Weekend Thoughts (Week 5)

Washington is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2001 and, following the 31-13 win over Arizona, they have achieved their highest ranking (#15 in the AP poll) since 2002. Before we look ahead to this week's game vs. 5th-ranked Stanford, let's take a look at some superlatives from the Washington game and reflect on what we saw in the Pac 12 over the weekend...

Washington Gameday Observations...

-- For those that were questioning the "conservative" play calling, that had much more to do with a trust in UW's defense to stop a one-dimensional Arizona offense and the weather than anything else. We all knew if the Huskies could stop KaDeem Carey and keep the Wildcats in 3rd-and-long situations, that the Dawgs had a great chance of coming away with the win and that was definitely the objective in Saturday's game.

-- Other than two mistakes by the defense, both on fourth downs, the defense played very well. The one concern has to be some iffy tackling. Regardless of what you think caused it -- wet conditions, Carey's relentless style, poor form -- that is still an area that needs to be fixed. Washington won't face a better tailback, but they will face some that are pretty darn good (Marion Grice, Anthony Wilkerson, Tyler Gaffney) in the next few weeks. To win those games, they have to be much more sound in their technique and positioning.

-- Keith Price just continues to grow as a passer and a leader. You could see his frustration after Jaydon Mickens quit on his route, resulting in the first-quarter interception. However, he's not a guy who will dwell on it and I am sure, after having some words for the sophomore wideout, he smiled and said "we will get them next time". He didn't force things, but he also took chances and kept plays alive when he had the chance. The first touchdown, his seven-yard pass to Kevin Smith to put UW up 6-0 only two minutes into the game, is a play he either would have thrown away or been sacked on in 2012. His run late in the third quarter, where he eluded and shook five different Arizona defenders was Tui-esque and said to his teammate "trust me, we are going to win this thing". That is definitely a sign of maturity for him.

-- We are starting to see Austin Seferian-Jenkins become more a part of the offense. It's been painstakingly slow for those that expected him to fall right back into things once he served his one-game suspension for an off-field incident, but he had a couple of big receptions to keep drives going vs. Arizona and I think you will start to see more targets coming his way this week and moving forward.

-- Kasen Williams had one of his best games every on Saturday. Yeah, he only had five receptions, but each one of them was huge (four went for key first downs) and his blocking continues to be at an All-American level. His 49-yard kick return after the safety set up another score and during that run you saw why he's got so much potential.

-- Like Williams, Danny Shelton played one of his best games last weekend. His job is to clog the middle and it was tough-sledding all day between the tackles for the Wildcats. He also had a play late in the game where he rag dolled an Arizona lineman and stuffed the running back for a one-yard loss. If UW can continue to get a huge effort out of Shelton every week, they are going to be darn tough on defense.

-- I expect we will continue to see more of John Ross in the coming weeks. With better weather conditions and as they call specific plays for him, he should have an impact. He is a game-changer, but right now he seems to be swimming a bit and that probably has a lot to do with him being a freshman.

-- Bishop Sankey is showing why he should be getting All-American consideration this year. Carey is probably a better all-around back, but Sankey just seems to always find a way to get extra yards when they aren't there and when he ran over S Jourdon Grandon, that was just awesome.

-- The Husky secondary continues to look really good. Marcus Peters is player very aggressive football and he just oozes confidence out there. As long as secondary coach Keith Heyward can keep him from biting on double-moves, Peters should be an All-Conference first or second-teamer this year.

-- Travis Coons had his best day as a Husky vs. Arizona. He continually tilted the field in UW's favor, pinning Arizona deep time and time again with pin-point punts (say that three times fast) and hitting two important field goals. The senior had five punts and he dropped all of them inside the 20 yard line, pinning the Wildcats deep in their own end. He did miss an extra point late in the game, but that might have had to do more with the hold and the wet conditions than anything. He has been very solid for Washington so far this season and could wind up winning some games for them down the road.


Pac 12 Weekend Observations...

-- Stanford look good on Saturday night. OK, they didn't just look good, they looked damn good. Husky fans can make jokes about Washington State all they want, but the Cougars are not the pushovers they have been for the better part of the past decade and the Cardinal made them look silly most of the night.

-- Last year's big win over Stanford was before Kevin Hogan took over as the quarterback. While he isn't a prolific passer, he's efficient and he doesn't make mistakes. He and the Stanford receiving corps, especially Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste, will definitely keep the Huskies on their toes. By the way, Montgomery looks much different than the guy who had several big drops in Washington's win last year.

-- The Cardinal running game is averaging close to 220 yards on the ground, so that will present another challenge for the Dawgs. They love to run their power-sets -- seven linemen (two with eligible numbers) and a tight end -- and just mash you. Washington has been relatively stout vs. the run (132 yards per game), but this will be the most physical running game they've faced.

-- If Arizona doesn't figure out their quarterback situation, they will be lucky to win six games this year.

-- The firing of Lane Kiffin wasn't a surprise to me from the standpoint that it happened, just in the timing. I figured that Kiffin would be let go shortly after the season, but Pat Haden's hand was forced when the Trojans just looked utterly incompetent vs. Arizona State. Now, give credit to the Sun Devils, they rebounded nicely after a sound beating at the hands of Stanford the week before, but still, they are not 21 points better than USC.

-- Taylor Kelly had a solid game and really stood in and made some big throws for ASU, but the real engine for their offense is Grice. He's big, he's physical and he's got the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

-- Colorado is still bad, but they aren't epically bad. That being said, they put up little in the way of a fight against Oregon State.

-- Sean Manion is playing, arguably, the best of any QB in the Pac 12. He only hit on 27 of his 52 passes, but he still threw for 414 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception. The problem for the Beavers is that they cannot run. It is really a bad situation for them and they need to figure out a way to get that done or they will really start to feel the pain once they hit the meat of their schedule which starts in two weeks (they have a bye this week) with a game against a physical WSU defense and then continues with games against Stanford, USC, ASU, UW and Orego in successive weeks to end the season.

-- For Oregon fans, they have to be thankful that it appears that DeAnthony Thomas only sprained his ankle and didn't break it. However, for a high-octane athlete like Thomas, a sprain can linger for weeks. Luckily for the Ducks, they have several more talented tailbacks and slot guys to get the ball to, so it shouldn't slow then down much if at all.

-- It's going to be a long year for Cal. They can't stop anyone and when QB Jared Goff showed that he couldn't get it done in a 55-16 loss to Oregon, they quickly went with Zach Kline and he proved to be no better. By the way, Oregon scored 27 points in the first quarter. Cal's defense is absolutely horrid. Their run defense is unimaginably bad considering they have some very talented players on that side of the ball. It has to be a schematic thing, so defensive coordinator Andy Buh better show improvement or he could be looking for a new job next year.


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