Washington Game Preview

A look at the game between the Irish and Huskies

There isn't a lot that needs to be said about this game in terms of its importance to both teams beyond what occurs between the hash marks. There will be plenty written and said by others so I'll skip over all of the subplots of this drama and move right into what we will likely see on the field this Saturday.

Washington (1-2) will be playing its fourth-straight game at home to start the season. The Huskies picked up their first win this past Saturday against Idaho, 34-6. The Irish (2-1) will be playing on the road for the third time in four games after stumbling to their first loss in Charlie Weis' opener against Michigan State (3-0) 41-44.

Washington On Offense:

Category '05 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense #73 129.67 yards
Passing Offense #58 230.33 yards
Total Offense #73 360.00 yards
Scoring Offense #75 22.67 points
Pass Eff. Offense #36 140.75 yards

Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano has extensive experience running the spread offense, but he will likely concentrate on establishing the run this season and play ball control offense. The Huskies have rushed the ball 100 times on the season averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Washington got a big boost to the season rushing totals last week against Idaho when they ran the ball 39 times for 192 yards.

Isaiah Stanback, who won the quarterback derby during fall camp, has been an effective passer this season completing 60 percent of his passes while building a 142.67 passer rating. His receivers are young but athletic and talented.

Upfront the Huskies have been dinged up a little, but they will have an experienced group of lineman attempting to generate some running room for a solid group of running backs.

Anticipated Depth Chart. Returning starter = +.

  Isaiah Stanback Jr. 50-82-688 4/2 61.0
  Casey Paus Sr. 1-2-3 0/0 50.0

Isaiah Stanback (6-3 205) is athtletic and he will make plays with his legs, so that needs to be a concern for the Irish defense. He has a good arm and he's accurate. His challenge thus far has been combining his talent with his decision making. Stanback will likely take most of the snaps under center, but they will use the shotgun.

Casey Paus (6-5 225) started against Notre Dame last year and really struggled. If the Huskies have to turn to Paus at any point in this game, they will likely struggle offensively.

Johnny Durocher (6-4 215) is a transfer from Oregon. He was neck and neck with Stanback through spring and fall, but he hasn't been available due to the transfer rules. He will be available against the Irish.

  RB Hgt/Wgt Rushes-Yards
  Louis Rankin So. 6-0/195 55-271/1TD
  James Sims Sr. 6-1/215 14-31/ 2TD
  Shelton Sampson Jr 5-11/210 4-20/ -

Rankin is a home run threat. He is a taller, bigger back, but has enough speed to get down field. He is more of a slasher. He needs to work on going more north-south versus trying to create his space. If he can put his head down and move the pile, he will do what Lappano needs him to do.

James Sims is your combo back. He's a big, strong runner that will see carries in short yardage and out of the one back set.

Kenny James was last year's starter, but he bruised his shoulder early in fall camp, and he hasn't been able to get healthy. It's possible he could come in, but that is doubtful.

Sampson, is a guy that would like to stay outside. If he gets in the open, he can make some big plays, but he won't scare many defenses.

Ty Eriks has played a different position almost every year. He's play tight end, defensive end and fullback. This year he finds himself in the backfield where he'll get some catches now and again, but he won't get many carries.

  WR Hgt/Wgt Stats
  +Anthony Russo So. 5-11/185  9-86/ -
  +Sonny Shackelford Jr. 6-2/180  12-199/ 1TD
  Craig Chambers So 6-3/205  5-129/ 1TD
  Corey Williams Jr. 6-2/190  3-54/ -
  Cody Ellis So. 6-0/185  3-59/ 1TD

Washignton's receivers are a lot like Michigan State's group. They aren't spectacular, but they certainly can make plays, and if you don't stick to them, they will turn a short reception into a big play.

The receivers aren't physical, but they are athletic. Chambers is the biggest downfield threat. Shackelford will do the damage with the intermediate routes and plays deep over the middle.

Anthony Russo will likely work from the slot position, and he is your possession receiver. He isn't big, but he'll catch everything.

Corey Williams is a big athletic guy. He was sidelined last year, when he injured his wrist against Notre Dame. He can hurt you anywhere on the field.

  TE Hgt/Wgt Stats
  Robert Lewis So. 6-5/230 3-23/ --
  Johnnie Kirton So 6-3/280 8-103/ 1TD

The tight ends are young and inexperinced. They can get out and catch, but they aren't tremendous blockers.

  Offensive Line Hgt/Wgt Experience
  +LT Robin Meadow 5th. 6-6 295 16 starts at RT
  +LG Stanley Daniels Jr. 6-4 310 10 starts
  +C Brad Vanneman 5th 6-3 305 14 starts
  RG Tusi Sa'au 5th 6-2 325 11 games in 2004
  RT Ty Alailefaleula Sr 6-4/335 Limited Exp.

This group was better when it started the season, but since the Huskies have lost two of their tackles. Joe Toledo, their starting left tackle, is considered week to week, but the word is that he'll be out for a while. They then lost Chad Macklin, who was moved into the right tackle slot. They were a solid group before the injuries, but like any offensive line that loses two key members, they are going to struggle to run the ball and protect Stanback.

Rob Meadow started 16 games at right tackle, and he will now slide over and protect the backside of the quarterback. This is a difficult move for a right tackle, but Chris Frome isn't a speed-rusher off the corner so this might not be a bad move for Meadow.

Stanley Daniels has played a lot of football and he has 10 starts. He'll likely get a rest from Clay throughout the game. The interior of the Washington line is the strength. And with Meadow moving to the left tackle, don't be surprised to see Washington to attempt to run the ball over the left guard spot.

Brad Vanneman has 14 starts under his belt and he's is a very solid player. Like most interior guys, he runs blocks better than he pass blocks.

Tusi Sa'au has five starts, but he played in every game in 2004. He's a big, strong run blocker.

Ty Alailefaleula is going to struggle against Victor Abiamiri. He's a guard that is going to try to play tackle. He's really big and much better suited to guard.

Clay Walker (6-4, 300 pound) has a number of starts on the offensive line. He'll likely be involved throughout the game.

Washington On Defense:

Category '05 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense #78 166.67 yards
Pass Eff. Defense #98 147.62 yards
Total Defense #73 389.33 yards
Scoring Defense #73 27.33 points
Pass Defense #60 222.67 yards


Anticipated Depth Chart. Returning starter = +

  Defensive Line Hgt/Wgt Experience
  DT Mike Mapuolesega Sr. 6-3 270 6 starts
  +DT Manase Hopoi Sr. 6-4 290 39 starts
  + Donny Mateaki Jr. 6-5 285 10 starts
  DE Greyson Gunheim So. 6-2 245 7 starts

Truth be told, this group will be similar to the group Notre Dame faced at Pittsburgh. Their best run stuffer, sophomore Jordan White-Frisbee, has been injured and he'll miss the Notre Dame game. The Huskies are incredibly thin on the interior and they will have moved some defensive ends inside to provide depth. You will see other players than the starters, but they will likely be there just to give a guy a breather. This is a group the Irish offensive line should dominate.

Donny Mateaki has started 10 games and he has extensive duty as a back through out his career. He has a world of potential but he's battled injuries throughout his career. He's 100 percent now and might be a guy that can make plays off the corner.

Mike Mapuolesega is a former JC transfer. He started six games at defensive end in 2004. He's a tough, tenacious player, but he's new to the position and he's undersized.

Manase Hopoi has started 39 games and he has All-American potential. The key word in that sentence is "potential". While he should be the man, he has been slow to start and he hasn't been making the plays.

Greyson Gunheim played as a true freshman starting seven games. He showed some flashes but he needs to add strength. He has some speed, and he can be disruptive, but he's a little raw and young.

  Linebackers Hgt/Wgt Experience
  +SLB Scott White Jr. 6-1 230 12 starts
  +MLB Joe Lobendahn Sr. 5-10 230 15 starts
  +WLB Evan Benjamin Sr. 6-0 215 24 starts

The linebackers are the strength of the defense. The front four haven't been doing their job, so these guys have been struggling. To compound their troubles, the linebackers have been trying to do too much, so they have been making mistakes.

Joe Lobendahn has played in almost every game of his career so he brings a ton of experience, but beyond the top three guys, there isn't a lot of depth.

Lobendahn and Benjamin are two of the top three tacklers on the team.

  Defensive Backs Hgt/Wgt Experience
  CB Roy Lewis So. 5-11 185 JC Transfer
  CB Matt Fountaine Jr. 5-11 180 7 starts/33 Gms
  SS C.J. Wallace So. 6-0 205 27 starts/33 Gms
  +FS Dashon Goldson Jr. 6-2 195 11 starts

Dashon Goldson is a JC transfer that started all the games in 2004. He always looks to make the big play, he is a tough player and a big hitter...very good in run suport. He might be too aggressive at times.

C.J. Wallace might be the best of this group. He's young but he's been making plays. He's been the enforcer.

Both corners have struggled with coverage and run support this year.

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