 77-10 last year.  While Idaho State looks a little more capable this year as their passing game has been pretty impressive and defense fairly stout, they just don’t have near enough weapons to keep up with the Huskies.  With there being zero questions about who the better team is, the storyline turns to the Huskies.  Here are some things that I will be keeping an eye on tomorrow:

Will the Huskies come out fired up and put the Bengals away in the first quarter?  It would be easy for the Huskies to look ahead and not take this game seriously.  If they do that, the Bengals could put up a score or two and some yards in the early going.  I don’t want that.

Will the penalties go away?  Another part of the focus aspect.  Against a team you are superior to, there is no reason for penalties (aside from officiating incompetence, which is all too likely).

How does ASJ fit in?  This is a question that I was mildly curious about last week and now I’m extremely curious.  ASJ struggled last week.  I look for Sark to get him involved early so he gets comfortable before an extremely important game next week.

Which young guy will shine?  Assuming the Huskies get up big early (which they should), there is no reason to keep the starters in much past half time.  Some young guys I’ll be keeping an eye on are:  QB Cyler Miles, RB Dwayne Washington, WR Damore’ea Stringfellow, LT Jake Eldrenkamp, DE Jojo Mathis, S Brandon Beaver, and two freshmen DB’s, Kevin King and Trevor Walker.
All of the factors involved should lead to a Husky blowout.

UW 56 – ISU 6

 

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UW vs. Illinois Predictions

Hey everybody, it’s Husky time!  Tomorrow, the Dawgs take on the Illinois Fighting Illini.  I’m realizing as I type this that the Fighting Illini is a strange nickname.  It just sounds strange, and it’s a weird one to type.  Andrew touched on the fuzzy origins of the name earlier this week.  Think about this, though: take out the “Fighting” and it’s just the Illinois Illini.  I don’t know if that’s better or worse.  I don’t know where I’m going with this, either.

Andrew pointed out a moderately fascinating observation to me today.  In his words:

“I wonder if the Huskies have ever opened up the season against two schools that have the school colors of blue and orange.  I mean, what are the chances?  I’m not a math major.  My wife is.  I asked her what the odds were and she ignored me.  But wait!  The last time the Huskies played Boise State was 2007.  Guess who they played the game before that?  Syracuse.  Syracuse’s colors are blue and orange.  Wow.  Groundbreaking stuff.  In 2007 and 2013 the Huskies played consecutive games against teams with blue and orange.  In between those years the Huskies played only two teams with those colors: Syracuse in 2010 and Boise State last year.”

Excellent research!  I’d also note the Huskies won all of those games except for last year against Boise State.  Seems like a good omen.

One more random note, if anyone is still reading this.  The game is in Chicago at Soldier Field, instead of on-campus in Champaign.  It’s the same idea as the Cougars playing in Seattle.  They get to reach a few more alumni and hopefully make a dent in a major recruiting hotbed.  For the Huskies, it’s a nice little benefit, in that it should be more of a neutral field.  They’re only expecting 45,000 at the most. Anyway, I was thinking about Chicago on the way home today, and I wondered if any city has both a prominent band and song named after it.  Chicago, the band, is on about the third tier of rock band stardom and is my father-in-law’s favorite. “Chicago“, the song by Sufjan Stevens, is one of the best songs of the 2000’s and the most notable track from one of the biggest influences on both the current indie rock and folk movements.  There are lots of songs named after cities, but not that many bands.  Boston comes to mind, but I can’t think of any major songs named Boston.  Any thoughts?  Add them in the comments.

Alright, that’s enough of this dumb intro.  On to the predictions!

Joe

UW rolls into Chicago coming off a bye week that probably wasn’t needed, but no doubt they are still on an emotional high after the thumping of Boise State a week earlier in the home opener. The Boise win validated, at least for a couple weeks, Sark’s new up-tempo fastbreak offense. The Dawgs wore out Boise, a team, coincidentally, that also runs an up-tempo offense. To be able to wear out a very athletic and well coached defense like the Broncos is a serious accomplishment.  In fact, the Huskies’ win over Boise was arguably Sark’s best overall win as UW’s coach. The Huskies played a complete game exhibiting speed and quickness, without committing costly penalties.  Boise was a very good opponent who came ready to play and UW stepped up to the challenge and won in all three phases of the game.  I think this type of win will help UW focus on Illinois since the Illini like to do the Star Wars thing on offense as well, spread the field out, huge gaps between linemen.  None of this will surprise UWs defense, which is as quick a defense as UW has had in two decades. I like the match up for the Huskies.  Sankey will pound the rock, and I expect to see a big performance from Kasen this week, since no doubt ASJ’s return and the emergence of Ross and Mickens will have the Illinois defensive staff on high alert.  It’s a road game, and UW under Sark hasn’t fared well on the road, so it will be close, but I expect UW to prevail.  They are the better, deeper team with a hunger to win on the road.

UW 32 – Illinois 24

Matthew

There are reasons to be concerned about this game.  It’s the Huskies first time on the road, and Illinois has thrown for a ton of yards in a chaotic offense so far.  Illinois also has a defense sure to be overmatched, and the Dawgs should be able to score often and easily if they execute like last week.  I’m most looking forward to seeing how Sark uses ASJ in his return.  Also intriguing is what form the next evolution of the offense will take.  Illinois will surely be looking to blow-up the bubble screens and flare passes.  Watch to see if they’re successful, and what UW does in response.  Ideally, the Huskies will have an easy enough time scoring that they’ll be able to save some wrinkles for future, tougher opponents, but if not, the offense could see some interesting permutations.  The secondary will get a tougher test this week, but if they can hold up and the line can get a bit more pressure, this could be a romp.  This Husky team feels different to me.  They seem like they’ve figured it out.  We’ll see if I’m right.  A road blow-out would be a solid next step in their maturation.

UW 45 – Illinois 20

Andrew

This is kind of a strange game to predict.  As the Huskies and the Illini step out on the field tomorrow, the Dawgs appear to be the superior team.  They have way more speed and better playmakers.  They have equal (and probably much better) lines on both sides of the ball.  But, Illinois played a pretty good game last week and is gaining confidence.  As we’ve seen in the past few years, a young team with confidence can be very dangerous even when facing a superior opponent.  Not to mention, the Huskies are 2,000 miles away from home.  They haven’t exactly been a great team away from home.  So, there are things that concern me.

When looking for a game to compare this to, I think Syracuse a few years ago is a good one.  They weren’t a complete pushover but they have a few really nice players and may be able to stick with the Dawgs, at least for a little bit.  Illinois has a good quarterback.  Also, off topic, but the Illini coach seems like an easy guy to root for based on his interview with Softy a few days ago.  As Husky fans have watched our program grow, we’ve seen that a team with a couple of great players isn’t enough against the elite teams.  Here’s guessing that is true tomorrow and the Dawgs run away with the game in the second half.  If they do, I’m guessing that it’s about time to start calling the Huskies elite.

UW 42 – Illinois 17

Go Dawgs!

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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.

-Matthew

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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.

Joe

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
Andrew
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
Dan
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

Matthew
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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Good Guys Pac-12 Preview

The season is two days away, so let’s fire up a conference preview!  More comprehensive previews abound, so if you want a rundown of UCLA’s secondary, you’ll have to check somewhere else.  For this preview, I’m telling you two things: which player from each team I would want on the Huskies, and how scared I would be if the Dawgs were playing given team tomorrow.  I’ll rate that 1-10, with one being an almost certain win for the Dawgs and 10 an almost certain loss.  I’ll also go through the teams in the divisional order I’d expect them to finish.  So I guess you get three things!  Enjoy.

South Division

1. Arizona State

Player I Want (PIW): This is the easiest choice in the conference, because  DT Will Sutton might be the best player in the conference.  He’s one of the best pass rushing tackles in recent memory, and has a chance to win conference defensive player of the year for the second time in a row.  That hasn’t happened since Mr. Steve Emtman.  Sutton would fit perfectly next to Danny Shelton, transforming the Husky D Line from a bit of a worry to a huge strength.

Scare-o-meter: 7.  ASU took a big step forward last year, and I think they’ll continue to move up.  They have some issues, but they also have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.  Taylor Kelly was one of the best QBs in the conference last year, and DJ Foster and Marion Grice is the top running back duo in the Pac-12.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish as low as third in the south, but I’m betting they fight off a tough early schedule to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

2. USC

PIW: Also an easy choice: Marquise Lee, the best receiver in all the land.  Lee brings me to an interesting point in deciding on these players.  The best player on a team isn’t always the guy who would help the Huskies the most.  Defensive lineman Morgan Breslin, for instance, plays at a position of greater need for UW.  In close calls, UW’s need wins out.  Sometimes the greatness of one player far outweighs the utility of another, though.  Anyone who would turn down a chance to see Marquise Lee on their side every Saturday is crazy.

Scare-o-meter: 6.  As usual, USC has as much talent as anyone in the conference.  They have three questions holding them back: 1. Who’s QB? Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are both expected to play on Thursday. 2. Running back is uncertain, with Silas Redd injured.  Lots of talent here though.  3. Lane Kiffin is still coach.  He’s a complete x-factor.  Still, aside from losing Matt Barkley and a few others, this is a roster that was expected to challenge for a national championship last year.  They could be a load if a QB emerges and Kiffin doesn’t sabotage them.

3. UCLA Continue reading

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Keys to a Breakout

Steve Sarkisian has done a solid job of transforming the Huskies from a winless and destitute program into a perfectly average squad.  They’ve won seven games for three straight years, marking 2013 as the time to step past average.  Realizing that it’s time for this to happen is easy, but actually accomplishing it is not.

While it’s not easy for bad teams to get back to mediocre or average, it’s also not terribly difficult.  When a team is terrible, especially as bad as the 2008 Huskies were, there are so many areas for improvement.  If every area of the team is bad, each area improved brings the team up.  The players brought in don’t have to be amazing, they just have to be better than the bad ones they’re replacing.  Often, just the change in coaching or attitude summons improvement from the holdovers.  Improving from terrible is not that hard.

Improving from average to good or great is hard.  Becoming good and then great requires good and great players, and unsurprisingly, those players are a lot harder to find.  Sometimes, coaching can elevate average players, and sometimes offensive or defensive schemes can neutralize talent disparities.  Most often, a team just needs to find better talent and better athletes.  Talent often underachieves, but poor talent rarely beats elite talent.  It’s just the way it is. Continue reading

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