Washington Preview

It seems as though whenever Arizona State and Washington meet on the gridiron, the fans are typically treated to a great game. The Sun Devils escaped Husky Stadium last year with a 26-23 win in overtime on a 25-yard touchdown reception by Brent Miller. Some of the same faces that were behind that ASU win are back but this year's version of the Huskies looks a bit different, however.

With quarterback Jake Locker under center, Washington is eyeing its first bowl game in five years despite entering Saturday's game on a three-game losing skid. WASHINGTON HUSKIES

Head Coach: Tyrone Willingham
2007 Record: 2-3, 0-2 (Pac-10)

Last Week: After suffering a 27-24 home loss to Southern California two weeks ago, the Huskies are coming off of a bye week.


*Projected Starters

WR Anthony Russo, Sr.
LT Ben Ossai, Jr.
LG Ryan Tolar, So.
C Juan Garcia, Sr.
RG Casey Bulyca, Sr.
RT Chad Macklin, Sr.
TE Michael Gottlieb, Sr.
QB Jake Locker, RS-Fr.
TB Louis Rankin, Sr.
WR Marcel Reece, Sr.
WR Quintin Daniels, Sr.

Five Husky seniors account for the bulk of the production at wide receiver. Marcel Reece and Anthony Russo are quarterback Jake Locker's favorite targets as both have combined for forty-two catches and five touchdowns so far. Reece is averaging just under 59 receiving yards per game and a 14 yard average per catch. Russo turned in the best performance of his career last month at UCLA with 106 yards and two scores. Corey Williams and Quintin Daniels both have a touchdown this season as well. Cody Ellis, who has been relatively quiet so far with one catch, shares time with sophomore D'Andre Goodwin. Seniors Michael Gottlieb, Johnie Kirton, and Robert Lewis are the Husky tight ends.

Louis Rankin leads all Husky running backs with 315 yards and four touchdowns. The senior averages 63 yards on the ground per contest. Willingham and staff used the bye week to evaluate reserve tailbacks J.R. Hasty, Curtis Shaw, and Brandon Johnson, in hopes of using a rotation more. Rankin has seventy-four carries compared to just twelve for all three reserves. Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano recently noted he plans on getting more snaps to some of the reserves as early as this week's game in Tempe.

Featured Match up: Jake Locker vs. Arizona State linebackers

The redshirt freshman quarterback already looks like a budding star in the Pac-10. Locker is the team's top rusher with 411 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He's deceptively fast with a good first-step and can easily rip off chunks of yardage when he turns the corner so tackling will be at a premium for the Arizona State linebackers. As good as Locker is with the ball in his hands, the youngster has struggled recently when forced to connect downfield on his throws. Washington ranks last in the Pac-10 in passing offense with just 172.2 yards per game. Locker boasts a strong arm but his accuracy has been an issue as he's completed 51.8% of his passes. The signal-caller has thrown for six scores and seven interceptions in five games this season.


*Projected Starters

DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Jr.
DT Jordan Reffett, Sr.
DT Wilson Afoa, Sr.
DE Greyson Gunheim, Sr.
LB Dan Howell, Sr.
LB Donald Butler, So.
LB E.J. Savannah, So.
FS Mesphin Forrester, Jr.
SS Darin Harris, Sr.
CB Byron Davenport, Jr.
CB Roy Lewis, Sr.

Bellevue standout linebacker E.J. Savannah leads the defense with fifty-one tackles, including four for losses. The Huskies need Savannah and sophomore Donald Butler to come up with big games on Saturday as Washington is last in the Pac-10 in rush defense, allowing an average of 184.8 yards on the ground to opponents. Butler played as a true freshman last fall and has notched thirty-six stops so far this season. Trenton Tuiasosopo will also share time with Butler on the inside. Outside linebackers Dan Howell and Chris Stevens have a combined twenty-six tackles on the season.

Perhaps the only notable injury for the Huskies this week is in the secondary. Strong safety Jason Wells is out for the season with a knee injury so senior Darin Harris is slated to make the start this week. Wells was the team's fifth-leading tackler this season. Free safety Mesphin Forrester will help pick up the slack for the Pac-10's third-best pass defense this season. The secondary is surrendering just under 230 passing yards per game. The Huskies have rotated several players in at corner this year opposite senior Roy Lewis. Junior Byron Davenport provided a boost after missing two games with an injury but is still battling former Valley prep standout Matt Mosley for snaps. True Freshman Vonzell McDowell was the starter in the first three games. Lewis is the top cover man with four pass breakups and an interception.

Featured Match up: Washington defensive line vs. Arizona State offensive line

The winner of this battle in the trenches will likely have a large input on the outcome of the game. The Husky defensive line is anchored by defensive ends Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Greyson Gunheim. Te'o-Nesheim has notched nineteen tackles, including four sacks while Gunheim has an interception to go along with his two-and-a-half sacks. Fifth-year senior tackles Wilson Afoa and Jordan Reffett have a combined thirty-one stops between them. The Husky defense doesn't blitz a whole lot but they're likely to bring a little more heat this weekend as the Sun Devils have given up twenty-two sacks so far.


P Jared Ballman, Jr.
PK Ryan Perkins, Jr.

PR Anthony Russo, Sr.
KOR Brandon Johnson, Fr.

Punter Jared Ballman is arguably coming off of his best performance to date against the Trojans in which five of his seven punts went inside the 20-yard line. Ballman, a junior college transfer, is averaging 38.7 yards per punt and has five punts in excess of 50 yards. Place kicker Ryan Perkins has converted on three of his five field goal attempts this season. Both of his misses were blocked but the junior has been perfect on all eighteen PAT attempts.

Anthony Russo has handled most of the punt return duties for Washington and has turned in a 9-yard average on five punt returns. Cornerback Roy Lewis has one return for 32 yards. The kickoff return team ranks last in the conference with a 19-yard average per kick return. Brandon Johnson has averaged 16.8 yards on ten returns while Louis Rankin has found a little more success with a 24-yard average, including one return for 41 yards.

When place kicker Thomas Weber lines up for Arizona State, keep an eye on tackle Jordan Reffett. The senior has blocked two field goals this year, one against Boise State and the other against Ohio State.


--Keep it under 4.7: That's the number of yards opposing running backs are averaging per carry against the Huskies. Tackling should be a big point of emphasis for Washington this week as Arizona State running back Ryan Torain is tough to bring down on the first attempt. If the Huskies can hold Torain and company to under 100 yards, then Washington could be in a position to win the game. Torain usually does most of his damage by wearing down defenses in the fourth quarter so perhaps fresh legs coming off of a bye week will help the Husky defense.

--Pressure Carpenter: The duress Carpenter has been under has continued to be a big chink in the Sun Devil armor so far this season as they've allowed 22 sacks. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer isn't a riverboat gambler when it comes to blitzing but you'd expect him to throw a little more heat at Carpenter and the offensive line than he'd normally put up. At least until Arizona State shows they can handle blitzes better.

--Take what the defense is giving: The Sun Devil defense is set up to stop the run first, and while Jake Locker will get yards on the ground, he can really hurt the defense if he's connecting on his downfield passes. Should Locker successfully attack true freshman Omar Bolden's corner of the secondary, the defense may be in for a shootout.


--Control the clock: The longer Jake Locker has to wait on the sidelines, the better. The Arizona State offense can give a big assist to the defense this week by controlling the clock and letting those linebackers rest a bit. Fortunately for ASU, it's within their framework to do so as they lead the league in time of possession.

--Keep the penalties down: Washington doesn't commit a ton of penalties under Tyrone Willingham. The Huskies lead the Pac-10 in fewest penalty yards per game with just 46.8 yards per contest. That means the Sun Devils can't continue to help the opposition by accumulating nearly double the yards in penalties alone. USC nearly found out the hard way by committing sixteen penalties two weeks ago in Seattle.

--Limit the big play from Locker: This is an obvious bullet point for any defense preparing for the signal-caller but it's a little easier said than done. Containment and pursuit angles will be a big priority for the defense this Saturday as Locker has a quick first-step and is a tough load to bring down. He's a big threat wherever he's running the ball on the field, obviously, but limiting the chances he gets to turn the outside corners, where he seems to do more damage, helps a bit.

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