Follow us:

Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 3, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Breaking down the game with Joel Klatt


I had a chance this week to speak with Joel Klatt, a former Colorado quarterback who now does analysis for FSN/ROOT Sports and will be part of the broadcast team for Saturday’s game against Oregon. He also did UW’s games against Cal and Arizona.

Klatt offered his views on the team this week — including why he thinks Austin Seferian-Jenkins (pictured in a Salt Lake Tribune photo) will be such as key player — as well as some other thoughts on the Huskies:

Overall thoughts on keys to the game against Oregon: “First and foremost, you have to start with the Washington defense, and that’s where I go, and you hate to do it, but you start with the weakness and how the other team can exploit that. And the defense is not playing like their offense. I think it’s going to be extremely tough for Washington to keep Oregon from converting on third down, and the reason is that Oregon, their offense is predicated on just systematically gaining yards, gaining yards. There are not a lot of negative yards when you watch them play football, and there are not a lot of plays where they don’t gain yards, so there are going to be a lot of conversion opportunities for Oregon — third-and-two, third-and-one — where Washington’s defense has really struggled.

“So that’s immediately, I kind of go there — how is Washington going to get off the field when Oregon has the ball? It’s going to be very difficult for them. And then another key would be Washington for Chris Polk to have another game similar to what he did against Arizona. The only difficulty is that’s the only time that’s ever been done in UW history, 100 rushing and 100 receiving. And I’m not saying he has to be that proficient of a receiver but they have got to control the clock running the ball with Chris Polk.”

Assessing UW’s offense against Oregon’s defense: “They are going to have to score points and they won’t be able to start slow like they did last week against Arizona. They are going to have to score at least once if not on both of their first two possessions. A matchup that I really like is (UW tight end) Austin Seferian-Jenkins against whoever Oregon decides to put out there. I think that (Oregon’s) free safety, John Boyett, is a very good player, I’m just very anxious to see how they match up against this unbelievable true freshman tight end. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the best true freshman tight end I have seen in a long time and that’s a matchup I think Washington needs to exploit a little bit more because what that does for an offense is it forces the safeties to be very middle-of-the-field centric, that’s where they are looking, that’s where they stay, and that’s what allows the outside receivers to have better days, the Jermaine Kearse’s and Devin Aguilar’s of the world. They are dependent on the tight end having a big day because that will get them more single coverage. So look to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and how he is playing early and how Oregon is covering him early.”

On if there is something UW can try defensively to stop Oregon no one else has: “Aside from getting turnovers, I don’t think so. We’ve seen Cal and the way that they’ve approached it. We’ve seen USC’s defense just beat them with sheer speed. The one thing with speed is the only way to combat speed is to just be completely more powerful than that team, or you have to match their speed a little bit. And does Washington have that? I’m not sure. They were very opportunistic last week with Arizona and Nick Foles and the turnovers, and so that’s what I think you’ve got to do with Oregon is make them turn the ball over. If you can gain the turnover edge it obviously bodes very well in your favor.”

On the special teams matchup and what makes Oregon so dangerous in that area: “I think that for Oregon, what I see on their special teams is they are bold enough to take chances, and their system lends to that and their coach lends himself to that because he believes in what he does. It’s quirky enough everywhere where it’s tough to prepare for, so they’ve got the edge there, and then he’s bold enough to coach it. Their (offensive) system in and of itself is pretty simple — that’s kind of why they can run it so fast and proficient. It’s kind of like Mike Leach running that passing system at Texas Tech. There wasn’t a lot that he did so he could always adjust to whatever the defensive look was. And their special teams are similar to that — they are bold enough to take chances and they don’t do a lot of stuff but they do some stuff really well.”

On what impresses him about UW’s offense: “I think that the biggest surprise for me has been the effectiveness of their offensive line. They haven’t lost a start up front (this year due to injury), so they’ve had a lot of consistency. And (UW offensive coordinator Doug) Nussmeier told us that the straw that stirs the drink is Chris Polk. He’s physical, he’s fast enough to run away from guys and he’s can catch the football — he’s a real matchup problem for a defense because he can catch the ball out of the backfield. In fact, in both of the games I’ve done of Washington games he has caught a touchdown out of the backfield — right down the middle against Cal and last week ran kind of a bullet route or swing route out of the left side.

“So for me, their offense starts right there with those five guys and Chris Polk. From there, I think they are effective in the play-action game. I think the thing that makes Keith Price so good is that he stays within the system and he is never forcing a ball to a wide receiver just because he wants to throw it to that wide receiver — wherever the system tells him to throw the ball, that’s where he throws it and that’s what has made him so effective and made the offense so effective. They are just running their offense, they have a good offense and good players and that’s what has kept them centered this year.”

Overall thoughts on Washington’s defense: “They are young, very young. Think about a lot of the guys that are getting playing time up front like (redshirt freshmen) Lawrence Lagafuaina, Josh Shirley, Andrew Hudson. Sione Potoa’e is a sophomore. John Timu is a freshman, Jamaal Kearse is a freshman, Princeton Fuimaono is a sophomore, Sean Parker is a sophomore. They are young, really young. And the success of their offense has hurt them and here’s the reason why — they are probably ahead of the curve in their third year under Steve Sarkisian on offense. After being winless you shouldn’t be this good offensively in the third year after the turnaround. The defense is probably about where you would expect the whole team to be, but they have overperformed in one area which kind of creates a spotlight effect on the defense. Their defense will get better. They need depth on the defensive line, they need more speed on the second level at linebacker. But that’s about where they should be after being winless a few years ago, so I feel really bad for Nick Holt because he’s under criticism that he probably shouldn’t be because they are probably right where they should be. They are getting better, playing better football, they are physical, they’ve gotten some key turnovers and some made some key fourth-quarter stands in the games I have done. So they’ve risen up a little bit and made plays and done some things, but they are young and they are going to have some growing pains.”



No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►