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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 3, 2010 at 4:05 PM

The pick. …

jakecalone.jpg
Kickoff is almost at hand, and none too soon.
It’s been 272 days since we last saw the Huskies in action, a 42-10 romp over Cal that remains one of the biggest reasons for excitement about this team (even if I remain convinced no one outside of Seattle saw it).
Jake Locker was 19-23 passing that day, and ran 77 yards, accounting for five touchdowns running or passing — a truly Heismanesque performance (he’s pictured at right in the game against Cal in an Otto Greule Jr. photo). Chris Polk ran for 94 yards as the offensive line helped UW pile up 478 yards — it’s most in Pac-10 game in more than two years.
And the defense stifled Cal throughout — and while departed seniors Donald Butler and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, returners like Cort Dennison (a team-high seven tackles), Nate Williams (six) and Desmond Trufant (blanket coverage that helped hold Cal to 14-32 passing) did more than their share.
It’s that lasting image which has kept the appetite of UW fans whetted during an off-season filled with as much anticipation as any since maybe 2002.
Finally, in about 24 hours, we get our first chance to see if the Huskies can live up to the hype.
Those who decide these things with their pocketbooks seem to think they will as the line has steadily dropped the last few days (BYU is now favored by as little as a point-and-a-half on some of lines offered at VegasInsider.com).
And UW appears to have a few significant advantages in this game as the Huskies will undoubtedly have the best QB and RB and WR on the field in this game, and catches BYU at a particularly opportune time with the Cougars in something of a rebuilding mode with only 12 starters returning.


I’m not doing official position breakdowns for the paper anymore, but if I did, the only offensive edge I would give BYU would be its offensive line. And that’s a slight one due ostly to BYU’s experience and the return of LT Matt Reynolds, who is getting some All-American mention.
Defensively, I’d give BYU an edge on its defensive line and a slight one in the secondary (three seniors).
But I’d give UW significant edges, as mentioned earlier, at QB, RB and WR, and also at linebacker on defense. I also like UW’s special teams better.
The big quesitons for each team kind of revolve around the same matchup — can the Huskies get a pass rush, and will one of BYU’s two QBs step up? If the answer to the first is yes, then the answer to the second gets a lot harder for BYU.
UW has to find a way to get some pressure on Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps (and keep Nelson, a good runner, in the pocket, and contain him to small gains when he runs on his own). The best way for UW to win this one is to not let either of those two get comfortable early.
Obviously, UW fans are aware why people question Washington’s D-line, particularly the ends, and the Huskies may have to get creative to get a pass rush. But if Alameda Ta’amu plays in the middle the way he has throughout camp, that could go a long way to solving the issue by collapsing the inside and giving more opportunities for the guys coming off the edge.
BYU also has an uncertain running attack heading into this game, and it’s a given that the Huskies need to keep that in check and force the young QBs to win the game on their own.
Offensively, UW seems certain to move the ball. The big key will be taking advantage of every red-zone opportunity (remember that that was a particular problem for the Huskies much of 2009 as long drives too often turned into field goals instead of touchdowns). But a bigger, more experienced Polk, a more veteran line, and Locker should help to alleviate that issue.
It also goes without saying that turnovers will be a key. But again, having a fifth-year senior QB should make a big difference there.
Break it down, and the ultimate difference in this one should be Locker. I can envision BYU scoring some pointsThese are the kinds of games that fifth-year senior All-American type QBs win. These are the kinds of games that should be the payoff for building to the point where you have a fifth-year senior quarterback.
So put it all together, and call it Washington 31, BYU 23.

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