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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 22, 2006 at 3:30 PM

The pick – Bruins

Sorry, but my charge on this blog is not to be a homer but to tell you what I really think.
And unlike last week, when I felt the Huskies matched up really well against Fresno State and picked UW to win, I don’t have as good a feeling about this one. My official pick for the paper is UCLA 31, UW 23.
I’ll be glad to be wrong, but here’s why I’m picking the Bruins:
— UCLA’s offense is much more diverse and balanced than Fresno State’s and I think the Bruins will put a lot more pressure on the Huskies throwing than did the Bulldogs. That’s bad news as the Huskies secondary still has to be regarded as a question mark, especially with Dashon Goldson not at 100 percent. Also, don’t underestimate what the loss of E.J. Savannah means to UW’s nickel package, which may get a lot of use against the Bruins.
What is likely to happen is that Scott White moves over to take Savannah’s spot on the nickel defense with true freshman Donald Butler stepping in where White lined up. How UW can pull off that shifting of roles — and how well Butler can adjust to his first real playing time — could tell a lot.
— The trigger to that UCLA offense is sophomore QB Ben Olson, regarded as one of the most talented quarterbacks around. He could be rattled by the Husky Stadium crowd as he is making the first road start of his career. On the other hand, he’s 23 years old and may be mature enough to not let that bother him too much.
— UCLA will have the best secondary UW has faced to date except for Oklahoma and we know how the Huskies struggled to throw the ball in that one (and it wasn’t all Isaiah Stanback’s fault). UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said this week that his receivers are still struggling to get enough separation and that could be even more of a problem today against what should be a quick and athletic secondary.
— The Bruins have always been a team the Huskies could run on even in the worst of seasons — UW went for 213 rushing last year in Pasadena. But the Bruins appear much more stout against the run this season under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker. To be sure, this will also be the first real test of that run defense for the Bruins, who had little trouble shutting down Utah and Rice.
— Special teams. The Huskies are still giving up too many yards on kickoff and punt returns, and allowing just one long return would be costly.
I’m more than happy to hear your rebuttals so let ‘er rip.

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