Game: Stanford Cardinal vs. Washington Huskies
Where: Seattle, WA
When: Sept. 27thth, 1:15pm
Line: Stanford by 7 points.
Will the coaches open up the playbook and trust Cyler Miles to throw down the middle of the field? It is no secret that the 2014 Husky squad has struggled to pass the ball over the middle of the field. The Huskies appeared to make a conscious effort to establish a passing game in the first half against Georgia State last week. It was an embarrassing effort as our offense was shutout the first half against a Sun Belt team. Fortunately, the Dawgs could turn to the running game and find a way to win in the second half. However, if the Huskies remain one-dimensional on offense the Stanford defense will dominate this game. If the Huskies are going to compete and have a chance to win in this game, Cyler Miles will have to show the ability to step up in the pocket and deliver some big-time throws down the middle of the field.
How will the Huskies offensive and defensive lines compare to their Stanford counterparts? Recently, Stanford has become known for their dominance along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They have established themselves as the “status quo” along the offensive and defensive lines in the PAC-12. This year is no exception; the Cardinal boasts the most formidable offensive line in the PAC-12 along with one of the best defenses in the country. Through the first four games of the season the Huskies strength has been the offensive line and defensive front seven. The offensive line has been able to assert their dominance and establish a solid running attack and the defensive line has been extremely productive so far. Just how good are the Huskies in the trenches? We will have our answer tomorrow afternoon. If the Huskies can compete in the trenches, they will certainly have a shot at taking down the 16th ranked Stanford Cardinal.
Quarterback. Stanford QB, Kevin Hogan gets the edge here. Hogan is far more experienced than UW’s Cyler Miles. I personally believe that Miles has more potential and play-making ability; however, it is tough to beat Hogan’s 73% completion percentage and 7:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
Running Backs. Stanford seems to always have a productive running back, and this year is no different. Barry Sanders Jr. (son of…well you know who) gives the Cardinal an explosive player in the backfield. Sanders Jr. is shifty and elusive just like his father was. However, I am giving the edge here to the Washington Huskies and their stable of running backs. The Dawgs have three running backs that have more carries than Stanford’s leading rusher. The combination of Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, and Deontae Cooper has proven to be effective. Throw in a series with Shaq in the backfield and you really have something special at the running back position. Edge, Huskies.
Wide Receivers. Neither team has looked all that impressive through the air this season even though both teams have veteran players at the wide receiver position. The Washington receivers have an abundance of talent and potential, but they have underperformed so far this season. The Cardinal receiving corps has been slightly more productive this season and therefore has the edge at this position. Led by Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, and Michael Rector the Cardinal have plenty of talent to throw to.
Tight End. The Washington Huskies are beginning to see the emergence of sophomore, converted wide receiver, Darrell Daniels. Daniels has converted a couple of big third down catches and seems to be improving week to week. With that being said, the edge goes to Stanford’s Austin Hooper. Hooper is 6-4 250 lbs and the Cardinal’s second leading receiver. He has 12 catches on the season for 170 yards and a touchdown. Edge, Stanford.
Offensive Line. Both teams rely heavily on their offensive line and both groups have performed exceptionally leading up to this game. Washington has experience and talent spread throughout their two-deep rotation up front. Likewise, Stanford boasts a plethora of talent and veteran leadership across their offensive line. I am giving the slight edge here to the Cardinal due to their sustained dominance along the offensive line the past five years.
Defensive Line. Has anyone in the nation dominated the line of scrimmage like Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha have!? Shelton and Kikaha are leading the nation in sacks and have exceeded everyone’s expectations so far this season. Without taking anything away from their performance, it is important to note that they have played against inferior offensive lineman throughout the first four games of the season. Tomorrow will be their first true test, the “great” Stanford Cardinal offensive line. I believe that the Huskies will be up to the challenge. Huskies get the edge here simply because Danny Shelton alone has as many sacks as the entire Stanford defense.
Linebackers. Stanford’s linebacker unit is led by A.J. Tarpley, Kevin Anderson, and James Vaughters. All three have performed at a high level this season. However, all three weigh over 245 lbs which may make covering Washington’s Legion of Zoon difficult. The edge here goes the Huskies experienced and ultra-talented linebacking corps of Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney who have a combined three defensive touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Defensive Secondary. Husky Nation was sure glad to see Marcus Peters back in the lineup last week as he picked off two passes and had a third interception negated by a questionable pass interference penalty. Peters has proven he can hold his own against some of the best receivers in the nation. Freshmen Sidney Jones and Budda Baker have shown improvement week to week; however, the Huskies secondary has still struggled for extended periods of time against each of their first four opponents. The Stanford Cardinal defense has yet to give up a passing touchdown. Pretty easy pick here, edge goes to Stanford.
Special Team. Two of the nation’s elite return teams will be on full display tomorrow in Husky Stadium. Stanford’s Ty Montgomery and Washington’s combination of John Ross III and Dante Pettis are downright electrifying. Montgomery has already returned a punt for a touchdown this season; John Ross III had a kick return touchdown called back due to a penalty and Pettis showed off his moves last week. The return game is a draw in my eyes. The special teams edge is won by Washington’s kicking game. Korey Durkee has been decent punting the ball with a 38-yard average and Cameron Van Winkle is 6 for 6 on his field goal attempts, including a 51-yard bomb. Stanford has struggled punting and especially place-kicking. Place-kciker, Jordan Williamson has only converted 2 of his 5 attempted field goals. Edge, Washington Huskies.
Stanford 27 Washington 24. The stage is set for the biggest game in Chris Petersen’s short tenure as the Husky’s Head Coach. The 16th ranked Stanford Cardinal are coming to town, the UW students are back in school, and the stadium will be packed and “blacked-out.” The environment will be electric when the game kicks off at 1:15pm tomorrow afternoon. Expect both teams to try to establish their running attack; however, that is playing to the strengths of the opponent’s defense. I think the Huskies matchup well with Stanford and will have a chance to pull off the upset. In the end, I think that the Huskies youth will make one more critical error than a more experienced Cardinal squad. Bring out the chips and dip, grab a cold one, and enjoy what promises to be a great college football game. Go Dawgs!