Washington Preview

Saturday's matchup between Arizona State and Washington pits two teams searching for a much-needed end to extended losing streaks. ASU enters losers of six straight, a school-worst mark since 1929. As bad as things have been for the Sun Devils, the state of affairs in Seattle is even worse for the winless Huskies who are the market for a new head coach to resurrect the once proud program.

If ASU is going to be eligible for a fifth-straight bowl game, the Sun Devils now need to win out, starting with the struggling Huskies this weekend.

WASHINGTON HUSKIES

2008 Record: 0-8, 0-5 Pac-10
Head Coach: Tyrone Willingham

Last Week: Blanked by the Trojans, Washington fell to USC on the road 56-0.

OFFENSE
*Projected Starters

WR D'Andre Goodwin, SO
LT Ben Ossai, JR
LG Jordan White-Frisbee, SR
C Juan Garcia, SR
RG Ryan Tolar, SO
RT Cody Habben, SO
TE Michael Gottlieb, SR
QB Ronnie Fouch, RS-FR
TB Terrance Dailey, FR
FB Paul Homer, JR
WR Alvin Logan, RS-FR

When quarterback Jake Locker went down with a thumb injury in late September, the Huskies lost his quick improvisational skills often on display with his athleticism to move the chains with his feet. Locker's injury has opened the door for redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch to call the plays under center.

With Fouch, the Huskies have a more polished passer than Locker but the game hasn't quite slowed down for the erratic youngster yet. Fouch has completed 47.9% of his passes for 993 yards this season. The signal caller has also tossed four touchdowns and seven interceptions. Redshirt freshman Taylor Bean backs up Fouch.

Injuries have also taken a toll in the backfield as the Huskies have deployed four different starters at tailback this season. Highly touted freshman Chris Polk started the first two games but his season was cut short with a shoulder injury.

Another true freshman, Terrance Dailey, now starts for the Huskies. Dailey was the first tailback since Louis Rankin in 2005 to rush for over 100 yards in his first career start as he notched 102 yards and a touchdown against Oregon State.

Sophomore Brandon Johnson had his best outing of the season last week at USC by gaining 54 yards on 18 carries. Johnson has totaled 117 yards and two touchdowns this season. David Freeman, who has struggled with an ankle injury this fall and Willie Griffin round out the group with a combined 196 yards.

The wide receivers are a young group but departing head coach Tyrone Willingham has noted the potential for a bright future here. Sophomore D'Andre Goodwin tops the pack as the go-to man on Montlake this season. Goodwin has paced the group with 533 yards on 44 catches.

Freshmen Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse are also options through the air. Both are averaging 25.9 and 28.0 receiving yards respectively while Kearse has grabbed two of the Huskies' five receiving scores this fall. Tight ends Michael Gottlieb and Kavario Middleton have also been utilized in the passing game with a combined 17 receptions and 196 yards.

DEFENSE
*Projected Starters

DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, JR
DT Cameron Elisara, SO
DT Johnie Kirton, SR
DE Darrion Jones, JR
OLB Donald Butler, JR
ILB Trenton Tuiasosopo, SR
OLB Mason Foster, SO
SS Tripper Johnson, JR
FS Nate Williams, SO
CB Quinton Richardson, RS-FR
CB Mesphin Forrester, SR

Defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim anchors the Husky defensive front. The senior captain, who ranked 6th in the Pac-10 last fall with 15 tackles for a loss, has accrued 37 stops and three sacks this season. Te'o-Nesheim is in his third season as a full-time starter for the Huskies.

At the other end spot, Darrion Jones made his starting debut this season as a junior. Jones has collected 14 stops in eight games. Cameron Elisara and Johnie Kirton are the two tackles on the interior of the line. Elisara and Kirton have combined for 35 stops. Both players entered the program with impressive prep credentials, which naturally set expectations at a high level.

Elisara is still developing while Kirton is hoping he's saved his best for last after a switch from tight end. Reserve defensive end Everrette Thompson has added 11 tackles, including two for a loss.

After losing top tackler E.J. Savannah, the linebackers have pressed forward as they try to help in run support. Currently, the Huskies are allowing just over 243 rushing yards per game to their opponents. Mason Foster tops the entire defense with 66 tackles. His seven tackles for a loss also pace the Husky defense. Foster is teamed with Donald Butler and Trenton Tuiasosopo at linebacker.

Tuiasosopo, a cousin of former Huskies Marques and Zach, had a game-high 12 tackles last week at USC. The senior is third on the team in tackles with 45 stops. Butler has notched 39 stops and a quarterback sack this season. Joshua Gage and Chris Stevens are the top reserves.

The Husky secondary is in the Pac-10 cellar in pass defense efficiency, largely due to just three takeaways to the 21 passing touchdowns they've allowed. Free safety Nate Williams is the top tackler of the group as he's notched 52 stops, which ranks second on the team, and an interception.

Tripper Johnson has added 36 stops at the other safety spot. Johri Fogerson is an emerging true freshman that returned to the safety rotation last week at USC after missing three games with an injury. Cornerback Mesphin Forrester, a former starter at safety who has collected 41 tackles, is nursing a knee injury that may sideline him this week. If he can't go, sophomores Matt Mosley (from Tempe's Corona Del Sol HS) and Vonzell McDowell, Jr. can go in his place. Mosley started last week at USC and finished with seven stops, including two for a loss. Redshirt freshman Quinton Richardson will start at the opposite corner. Richardson leads the team with five pass break-ups and an interception.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Jared Ballman, SR
PK Ryan Perkins, JR

PR D'Andre Goodwin, SO
KOR Jordan Polk, FR

For Washington's special teams it's been a forgettable season. Senior punter Jared Ballman is eighth in the conference with a 37.7-yard average on 47 punts. Five of his punts have been boomed for 50 yards or more, including a longest of 64 yards.

Ballman can also kick field goals and is 2 of 5 this season with a longest make from 45 yards out. Ryan Perkins, who is listed ahead of Ballman on the depth chart, hasn't fared much better. The junior has made one of his three attempts, a 35-yarder in the season opener at Oregon.

The Huskies struggle in the return game as well. Washington ranks last in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns while checking just one spot higher in punt returns. Wide receivers D'Andre Goodwin and Devin Aguilar have shared punt returning duties this fall to combine for a 5.5-yard average on four returns.

Jordan Polk leads all kick returners with his average of 18.6 yards on 29 kick returns. A 38-yard return is his longest of the season.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR ARIZONA STATE

1. Pressure Fouch: The redshirt freshman signal-caller is capable of making plays with his strong arm if given time in the pocket. The Husky offensive line has given up 21 sacks this season, a number that should have ASU's top pass-rusher Dexter Davis salivating.

2. TD's in the Red-Zone: Struggles inside the red-zone have plagued this team for over a year now since they lost the services of running back Ryan Torain last season. Last week against the Beavers, ASU settled for four field goals and one touchdown in five trips inside the red-zone. If ASU wants to set a tone early and jump on the Huskies, they'll need to come away with touchdowns instead of field goals. Rudy Carpenter and the ASU receivers have got to like the fact that Washington has given up a Pac-10 worst 21 passing touchdowns this season.

3. Run Effectively: Going against the Pac-10's 9th worst rush defense should give a glimmer of hope to ASU's continuing search for a ground game. The Sun Devils ran the ball better last week at Oregon State as Shaun DeWitty gained 110 yards. Things should be just as good, if not better, this week in Seattle if the Sun Devils continue to keep fighting in spite of the losing streak. Rainy conditions would probably dictate more emphasis on the ground attack and the maroon and gold should be prepared for that.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR WASHINGTON

1. Ignite the Pass Rush: Washington has a paltry five sacks this season, and hasn't helped, to say the least, the Huskies' secondary. On the other hand, Arizona State has allowed 23 sacks so far this season, 8th worst in the conference. Thus, if the Huskies are going to notch their first victory of the season, they'll need to improve the pressure up front and take advantage of ASU's shortcoming in pass protection.

2. Fast Start: Husky Stadium can be loud at times, even if it's not at full capacity. Washington will need to get the fans behind them and invoke their once strong home-field atmosphere with big plays early on. Another "here we go again" start to the game certainly won't help the winless Huskies and will taker the air out of an already despaired Husky nation.

3. Special Teams: Special teams have been anything but special this season. Washington can't afford to continue missing field goals and precious opportunities to score points. Solid returns and better kicking will be a step in the right direction for Washington to improve this team aspect and possibly notch a long awaited "W".

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