Many figured Washington would be, at worst, a respectable offensive team led by quarterback Keith Price, but it hasn't quite gone according to plan.
UW ranks 11th in the conference in total offense and 10th in points per game. Nether rushing or passing has been very effective for the Huskies, who also rank eighth in the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game and dead last in passing.
Price has had a down year in comparison to what he did last season. He is down in virtually every statistical category and is on pace to throw nearly 1000 fewer yards than last season. He is dead-last in the conference among starters in yards per attempt and tied for last in touchdown passes with seven.
Without Jermaine Kearse or Devin Aguilar at receiver, things have been tough for Price. His leading target this year has been sophomore wideout Kasen Williams, who has 33 receptions, 362 yards and four touchdown catches.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been impressive in his second season of college football, catching 29 passes for 337 yards and a pair of scores through six games. Seferian-Jenkins is a huge target that could create mismatch problems for Arizona in a similar way that Stanford tight ends Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz did just two weekends ago.
Aside from those two targets, the Huskies are hurting in the passing game. Only one other player – freshman Jaydon Mickens – has double-digit reception numbers and just two other players with more than one catch, outside of Williams and Seferian-Jenkins, are averaging over 10 yards per reception.
Washington's rushing attack has its own share of issues as well. As a team, the Huskies are averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt and rank eighth in the conference with seven touchdown runs. That doesn't mean that Washington doesn't possess a threat out of the backfield. Sophomore Bishop Sankey has been efficient running the ball, picking up 487 yards and six of the team's seven rushing touchdowns.
Given the way UA has been gashed by running backs this season, expect to see a lot of Sankey on Saturday.
The next leading rusher on the team is Erich Wilson II, who has picked up 140 yards and one touchdown in four game of action. He also leads the team in yards per carry at 5.6
Washington's offensive line is banged up and has played shaky all year. The unit surrenders over three sacks per game and that 3.7 yards-per-carry figure isn't going to intimidate anyone. It is a game that could come down to matchups, as Arizona's defense leaves something to be desired and Washington's offense has been lacking as well.
#25 – RB, Bishop Sankey: Arizona has allowed Pac-12 opponents to compile over 650 rushing yards in just three games and you know UW head coach Steve Sarkisian is well aware of that. Given the Huskies' struggles in the passing game and Sankey's success rushing the ball, expect to see a large dose of the sophomore running back.
#17 – QB, Keith Price: Yes, the Huskies' signal-caller has struggled all season, but he has proven to be very formidable in the past and Arizona's passing defense is one of the worst in the nation. It's conceivable to see Price having a big game on Saturday given how poorly the UA pass defense has played.
#88 – TE, Austin Seferian-Jenkins: The Wildcats struggled with Stanford's tight ends and Sefearian Jenkins is one of the top tight ends in the Pac-12, if not the best. At 6-foot-6, 266-pounds, Sefearian-Jenkins gives the Huskies a big target in the area of the field where the Wildcats seem to struggle the most – the middle.
#2 – WR, Kasen Williams: Despite struggling for two straight games, Williams has had a solid first-half and could spell trouble for UA's problematic secondary. He is Price's top wide receiver and should factor into the passing game heavily. His 6-foot-2 frame could be a matchup problem for the Wildcats' smaller defensive backs.
Five Keys to the Game
1. Don't let Sankey run wild: The Wildcats haven't been able to stop the run against any FBS team this season. If UA continues that trend, Sankey is in for a big day. If the Wildcats can somehow stop him, it will completely disrupt UW's attack.
2. Keep track of Seferian-Jenkins: This is a no-brainer after watching what Stanford's tight ends did to Arizona. If Seferian-Jenkins gets open, the Huskies passing offense will be in for a big day. The Wildcats must not let history repeat itself two weeks later.
3. Don't let Price get comfortable: Price has been arguably the biggest disappointment in the conference at quarterback, but the Arizona defense has been the perfect remedy for struggling players this season. If Price is allowed to get comfortable and settle in, he could be in for a big game. UA must find its pass-rush or it could be another long night for the defense.
4. Attack Washington's struggling offensive line: Whether it be in pass-protection or run, Washington's offensive line has had its fair share of problems. On the flipside, UA hasn't been able to stop the run or put pressure in the opposing backfield, but could find success this weekend.
5. Limit the Huskies' time of possession: The defense must prevent Washington from holding the ball for long drives. The less the offense has the ball, the less the Wildcats control the tempo of the game. If Arizona can't control the tempo, then UW has big chance to win Saturday.