Game: Washington Huskies @ Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Where: Honolulu, HI
When: 7:30pm (PT)
Line: Huskies by 17.5 points.
New Coaches. Husky Nation is anxious to see what the new Chris Petersen-led Huskies can do. With new coaches, new players, new schemes, and new jerseys, what will the 2014 Dawgs look like? Coach Pete has said all of the right things this far through spring and fall camp. With that being said, spring ball is spring ball and fall camp is fall camp, this is the real deal now. Will Coach Pete and his staff have their players fired up and ready to unleash the Dawgs? Only time will tell.
New Players. Five faces that were synonymous with Husky Football either left or graduated last year: Steve Sarkisian, Keith Price, Bishop Sankey, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Sean Parker. A new coaching regime is in town and with it comes an influx of young talent vying for their shot at becoming the face of the program. Will starting quarterback Jeff Lindquist exceed expectations and hold off a promising Cyler Miles as the quarterback of the future? Will Dwayne Washington continue the trend of great Husky running backs started by Chris Polk and Bishop Sankey? Will Kasen Williams string together a healthy and productive season? Will the defensive front seven take one step further in cementing themselves as an elite force in college football? Will the young and talented freshman defensive backs hold their own against Division-1 athletes? Husky fans have heard a lot about this kid named Budda Baker, just how good is he?
Quarterback. The QB position is a wash due to the inexperience of both team’s quarterbacks. Both Jeff Lindquist and Ikaika Woolsey have yet to take any meaningful snaps in a regular season game. Without any game experience or game film on either passer it would be impossible to give an edge to either team.
Running Back. This position is nip and tuck between the two teams. Washington is more athletically gifted and has significantly better depth; however, all four Washington running backs remain unproven. In the end, the edge goes to Hawaii and their senior workhorse of a RB, Joey Iosefa. Iosefa is a monster standing 6 feet tall and weighing in at 245 lbs, but he will be challenged by Washington’s stout front seven.
Wide Receiver. Washington’s receivers are experienced and possess electrifying speed and play making ability. Hawaii’s receiving corps has been depleted from last year due to graduation and injuries. The edge here definitely goes to Washington and the Legion of Zoom.
Tight End. Neither team heavily utilizes their tight ends; however, the edge goes to Washington due to their superior athleticism, depth, and experience.
Offensive Line. This is an area of strength on the Huskies roster entering the season. Washington boasts big, agile, and experienced lineman across the starting line and even into their second string. Hawaii’s o-line should be improved from a dismal performance a year ago; however, the edge certainly lies with the Huskies here.
Defensive Line. This is also an area of strength for the Huskies entering the season. Similar to the offensive line, the Huskies have a ton of talented and capable depth. Hau’oli Kikaha is an assassin rushing the passer, and expect him to be extra motivated to play well in front of his family on his home island. Hawaii boasts some big and athletic bodies up front, but they can’t match the experience or depth of Washington. Edge goes to the Huskies.
Linebackers. Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney all return from a spectacular 2013 campaign for the Huskies. Enough said. Edge, Huskies.
Defensive Backfield. Washington is inexperienced at three of the four secondary positions. The Huskies received an influx of talent which includes freshmen Budda Baker, Naijel Hale, and Sidney Jones; however, freshmen are bound to have their ups and downs. Hawaii’s secondary is led by experienced upperclassmen poised to rebound from a lackluster 2013 season. With that being said, All-American hopeful Marcus Peters and the raw playmaking ability of freshman Budda Baker give the Huskies the slight edge.
Special Teams. Special Teams is always tough to predict before the season starts. Nobody knows how kickers will respond to the pressure, particularly the inexperienced Washington kickers and punters. The kicking edge goes to Hawaii’s seniors Tyler Hadden and Ruben Guzman. However, the Huskies have perhaps the most electrifying return game in the country. The Legion of Zoom will be on full display from the moment John Ross, Jaydon Mickens, Marvin Hall, or Budda Baker catch the ball. The return game will have a larger overall impact on this game than the kicking, and therefore the special teams edge goes to Washington.
UW 41 Hawaii 13 Washington’s speed and explosiveness at the skill positions will overwhelm the Rainbow Warriors defense. Jeff Lindquist will successfully operate the offense, minimize critical errors, and consistently get the ball to our play makers in open space. Expect the Offensive Line to set the tone early by dominating the line of scrimmage opening up big holes for Dwayne Washington and the other Husky running backs. The Huskies tackling ability will be challenged by Hawaii’s bulldozing RB, Joey Iosefa. Look for Washington’s defensive front seven to plug up running lanes and contain Iosefa. Also, Hawaii will certainly test the Huskies youthful secondary, but the young guns will answer the bell and hold their own. At the end of the day, an athletically superior Husky roster will prove to be too much for the Rainbow Warriors to handle.