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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 2, 2007 at 4:53 PM

The pick. …

It’s been interesting the last few days being at Pac-10 basketball media day and then up here and talking to some people who remember Tyrone Willingham well from his Stanford days.
To many of them, it’s quite they mystery why he is struggling so much to get the UW program off the ground because they remember Willingham as pretty much the most successful coach the school has had in the last 35 years.
A few points people made were that Willingham was able to recruit a little differently than many Stanford coaches by attracting some inner-city-type kids who might not normally have been interested in the Cardinal — or simply wouldn’t have thought about it in the first place.
The fact that Willingham isn’t regarded as a real fiery-type coach also fit in well here, one person told me, because the Stanford players are a little bit different than most. As one guy said, they’re too smart for “win one for the Gipper.” They know what the score is.
Willingham acknowledged this week he’s looking forward to coming back, and maybe some of the warm vibes he’s sure to feel will rub off on the Huskies.
In some ways, UW may be hitting Stanford at the perfect time. The Cardinal is pretty banged up — five starters could miss tomorrow’s game, including the top two tailbacks — and the momentum of the USC win seems to be wearing out. Stanford appears to be settling into just being what it is — a below-average to medicore team that plays hard but is still in major rebuiliding mode.
When I broke down the teams by position, this is how I called it:
QB: Washington. Tavita Pritchard’s been a revelation, but he’s no Jake Locker.
RB: Washington. Anthony Kimble and Toby Gerhart are out for Stanford leaving it up to true freshman Jeremy Stewart.
WR: Stanford. Here’s the most dangerous part of Stanford’s team as Richard Sherman, Mark Bradford and Evan Moore are all good players — and Sherman at 6-3 and Moore at 6-7 are particularly tough matchups. But Bradford is ailing.
OL: Washington. The Huskies seem to be getting better while Stanford is averaging 1.9 yards per carry (UW is at 4.5), usually the best way to judge how much push a line is getting.
DL: Washington. This may seem insane given the events of the past few weeks. But consider that many of Stanford’s defensive numbers aren’t much better than UW’s — Stanford is ninth in total defense (466.0 yards per game in Pac-10 play) to UW’s 10th (543.2). This seemed like a tossup and I just had a hunch that UW’s group will play well tomorrow.
LB: Stanford. The Cardinal has been pretty happy with its LB corps, it sounds like, while UW is again banged up with Donald Butler out..
DB: Stanford. The Cardinal actually ranks worse than UW in pass defense, but some of that is due to Stanford’s attacking style which leads to some big plays which can inflate the numbers and make them look worse than maybe they should be. A slight edge to Stanford.
ST: Washington. Did you realize Ryan Perkins is 6-7 on FGs in Pac-10 play (though the only miss, at ASU, was a killer)? The Huskies are also doing better on returns. And did you also know UW has allowed only 18 punt return yards in five Pac-10 games? That’s the fewest in the conference. Another slight edge to the Huskies.
This actually seems like a pretty even game on paper (more even than we all would have thought a few months ago, to be sure). But the X factor again is Locker. He’s coming into his own quickly, though admittedly needing to cut down on the turnovers. Thinking here is he will do that and be the best player on the field. The defense, meanwhile, has to play better if for no other reason than this will be the worst offense it will face in the Pac-10 this season — Stanford is averaging just 4.1 yards per play in conference games, almost a yard behind the next team on the list (Oregon State, somewhat surprisingly, at 4.8). Stanford has been okay at home, scoring 31 against Oregon and 36 against TCU, so I think the Cardinal will score a few points.
But add it up and I see UW getting a much-needed win, 38-31.



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