Coach's Corner

Alright. I'll admit I've only seen four of their games, and even though I missed their Louisville win, I still think the Oregon State Beavers are a really good team, and just like Arizona State last week are probably better than their record would indicate. Of course their only losses were close games to two of the best teams in the country, TCU and Boise State.

They are better than the Washington Huskies at just about every position and considering this is Mike Riley's tenth season there, they are also a much more mature and deeper football team. His system is well entrenched now and they have had success along the way. Heck, they played the Civil War last year for the right to go to the Rose Bowl.

They are a physical team and have a wide variety of offensive plays with which to attack defenses. Sure they lost a really good player in James Rodgers, but they replace him with a bigger and faster player in Markus Wheaton. They still have three receivers who are sure-handed and a tight end who is clearly better than any the Huskies have. They are also good at returns in the kicking game

Defensively, they are really stout up front, especially number 54, Stephen Paea, and although probably not as good as the Huskies at linebacker, they do have a good balance on their defense. They have definitely sprung some leaks in their secondary as evidenced by Arizona gaining 440 through the air, but overall have a sound defensive unit.

Washington, and Jake Locker in particular, have to have their best games in order for the Huskies to prevail in this one, and their intensity in practice indicates they realize their backs are against the wall. Coach Sarkisian was very demanding at Wednesday's practice, continually stressing attention to details and accountability by everyone. He knows his team is at a crossroads and this game is pivotal to their bowl eligibility. He also knows his team let one get away last weekend against ASU and they need to come up with their best effort in this one.

Missing will be Erik Kohler, Kevin Smith, and maybe Devin Aguilar from the offense, but the emergence of Jesse Callier and the re-emergence of D'Andre Goodwin just might offset the loss of the two receivers. Goodwin looks like he is about to become the go-to receiver he was two years ago. He and Callier joined Chris Polk as the Husky main playmakers in the last game. It is so positive to see a senior step up and play the way he did against the Sun Devils. He is also blocking the best he ever has and I anticipate he will be one of the best players on the field Saturday night.

Callier has been nothing short of sensational for a true freshman and he is only going to get better. He brings a great attitude to the game and practice and is always up-beat and ready to go. He almost busted a kickoff return and regularly makes tackles covering kickoffs. He is the Huskies' version of the fly sweep and I can't believe they won't use it against the Beavers.

In every game this year, the Beavers have appeared to be vulnerable on the edges of their defense. Callier will force them to balance up and that should open up running lanes and create passing match-ups. Forcing the Beavers to play the width of the field and balance up against his outside threat gives the Huskies a chance to attack the defense in other ways.

Still this game is going to get back to Jake Locker and his ability to run the football, as well as throw with consistency. Washington will not win with Jake gaining 10 yards rushing. A hundred and ten would be more like it, but whatever it takes the Dawgs need Locker and Jermaine Kearse to step up their games. They are still vital to anything the Huskies are doing on offense and they are the answer to beating Oregon State.

Washington will need to score in the 30's or 40's to win this game, and that means they need to get some help from the defense and kicking game. Desmont Trufant looked really tuned in at practice and I think will return to form as the Huskies' premier defensive back. He needs to be a shut-down defender against the Beavers, especially against number 46, Aaron Nichols, who has great hands and catching ability.

That brings us to Jacquizz Rodgers, who is simply one of the most exciting runners this conference has seen in decades. He won't be stopped, but he can be slowed down and the Husky defenders need to be ready for his spin technique and constant jukes. He tries to make you miss and then almost always spins off contact. He is also one of their best pass receivers and is excellent on screens because he is so tiny that he can hide behind his offensive linemen. They really like to run the ball with two tight ends in the game - 12 personnel - but they also use play action as well as shotgun. They chop on the backside on their stretch or zone play and will use Quizz in check downs, flares, and seam routes. Washington will need to be aware of his presence at all times.

Probably the scariest thing about the Beavers is the development of their quarterback, Ryan Katz. In their last game against Arizona he not only threw for almost 400 yards but used his feet to constantly get himself out of trouble. He was the conference's player of the week for his performance in that game and after watching the game twice I think that he was the difference in their two-point win.

For Washington to win they need to do the same thing as last week, hang in there and try to win it in the fourth quarter. Only this time they have to finish the job. After scoring early in the fourth quarter last weekend to close the game to a one score affair, the Huskies went flat on offense and even though they outscored ASU 7-3 in the second half, their inability to hold the Sun Devils out of the end zone at the end of the first half eventually became the difference in the game.

Oregon State is explosive on offense so ball control is a key for the Huskies. Washington also needs to create more turnovers with their defense and hopefully get something out of the kicking game, although that seemingly hasn't happened for years in Husky football.

This program is still climbing back and it doesn't take a genius to see that they are still another good recruiting class from becoming contenders again. However, they do have Jake Locker and he has to play a standout game in order for them to win here. He is due. He will need to be on the top of his game, and if he is then Huskies can pull this upset. I like the Huskies to answer here with an upset 38-35 win. Surprise.


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