So, before we kinda talked about what this game means, not only for the Huskies but for the entire Pac-12. So, here we’re gonna talk about how the Huskies can actually DO it. DO the impossible. BEAT a top 10 (or is it 11?) college football team on their home field!
And then tomorrow I’ll have officially run out of things to write about. OK, not really.
Probably the best (and worst) way to look at this is to figure out: how did the Huskies beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl? Well, we held them to under 100 yards rushing while racking up 268 yards (including 177 yards on 34 carries by Chris Polk). That’s all well and good (and we do still have Chris Polk as our starter/stud), but these aren’t exactly the same two teams.
For one, Jake Locker isn’t here to gut out 83 big-boy yards on 13 carries. I like Keith Price and all; he’s pretty fast and looks shifty enough when he’s healthy. But, I don’t want Keith Price running anywhere NEAR 13 times in this game! He’s liable to get killed (or at least significantly injured for a decent portion of this season). Locker Price ain’t. He may have a comparable (or, when all is said & done, a better) arm, but I don’t think he has the toughness to dive for a first down, barrelling through multiple defenders twice his size.
Secondly, by all accounts, Taylor Martinez was hampered by an injury that reduced his rushing yards from 137 in the first Huskies/Huskers matchup to 23 in the Holiday Bowl. Again, by all accounts, Taylor Martinez is fresh as a daisy and will be a bitch to contain this Saturday.
We do have some things going in our favor, though. Important things. Game-changing things.
Starting with their offensive line: they lost two guys from last year to graduation, so they’re breaking in some new guys this year. Given the fact that our defensive line is pretty much intact from the one we had in the Holiday Bowl (where we straight-up BEASTED them all game long), I’d say we have a better chance of containing Martinez than we did in Round 1 last year.
Likewise, in looking at the draft, you can see that they lost 3 people from their secondary. Prince Amukamara, Dejon Gomes, and Eric Hagg. I know Prince was as good as they get (as he was a 1st round pick this year to the Giants) and completely shut down our best receivers last year; not sure about the other two, but you gotta figure if they were drafted (which they were), then they were at least somewhat impressive. So, who knows, maybe this time around we can actually throw the ball for more than 100 yards! We sure as shit couldn’t do it last year with their secondary (71 yards in Game 1, 72 yards in Game 2).
Finally, not for nothin’, but they did lose their best running back and kicker to the draft as well.
Now, I’m not saying Nebraska doesn’t have quality talent to back up those they lost – they are, after all, ranked either 10th or 11th in the nation – but I AM saying that what they have isn’t necessarily a proven commodity.
Maybe Nebraska will be better along the defensive front than they were in the Holiday Bowl; but likewise maybe Washington will be able to chuck it down the field on occasion to keep them honest.
There’s no way this game is a repeat of the Holiday Bowl. The circumstances are completely different. It’s a new season and we’re dealing with two vastly different teams than they were 9 months ago. But, I believe the Huskies have a better-than-good chance of not only staying in this game, but pulling out a miracle in the end.
A lot is gonna have to go right. First of all, we’re going to have to keep our composure early. Nebraska and their rowdy fans are going to be bursting with energy out of the gate. We have to make sure that doesn’t translate to a 14-0 deficit before we’ve had a chance to collectively unclench our buttcheeks from this tension-filled week of anticipation. The defense is going to have to show up prepared and stay up to the task all game long.
On offense, we’re going to have to give them a steady dose of Chris Polk … mostly because that’s the only way we’re going to get our Play-Action passes to work. I want to see a balanced offense, because Nebraska is going to expect us to run-run-run all game long. I want to see some trickery, some balls down field; I want to see receivers holding onto first down receptions in traffic, not bobbling them for drops or interceptions. I want our special teams to help us out (and I CERTAINLY don’t want them hurting us with fumbles & muffed punts).
We don’t have to be PERFECT, but we have to be near-perfect. 99.999% perfect. You don’t just go into Nebraska – when you’re Washington – and think you can walk all over the home team.
With the defense scuffling in the first two games, I have to anticipate a high-scoring game. We’re going to need 30+, maybe even 40+ points. But, who knows? Maybe the D-Line can put it all together.
Whatever, who cares? Go Dawgs!