Let's face it, neither Washington nor Arizona are very good. The good news for Wildcat fans is that this is the first year of a rebuilding process and despite a lack of wins, the team is much better than they were a year ago. Conversely, the Huskies will begin a new rebuilding process next year, but this year they face their worst season since poodle skirts were fashionable. How the mighty have fallen. It was just over a decade ago that the Huskies had the nation's best football team (no matter what the polls said).
The big subplot is that Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson was fired earlier in the week. This really came as no surprise. When he was hired to replace Rick Neuheisel most college football fans did not wonder if he would be fired, but when. I think most fans had about 22 games in the over/under. For the record those taking the under can collect their winnings. The teams are very similar. They both have anemic offenses, they both have gone through a few quarterbacks and they both have been hit hard by the injury bug. Washington has had 13 starters undergo surgery since the start of the season. The Cats have not had quite that many hurt players, but they have lost four defensive tackles since the middle of September.
The Huskies have played musical chairs at quarterback. They'll go with Casey Paus, the less talented little brother of former UCLA signal caller Corey Paus. Neither of the Paus brothers exactly set the world on fire. If only there was another Huard brother. Of course the Wildcats aren't exactly lining up with Aaron Rodgers or Matt Leinart under center. Richard Kovalcheck has shown flashes, but right now he has never started in a win for the Wildcats.
The Huskies have been decimated by injuries at wide receiver, while the Cats have been plagued by drops. Arizona will have Biren Ealy for a whole game plus they get Syndric Steptoe back. The Cats will also throw true freshman B.J. Dennard out there. Just a week ago he was the team's number three corner back, now he's working with the offense. He may get thrown to the wolves. He was quoted earlier this week as saying the coaches were practically drawing up plays in the dirt in an effort to get him used to the offense. Of course, if he can actually catch the ball Wildcat fans won't care if Kovalcheck draw up plays on his chest or simply tells him to run to the Buick and turn around.
Last year Mike Bell ran wild against the Huskies and he seem poised to do it again. When he hangs onto the ball he can be a difference maker. The Huskies are not great on defense and you can bet the Cats will try to win the ball.
The biggest defensive question for the Cats is the interior line. Mike Stoops has kept the position together with bailing wire and duct tape. They have been competitive with 255-pound Lionel Dotson manning the middle. They get sophomore Paul Phillip back, but he could be limited with his shoulder. Senior Carlos Williams plays about 220 plays a game and somehow is able to stand in the fourth quarter.
Without their linebackers the Husky defense would be in shambles. Their three starters accumulate almost 80% of the defenses tackles. Sure it's better than having your safeties making all of the tackles, but it still isn't good to have so few playmakers on defense.
OUTLOOK: Neither team is very good, but Arizona has been competitive in more games. Of course this one is in Seattle which has been a house of horrors for the Wildcats. They have lost a number of close games their the past few seasons. If both teams limit mistakes the Wildcats have the edge, but to date the Cats have yet to play anything close to mistake free football.