California Dreamin'

Washington dropped a tough one to Nebraska on the road, and while that wasn't a huge surprise to anyone, it was disappointing in that the defense got abused once again and this time against a team that wasn't pass-happy. Still, there were more positives in week 3 that the Huskies can build on as they head into the conference portion of their schedule.

1) Chris Polk. So what else is new? #1 for the Huskies is well on his way to becoming the all-Pac 12 tailback and earning mention for all-American. He isn't flashy, but he gets the job done with air tight efficiency. There is no wasted motion, every decision is the right one, and he almost never goes down on first or second contact. He is now healthy, and gives the Huskies one of the most dependable running attacks in the conference. He doesn't put up flashy numbers, but he gets better than 120 yards per game thus far. His long run is but 26 yards, but he averages over 5 yards per carry very consistently. I'm not sure there has been a better back at Washington since Cory Dillon was substituted in for an injured Rashaan Shehee, and the rest was history.

2) James Johnson is coming into his own. It has been fun to watch #3 do his thing this year, after his difficult sophomore campaign. Johnson brooded on the bench last year while others took his reps, and he was bothered by nagging injuries to boot. Not this year. He has put in the work and it is showing up on the field on Saturdays. In somewhat of a surprise, Johnson has become Keith Price's favorite target through three games. JJ has caught 12 passes for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 52-yarder last week. He looks quicker this year in and out of cuts, and his hands have really become reliable. It is clear that Price trusts him when he's out on a pattern. With the emergence of Johnson, Washington now has FIVE legitimate targets that defensive backs need to worry about. You would be hard pressed to find a wide receiving corps deeper than one that includes Johnson, Kearse, Aguilar, Smith, and freshman Kasen Williams, who might turn out to be the best of the bunch when all is said and done.

3) The Offensive Line has stepped up. Last week against Nebraska, it was great to see the guys in the offensive trenches get those off-tackle plays blocked so well. And for the most part, they protected Keith Price very well. Only one sack was their fault against the Corn Huskers, as the line missed a read and blew the protection assignment. Still, the improvement of Erik Koehler and the emergence of Colin Tanigawa were huge bright spots. The offense looks very good, better than I had anticipated to this point, and the improvement on the line has been a key reason. Against Eastern they looked a little lost and out of sync. Against a much stouter Nebraska defense, the line's work contributed to churning out 420 yards of total offense. This bodes extremely well heading into the conference opener against Cal. Their confidence should be growing by leaps and bounds now.

4) Justin Glenn looks like a stud. How fun was it to watch Justin Glenn run at full speed and stick guys with solid form tackling? Glenn looks fantastic, coming to a head last weekend when he posted 8 solo stops and assisted on 7 other tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. #20 looks like he's regained his form prior to suffering that leg injury against Notre Dame two years ago. He is a stout 5-11 and 210 pound heat-seeking missile that looks like he's secured the free safety spot for the secondary. He looks more comfortable than Fellner does in coverage, and it looks like his tackling is coming up to par such that he can no longer just be looked at as just a situational nickel back. Kudos to Justin for his return to a high caliber of football.

5) Garret Gilliland has a nose for the football. Although he hasn't started any games to date, Gilliland makes the most out of his opportunities. He has played roughly 1/3 of the snaps as the starters at outside linebacker, John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono, yet he has matched their production, making 8 tackles in three games. He isn't as fleet of foot as the starters, and he doesn't look as physically intimidating as Timu, but Gilliland seems to have better instincts at this point. He looks to be taking better angles and arriving at the point of attack quicker, which would explain why he makes so many more tackles per snaps played. You have to wonder if he'll get more time this Saturday against Cal as a result. In any event, it's nice to see Garret step his game up after getting passed on the depth chart during fall camp.
Odds and ends: Show of hands – how many people at this point thought Keith Price would complete 65% of his throws and have a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11-to-3? Anyone? Anyone? He may be the most accurate quarterback Washington has had since Chris Chandler……I was disheartened to read about the trash-talking that the Husky defense did against Nebraska. Are you kidding me? Um, don't allow the opposing offense to score 51 points on you, and then pop off……Kasen Williams is (in my best Maxwell Smart voice) this close to breaking out. You can see his confidence beginning to brim. Perhaps the only thing slowing his full-on arrival is the incredible play of James Johnson……Seeing Cal's two-deep made me wonder how much Washington could've used Deandre Coleman, a reserve DE for the Bears that was a coveted UW recruiting target. He is now 315 pounds and playing on the edge. Man, that's one big bear on the outside…..Cal averages 45 points per game, but they haven't really played anyone of note. Where they really have shined is rushing defense, where they've only given up 196 yards on 83 carries. That is ridiculous. They have also sacked the quarterback 11 times, six more times than the Huskies have……Cal has returned one kickoff for a touchdown, courtesy of former UW commit-turned-decommit Brendan Bigelow……through three weeks the California Bears are the biggest cheaters in the conference. They have been flagged a whopping 29 times putting them ahead of perennial conference leaders ASU and WSU in this department. Dennis Erickson NOT leading the league in penalties? Next you're gonna tell me Rep. Anthony Weiner is camera shy.

Dawgman.com Top Stories