Friday, October 18, 2013

Game Preview: #20 Washington vs. Arizona State

By Kevin Calderhead

After a dismal loss at Husky Stadium against rival Oregon, Washington hopes to rebound against unranked Arizona State. On the other hand, the Sun Devils look to carry their momentum after a blowout win at home versus Colorado.
The Dawgs will face a high powered Arizona State offense, averaging 342 passing yards per game, led by quarterback Taylor Kelley. This may seem extremely concerning after the Washington secondary allowed 366 yards through the air against Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks, however, Huskies’ safety Sean Parker says otherwise.
“We’re still confident,” said Parker. “We just gotta fix what we do. No matter who we play, it’s all about us and our preparation.”
Sean Parker needs to have a big game for the Huskies if they want to contain Taylor Kelley through the air.
The Seattle Times
Before last week, the Dawgs’ D had only allowed 146 passing yards per game, just two touchdowns and seven interceptions. I would expect this type of performance to resume this Saturday, as Taylor Kelley is no Marcus Mariota.
Despite all the negativity regarding the defense, it is a spot where UW holds a huge advantage this week against ASU. The 19.8 points per game allowed by Washington is 25th best in the country. Conversely, the Sun Devils are allowing a whopping 27.2 points per game.
Unfortunately, as expected, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Arizona State has the 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award winner in DT Will Sutton. Last year, he had 13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. If the Huskies O-line can contain him, the offense averaging nearly 250 yards on the ground and 280 yards passing should be able to run all over the Arizona State defense.
Will Sutton is a beast up front for the Sun Devils.
The last time Washington played at Sun Devil Stadium in 2009, Arizona State quarterback Danny Sullivan threw a game winning 50 yard touchdown with five seconds left on the clock. This is only the most recent of the Huskies’ woes in Tempe. The Dawgs haven’t won a game there since 2001, and the Sun Devils have won seven in a row facing Washington.
As discouraging as this is, these are two very different teams from the last time they faced off. The last matchup between the Huskies and Sun Devils was in 2010, which ASU won 24-14. Three seasons later, Arizona State comes in as three point favorites at home. This game is a must win for the Dawgs. They need to bounce back after two tough losses to #5 Stanford and #2 Oregon, both of which could have gone very differently if a couple aspects of the game changed.
A key for the Huskies is to score right out of the gates. The last two games, the Huskies didn’t really start scoring until the second half: 17 points after the break against Oregon and 21 in the last two quarters at Stanford. Both of these offensive explosions proved to be too little, too late. If UW can put up big numbers early in the game, it gives the whole team momentum and takes a whole lot of pressure off the defense to keep it close.
Another key is to limit the momentum changing mistakes. It seemed the Huskies were cruising against Oregon, until Bishop Sankey’s fumble. At Stanford, Ty Montgomery’s 99 yard return on the opening kickoff immediately gave Stanford the momentum.
If the Huskies perform as they are capable, they will win this game easily. My prediction is 31-17, Washington.

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