Weekend Thoughts (Week 1)

In a new feature on Dawgman.com, we take a look at some things that stood out to us, both in the Husky game as well as the rest of the Pac 12. Washington thoroughly dominated Boise State on Saturday, but our observations aren't just from what took place on the field...

Washington Gameday Observations...

-- Keith Price could be headed for a big season with this new, up-tempo offense. It's basically the same offense Washington has been running since he took over in 2011, but it's at a much faster pace. With all of the emotions and hype, his first pass was a pick and it appeared to be "here we go again", but the fifth-year senior quelled the rising tide of angst by settling down, not forcing things and making plays. Hopefully this is a harbinger of a special season for Price because that means it will likely be a very special season for the rest of the program.

-- The offensive line looked outstanding against an experienced and talented defensive line. Price was rarely pressured (most of his throwaways were due to him leaving the pocket unnecessarily) and was sacked just once and that was more of a coverage sack than from quick pressure up front. They also paved the way for 268 yards on the ground and generally made life miserable for the Broncos.

-- The defense looked to have more of a "bend but don't break" mindset, keeping things in front of them all game long. As has been noted several times since Saturday night, the longest pass completion was 16 yards and the longest run was 18 yards and, according to head coach Steve Sarkisian, that was the gameplan. I liked what I saw in the secondary and I don't think you can really read too much into the pressure, or lack thereof, that the front seven got on BSU's Joe Southwick since he rarely held the ball much longer than two seconds, but obviously, they need to get more pressure than they did, regardless of what type of drops the quarterback takes.

-- John Timu is poised for a big season. He looked great for the most part in stopping the run, but even with his 13 tackles. He's smart, he got the Huskies into the right plays on defense and he's really improved as a tackler, although there were a couple of misses I am sure he'd love to have back.

-- The move of Evan Hudson to the defensive line appears to be a huge success. He looked solid against the run and he really hammered a couple of the Boise State running backs.

-- Bold Prediction Alert: The wide receivers are going to be the best grouping in the conference. We already know the kind of weapon that Kasen Williams can be and, even though he had just three receptions, his presence really opened things up for John Ross and Jaydon Mickens to get open space to run and they took advantage of the opportunities, combining for 13 receptions for 148 yards with Mickens totaling nine catches for 109 of those yards. Both of them are lightning quick and could be special in this offense. Then throw in that Kevin Smith (four receptions for 69 yards) appears to be poised for a huge senior season along with DiAndre Campbell and true freshmen Darrell Daniels and Damore'ea Stringfellow who also did some nice things and the Huskies, at the very least, have the deepest receiver corps in the conference and, for my money, they will wind up being the best in the conference before the end of the season.

-- Justin Wilcox is definitely worth every penny the Huskies are paying him. He and the rest of the defensive staff had their guys playing fast, but disciplined football and this could wind up being the best Husky defense since the late 90s if they can stay healthy and figure out their depth along the defensive line.

-- Spent about two hours out in E-1 tailgating with different people, some I knew, some I didn't. The Boise State fans were all out in their colors and, other than a little ribbing here and there, it was all fun and why college football is so great. Had a little glass of some "Purple Drank" and, boy, I don't know how you can drink much more than that. It should come with a warning label "stay away from open flames".

-- Walking into the stadium was a breeze for me. Up until this year, it was a hassle to get in because the people manning the doors didn't know if a media member could come through the gates. That usually meant that they had to make several calls to different supervisors over their walkie-talkies before finally, begrudgingly, let me in. Now, I am not so ego-driven that I think "do you know who I am?", but it was very aggravating. This year, completely different. I walked up, showed my credential, got my bag checked and I was allowed to enter, hassle free. Good job UW. Hopefully that continues.

-- People were amped and excited to see all of the finishing touches inside. Lots of odes to the past, but still a look toward the future with the new stadium.


Pac 12 Weekend Observations

-- Watched more than half of every Pac 12 game over the weekend and watched three games, other than UW's, all the way to the end and came away impressed with the conference overall.

-- Washington State has improved a lot, but I don't get the feeling that Auburn is that good. The Tigers will likely wind up being a middle-of-the-road SEC program, so I'm still not ready to say the Cougars are going to break out, but, that being said, if Connor Halliday doesn't make three bad decisions, they might have won that game.

-- On that note, if I am a defensive coordinator that faces Washington State this year, I am doing everything I can to get Halliday on the move. He looked pretty good most of the time when he sat in the pocket and released the ball on time. But, when he had to move, he looked terrible. Two of his picks came when he was on the move and he could have been picked at least one more time if the DB had just held on to the ball.

-- As much as I love how Sean Parker plays the game, I would take WSU's Deone Bucannon

over pretty much any safety in the country. He had one of the hardest hits of the weekend against an Auburn runner (although he did get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for standing over the guy afterwards) and he's solid in coverage. He's got All-American potential and I think he easily is the best safety in the conference and that includes Stanford's Ed Reynolds.

-- Some think that Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas is ready to be an every-down back. He got 18 carries for 128 yards and two scores in Oregon's ho-hum 66-3 win over Nicholls State. However, I think what makes Thomas so good and such a huge threat is the fact that he isn't limited in his roll. I also don't see him standing up physically to the beating he will get in the Pac 12 where the defensive linemen are much bigger and the linebackers are much more athletic. Thomas is a special, special athlete with amazing quickness and speed, but I don't see Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich using him as an workhorse back, choosing to sprinkle in other tailbacks as well.

-- California may have found their next great quarterback in Jared Goff. Yes, the stats show he had three interceptions, but two of those were off of tipped passes and you don't go 38 of 63 for 445 yards with two touchdowns in addition to the three picks against a good Northwestern squad, if you aren't very good.

-- Oregon State's loss to Eastern Washington wasn't a surprise to me after I looked at their defensive depth. They allowed 625 total yards to the Eagles, including 177 on the ground. They were expecting to get help from three JUCO defensive linemen who never qualified and that hurt them a lot this weekend and could be the bane of head coach Mike Riley and defensive coordinator Mark Banker's existence this year.

-- The Pac 12 North may wind up being the best division in all of college football. Yeah, we have yet to see what Stanford will be like now that Kevin Hogan is without some of his big-time tight ends and a physically dominant tailback like Stepfan Taylor, but with Washington looking like they did and Oregon being their typical selves, if the Cardinal is as good as projected, you could wind up with three teams in the top 15 by the end of the season.

-- USC is still dangerous, but if they don't figure out their quarterback spot -- neither Cody Kessler and Max Wittek looked good -- they will be a middling team in the Pac 12 south.

-- This will pain Washington fans to hear, but UCLA has two very good freshmen in DT Eddie Vanderdoes and LB Myles Jack. Jack had a huge game versus Nevada posting seven tackles (6 solo), one tackle-for-loss and two passes defensed while Vanderdoes totaled six tackles while playing quite a bit for the Bruins. Both were highly recruited for a reason and, as long as they can stay healthy, they should receive post-season honors.


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