SU Presents a Golden Opportunity for Dawgs

Ok, there is no doubt about Stanford's academic reputation, and there is no question about how good their football team is. They are a really, really good team and they have completely changed their image over the past five years. They have gone from being a finesse team to a smash mouth team. They mirror Washington offensively. Both teams have veteran offensive linemen who know their systems.

They both use multiple personnel groupings and they will run the ball as much as they will pass it. That doesn't mean they won't pass it even more, because that's exactly what we're liable to see come Saturday.

Stanford has a really good quarterback who knows their system so well that he often calls his own plays. Washington's Keith Price is also a really good quarterback who in his third year with coach Sarkisian and really knows his system as well. Both have worked with their same position coaches for the last three years. Both have incredible passing efficiency, ranking one and two in the conference.

Stanford will pound the rock on offense and play a disciplined zone on defense (usually a cover-2 deep or a quarter, quarter, halves which essentially means two DB's on one side playing man, and two on the other playing a zone). Stanford will bring heat in obvious passing situations and it is often through the linebackers. Because they lost their best defender, Shayne Skov, to injury, there is not a single Cardinal is in the top-50 for tackling in the Pac-12 Conference. They do, however, lead the conference in sacks, but are last in interceptions. If Price throws no interceptions and the Washington's offensive line only gives up one sack like it did against Colorado, the Huskies will probably win this game.

Washington will also need to be as penalty free as possible in order to win (no stupid penalties or personal fouls).

But wait a minute, aren't the Huskies 20-21 point underdogs? They've got no chance anyway. The only ones who think they're going to win are the Huskies themselves. So, how can they possibly get it done? Simple - you just keep answering their scores and you do things to them they don't expect. Mix it up on both sides of the ball and don't back down. Beat them up on every play. Hit them in the mouth and do it over and over and over.

The only way you can play a physical team is to be physical yourself. The Huskies can't back down from their run game because it will probably win the game. That also means stopping the run on defense, but it really means running the ball when you want to on offense.

This game will be a war, and that means you need to win each battle. There will be roughly 60-70 snaps on both sides of the ball and about 30-plus kicking game snaps but only about five of those plays will dictate the outcome of this game. Expect the unexpected on defense and use the unexpected on offense.

Coach Sarkisian is at his best calling plays when he continually changes up his schemes and balances his run and pass. Stanford will show their hand early on defense and that should allow Washington to change their play to meet the defense.

Stanford are very good at letting you catch the football against their zone and then immediately tackling you with inside/outside leverage. Their two safeties are seniors and work very well together taking away any long routes as well as filling well against the run - but one of them, former UW linebacker Dan Howell's brother, has been ruled out - so that is a game-changing injury that goes in favor of UW. You never want to see guys hurt, but in games like this one the underdog has to have everything go their way.

Stanford has not been scored upon in the first quarter all season so that should be another goal right there: Take the lead and play from the front and see how Stanford responds. Then every time they do something good simply answer it with the next possession, thereby keeping your lead. Just as critical will be to take the first possession of the second half and score with it as well. Stanford has only given up 6 points in all their third quarters combined. By scoring in the first and third quarters, that will send a message that Washington intends to make it a game to the finish.

They will also need an outside-the-box score, like an interception or fumble recovery or punt return or kickoff return for a touchdown. They will also need to get one of each in turnovers, with maybe getting a great run after the theft.

Stanford has only given up two sacks all season, so getting two sacks on Luck sounds about right. He has only thrown three picks all season, but has thrown one in each of his last two games. Intercepting him twice would be another goal to put Stanford out of their comfort zone.

So this is how you do it: Protect the football, stop the run, create some turnovers, and hang around until the end and win it with a field goal by Erik Folk. Sounds great to me!

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