Danny Shelton and the Husky Defense will need another stellar performance this week against Cal.
Game: Washington Huskies @ California Golden Bears
Where: Berkeley, CA
When: October 11th, 3:00 pm
Channel: PAC-12 Networks
Line: Cal by 4 points
Will the Husky offense be improved? Will the Husky offense truly be improved, or will it only appear that way against the worst defense in the PAC-12? It is no secret that the Washington Huskies have struggled offensively this season. Husky fans have spent much of the bye week criticizing the play of quarterback, Cyler Miles, and the play-calling of offensive coordinator, Jonathan Smith. I would urge Husky Nation not to panic. Expect to see a much improved offense tomorrow against Cal. However, will the newfound offensive success be credited to coaching changes over the bye week? Or will our offense simply be a by-product of playing a very weak Cal defense? Only time will tell.
How will the Huskies young secondary respond after their first great performance? The inexperienced youth of the Washington Husky defensive backfield have been criticized heavily early on this season. However, these young Dawgs responded in a big way two weeks ago against Stanford. Three true freshman, Budda Baker, Sidney Jones, and Naijel Hale, started and played the best games of their young Husky careers. Enter Jared Goff and the high-flying Cal offense. How will these young Husky players respond to their first hint of success? Will they relapse under the constant pressure of Cal’s offense? Or will they continue gaining confidence and hold their ground?
Quarterback. Cyler Miles has struggled as a passer all year long. Outside of a few explosive plays to John Ross III, Miles has been relatively ineffective in the passing game. With that being said, look for Miles to have one of his better games against a porous Cal defense. Cal’s QB, Jared Goff, ranks third in the nation in passer efficiency with a 188.5. On top of that, the Cal offense ranks in the top 3 nation-wide in every passing category. Edge goes to Cal here.
Running Backs. The Washington Huskies struggled to establish the run two weeks ago against an elite Stanford defense. However, expect Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman to find more running room against a more lenient Cal defense. Cal’s respectable running attack has been led by Daniel Lasco and Khalfani Muhammad. As a team, the Golden Bears are averaging 4.1 yards per carry and have scored eight touchdowns this season. The Huskies are averaging 4.3 yards per carry and have scored twelve touchdowns on the ground. Edge, Washington.
Wide Receivers. The Washington Husky receivers have struggled this season. Veterans Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens have failed to make their presence felt consistently. John Ross III has supplied the only excitement all year for the Husky offense, but he too has failed to perform consistently throughout the entirety of a game. The Cal receiving corps is a different story. Cal’s top five receivers have 15+ catches each on the season; more than all but one Husky WR. Led by veterans Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler, and Chris Harper, the Cal passing attack is second to none…well maybe Washington State. But you get the point. Edge, Cal.
Tight End. Washington Huskies have a solid TE duo in sophomore receiving TE, Darrell Daniels, and senior blocking TE, Michael Hartvigson. It seems only a matter of time before Daniels has his breakout performance; don’t be surprised if that is the case tomorrow. Cal’s offense does not utilize a TE and does not even have a TE listed on their roster. Edge, Washington.
Offensive Line. Both teams have done a good job along the offensive line keeping their QB upright. The Huskies have given up 9 sacks and Cal has only given up 8 sacks. Considering how many times the Golden Bears pass, giving up only 8 sacks is fairly impressive. However, the Golden Bears have yet to face a defensive front like that of the Washington Huskies. In the end, I believe that the Washington offensive line’s ability to establish the running game will be the deciding factor in this game. Edge, Huskies.
Defensive Line. Not even a question here. Led by Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha, the Huskies defensive line has truly been one of the nation’s elite units. Washington ranks 3rd in the nation with 20 sacks on the season; it will be vital for the Huskies to apply pressure on Jared Goff and disrupt his timing. Cal’s defensive line has not performed well so far this season only sacking opposing quarterbacks 8 times. Edge, Washington.
Linebackers. The Washington Husky defense is 2nd in the country in turnover margin, in large part due to the play of their linebackers. This group has scored 4 defensive touchdowns in 5 games (Shaq 3, Timu 1.) Led by Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney this unit is experienced, talented, and supremely athletic. Edge, Huskies.
Defensive Secondary. I can’t believe that I am actually going to do this…the edge here is going to the Huskies! The young Washington secondary have been targeted and exploited in nearly every game this season. However, coming off of their strongest performance of the year against Stanford these guys might have finally turned the page. With that being said, Cal is certainly going to rack up the yards and points with their potent passing attack. The only reason the Huskies are getting the edge here is simply because last week Cal gave up a NATIONAL RECORD 734 yards to Connor Halliday and the Washington State Cougars. Cal may have the worst pass defense in the nation. Edge, Washington.
Special Teams. Can John Ross III finally return a kickoff for a touchdown without having it negated for a penalty? Ross has been one of the country’s elite kick returners and expect for his impact to be felt tomorrow in Berkeley. Dante Pettis has shown that he is a dangerous punt returner rounding out a solid return game for the Huskies. Korey Durkee and Cameron Van Winkle have answered all of their critics and have played nearly flawless up to this point in the season. Cal’s special teams have been respectable all season, however, it does not have the same game-breaking potential as the Washington Huskies. Edge, Huskies.
Washington 48 Cal 45
It will be interesting to see how the Washington Huskies respond to their first road game in over a month. I believe that Coach Pete will have the Huskies locked in and ready to perform after the bye week. The Huskies will lean heavily on their run game while Cyler Miles shows improvement in the passing attack. Washington will once again rely on the offense to take care of the football and avoid turnovers. I expect the Huskies to win the turnover battle in Berkeley this weekend. With that being said, Cal will move the ball at will on this Husky defense; however, these Dawgs will bend but not break and come up with one big play to secure their 5th victory on the season. Go Dawgs!