- Defensive Line. The Husky defensive line has cemented themselves as one of the best units in the nation. Last weekend they performed admirably against a formidable Stanford offensive line. The Huskies defense has been able to consistently rush the passer led by nose tackle Danny Shelton and ‘buck’ end Hau’oli Kikaha. Shelton and Kikaha are tied for 3rd in the country with 7 sacks a piece. These two must continue this level of play looking forward to next week’s matchup against the pass-heavy California Golden Bears.
- Linebackers. The Dawgs boast one of the most talented linebacker units in the PAC-12 and perhaps the nation. There is plenty of experience and big-play potential between Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney. The Washington Huskies rank 2nd in the FBS with a fabulous turnover margin of +2.20, thanks to the linebackers who have created 4 defensive TD’s this season. The Huskies will need to be on their ‘A-game’ against Cal; however, there will plenty of opportunities for this group to create turnovers and help out a struggling Husky offense.
- Special Teams. Obviously all fingers point to John Ross III and Dante Pettis starring in the Huskies electric return game. Both Ross III and Pettis have the ability to score from anywhere on the field and have proven to be consistent and deadly. With that being said, the play of punter Korey Durkee and kicker Cameron Van Winkle has been excellent. Durkee is averaging 42.4 yards per punt and has consistently pinned the opposing team deep in their own territory. Additionally, Van Winkle has been perfect on all 6 field goal attempts including a 51-yarder.
- Quarterback. Cyler Miles has received much criticism in light of recent offensive struggles, particularly last week against Stanford. I would remind Husky Nation that Stanford has the 2nd best defense statistically in the county and not to panic. We played a GREAT defense and we certainly struggled. With that being said, Miles needs to play better. More specifically, he needs to see the field and find the open receivers. Numerous times Miles has simply not seen wide open Husky receivers deep down the field. Now part of that is on the offensive line, Miles has to consistently take his eyes off of receivers early in order to avoid the rush. The struggles of the offense cannot simply be placed on a single person; however, Cyler Miles will need to improve if the Huskies wish to compete for the PAC-12 North this season.
- Wide Receivers. The Husky receivers have truly struggled this season. John Ross III has shown flashes of brilliance scoring four touchdowns of 55-yards or more. Ross III has proven to be one of the most electrifying players in the country; however, the Husky offense has not been able to get the ball to him consistently. On top of that, veteran receivers Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens have yet to make their presence felt. Both have struggled to build chemistry with Cyler Miles and be consistently effective throughout the entirety of a game. These Husky receivers need to do a better job creating space and creating easy throws to help out their young QB.
- Defensive Secondary. At one point last week against Stanford the Huskies had three true freshman in the secondary: Sidney Jones, Naijel Hale, and Budda Baker. The level of inexperience in the defensive backfield has been evident throughout the first five games of the season; however, all three played the best games of their young Husky careers. Matched up against Stanford’s big and athletic receivers like Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste, the young Dawgs held their own. This group is certainly improving, but their inconsistency and inexperience will continue to be exploited next week against the pass-happy Golden Bears.
The Huskies are 4-1 which is exactly where they were expected to be on their bye week. Although it was not pretty in any shape or form, the Dawgs have continually found a way to win the games they were supposed to win. Personally, I don’t think this bye week could have come at a better point in the season. Coach Pete and his staff have plenty of game-film to analyze and will adjust accordingly. The additional week will be beneficial for all aspects of the offense, particularly the chemistry between Miles and his receivers. All in all, the Huskies are in a promising position. I remain optimistic that the offense will find its groove and the young secondary will continue to improve. Looking forward, I see the Huskies winning at least four of their last eight games. That would result in an 8-5 regular season record and a bowl game for a first year coach and QB in the ultra-competitive PAC-12. Not a terrible start to the Chris Petersen era if you ask me.