Scouting Report: Washington Huskies

There are a number of parallels between the Wildcats and the Washington Huskies. Both teams are 3-2 with losses to a Big-10 team and a loss in their Pac-10 opener. With each team nursing an 0-1 record in the conference there is added pressure for both teams to come away with a victory.

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LAST TIME OUT: Washington lost to Cal 34-27. It was their first home loss to the Bears in 17 games. The Cats jumped out to a 14-7 lead on the Ducks, but fell to Oregon 31-14.

LAST GAME IN THE SERIES: Washington won a barnburner 31-28 when Cody Pickett found the endzone with just 13 seconds left. Arizona was not happy with the officiating on two plays, one a non-call on the last drive and an earlier hit that knocked Jason Johnson from the game. Nursing an injured shoulder, Pickett had a fantastic game, throwing for 455 yards and three scores.

WHEN THE HUSKIES HAVE THE BALL: The Huskies will throw and then throw again. Pickett is having one of the best seasons of any quarterback in the country. The Husky signal caller is averaging 381.2 yards a game and has passed for 300 yards in five straight games.

"He's only a junior, but he could be the top quarterback in the conference next year," said Arizona coach John Mackovic. "I think he's that good."

Pickett will face a Wildcat secondary that is riddled with injuries. Both Wildcat starting corner backs are out and another key reserve is questionable. That leaves the Cats with a senior, a converted receiver and a true freshman to cover the talented Washington receiving corps. In addition strong safety Clay Hardt is questionable as well. The Cats have struggled in establishing a consistent pass rush and if that trend continues Pickett could have a huge day.

"He really sees the field very well," said Mackovic. "He has terrific timing and accuracy."

The Huskies spread the ball around to a number of receivers. Seven receivers have double figure receptions, while an eighth has nine on the season. Despite this balanced attack, there is not doubt who the team's top threat is.

"Like everybody in the conference, it seems like every quarterback has a favorite receiver, and Cody Pickett's happens to be Reggie Williams," Mackovic said. "Williams is tall, and he gets a lot of attention. Most of the teams, if they have not double-teamed him, have tried to get at least a safety on that side of the field without giving up some help in the middle of the field. He is a key target for their offense, especially in the scoring zone. They move the ball around really well, and seven different receivers have caught double-digit passes so far this season."

The Huskies have not been able to run the ball as well as they would like, averaging just over 100 yards a game. Rich Alexis will be the workhorse, getting over half of the club's carries. Alexis may not be a threat to break one every carry, but he gets 4.0 yards every rush and is a vital cog in setting up the pass.

"We have to be real sure that we don't get caught flat-footed on their play actions because that's where they got us last year," said Mackovic.

The Cats have struggled against the run and will need a better performance than we have seen the last few weeks if they hope to contain the Huskies. Alexis and crew could get back on track if the Cats don't step up.

WHEN THE CATS HAVE THE BALL: Clarence Farmer is out and young Mike Bell needs to pick up the slack. Bell had a so-so effort against the Ducks and will need to quit making freshman mistakes if he hopes to bust out against UW. The Huskies have been very good at limiting opposing runners, which is not good news for the Cats.

Jason Johnson has played very well and the senior passer will have to continue to do so if the Cats are to have a chance. If he gets the time to throw he can pick apart opposing defenses. The problem the Cats are facing is that a number of offensive linemen are down. Expect the Huskies to do a lot of things to get at Johnson.

The Cats have been able to move the ball, but aren't scoring a lot of points. Johnson believes it is just a matter of timing, but the Cats will need to score points to help out a beleaguered defense that is racked with injuries.

Bobby Wade and Andrae Thurman give Johnson two reliable targets and players like Ricky Williams, Biren Ealy and Lance Relford have made a number of critical catches.

The Cats need to improve their short passing game and need to find a way to score more consistently. So far big plays have accounted for most of the Wildcat points.

OUTLOOK: The past three games in Seattle have all been great games and this one could be as well. On paper the Huskies have more talent and less injuries, but the Wildcats find ways to give Washington fits at home. Johnson is from the area and would love to get one last win against the Purple and Gold (he was a freshman when Oretege Jenkins had his now-famous game winning leap), The Cats will need to overcome injuries and find a way to slow Pickett down if they hope to get the win. If not the Huskies will continue their home domination of the Wildcats.

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