Frankly, not a ton of breaking down of this one seems necessary. If UW plays as it has the past few games, and Colorado plays the way it has all season, then the Huskies should walk out of Boulder with a fairly comfortable win.
Obviously, anything can theoretically happen, especially on the road and in conference.
But UW has shown the kind of running game the last few weeks to make you think they are above losing a game like this — especially considering how bad Colorado’s run defense has been (114th in the nation, allowing 227 per game).
Colorado has a decent running back in Christian Powell and has moved the ball on the ground at times this year. But it’s probably going with a new quarterback, hasn’t come close to winning a game in two months, etc. And again, nothing in the numbers speaks to UW not being able to take this one.
So instead of spending a lot of time on this game, I thought I’d relay some quotes from former UW coach Rick Neuheisel, who is now an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks. I talked to him on the phone for a little while this week and asked him about the fact that he was one of the three Pac-12 analysts who right as the game went to kickoff last week, made a final pick of Utah — something I noted with a laugh that a lot of UW fans noticed.
“I picked Utah in that game and it was very close,” he said. “They asked us to pick one, I picked Utah because I thought Washington had been a little careless with the football and I thought the game would come down to turnovers. But Keith Price, on my Sunday show (after the Utah game) I named him the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week because I thought he played his best football game. I thought he was phenomenal in terms of throwing it away when necessary, not turning the ball over, using his legs to get first downs. I thought it was just an excellent performance by Price in that game.
“And Utah, on the other hand, couldn’t make a first down. I said right before the game started that turnovers and third down conversions would be the difference, and I think it turned out that way, that Washington won the turnover battle and was clearly dominant on third downs on both sides of the ball. And because of that they won the game and won it comfortably and that’s a credit to Sark (Steve Sarkisian) and all those guys involved. I think Sark should be one of the guys thought of as Coach of the Year because the attrition they took on that offensive line was substantial and he and Dan Cozzetto have built not only an offense that can generate yards but has Bishop Sankey a 1,000-yard back, and a guy that is probably built more to be a 10-15-carry a game guy. That’s just a phenomenal job by all involved.”
I asked Neuheisel for other impressions of what he has seen of UW during its current winning streal.. “I think they certainly play defense more inspired at home,” he said. “But that being said, I thought they played really hard against Cal when their backs were against the wall, creating turnovers in the red zone as often as they did. And shoot, they are on the cusp of being an 8-4 team and going to a good bowl and if you can get a ninth win that’s an unbelievable springboard toward recruiting.
“One of the things that has got to happen for Sark, those linemen, he’s got to get those guys that are close to home, he’s got to find a way to keep them close, those offensive linemen, Because there are some great offensive linemen who aren’t playing at Washington right now. He gets that done, he’s as good a play caller as there is, Keith Price coming back as a senior I think has learned some really valuable lessons with what he had to do this year, which is find ways to get rid of the ball and not turn it over. There was a rough time there where he was kind of a turnover waiting to happen because of the inability to set his feet, and those were the reasons for his numbers not to be what they were a year ago. And also I thought they missed Chris Polk. But Bishop Sankey and company have picked up that slack and more here in the last couple of weeks. It’s been a terrific coaching job. I’m very impressed.”
As for why he thinks the running game has improved? “I think it’s just consistency in the line,” he said. “And I’ll bet you, and I haven’t studied it as carefully as I would if I were coaching, but it looks to me as if they have kind of built some packages for that offensive line and things that they do well. A little bit more in the way of two-back running game and finding things that create some more opportunities for those guys. And obviously with the matchup issues that Austin Seferian-Jenkins creates when he goes out and plays receiver. People are still lining up with cornerbacks on him, which doesn’t make sense to me. I remember when played Cal (in 2002) and they put a safety (Nnamdi Asomugha) on Reggie Williams. I’m just waiting for someone to try to do that to Seferian-Jenkins because otherwise he runs well enough and he jumps high enough that corners can’t cover him.”
And with that, time for the pick. Call it WASHINGTON 42, COLORADO 10