Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 Washington Football Preview

The 2012 football season lives for only nine more days.  After next Friday we can lay this horror show to rest, and never think about it again.

Kickoff from Folsom is set for 11:30 AM Saturday.  Since I'm assuming many would-be attendants are going to stay away from this one, I'll helpfully point out that television coverage of the game will be on FX.  Radio coverage can be found on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...

When last we met -

Last season's preview can be found here.  

Nothing went right for the Buffs in last season's 52-24 loss in Seattle.  Not only did they get crushed, but stars Rodney Stewart and Doug Rippy both left with injuries.  Smack-dab in the middle of an eventual 7-game losing streak, this game, followed by a blowout at the hands of Oregon the following week, marked the low-point of the 2011 season.

The stat sheet is devoid of anything meaningfully positive.  CU couldn't even crack 270 yards of offense, while Washington was allowed seemingly unfettered access to the endzone in the first half.  The Huskies found paydirt on each of their first five possessions, only settling for a field goal on the 6th because the half was about to end.  That level of defensive futility is certainly familiar to followers of this year's squad.

Opponent's season so far - 

The month of October was not kind to the Huskies.  Three straight losses to Oregon, USC, and Arizona had them staring down a losing season, and had some questioning the team's toughness.  The back-end of their schedule, however features lighter fare, and they've used it to their advantage.  Starting with a week nine win over Oregon St, they've since reeled off a three-game winning streak, reclaiming both momentum and bowl eligibility.

That 20-17 win over OSU was a true turning point.  The Beavers headed up to Seattle undefeated with a top-ten ranking, and were looking for the program's first ever 7-0 start.  It was a game the spiraling Huskies seemed destined to drop, but four picks of Beaver QB Sean Mannion helped put them in position to kick a game-winning field goal with over a minute to go.  As Husky coach Steve Sarkisian said afterwards, "We needed it just for our own wellbeing (sic)."
The win over OSU was huge.
Since, wins @ Cal and vs Utah have come freely, and easily obtainable wins over CU and rival Washington St would give the Huskies an 8-win campaign.  A minor miracle when considering the mid-October direction of the team.

Offense & Defense - 

NCAA statistical report can be found here.

The offense has been a major problem.  They rank in the bottom-quarter nationally in every major offensive category, grabbing less than 350 yards per contest.  Further, prior to last week's win over Utah, they had yet to put up more than 21 points on an FBS opponent. Their struggles with the ball are especially mystifying considering the offensive background of head coach Sarkisian.  Luckily for him and the Husky offense, the CU defense should be more than enough to allow them their best offensive day of the season.
Prior to the win over Utah last week, the Husky offense had been struggling.
The defensive picture is better; their pass defense allows fewer than 190 yards through the air each week.  That's good for second in the conference behind ASU, but, whereas the Sun Devils make their hay mostly by getting to the QB, the Huskies rely on good coverage.  Washington fired their defensive staff over the winter, and it seems to have been a good switch.

Star Players - 

The Husky offense is lead by junior QB Keith Price.  He came into this season off an an excellent 2011 campaign, which saw him set the school's single-season passing record, as well as set high marks in passing yardage, completion percentage, and pass efficiency.  This year has been less kind, with his once sterling TD numbers all but disappearing (TD-to-INT ratio is only 11:10).  The drop in production forced the coaching staff to give him a vote of confidence a few weeks back.  His play has been slightly better of late, especially in the game against Utah where he threw for 277 yards on 72% passing.
The junior QB has had a difficult time following up last year's sensational effort.

Price's primary target is the excellent sophomore TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  Coach Embree called him the best TE in the country, and with plenty of good reason.  For the season he's hauled in 55 catches for 731 yards and four scores.  Weirdly, the Huskies have been trying him out at DE the last two weeks.

When running the ball, the Huskies turn to sophomore tailback Bishop Sankey.  He's had a strong season so far, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 13 scores on nearly five yards per carry.

On defense, they're lead by premier shut-down corner Desmond Trufant.  The brother of NFL vet Marcus, the younger Trufant has turned enough heads this season to have earned an invite to the Senior Bowl.  True freshman safety Shaq Thompson is another player to watch in the Husky defensive backfield.  He may struggle with baseball, but the blue-chip prospect is already making an impact on the gridiron.

Coaching - 

Steve Sarkisian continues to toil on the Husky sideline.  The program has been consistently .500 during his tenure, which makes this late season push for eight wins (six in conference) all the more remarkable.  It hasn't been pretty, with ugly victories over Stanford and Oregon St looking more like car wrecks then football games, but this season may be just what coach Sark needs to build on.
It's been strange to see the offensive guru to struggle to get the Husky offense going this season, especially in the passing game.  Last season, with the same QB, the Huskies set several passing records, and produced over 425 points.  This year, Price has struggled, Washington barely cracks 200 passing yards per contest, and will need big performances these past two weeks to crack 300 points on the season.  Probably not the way the coach would've preferred, but the end result will suffice.

Prediction - 

I still couldn't care less.  Four, five, six score spread... does it even matter?  I'll say it's of the four-score variety, 'cause... something.

UW 41 - CU 17


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