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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 29, 2006 at 6:13 PM

Huskies to beat the heat

Bad news for those of you who like it better when I pick against the Huskies, thinking it increases their odds of winning — I’m picking the Huskies to beat Arizona Saturday.
But not by a lot. I think this has all the makings of a defensive struggle (there, you can at least comfortably take the over now) so I’m picking UW to win 16-10. That could be one touchdown, two field goals and three safeties the way this game looks on paper.
Arizona is last in just about every offensive category there is in the Pac-10 — scoring offense (12.5), total offense (241.5), rushing offense (87.2), passing offense (154.2) etc.
And while UA types point out correctly that UA has played a tough schedule that includes USC, LSU and BYU, it’s not as if Arizona whupped up on its one cupcake, Stephen F. Austin. UA won that one 28-10 and had to put in injured QB Willie Tuitama in the second half to get the offense going.
But Arizona also plays pretty good defense, as it proved last week in holding USC to just one long TD drive in a 20-3 defeat (one TD came on a 9-yard drive following a turnover).
So the UW defense should be able to hold Arizona down. The key will be if the offense can get going. The guess here is that the Huskies can get the running game going just a bit against an Arizona defensive front that is good but a little undersized. And that could open up some passing lanes as the Wildcats like to play man defense in the secondary.
The Huskies say they don’t want to use their spread offense and that might not be the way to go this week against an Arizona defense built more on speed than size and strength.
Defensively, UW can’t let Tuitama get going. He’s struggled this year in large part due to the concussion he suffered early in the LSU game, and he’s also now nursing a thigh bruise. But if he gets a little confidence going, look out, as UCLA found out last year when UA beat the Bruins 52-14.
Special teams will also be key. UA has just one punt return this year for seven yards — a pretty amazing stat —- while the Huskies have allowed a Pac-10 high 182 punt return yards. Something has to give there and the Huskies better hope it’s not on their side.
It’s hot here — our car said it was 105 at about 3:30 p.m. — but with a 7 p.m. start, not sure that will be a huge factor. I’ve covered UW games down here since 1997 and I don’t remember the heat ever being a huge factor in the outcome of the game.
Quick Friday afternoon update — the team arrived with no personnel news of any note as reported by the school, meaning everyone is here and ready to go who should be here and ready to go. Also, all five QBs made the trip (including walk-on Felix Sweetman). Teams are allowed 64 players for conference games.

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