Tag Archives: UW

UW vs. Arizona Predictions

This was a pretty horrible week for Seattle sports fans.  After bad losses for the Huskies, I tend to tune out the media for a few days.  I guess it’s an attempt to avoid depression.  Still, a week without sports seems empty and dumb, so I turned my attention elsewhere.

I figured I’d think about the Mariners for a while.  The baseball offseason is always fun, at least until players start signing and Prince Fielder goes to Texas.  Then I read this and I got depressed again, although Seattle Sports Insider came to the rescue with a more optimistic view later in the week (starting here, with hopefully more thoughts on this later this week from the Good Guys).  Regardless of any offseason hopes, the Mariners have a lot of work to do.

I don’t care about the Seahawks as much as the other local teams, but even if I did, they were no help.  A 6-3 loss might be the worst football score there is.  Maybe it’s 3-0, but at least someone’s getting a shutout there.  The NBA has gone to great lengths to make sure Seattleites hate professional basketball, first stealing our team and then going into a lockout with no end in sight.  Even Old Reliable, UW basketball, had slightly bad news, with freshman phenom Tony Wroten undergoing minor knee surgery over the weekend and the season still a few weeks away.

Here’s to hoping for a better week.  Until then, keep your head up, Seattle.  In the words of local boys Blue Scholars, “Anybody in the town into sports, God bless ’em.  We heard that all underdogs go to heaven.”

Dan

A month ago this game did not scare me. Arizona was a mess, Stoops was coaching his last games in Tucson, and the Huskies were exceeding expectations behind Keith Price. It’s too soon to tell, but Arizona seems to be rising, and Washington is facing real adversity for the first time this season. A common theme when analyzing a UW game is, the offense should be able to score, but the game will come down to how well the defense performs. Truth is, until the defense shows a consistent ability to stop the opposition, the team’s success will hinge on the offense putting up enough points to win the game. This is a big problem, and one that I didn’t think would so glaring yet again. As for tomorrow’s contest, Arizona does not exactly have a juggernaut defense either, and I think the offenses are about a wash (Foles may very well go for 400 yards). I’ll give the advantage to UW because of home field and a little more program stability, which should translate to the little things like tackling, penalties, and taking advantage of opportunities. Take the over in this shoot out!

Huskies-44, Wildcats-38

Andrew

I’ve come to realize that I have the worst record in predictions for the Good Guys.  I’m pretty shook up about it.  Anyway, I don’t see the Huskies losing tomorrow.  Arizona has been talked up more this week than any 2-5 team I can remember.  Yes, they are dangerous but, playing away from home without the energy, they don’t scare me.  The Huskies are too dangerous on offense and the defense won’t be great but it will at least answer some of the criticism that it’s rightfully received this week.  This game will be close for the first 2 and a half quarters and then the Dawgs will pull away.  Go Dawgs!

UW 48 – UA 31

Joe

After the butt whuppin Stanford put on UW last week, I don’t know what to expect vs Arizona. I do expect the Dawgs to come out focused and determined to put last week behind them, which they must. The next two games at home will make or break their season in many ways. Lose to Arizona and Oregon, and you are 5-4 going on the road to two hostile environments with a rivalry game on the back end. Things could get sketchy. Beat Arizona and they set up nicely no matter what happens v Oregon. 6-2 looks a whole lot better than 5-3 with the specter of 5-4. I realize Arizona beat down UCLA last week, but cmon, that was Doogie lost the Bruins a while ago. Arizona traditionally stinks on the road and I believe have quite a few suspensions from their brawl last week. I fully expect UW to win this game. I expect the D to play really well. Traditionally, under Sark, the Huskies play really well coming off losses. I see no reason this game will buck the trend.

UW 38 – UA 27

Matthew

This game is a little scarier than I would have ever anticipated a few weeks ago, but less scary than it probably should be.  Last Saturday’s results are getting slightly overblown for both teams, in my opinion.  Yes, UW’s defense is terrible.  You know who else’s defense is terrible?  Arizona’s, and they’re playing without most of their secondary for at least half of the game.  Nick Foles is phenomenal, and the Wildcat running game was much improved last week.  Keith Price isn’t significantly worse, and the Husky running game is significantly better.  Arizona was playing at home with the emotion of a few coach, who isn’t Mike Stoops.  That should be worth a few touchdowns right there.  Some of that emotion will likely wear off this week.  I still expect Arizona to look much better than they did a month ago, but the Huskies should handle them.  They might not hold them under 35 points, but this should be a win for the Dawgs.

UW 45, UA 34

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UW vs. Colorado Predictions

Hello, and welcome to the Good Guys Sports Blog.  I’ll be your host this evening.

Here’s tonight’s question: Who is your favorite Pac-12 player to watch that is not on your favorite team?  That means no Chris Polk for Husky fans, no Marquess Wilson for Cougars, etc.

For me, LaMichael James is probably the guy.  He’s a Duck, and you can argue he’s a product of their system, but consider me skeptical that any of their other backs will be nearly as good as he is.  He’s out for at least this week though, so I’ll try for someone less obvious, if possibly just as talented.

Every year, the Good Guys plus a few others have a Pac-10/12 only fantasy draft.  It’s slightly ridiculous but a lot of fun, and we know as much about Utah’s fourth string running back as anyone outside of Kyle Whittingham, which, I guess that’s a good thing?  Anyway, last year, I was looking for late depth at wide receiver and grabbed California’s Keenan Allen, then a probable starter as a true freshman.  The first few weeks, I think he gave me more points on end-arounds than on receptions, but by the end of the year, he was a solid starter for my team.  This year, I think I grabbed him in the fourth round or so, which raised a few heckles from fellow drafters.  It was the best pick I made.

Allen and Cal QB Zach Maynard are half-brothers, and the hope for Bear fans was that the two would develop into a dynamic duo that would provide the passing attack Cal has mostly been missing the last couple of years.  That’s been the case at times, but Maynard has been extremely inconsistent, and just plain bad the last couple of weeks.  Allen has had no such issues.  He’s been solid to spectacular, with the Huskies getting most of the spectacular.  He went for 10 catches and 197 yards with a touchdown in Husky Stadium.  Last night against USC, he seemed like Cal’s only offensive weapon, ending with 13 catches for 160 yards.  He’s gone over 100 yards receiving in every game but one this year.

Allen’s a joy to watch, big and smooth.  He’s one of those guys who doesn’t seem like he’s that fast until he’s running away from you, like he did in the first series against the Huskies.  The Pac-12 has a bunch of great receivers.  Robert Woods is just ridiculous in all aspects.  Juron Criner is excellent when he can stay on the field, and Marquess Wilson is lightning, scary as can be.  If I were picking guys for a team though, my pick might be Keenan Allen.

So who do you like to watch?  Put it in the comments.  Onto the predictions:

Joe

Even though the line on this game says it will be a blow out and not noteworthy, I believe this game is intriguing and could be another defining moment for this program (Sark has had a few defining moments, both wins over USC, the Holiday Bowl and last week vs Utah…).  If the Huskies want to be elite and return to conference dominance like so many long time fans want, they must, I repeat, must destroy Colorado.  The Buffs are simply not good.  They lost home to Wazzu and haven’t won a road game in four years.  If UW claims to be good, and 4-1 says they are, they gotta play like it and come out and crush CU.  No sloppiness like they showed against lesser opponents earlier this year.  I want to see crisp, aggressive play right from the start.  The Huskies tend to play well in the underdog role, it gets them jacked up since a hallmark of Sark’s coaching is playing with emotion and a chip.  Against Utah they had all of this.  How do they handle the biggest in conference spread since the Neuheisal days?  I am very curious to see.  I like swagger, in fact I love it, but if you want to be hardcore you better go out and back things up.  Bury them from the start.  No detailed player or scheme breakdowns in this prediction, just the plain truth: Dawgs in a blowout, POW!

UW 41 – CU 17

Andrew

The last 2 games I’ve picked against the Huskies and what have the results yielded?  The Huskies have beaten teams by more than 7 points 2 weeks in a row!  You may think that’s not a big deal, but it hasn’t happened since (I’m looking back through the records now, wait for it) the last two games in 2009.  That’s pretty amazing seeing how the Huskies record is 13-7 in that span.  By the way, the Huskies have won 8 of their last 9 games.  That’s better than most teams in the country, pretty cool huh?  It’s because of those records that the Huskies should blow out Colorado.  The Buffaloes haven’t won a road game since 2007 (double check that for me), they are completely depleted in the secondary, and they are missing one of their top offensive weapons.  I know Colorado has been going through down years but these road woes are pretty ridiculous.  Why don’t they bring the buffalo on the road with them?  You can’t convince me that they wouldn’t win at least a couple of road games in that span if they brought their buffalo along.  I know picking the Huskies to lose has worked out for us the last few games, but now is the time to start believing that the Huskies will win.  Our Dawgs have a tendency to keep things close but, on Saturday, I think we’ll see domination.  The Dawgs will run away with this one.  The fans will party out in the rain and our team will show up in the top-25 on Monday.  That will set up a showdown for the Pac-12 North that has early Rose Bowl implications.  Yes, I’m getting way too ahead of myself but it sure does feel good to write that.  Go Dawgs!

Huskies – 42 Buffs – 17

Matthew

Like many Husky fans, I’m still trying to get used to a good UW team.  I keep looking for reasons that they’re not very good.  Their opponents haven’t exactly gone on to great success.  It’s just going to take a bit before I’ll be able to expect continued excellence from them.  A blowout win over a bad and beaten-up Colorado team would be a huge step in the right direction.  I think they’ll do it.  There’s not a whole lot else to say.  Colorado isn’t terrible offensively, but they’re missing Paul Richardson, who accounts for something like 25% of their offense so far, which seems extremely high for a wide receiver not named Robert Woods.  Their defense isn’t anything special, especially if you pick up their blitzes.  The only thing really scary about them is the buffalo, and as Andrew said, he’s not making the trip.  The mascot making every trip should have been a requirement of Colorado joining the Pac-12.  Have to say though, I saw them run the buffalo out recently, and I was disappointed that they didn’t just turn him loose.  They have 4 people running along beside him.  Let that guy run!  Andrew pointed out that that would be dangerous and crazy.  I pointed out that I didn’t care!

UW 45, Colorado 20

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UW vs. Utah Predictions

Here’s a joke:

A midget’s walking down the street.  As he’s turning a corner, he runs into Wilt Chamberlain.

The midget looks up and says, “Utah!”

Joe

This game is a tough read. The Dawgs are scoring points and moving the ball well. Keith Price is playing at an All-American level. With an offense as potent as UW’s, it’s hard to count them out of any game. The Huskies have already played one tough game on the road in Nebraska, so they will not be intimidated by the rowdy Utes crowd. They played at BYU last season in the altitude, so they should know what to expect. Nevertheless, they are 10 point dogs. I understand why. This is Utah’s Pac-12 home opener, it’s homecoming, the Utes are coming off a beat down of rival BYU, and they just had their bye. Those are all very good signs for Utah. I’ve watched Utah play a couple games this year vs USC and BYU. I wasn’t too impressed with them at USC, and I am not sure how good BYU is, so while the crushing of the Cougars is impressive, just how impressive is yet to be seen depending on how BYU ends up.

This game is very simple, if the Huskies defense plays well, and by well I mean get a few 3rd down stops and don’t give up bone headed plays in the secondary, the Dawgs have a very good chance to win because their offense cannot be stopped, I don’t care how good the Utes D is. My problem is I don’t trust the defense. I just simply have no faith they can put together four quarters of solid defense, and on the road, you can’t afford silly mistakes. They haven’t eliminated the mistakes, so until they do, these games will always be brutal, what could have been finals. Another heart-breaker:

Utah 35 – UW 31

Danny

I used to intern for David Locke at 950 KJR, and he is now a radio host for KFAN in Salt Lake City.  I follow him on twitter and I’ve learned this week that Utah is buzzing over this game.  In fact, ask a Utes fan and he will tell you this game is the most anticipated since the Fiesta Bowl in 2005.  This is not a rivalry, nor a matchup of ranked teams, but Utah is playing its first ever Pac 12 home game.  Apparently this is a really big deal; heck, even a pre-game fireworks show is planned.  In games like this, the first quarter is crucial.  If UW comes in and shuts up the 45,000 “mini” sea of red, then I like our chances to keep it close until the end.  It’s obvious that Utah’s strength is their defense, and their weakness is putting up points.  The Huskies are prolific on offense, but far from great on defense.  Home field advantage, turnovers, special teams, and weird stuff will all loom large, but I think the side that can elevate their weakness will win this game.  My guess is the bye week gives Utah’s offense an advantage, and the atmosphere inspires the defense.

Utah-38, UW-27

Andrew

Does anyone have any idea what’s going to happen in these games?  Why do we make predictions in the first place?  Why does the sun come up in the morning?  One of these has to do with science and the other two questions I’m truly looking for an answer to.  All this pressure of making a prediction just makes me so nervous for the game because I start to think about the game even more than I do in my everyday life (which is quite a lot), and then I get nervous a full 24 hours earlier than I would otherwise.  To summarize, these things are dumb!

But, you want my take on the game?  I think Utah has been talked up way too much.  They beat BYU by 44 points because BYU turned the ball over 8 times.  8 times!  That is ridiculous!  Their other games, they’ve looked solid but nothing more.  That sentence could have been said about the Huskies too.  The Utah offense is suspect, but so is the Husky defense.  The Husky offense is very good, but so is the Utah defense.  It’s a stalemate.  Does that mean it comes down to special teams?  That would mean the Huskies would have a slight edge.  But, I’m picking Utah because this is a game that top-20 teams in the nation win.  I don’t have the faith that the Huskies are quite there yet, but if they win then, for the first time since 2001 (or maybe 2002) I’ll truly believe the Huskies can win any game.  Go Dawgs.

Utah – 34  UW – 27

Matthew

The Huskies seem to be continually faced with games which could possibly come to define them as a football team.  Some, such as the Nebraska game, they’ve lost.  Some, they’ve won.  And still we’re not sure what this team is.  Tomorrow’s game seems like the latest and most definite of these defining contests.  If the Huskies are a better than mediocre team, they should beat Utah on the road.  At the very least, they should keep it competetive until the end.  The truth is, we have no idea what will happen in this game because the Huskies are still incredibly unpredictable, and until they can play well consistently, no single game is defining.

All that being said, this has the makings of a great game, and a win really could be a catalyst toward a big season.  As Joe said, it’s going to rest with the defense.  If they can figure out how to get off the field on third down even half the time, the Dawgs will run away with this game.  I’m not really sure what Utah is.  They are always well-coached, they have solid talent, but their offense is probably the least threatening UW has seen thus far.  Their defense is solid, but the Husky offense is better than that.  Utah is coming off a blowout of BYU followed by a bye.  As Andrew said, BYU had 8 turnovers and almost lost to Utah State tonight.  BYU isn’t very good.  That doesn’t mean Utah isn’t good, but I’m thinking the Dawgs grow up in Salt Lake City tomorrow and pull out the win.

UW 34, Utah 27

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UW vs. Nebraska Predictions

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a local farmer’s market.  Corn was in season.  I bought 4 ears of corn for $1.50.  Several days later, I had maybe the worst day of my year thus far.  I went to work and by noon had a pretty good cold.  The afternoon was fairly miserable, and then I went to the dentist after work, who gave me less than great news.  When I finally got home at 8:00 that night, I lit up the barbecue to make a hamburger.  As I was waiting for it to cook, my dad called.  Our family dog, Monte, whom 11 years ago I had brought home from work where he was dropped off as a stray puppy, had died.  He was literally the best dog on the face of the earth.  It was a crappy day.

Know what else I did that day?  I husked some corn.  I like corn.  I especially like to barbecue corn on the cob, and that’s what I did that day.  It didn’t even taste good.

Anyone can be a corn husker, but few can be Dawgs.  Let’s win this one for Monte.

Andrew

I had meant to put up a preview of Nebraska and a recap of last week on the blog but never got around to it.  The Huskies left me feeling a bit more optimistic after last week but they still had quite a few problems.  The Cornhuskers seem to have holes too.  They blew out Chattanooga but took a while to get rolling in that one.  Last week, they struggled with Fresno State and held on for the win.  Fresno is close to even with Hawaii, if anything they’re a little bit worse.  I believe Nebraska is worse than they were last year, but not by much.  When they stomped the Huskies last September I thought they’d be the National Champion.  So, maybe these teams are a lot closer to even than the betting line suggests.  On defense, the Huskies have to stop Taylor Martinez from running all over them.  He’s the only thing that really scares me for the Huskers.  On offense, the challenge will be to run the ball even though Nebraska knows that the Huskies will be running.  If the Dawgs can get a few big pass plays to start the game, then I think the offense will have some success.  They have to tackle well, not lose any assignments, create turnovers, and play smart physical football.  Frankly, I’m excited for this game.  We can see how the Huskies truly measure up.  Last week we saw glimpses of what the Huskies could be (in the first quarter) and this week they’ll have to be that team for the whole game to win.  I don’t think they’re quite able to pull it off but I think they’ll keep it close, making it a fun game to watch.

Nebraska 31, Huskies 21

Dan

Of all the outcomes, I would only be surprised if the Huskies blowout the Huskers. Outside of this, anything seems possible. Before the season began, I was thinking we would get thumped in this game, because in some ways it really is a recipe for disaster. You have the unbelievable road environment in Lincoln, with its red sea and tradition. The revenge factor is there too, and the talent favors NU as well. Throw in a healthy Taylor Martinez, and a repeat of the 56-21 score last year seems possible. But the strength of the Huskies is their D-line, and nothing Nebraska throws (or runs) at them is going to be a surprise. I doubt Martinez gets bottled up all day, but I think the Dawgs will keep him in check, and force him to throw the ball. I also expect UW to score a little, especially with news that Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska’s stud cornerback, is likely out. Dennard is capable of shutting down one side of the field in the passing game, so his absence could be huge. Despite these reasons to be optimistic, I just see every call, and every bounce going the Cornhuskers way tomorrow. The players in red and white will be amped for this game, and I still think emotion plays a large factor in college football.

Nebraska 45, Washington 20

Joe

I just don’t like where the UW’s defense is at.  I realize Neb runs the ball primarily, and I think UW is much better suited to stop the run.  That said, I think Neb does throw and tries to exploit the Dawgs weakness.  UW  must throw the ball well, because Neb is going to key on Polk, so UW needs to flip conventional thinking: throw to set up the run.  Neb was embarrassed in the Holiday Bowl and they will be jacked up, crowd will be nuts, there’s nothing about this game I like on the road.  Neb simply because of the home field advantage and the revenge factor.  Close early, Neb pulls away late.

Neb 38 – UW 21

Matthew

This is such a strange game.  Everyone knows about the 3 games in a year, with the first two being as different as could possibly be.  Taking away the history, this is a pretty favorable game for the Huskies considering Nebraska is considered a possible top 10 team.  Nebraska is certainly talented, but passing isn’t their strength.  Their secondary, which was the major difference in the first game, has taken a step down, especially if Alfonzo Dennard doesn’t play (probably wishful thinking).  So far, Nebraska has shown themselves to be nowhere near the same team they were last September.

Even with that being the case, I still consider Nebraska the favorite.  They have more talent, they have more experience winning games, and they’re at home.  Plus, it’s not like the Huskies have been dominant this year.  It’s scary but easy to picture Keith Price interceptions, no holes for Chris Polk, and Taylor Martinez running for 200 yards and 4 touchdowns.

For the Huskies to win, I think they have to be balanced on offense and get to at least 27 points.  I think they can do this.  I expect more out of the receivers, and as long as Price doesn’t let the situation get to him, he should have some success.  The defense needs to play like they did in the Holiday Bowl.  Anything much short of that and they could be in trouble.  They can’t let Martinez run wild too often, and they have to consistently control the line of scrimmage.  Up until Friday morning I didn’t give the Huskies much chance, but I’ve talked myself into an upset.  Go Dawgs.

UW 30, Nebraska 24

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UW vs. EWU Predictions

It’s finally here.  Without further ado, here are the Good Guy predictions for the battle royale at Husky Stadium tomorrow.

Joe

Eastern is no slouch, and I don’t think the Huskies will treat them as such. I believe Sark has the Huskies focused and prepared to play the Eagles at a high tempo and tons of emotion. I expect the Eagles to come out jacked and just as prepared, which I think will help the UW get “up” quicker than normal, especially when playing a perceived easy win. I honestly see the Huskies running the ball early, then working the middle of the field with ASJ. I expect Callier to get the bulk of the carries, even if Polk somehow plays or Fogerson. I’d be all for Callier getting a ton of carries. I think the Huskies WRs corps could be unstoppable, how EWU will combat that I have no idea. Defensively the Huskies will be fine, EWU hasn’t seen this level of talent in FCS. There won’t be a shutout, but I don’t expect EWU to move the ball at will. Early season game, lots of jitters, emotions, there will be crazy plays, blown assignments, timing will be off, and the Dawgs will win:

UW 31 – EWU 14

Dan

Even when Washington tries to schedule a cupcake for once, they fail. Eastern is no slouch, and if this were a week 2 game, or god forbid it was being played on the red turf, I’d be very nervous. But the Huskies are at home, and given that this is the first game, the players have had all offseason to think about the Eagles. Bo Levi Mitchell is a legit QB and he has a veteran group of receivers to throw to. I expect Eastern will move the offense through the air, and rack up decent passing totals between the 20s, but the Huskies are too deep, too talented, and too hungry to start 1-0. They can’t lose this game, and they won’t.

Washington–30, Ea. Washington–20

Andrew

If you follow the Huskies at all, you know this week the theme by the coaches has been “1-0.”  In fact, Sark has said that this was the theme since fall camp began.  “1-0.”  The Huskies haven’t started the season with a win since 2007, and if you remember that it wasn’t a feel good win.  We’ve also heard all week about how good Eastern Washington is.  It seems every person in the state has said, “Eastern is going to surprise on Saturday.”  I have no doubt that Eastern is a very good football team that is in the FCS.  But, they’re no match for the team they’ll face on Saturday.  They don’t have as much depth, talent, and it will take a minor miracle for them to win this game.  I’m sure the Dawgs are sick of hearing how Eastern is going to surprise them.  I’m sure they’re sick of Eastern players saying, “The Huskies don’t respect us” or things to that extent even though no Husky player or coach has come close to saying that.  It’s a Saturday on Montlake and Husky football is on its way back.  The Dawgs make it a bit stressful but then dominate.  Welcome back Huskies, I’ve been waiting for this since a certain night in late December.

Huskies 38, EWU 13 

Matthew

Eastern is certainly scarier than the typical FCS team, but I think their talent is maybe getting a bit overblown.  Could the Huskies lose this game?  Sure, it’s possible, I guess.  Will they? Not a chance in the world.  Eastern might score a few points, but I can’t see this being close.  My only question is how long it takes the Huskies to break away.  In past years, they’ve started slowly in the few blow outs they’ve had before pulling away later.  This Saturday, I’m hoping the first quarter has Jesse Callier running through 10-foot holes, Jermaine Kearse 20 feet behind the EWU secondary, and Bo Levi Mitchell flat on his back after every play.  Go Dawgs!

UW 48, EWU 17

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Hello Dawg Fans

To anyone still reading this nearly dormant blog, welcome to the 2011 season of college football and the first season for the new Pac-12 Conference.  This is a favorite time of year for the Good Guys, so you should start to see a lot more posts here.  Personally, I am finally done with the graduate school that’s kept me from posting for the past 8 months or so, and I’m looking forward to getting back to writing.

The Pac-12 season kicks off for everyone this week, with Arizona State and Utah both kicking off tomorrow and everyone else starting the season on Saturday.  The only real attention grabbers for the weekend are UCLA at Houston and the battle of off-season troublemakers between Oregon and LSU.  Everyone else plays an FCS or comparable team.  Not to say that all of the teams have a definite win, but even the Cougars should have a pretty easy go of it this week.

Reading through the multitude of Pac-12 previews over the last few weeks, the conference seems unsure, at least after Oregon and Stanford at the top.  Oregon, despite the offseason drama, is still as fast as anyone and a threat to return to the BCS championship.  Stanford has a few more questions after losing Jim Harbaugh and several receivers, but they still have Andrew Luck and as much or more talent as anyone else in the conference.  Expect these two to stay at the top of the league, perhaps meeting as undefeated teams later in the season. Unfortunately, both play in the new North division with the Huskies, meaning that only one of them can play in the new Pac-12 Championship.  Of course, if the Huskies want to play in it instead, they’ll probably have to beat at least one of these teams and win just about everything else.  More on them in a bit.

After those two, the pecking order is anything but clear.  In the south, there is talent with question marks.  ASU looked like the top dog, but they’ve suffered some major injury losses, and the Sun Devils haven’t met expectations since Jake the Snake was there, as far as I can remember.  USC still has excellent talent, but they’re banned from the postseason.  Utah is always good, but how they’ll transition to the Pac-12 is a big question.  Arizona could put up crazy passing numbers if they’re o-line holds up.  Even UCLA and Colorado seem like they could surprise, although each have big questions or weaknesses.  I could truly see just about any order of finish in the south, but none of these teams seem truly dominant.

There is similar uncertainty after Stanford and Oregon in the north.  California might have the conference’s top defense to go with some weapons on offense.  If new quarterback Zach Maynard can consistently get the ball to Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones and Isi Sofele provides a reasonable facsimile of Shane Vereen, they could easily surprise and make a bowl.  It’s hard to imagine Oregon State struggling for a full year, but the offseason has not been kind to them.  They lost Jacquizz Rodgers somewhat surprisingly to the NFL and will start the year with at least four starters out due to injury.  James Rodgers is among those who might return later in the year, so it’s quite possible this will be another season where the Beavers play good football by November.  They have questions on both lines even before the injuries, however, so I have my doubts.  Cougar fans have been talking for months about this being their season to break out.  Their schedule starts easy, and if they can beat San Diego State to go 3-0, they might have something this year.  WSU is definitely better than they have been, but I’m betting talk of a bowl game will prove to be wishful thinking.

That leaves us with the University of Washington.  They’re being picked anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the north, with projections of 6-8 wins.  That seems likely, with a couple of significant injuries the only real plausible path to fewer than 5 wins.  It’s become difficult to expect much out of the Huskies, but this might be the year that starts to change.  I remember a comment on a chat board somewhere saying that the Dawgs won’t really return to dominance until they have Pac-12 starter level players who are unable to get onto the field.  The Huskies are still too young for that to really be the case this year, but they’re getting closer.  Their talent level and depth is significantly better than it has been in years.  They have difference-makers at every position.  The question now is whether all of these players are actually ready to make a difference.  The offensive line needs to translate their talent into consistent performance.  The young linebackers on either side of Cort Dennison will have to grow up and make plays in a hurry.   Everyone else just needs to show consistency.  There is plenty of talent, but in past years it hasn’t always produced results.

After that, it comes down largely to one player: Keith Price.  If the rest of the team plays up to its talent-level, he only needs to be okay.  Manage the game, make most of his open passes, not do anything crazy and the team should be fine.  I think he can do that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does more.  Jake Locker was one of my favorite Huskies of all time, but realistically, he wasn’t that great last year.  Price should be able to produce similar, if not better, passing numbers.  However, like many great quarterbacks, Jake had the ability to get better and make plays when he needed to.  There’s no way to know if Price can consistently do that yet.  Probably, he can’t, but luckily there are plenty of others on the team who might be able to fill that void.

I don’t know what the actual over/under line is on regular season Husky wins.  If I had to guess, I would set it at 6 1/2.  I’ve talked myself into expecting 7-5 or 8-4 before a bowl game, and if everything broke right I could see even better than that.  It’s been 11 years since everything broke right for the Huskies.  I’d say they’re due.

-Matthew

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Montlake Jake

Jake Locker was a part of Husky football long before he enrolled at the University of Washington in 2006.  His legend, of a state champion quarterback with lightning feet and the size and toughness to be recruited as a safety by USC, had long since rolled south from Ferndale.  He was Montlake Jake before stepping on campus, destined to resurrect a football program suffering through its worst seasons in decades. 

The legend only grew when he turned down major league baseball, something that his almost predecessor Matt Tuiasosopo didn’t do several years earlier.  He spent 2006 redshirting, to some controversy.  The team could have used him, and many were concerned that Jake would be gone to the NFL as soon as he became eligible.  Regardless, it was no surprise when he easily won the starting job in 2007 and made his debut at Syracuse.

It was everything Husky fans had hoped for.  Jake ran up and down the field, showing the lightning speed and strong arm that had so long been rumored.  He wasn’t polished by any means, especially his passing, but that was to be expected from a freshman making his first start, and it wasn’t hard to imagine him leading the Huskies to a Rose Bowl win a few years later before becoming the first pick in the draft.  The talent was that obvious, that mind-blowing.

And then things didn’t quite go to plan.  2007 was respectable but disappointing, more from a team standpoint than individual.  Expectations were fairly high coming into 2008.  The Huskies started the year with losses, none more devastating than against BYU, where the now infamous celebration penalty against Jake cost the Huskies a possible win.  Still, Jake’s passing looked improved, and the poise he showed in leading that last minute drive against BYU would surely be put to better use down the road.  In the fourth game of the year, against Stanford, everything fell apart.  Jake broke his thumb while blocking, and stayed on the sidelines for the rest of the year.  The rest of the team spiraled lower than anyone thought possible.  Tyrone Willingham was fired but allowed to coach the rest of the season, and the team lost all will to fight.  They went winless, even falling to the equally hapless Cougars in the Apple Cup.  Some argue that the talent on that squad was better than most winless teams, but few teams have ever been as low emotionally as the 2008 team was to end the season.

2009 brought a new coach in Steve Sarkisian and a new attitude, along with Locker’s return.  The turn-around they made that season now seems nothing short of remarkable.  Central to the season was an astonishing upset against #3 USC, as Jake calmly led UW down the field for a last second field goal to win.  The season was up and down, ending in five wins, but the Huskies won their last two against WSU and Cal in dominating fashion, leading to huge expectations for 2010 and that potential #1 spot in the draft for Locker, if he wanted to leave early to take it. 

No one would have been a bit surprised if he had left, and the national media had pretty much written him off as a former Husky, when he walked into Sarkisian’s office with his new dog, Ten, and nonchalantly announced that he was coming back for one more year.  Fans started talking of the Heisman and winning eight or nine games, a juggernaut offense behind Jake, Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse a seeming certainty.

The only problem was that the team just wasn’t that good yet.  The offensive line, along with the rest of the offense, struggled, and the defense was inconsistent.  The Huskies lost a winnable opener to BYU, beat Syracuse, and then got crushed by Nebraska.  They beat USC again and won a thriller at Husky Stadium against Oregon State, but Jake spent the second half of the season nursing broken ribs and the Huskies dropped three straight to a murderer’s row of Arizona, Stanford and Oregon to fall to 3-6.  Even with three winnable games remaining, hopes for a bowl game were nearly gone, and Jake’s reputation had taken a major hit during an inconsistent and lackluster season.

Then UCLA came to town on a cold Thursday night.  It was close for the first half of the game before UCLA began to fall apart.  UW seemed to grow up that game, sensing the victory was theirs to take, and they finally took it.  By the end it was a laugher, with the Huskies pounding on a completely inept Bruin offense.  The Huskies next went to Berkley in a faceoff of two teams trying to keep their bowl hopes alive.  Cal’s offense was nearly as bad as UCLA’s, but UW had a difficult time against a stout Bear defense.  Trailing by three in the final minutes, Jake again took over.  Clearly still hampered by the rib injury.  He threw a long pass that Kearse made a great play on en route to moving the Huskies to the goal line in the final minute.  The Bear defense stopped them there, however, and it looked like the Huskies would settle for a field goal to tie it.  Sarkisian decided otherwise, and in a play that may have single-handedly restored Husky football  to its traditional state of toughness and excellence, Chris Polk plunged through the line untouched, and the Huskies were 5-6 going into the Apple Cup.

Jake again wasn’t perfect against the Cougars, throwing an interception just before halftime that made a close game out of what probably should have been a blowout.  Polk made the difference, though, running for 284 yards, and the Huskies found themselves in the now familiar spot of having the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.  Locker and Polk again marched down the field, and Jake threw a perfect pass to Kearse for a go-ahead touchdown. 

The Huskies would play in the Holiday Bowl.  Montlake Jake’s legend was cemented in Husky lore.

No one expected a win in the Holiday Bowl rematch against Nebraska, and now, of course, no one will ever forget it.  The team seemed to finally take on the full personality of Jake Locker, dominating with their toughness, playing loose and aggressive and fast.  They exerted their will and did whatever was necessary to win.  When Jake found no open receivers for nearly the entire game, he calmly threw the ball away or scrambled for first downs.  The offense came differently, with a pass from Jesse Callier to Locker, and then Polk and Locker ripped the heart out of the Cornhuskers as they ran over and through their vaunted defense.  Mason Foster, in many ways Locker’s twin on defense, led an effort that saw the Huskies dominate the line of scrimmage and limit the Huskers to under 150 yards of total offense before a late desperation drive brought the total to 189.  Before that last drive, the defense held Nebraska to an incredible -36 yards in the fourth quarter. 

The final score was 19-7, but the domination was greater than even the score would tell

Now, the legend of Montlake Jake is complete.  It didn’t end in a Rose Bowl win or national championship, there is no Heisman, and Jake won’t be the #1 pick overall.  And yet, I don’t know that The Jake Locker Era could have been any more satisfying if all that had come true.  It feels as though it took a complete collapse that sent this football team to the lowest place imaginable for Jake Locker to get a chance to show who he is and what he could do.  This team was remade in his image.  For all his physical gifts that fans will marvel about for decades, what will be most remembered is his calm eyes in the biggest moments, his toughness, his loyalty, and a level of character not often seen in college football.

College football is the ultimate fan sport, and only so often do players come along that connect with the fans on a special level.  The only such Husky I remember is Marques Tuiasosopo, whose charisma and late game heroics will be etched in my mind forever.  I wasn’t quite old enough to have those type of ties with the early ’90’s teams, although I’m sure there are plenty who do.  My dad seems to remember Sonny Sixkiller that way.  Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson were certainly that on the basketball court.  Reggie Williams and others had the onfield talent and production to be remembered, but for whatever reason, there was never quite the connection with the fans that moved them to that other level.

Jake Locker is that kind of player who will be remembered forever by anyone who watched him these past four years.  His physical talents were incredible, but it is our good fortune as football fans that the intangible gifts that separated him from others are what also allowed him to bring Husky football back from the dead. 

Jake Locker is everything we could ever want a football player to be.  There will never be another Montlake Jake, but his legend will live forever.

-Matthew

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