Game: Washington Huskies vs. #14 Arizona State Sun Devils
Where: Seattle, WA
When: October 25thth, 7:45 pm
Line: ASU by 3 points
How will redshirt freshman QB, Troy Williams, respond to his first start for the Washington Huskies? Starting QB, Cyler Miles, was sidelined last week against Oregon with concussion symptoms. It hasn’t been officially confirmed, but it would be safe to assume that Miles did not pass concussion protocols this week vacating the starting quarterback position. Enter Troy Williams. Williams began the season as the 3rd string QB behind both Miles and Jeff Lindquist. However, the coaches have been impressed with Troy’s progress as he has surpassed Lindquist as the backup quarterback. In order to beat ASU, Troy Williams must play within himself, keep his composure, and take what the defense gives him.
Quarterback. As mentioned above, the Huskies will be starting redshirt freshman Troy Williams at the quarterback position. Williams is talented but extremely raw and inexperienced. ASU will be led by their veteran QB, Taylor Kelly. He has proven to be a more than effective signal caller at this level; so too has his backup, Mike Bercovici. Regardless who starts for either team, the Arizona State duo has proven to be much more consistent and effective this season. Edge, Sun Devils.
Running Backs. In the beginning of the season it looked like the Huskies bread and butter on offense would be their running game. However, the Dawgs have really struggled the past two weeks establishing the run which is a reason for concern moving forward. Arizona State on the other hand has a veteran running back that is equally effective in the passing game in D.J. Foster. Expect Foster to make the most of his touches running and catching ball out of the backfield. Edge, ASU.
Wide Receivers. The Washington receiving corps have been underwhelming this season outside of one or two plays a game by John Ross III. Kasen Williams has adopted the persona of a snow leopard as he seemingly disappears come game time. Jaydon Mickens has racked up nearly 40 receptions, but he too has failed to make his presence felt consistently. On the contrary, ASU has one of the most underrated WR’s in the conference in my opinion. Jaelen Strong has quietly had a great year for the Sun Devils with 49 receptions, 689 yards, and 6 TDs. Edge, Sun Devils.
Tight End. The Washington Huskies have talent and depth at the TE position. Joshua Perkins and Darrell Daniels can stretch the field down the seam with their athleticism and receiving ability, while Michael Hartvigson can use his blocking skills to aid the running and passing game. Arizona State has also gotten decent production from their top two TE’s, Kody Kohl and De’Marieya Nelson. At the end of the day, the Husky TE’s are more likely to come up with a big play. Edge, Huskies.
Offensive Line. For the second week in a row the Washington offensive line has struggled to open running lanes and keep their QB upright. I firmly believe that much of the offensive problems are initiated with poor blocking. The best friend to a young quarterback is a solid running attack and the Huskies have been inconsistent on the ground recently. With that being said, the Husky lineman are still experienced, talented, and athletic. However, I am giving the edge here to the ASU lineman as they have given up fewer sack in an offense that has attempted more passes. Also, the Sun Devils average 5.1 yards per carry as opposed to UW’s 4.1 yards per carry. Edge, ASU.
Defensive Line. Hau’oli Kikaha is a QB’s worst nightmare. He is an assassin off the edge. Even the all-elusive Marcus Mariota couldn’t escape. Kikaha sacked Mariota 2.5 times last week to give him 12.5 on the season…good enough to lead the nation. Up the middle is the run-stuffing Danny Shelton who leads the team with 57 tackles. Opponents are only averaging 3.3 yards per carry against the Dawgs. The Sun Devils have given up an average of 4.8 yards per carry to opponents. Edge, Huskies.
Linebackers. The Husky linebackers didn’t score last weekend…that’s weird. Oh wait! John Timu dropped a sure pick-six on Oregon’s first drive. The Washington linebacker unit of Shaq, Timu, and Feeney continue to impress and expect them to carry this momentum into tomorrow night’s game. I think this group of backers are second to none in the nation. Edge, Washington.
Defensive Secondary. The Washington Husky defensive backfield has improved tremendously this season. Earlier in the season they were anemic and consistently getting gashed. Last week was a rough week for the secondary against an elite passer, Marcus Mariota. However, Husky fans should be excited about the young talent and potential on the back end of the defense. However, the ASU defensive secondary is more experienced and has performed more consistently to this point in the season. Edge, ASU.
Special Teams. As he does each week, John Ross III will certainly make his presence felt as a kick returner. Cameron Van Winkle and Korey Durkee likewise, have been very consistent this season in the Husky kicking game. All around the Washington Huskies have a solid special teams unit. Arizona State has had a respectable special teams unit this season as well. With that being said, their place-kicker Zane Gonzalez has struggled from beyond 40 yards. Edge, Huskies.
Washington 24 Arizona State 27
Throughout this entire week I was preparing for the Washington Huskies to upset the #14 Arizona State Sun Devils; however, with Troy Williams getting his first start at quarterback this weekend it will be an uphill battle. Asking a young and inexperienced QB to operate an offensive efficiently and mistake free against a top-25 team is a tall order. With that being said, I believe that the Huskies will be competitive in this game as the offensive establishes the run and the defense anchors in and tests the Sun Devil offense. In the end, Williams comes up one completion short on a potentially game winning drive in his first collegiate start.