Cactus Bowl – GET PUMPED UP

Hope everyone is enjoying the Holidays as this is the best time of year: family, food, presents, and of course…great football! Once again, your Washington Huskies are in a bowl game, this year the Dawgs take on Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl. The game will be played on Friday, January 2nd in Tuscon Arizona and coverage will begin at 7:15pm (PT) on ESPN. Being the holiday season I am out of town visiting my family and will not be able to post a detailed preview of this game.

With that being said, I will leave you all with a couple highlight videos of your favorite Dawgs in order to get jacked up for the big game. Enjoy, and as always…GO DAWGS!

SHAQ THOMPSON

HAU’OLI KIKAHA

JAYDON MICKENS & JOHN ROSS III

DANNY SHELTON

REGULAR SEASON RECAP

APPLE CUP IS HERE!!! Preview, Matchups, and Predictions

Game: Washington Huskies @ Washington State Cougars

Where: Pullman, WA

When: November 29th, 7:30 pm

Channel: FOX Sports 1

Line: UW by 4 points.

Game Storylines:

How will the inclement weather affect the outcome of this game? According to Accuweather.com, there is potential for snow showers tomorrow morning; however, it is expected to clear up by kickoff. With that being said, it is supposed to be around 22 degrees with a “real-feel” of 14 degrees. The cold and potential snow accumulation could greatly impact the outcome of this game. Most would give the edge to WSU in the event of poor weather conditions as they are accustomed to playing in it; however, the Washington Huskies have strong argument as well. The Dawgs have the ability to grind out wins leaning on their running game, whereas the Cougs will continue to rely on the passing game which can be significantly impacted by the weather. With this being a rivalry game every point matters and cold weather can negatively impact the kicking and punting game. It will be interesting to see how each team deals with the added challenge of a typical night on the Palouse.

Will UW’s aggressive defensive line be neutralized by WSU’s quick-hitting passing attack? It is no secret that the strength of this Washington Huskies team is their front seven and ability to get after the opposing team’s quarterbacks. It would be easy to sit here and assume that the front seven will once again impose their will and sack WSU QB, Luke Faulk multiple times. With that being said, the Huskies have struggled to apply pressure to Mike Leach led Cougar squads due to his offensive style. One of the key elements to Leach’s offense is getting the ball out of the QB’s hands quickly and the Cougs have proven to be very effective in the aspect. Quick passes don’t give the opposing defensive lineman time to get in Faulk’s face and can lead to a very frustrating night. Expect to see the Huskies front seven to make their plays, but don’t be surprised if they run into a frustrating stretch at some point during the game.

Will WSU QB, Luke Faulk, find success against the young Husky secondary? Looking back to the beginning of the season I was fearful for this game. The outcome of this game looked bleak early on as the Husky DB’s looked helpless as WSU’s QB, Connor Halliday and the WSU WR’s were taking the NCAA by storm at a record-breaking pace. However, much has changed since then. The Huskies secondary has dramatically improved as Budda Baker and Kevin King are proving why they were highly recruited players coming out of high school. Also, the cornerback positions have been bolstered by two new faces in Sidney Jones and John Ross. In the meantime, Halliday suffered a tragic ending to his illustrious WSU career. It is truly saddening to see such a competitor miss out on a potentially record-breaking season due to a fluke-injury. Many expected the Cougar passing attack to significantly drop off with the loss of the veteran leader; however, Luke Faulk has stepped in nicely and has shown flashes of brilliance. It will surely be fun watching Luke Faulk battle Budda Baker and the young Washington secondary, a matchup that will be seen over the next three seasons.

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs WSU

Quarterback. Washington QB, Cyler Miles hasn’t gotten he credit he deserves this season in my opinion. I totally understand the frustration with the lack of explosive plays, but that is a reflection of the entire offensive unit and not simply one player. For being a young QB Miles has consistently been a smart and efficient player who has been improving week to week. The edge would have easily gone to the cougars here had Connor Halliday not suffered his season ending leg injury, but Luke Faulk’s recent performances have been notable. At the end of the day, the overall experience and play-making ability of Cyler Miles gives the Huskies the edge at this position.

Running Backs. The Cougars have averaged a measly 2.0 yards per carry on 225 carries this season. When compared to the Huskies 4.3 yards per carry on 545 carries it is easy to see why the Huskies get the edge at the running back position. Also, the Dawgs are finally getting healthy and have displayed their ability to create big play on the ground behind running backs Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman. Edge, UW.

Wide Receivers. Just as the running back position wasn’t much of a debate, neither is the wide receiver position. The Cougs might have the most experienced and talented WR corps in the entire country. Led by future NFL superstar, Vince Mayle, the Cougs possess a lethal combination of possession receivers and home-run hitters. Mayle is having a season for the ages with 101 catches for 1,404 yards and 9 TD’s. It is a travesty that he is not being considered for the Biletnikoff Trophy awarded to the nation’s top receiver. Isaiah Meyers, River Cracraft, and Dom Williams round out a scary group of receivers. The Huskies have gotten more consistency out of Jaydon Mickens, but pretending that the Washington WR’s can hold a candle to the Cougs is a crime. Edge, WSU.

Tight End. There has been a trend in the PAC-12 that has been eliminating the TE position, and WSU is no exception to that trend. The Cougs don’t have a single TE listed on their roster, so the edge here goes to the Huskies by default. However, I don’t want to downplay the recent performances by Joshua Perkins and Darrell Daniels. Both UW TE’s have played significant roles in the Dawgs last two games. Look for Perkins and Daniels to have an impact tomorrow as well. Edge, Huskies.

Offensive Line. The Washington Husky offensive line has been clicking the past two weeks now that they are getting healthier. The Big Dawgs have paved the way for a 4.3 yards per carry average along with only giving up 25 sacks on the season. The Huskies earn the edge here after comparing their performance to the Cougs average of 2.0 yards per carry and 32 sacks. Edge, Washington.

Defensive Line. UW boasts two of the nation’s elite pass-rushers in Hau’oli Kikaha and Andrew Hudson. Both are ranked in the top 10 in sacks in the nation with Kikaha leading the nation with 18.5 sacks. If Kikaha can record two sacks between the Apple Cup and bowl game he will break the NCAA record for most sacks in a single season. Expect Kikaha to be even more motivated to get to Faulk in order to further cement his legacy as the most feared pass rusher in Washington Husky history. Up the middle the Cougs will have to deal with the best interior defensive lineman in the country, Danny Shelton. It truly has been an amazing season for Shelton and the Husky defensive line. The Cougs also boast a strong defensive line allowing only 3.9 yards per rush. The Cougs will make their presence felt along the defensive line; however, the combined talent of Kikaha, Shelton, and the two Hudson’s earn the edge for the Dawgs.

Linebackers. The Husky linebackers nearly scored another TD last week as Travis Feeney intercepted a Sean Mannion pass in the red-zone before returning it 59-yards. The Huskies boast one of the best linebacker units in the country led by Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Feeney. Expect these three to have a significant impact on tomorrow’s game against the Cougs. Edge, UW.

Defensive Secondary. Both teams have struggled in the back end of their defense. The Huskies have been improving week to week as Budda Baker, Kevin King, Sidney Jones, and John Ross become more comfortable in the defensive backfield. The Cougar secondary is led by smack-talking CB, Daquawn Brown. Brown has shown flashes of the true cover corner he can be; however, at times he has been over-aggressive and gets burned on a double move. This position was difficult to evaluate and very even; however, I believe that the Husky secondary will come up with one more big play then the Cougs. Slight edge goes to the Huskies here.

Special Teams. The Huskies certainly have the more explosive return game with John Ross handling kicks and Dante Pettis returning punts. That being said, the weather may have a significantly negative impact on the Huskies kicking game. The Husky kickers struggled earlier in the season when the weather has been less than ideal, specifically Korey Durkee and his punting duties. The WSU kicking game has been somewhat inconsistent, but they will certainly be more comfortable taking a game winning kick in cold weather than their Husky counterparts. UW’s Cameron Van Winkle boasts a 86% field goal percentage compared to WSU’s Quentin Breshears 75% conversion rate. Edge, Huskies.

Prediction:

Washington 34 Washington State 24

This is a rivalry game, regardless of the records, rankings, and stats this will be a close game. The Apple Cup is very rarely a one-sided contest, and I don’t see that happening this year either. I expect the Washington Huskies to get into an offensive rhythm utilizing a balanced attack against a susceptible Cougar defense. I also predict that Luke Faulk will find a way to exploit the Washington secondary and hook up with Vince Mayle for at least one long TD. At the end of the day the difference will come down to the turnover battle. I expect the Huskies to take care of the ball offensively while Shaq Thompson forces a fumble and Budda Baker records his first career interception. Winning the turnover battle will prove to be the deciding factor in what promises to be yet another exciting Apple Cup. Go Dawgs!

Apple Cup Week Q&A

Apple Cup Harry vs Butch

Harry and Butch will be squaring off yet again on Saturday for Apple Cup.

It’s that time of year again! Apple Cup is this Saturday, and our Washington Huskies will be traveling across the state to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars in what always seems to be a competitive matchup, no matter the teams’ records going in. Since it’s a rivalry week, I chose to do something special and have a friendly Q&A with my friend who goes to WSU, Neil Roberts (link to his blog page, check it out!). Here are the questions I asked him (in bold) followed by his responses.

1) What does quarterback Luke Falk bring to the table that Connor Halliday didn’t?

Falk has already shown that he is more mobile than Halliday ever was. There were a couple of plays against Oregon State where the offensive line was unable to deal with the pressure, and Falk escaped from the pocket to extend the play; in fact, on Washington State’s final touchdown drive, he converted on a third down by moving to his right, realizing that the coverage was to tight, and scrambled for the first down. Washington has two and a half games of tape to look at examine and analyze when it comes to Falk’s mobility; but it provides an added wrinkle for the Cougar offense.

This is Falk’s second year with the team – he is a redshirt freshmen. As a result, he was able to develop in the system at his own pace, and behind a significantly more talented offensive line. He hasn’t had to deal with the gawd awful offensive lines that Halliday did; as a result Falk hasn’t learned to be scared of the pocket immediately after the snap, so he stays in the pocket longer.

2) What can we expect from WSU’s defense in a rivalry game like the Apple Cup?

The rivalry game, and senior night, are probably going to give the players extra motivation on the practice field and in film study. But the biggest defensive factor in the Apple Cup is going to be the health of the secondary.

The Cougar defense has struggled with health in its young secondary, and that’s been a big reason Washington State has been forced to play the experienced (but not nearly as athletically gifted, or sound on the basics). As a result, Coug fans have seen junior Taylor Taliulu and redshirt senior Mitchell Peterson (granted, Peterson had a fairly solid game against Arizona State) more than they would have liked. WSU’s secondary health has left the defense in a state of flux, and impacted its ability to effectively execute its scheme on the field.

When the secondary has been healthy, it’s done a pretty good job of preventing receivers from getting wide open. The improved downfield coverage has forced opposing quarterbacks to hold onto the ball longer, which gives the front seven time to generate pressure and hit the quarterback. It was a healthy secondary that forced Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to hold onto the ball, and give the Washington State front seven time to pick apart the Ducks’ makeshift offensive line.

3) How will the Cougars combat UW’s pass rush ability?

Washington State just needs to run its offense, and Falk needs to make the correct reads, for the Cougars to combat the Washington pass rush. The Air Raid is designed around getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly. Sometimes that means a halfback/bubble screen, and sometimes that means running four verticals when it is clear that the safeties will be blitzing around the edges of the pocket. But for the most part, WSU is going to have to execute its offense.

As for what the offensive line will actually do, it really comes down to what the Washington defensive front shows. The center serves as the offensive line’s decision maker, and helps to make protection adjustments prior to the snap – the quarterback will also make protection adjustments. But the interesting thing to watch for, will be how the Husky’s new defensive coordinator adapts to the wide offensive line splits (space in between the offensive linemen) that Washington State uses. That’s what will determine how effective the Washington pass rush is.

It should be another fun matchup between these state rivals. Both teams will be ready to play and it should be a competitive game. Follow us on Twitter (@EmeraldFandom) for live updates during the game!

Here are details for the game:

Date: Saturday November 29th

Time7:30pm

Place: Pullman, WA

Broadcast: Fox Sports 1

Get Pumped Up for UW vs. OSU!

Game: Washington Huskies vs. Oregon State Beavers

Where: Seattle, WA

When: November 22nd, 7:30pm

Channel: PAC-12 Networks

Line: Huskies by 6.5 points.

Prediction:

Huskies 38 Beavers 17

Tomorrow night’s game is the last home game of the season and senior night. This will be the last chance to watch some of your favorite Huskies playing in Husky Stadium, so go grab tickets and enjoy what should be a great Saturday night on Montlake! The Huskies seem poised to have one of their best games of the season. As tough as the loss was last week, the Dawgs looked much improved and I expect them to look even better this week. I think the offense will continue to improve with Cyler Miles, Dwayne Washington, and the offensive line finding their strides to end the season. The defense has been consistent all year long and I expect nothing less than another stellar performance tomorrow night. I also predict a big special teams play from either John Ross III or Dante Pettis in what I believe could end up being a blow out win for the Huskies.

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.

UW vs. UCLA – Hype Video and Predictions!

Game: Washington Huskies vs. #18UCLA Bruins

Where: Seattle, WA

When: November 8th, 4:00pm

Channel: Fox Sports 1

Line: UCLA by 6 points

Game Storylines:

How will the Huskies handle the dismissal of CB, Marcus Peters? Will this prove to be a locker-room distraction? Will the young secondary rise to the occasion? Third year cornerback, Marcus Peters, was dismissed from the University of Washington football program for repeatedly violating the team’s code of conduct. Peters was thought to be a sure-fire first round pick and the #1 CB prospect entering the 2015 NFL Draft. Losing a talent like Peters will prove to be a challenge for this Husky football team. True-freshman, Naijel Hale, filled in admirably earlier in the season when Peters was suspended for off-the-field issues. Hale will once again be called upon to fill the void left by Peters. The Washington Husky secondary will surely be tested by Brett Hundley and the Bruin offense tomorrow evening. The Dawgs are starting three true-freshmen in the secondary: FS Budda Baker, CB Sidney Jones IV, and now Naijel Hale. If the Huskies are going to have a chance to pull the upset, these three will have to collectively play their best game of the season.

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs UCLA

Quarterback. Brett Hundley entered the season with a lot of hype as a potential Heisman contender; however, injuries and a struggling offensive line have hampered his potential. With that being said, Hundley still possesses the arm strength, mobility, and raw play-making ability to win games. Cyler Miles has been improving, but he still has a long way to go before he can be mentioned alongside the top QB’s in the conference. Edge, UCLA.

Running Backs. This is perhaps the most intriguing matchup all season long. Each team boasts arguably the most versatile player in the country in Myles Jack (UCLA) and Shaq Thompson (UW). Jack rushed for 4 touchdowns last year against he Huskies, but has seen his RB duties dwindled due to the emergence of 1,000-yard rusher, Paul Perkins. Oppositely, the Huskies have turned to Shaq to carry the load on offense as he is averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Both Jack and Shaq figure to impact this game on offense and defense; however, the edge here goes to UCLA as they have a proven work-horse running back in Paul Perkins. Edge, Bruins.

Wide Receivers. I still am thoroughly perplexed by the disappearance of Kasen Williams. At this point it is simply a pipe dream to expect him to break out of this slump and impact a football game. It truly is a shame as he was one of the most prolific pass-catchers in school history through his first 2.5 seasons. Jaydon Mickens leads the team in receptions but has not been able to be the game-breaking player some expected. John Ross III will likely be on the defensive side of the ball this week to help a depleted secondary. With the UW wide receiver corps struggling and underachieving the edge goes to the Bruins.

Tight End. Washington TE’s have been relatively quiet all season long. With that being said, they have gotten meaningful contributions from Joshua Perkins and Michael Hartvigson in the blocking game. The edge here simply goes to Washington as the Bruins do not have a single TE on their roster. Edge, Huskies.

Offensive Line. The Washington Huskies O-line has been playing pretty consistently all year long despite  injuries to Dexter Charles and Ben Riva. It looks like the Huskies will get their bruising LG, Charles, back this week. Having Charles back will certainly help the Dawgs establish the run in this game. On the other hand, the UCLA offensive line has been struggling. Although they have done a good enough job to pave the way for a 1,000 yard rusher, they have also given up 30 sacks. Facing the nation’s leading sack-artist in Hau’oli Kikaha will be challenge for the Bruins. At the end of the day the Huskies have allowed only 19 sacks and have been gaining momentum in the running game. Edge, Huskies.

Defensive Line. Hau’oli Kikaha as 15.5 sacks this season and has a chance to be one of only three players in NCAA history to record 20+ sacks in a single season. Kikaha is licking his chops this week as the Bruins offensive line has struggled to keep Hundley upright all season long. With that being said, Hundley is an elusive QB and the Huskies will need to wrap up and gang tackle. Up the middle, Danny Shelton is having an All-American season of his own. The Husky defensive line is truly among the nation’s elite. The UCLA Bruins have only 13 sacks and give up an average of 4.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Edge, Washington.

Linebackers. The Husky linebackers scored yet another defensive touchdown last weekend, this time coming from a Travis Feeney pick-six. John Timu, Travis Feeney, and Shaq Thompson have proven to be game changers all over the field. With that being said, Thompson’s role on defense has been limited as he has seen more action on the offensive side of the ball. Keishawn Bierria has stepped in and filled in for Thompson nicely when he has been asked to do so. The Bruins have a very talented linebacker unit led by Myles Jack, however they simply have not come up with the turnovers and touchdowns as their Husky counterparts. Edge, Huskies.

Defensive Secondary. With the dismissal of lockdown cornerback, Marcus Peters, the Huskies will turn to true-freshman Naijel Hale. Hundley and UCLA’s offense will certainly attack the Huskies young secondary early and often tomorrow night. If the young Dawgs can hold their own, the Washington Huskies will have a shot to win this game. The UCLA Bruins have been struggling defending the pass as well giving up 17 TDs through the air. The edge here goes to the Bruins experience and depth. Edge, UCLA.

Special Teams. The Huskies return game has simply been electrifying this season with John Ross III returning kicks and Dante Pettis handling punts. Pettis took a punt 80+ yards for a touchdown last week and will look to come up with another big play tomorrow. Korey Durkee has struggled punting the ball recently, but Cameron Van Winkle has been great in his place-kicking duties. UCLA has their own return specialist in Ishmael Adams who has scored a special teams touchdown of his own. The edge here is won by the kicking game. Washington’s Van Winkle has converted 85% of his field goals where as UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbarin has converted only 73% of his attempts. Edge, Washington.

Prediction:

Washington 27 UCLA 24

The Washington Huskies will upset the #18 UCLA Bruins tomorrow night in Husky Stadium. Cyler Miles looked at his best last season against the Bruins and I think he will play one the better games in his young Husky career. On top of that, the Dawgs will establish the run with Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, and Shaq Thompson. The Husky secondary will be tested early and struggle to find their bearings; however, Budda Baker will get his first interception as a Husky in the second half. I expect this to be a hard fought football game between two teams still searching for their identity. At the end of the day, the Husky defense comes up with one more play than the Bruin offense and secures the victory for Husky Nation. Go Dawgs!

PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: UW vs. #14 ASU – Troy Williams gets his first collegiate start!

Redshirt freshman QB, Troy Williams, got his first significant playing time last week at Oregon. He will be thrown into the fray once again this week as the starting quarterback.

Redshirt freshman QB, Troy Williams, got his first significant playing time last week at Oregon. He will be thrown into the fray once again this week as the starting quarterback.

Game: Washington Huskies vs. #14 Arizona State Sun Devils

Where: Seattle, WA

When: October 25thth, 7:45 pm

Channel: ESPN

Line: ASU by 3 points

Game Storylines:

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.

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs ASU

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.

Prediction:

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.

WASHINGTON @ OREGON: Rivalry Game – Get Pumped Up!

Game: Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks

Where: Berkeley, CA

When: October 18thth, 5:00 pm

Channel: FOX Sports 1

Line: Oregon by 20.5 points

Game Storylines:

Will the Huskies finally find a way to beat the Oregon Ducks? The Washington Huskies have been beaten by the Oregon Ducks the past ten years. A decade of dominance for the Ducks, and a decade of shame for the Huskies. However, the Huskies once again have reason for some optimism. New coach, Chris Petersen, is 2-0 against the all mighty Ducks. Does Coach Pete have anything left up his sleeve to pull off yet another victory against Oregon? Can Cyler Miles, John Ross, and Lavon Coleman will the offense down the field and keep pace with the electrifying Marcus Mariota-led Oregon offense? Will Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha, and Shaq Thompson be able to limit Mariota’s play-making skills? Husky Nation has been waiting to see how our team will look against a truly elite team…well, here is our chance.

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs Oregon

Quarterback. Cyler Miles looked much improved last week against Cal. With that being said, I would caution Husky Nation to not get overly excited. Cal’s passing defense is vulnerable and Cyler played one of his better games of the season. Hopefully he can carry this momentum into a game against a much higher profiled opponent, the Oregon Ducks. Edge here goes to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, perhaps the best football player in the nation.

Running Backs. Surprisingly the Washington Huskies actually struggled to establish the run last week at Cal. All season long the Huskies have leaned heavily on their rushing attack and that will again be the emphasis in Eugene this weekend. However, Oregon’s running game is of the best in the country. The Ducks boast one of the deepest running back corps as well as an extremely mobile quarterback in Mariota. Edge, Ducks.

Wide Receivers. The Washington Huskies have John Ross III and Jaydon Mickens. That seems about it these days. Granted Ross is going to score a TD of 55+ yards in every game that still is not enough compared to Oregon’s WR’s. The Ducks running backs are also heavily utilized in the passing game putting extra stress on the opposing pass defense. Against a young and inexperienced Husky secondary, the Ducks could find success through the air early. Edge, Ducks.

Tight End. The Huskies were sure happy to see Joshua Perkins back after sitting out much of the first half of the season with an injury. The Junior TE scored on an impressive corner route hook up against Cal last weekend. Perkins seems to be somewhat of a safety net for Cyler Miles. Even having Perkins pairing up with the ultra-talented Darrell Daniels, the Huskies have not gotten the same production out of this position as the Ducks have. Pharaoh Brown has been a presence over the middle of the field and in the red-zone for the Ducks. Expect another solid performance from Brown. Edge, Oregon.

Offensive Line. This was a tricky position to analyze for both teams. Both teams have experience, size, and athleticism across their offensive line. I gave the edge here to Washington’s line due to their more consistent performance this far in the season. Oregon’s line is probably the more talented group, but due to injuries they have not been able to get in rhythm and have struggled the past few weeks. It appears that the Ducks are getting healthier and Duck fans could see a much better performance from the lineman this week. Edge, Washington.

Defensive Line. Even against the almighty Oregon Ducks, the defensive line of Washington has consistently been one of the best in the nation. Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha will certainly make their presence felt this weekend; however, they need to focus and really wrap up Mariota. If they apply pressure and can’t bring him down or contain him it will be a very long day for the Husky defense. Oregon’s defensive line has played well all season long, but the edge here goes to two of the nation’s elite defensive lineman. Edge, Huskies.

Linebackers. The Washington Husky defense is 1st in the country in turnover margin, in large part due to the play of their linebackers. This group has scored 5 defensive touchdowns in 6 games (Shaq 4, Timu 1.) Led by Shaq Thompson, John Timu, and Travis Feeney this unit is experienced, talented, and supremely athletic. Edge, Huskies.

Defensive Secondary. It is scary how similar the Washington and Oregon defensive backfields are. Both boast potential first round cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. However, outside of that the other three positions are filled by relatively inexperienced players. Both teams have given up their fair share of yardage through the air, but have really improved in the last few weeks. This position group is a wash.

Special Team. Cameron Van Winkle had one of his two field goal attempts blocked last week at Cal. Coach Pete will have the blocking scheme cleaned up and ready to roll for Oregon this week. Van Winkle has been great this season place kicking and Korey Durkee has been spectacular punting the football. Oregon has a solid kicking game of their own. Matt Wogan is 3-4 on the season, and Ian Wheeler has performed admirably in his punting duties. The difference here is one player. And that player is John Ross III. Washington has the most electrifying player in the nation and he will be a huge threat on kick returns again this weekend.

Prediction:

Washington 28 Oregon 31

I think this game will be closer than most people expect. The Washington Husky defense will stand up once again and hold the Ducks to only 31 points. Expect Shelton and Kikaha to be disruptive along the defensive line just like they have all year long. Look for Shaq Thompson to make his presence felt with another key turnover, although I don’t think he gets in the end zone this week. Washington’s offense will struggle at times, but will be boosted by a long receiving touchdown and kickoff return by John Ross III. In the end, Mariota will escape the pressure applied by Shelton and Kikaha one too many times and lead the Ducks into field goal range where Matt Wogan will hit the game winner. Tough loss for the Huskies, but they will show a lot of promise for the future Chris Petersen teams. Go Dawgs!

PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: Washington @ Cal

Danny Shelton and the Husky Defense will need another stellar performance this week against Cal.

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

Game Storylines:

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?

Matchups:

2014 Matchup - UW vs Cal

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.

Prediction:

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!

HUSKIES BYE WEEK – Three Strengths and Weaknesses

Cyler Miles has received much criticism after the Huskies offense woes last weekend against Stanford.

Cyler Miles has received much criticism after the Huskies offense woes last weekend against Stanford.

Three Strengths:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

Three Weaknesses:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Overall:

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.