Thoughts and Predictions: UW @ Arizona – John Ross on defense!? Are the Huskies a divided team?

John Ross III dodging traffic on his way to a long TD reception against Cal earlier this season. Ross III has been moved to the defensive side of the ball for this weekend's matchup with Arizona.

John Ross III dodging traffic on his way to a long TD reception against Cal earlier this season. Ross III has been moved to the defensive side of the ball for this weekend’s matchup with Arizona.

Game: Washington Huskies @ #14 Arizona Wildcats

Where: Tuscon, AZ

When: November 15th, 12:30pm

Channel: FOX

Line: Arizona by 9.5 points

Game Storylines:

Will the John Ross III cornerback experiment help out a young and struggling defensive secondary? If so, will the cost of not having him on the offensive side of the ball outweigh his benefit to the defense? I understand the coaching staff is trying to alleviate some of the stress on an inexperienced and struggling defensive backfield; however, I don’t fully understand moving our most explosive offensive weapon to the defensive side of the ball. We have been losing games due to a lack of offensive consistency and production. Although our defense has looked bad defending the pass at times, collectively our defense has played well enough to win nearly every game (Stanford and ASU). I am all for experimenting and finding roles that benefit the players and the team, but I just don’t understand removing our best offensive threat from the offense to help out a steady defense. But there is also a reason that Coach Pete has the highest winning percentage in college football history, and I am sitting at a laptop typing.

What is wrong with the Husky offense? If I knew the answer to this I would be getting paid millions of dollars standing on the sideline with a headset on; however, seeing that that is not the case I will offer my best guess. I believe the offensive struggles are stemming from a combination of two things: Poor play calling and inconsistent lineups. First, our play calling is far too predictable. When Shaq enters the game at running back, he will be running a sweep right or left. If that doesn’t work we run a jet sweep to either Ross or Mickens. If that doesn’t work we throw a short or intermediate pass to Mickens. If THAT doesn’t work, enter Jeff Lindquist to fool the defense with a fake jet sweep QB Power. Now, I realize I have oversimplified the offense, but we haven’t shown much more complexity than that. Secondly, our players are having a difficult time executing because we don’t have a solidified starting lineup. Offensive lineman have been shuffling around, as many as four running backs will touch the ball, and don’t even get me started on the WR group. One of the most difficult things to develop as a young quarterback is timing, and not having a set starting WR group only makes developing timing more difficult. Trying to guess WR’s will receive the most snaps this weekend is similar to picking the lottery. The continuous emergence and disappearance of the Husky WR’s week to week has been detrimental to Cyler Miles’ attempt to develop timing and chemistry with a group of receivers. I would be happy if, by the end of the season, the play calling keeps the defense on their heels and the Huskies develop a true starting lineup.

Prediction:

Arizona 45  Washington 27

This is a bad matchup for the Washington Huskies. The Dawgs are going to win games with their defense, and more particularly their elite front seven. This week the front seven will be challenged and frustrated by a quick-hitting, fast-paced, pass-heavy offense. The young and inexperienced Husky secondary better buckle up, because this Saturday will be a long day. Furthermore, I only see the offensive struggles to worsen without the explosive threat of John Ross or Shaq on offense. With that being said, I do expect the Huskies to score some “garbage-time” points towards the end of the game. I believe that this Washington team is divided and frustrated. The Husky defense realizes that they are good enough to compete for PAC-12 Championships, but they are handicapped by an inept offense. I hope that Coach Pete has this potential locker-room divide under control so that it will not impact future games. I don’t expect the Washington Huskies to win this game; however, I expect the Huskies to rebound and end the season with a positive note going 3-0 including a bowl game. Keep your head up Dawg fans, a 9-5 season for a new team, new coach, and new QB ain’t too shabby.

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