The next team on docket for our way too early look-in is the Washington Huskies. This program has pretty much mirrored our situation, enduring a run of 7 straight non-winning seasons. Now imagine having potentially the top rated QB prospect on the roster that has started the last 3 seasons. This is the hell that Husky Nation has endured. Now let’s take a deeper dive.
The Huskies made huge strides coming off of a win-less 2008 campaign that brought in USC guru Steve Sarkisian. QB Jake Locker definitely benefited from the tutelage of Sarkisian, becoming a better passer to complement his already noteworthy running skills. Washington posted a 5-7 record that included a win over Sarkisian’s ex employer. For the record, the wins were to Idaho, USC, Arizona, Washington St and Cal. The losses were to LSU, Stanford, Notre Dame, Arizona St, Oregon, UCLA, and Oregon St.
This game with Washington completes the home and home series that started in 2007 with Washington coming to the Carrier Dome and winning easily 42-12. I know most Cuse fans won’t forget that game for it was the contest that we wore those hideous all Orange unis. No need to link a photo as the image is already burned into our skulls. If it’s not, I’m not going to be responsible for scarring you now.
There is alot of optimism in assessing the Huskies prospects for the 2010 season. The offense returns nine starters and should be potent. The defense however has a ton of concerns. Former USC Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt has his work cut out in piecing together a front seven that has seen losses in graduation, injury and off field incidents.
As I said, the O will be huge this year. There are high powered pieces all over. RB Chris Polk was the first UW frosh to compile over 1000 yards rushing. There are a talented trio of receivers: Jermaine Kerse (50 rec, 866 yds, 8 TDs), Devin Aguilar (45, 593, 5) and James Johnson (39, 422, 3). Throw in TE Kavario Middleton (26, 257, 3), the mobility of Locker (7 rush TDs) and a solid Oline and it will take a full defensive effort to contain this squad. Last year the Huskies ranked 68th in rushing, 40th in passing and 69th in scoring. I expect those numbers to go up this year.
Waiting in the wings behind Jake Locker at QB is true frosh Nick Montana. Yeah, he’s Joe’s kid. They also have RB Deontae Cooper, the second leading rusher in California last year. Both players enrolled early to take part in spring drills. Sarkisian has done a nice job of recruiting so far.
Now despite all the bluster for the offense, Jake Locker is only 8-20 in his career as a starter, with 5 of the wins last year. A main reason for that is the other side of the ball.
So where to begin with this unit? Six starters return and their experience is mainly in the secondary. Last season all four secondary slots were manned by freshman starters at one time or another last year. It showed with the 93rd rated pass defense. Desmond Trufant is the best of the group. They have speed and athleticism. They also added highly touted SS Sean Parker who should land in the two deep immediately.
The rest of the unit will have a hard time living up to last year’s ranking of 64th against the rush and 70th in scoring when you consider the issues along the front 7. Alameda Ta’amu is the only experienced lineman. The DE spots have been decimated in all sorts of ways. Andru Pulu was suspended indefinitely after an assault charge. Everrett Thompson tore his Achilles tendon and will be out four to six months. Throw in Kalani Aldrich’s knee issues costing him this spring and that makes 3 of 4 DEs at issue. Generating a pash rush and containing runners will be a major concern.
The linebacking is lead by Mason Foster who led the Pac 10 with six forced fumbles. Victor Bennett led all players in the spring game in tackles and could be a factor come fall.
The Huskies played a traditional spring game, a purple vs white affair pitting the top units against each other. The purple won 14-13. Recap here.
“I knew I hadn’t done what I set out to do when I came here, and I felt the opportunity I had with the team coming back was a pretty good one” – on why Jake Locker chose not to test the NFL waters this past spring.
The Huskies have a fairly rabid presence on SbNation with the UW Dawg Pound. Lots of dog food references (Puppy Chow and Kibbles and Bits) for their posts, it suits their fan base well.
The Huskies now expect to win. I wonder what they expected when Ty Willingham was there.
Second week, second home opener. This game is sandwiched around the BYU opener and what is potentially a huge statement game the following week against a potential top 10 team in Nebraska. Normally I would say that the “trap game” possibility would exist. However, this Washington team is looking to leap into the bowl picture and winning against us will be paramount in that quest. This game will most certainly test our defense as the Huskies have the potential to hurt us in all phases of the offense. D-bone Smith will have his hands full shadowing Locker and the secondary will be busy with the dangerous receivers and tight end. If the Syracuse offense shows some signs of life coming off of Akron we could be in for a high scoring affair, as I am sure Doug Marrone will try and control the ball game with our ground forces, especially if Delone Carter is back.
As it stands, it seems like a tough task to expect this team and this stage to compete in a game like this. I feel like we will probably have the ability to keep things interesting but may struggle come crunch time to pull of a win in this environment. Put out one beacon of concern, as the Orange falls 27-20.