Weekend Thoughts (Week 9)

It was a nice bounceback for the Dawgs over the weekend as they were able to get back into the win column with a 41-17 win over Cal. Here's a look back at the weekend that was for the Huskies as well as the rest of the Pac 12 in our Weekend Thoughts...

Washington Gameday Observations...

-- No matter how healthy I hear Keith Price is, something just doesn't look right with him. He showed a lot of guts in a couple of his throws, especially the second touchdown to Jaydon Mickens, but he was still short on a couple of his throws, most notably the pass to Kasen Williams where the junior wideout was hurt. It's surprising to me that Steve Sarkisian was still unwilling to put Cyler Miles in there earlier than he did, but it appears that the fifth-year head coach is going to live with a hurt Price rather than a healthy Miles.

-- On that point, is it a tell that he lacks faith in Miles or that he considers a dinged up Price to be the one to lead Washington to wins? Hard to say, but you have to start to wonder.

-- Travis Coons is really proving himself to be one of the best overall specialists -- punter or kicker -- that Washington has had in quite some time. His punts are right on the money and exactly what the Husky staff is looking for. It is rare when an opposing team returns a punt and more often than not he has great placement and drops them inside the 20. He is perfect on his field goal attempts and hit from 46 and 42 last night. His kickoffs have also been pretty good although they still aren't as deep as you'd like to see.

-- While Marcus Peters continues to play at a high level (aside from the Oregon game), the second corner spot, the one manned by Gregory Ducre most of the time, still is a bit of a weakness. Peters is a lockdown guy, so Ducre or whoever is playing on the opposite side is going to get a lot of work and I just haven't seen the quality of play match what Peters is doing on his side.

-- Danny Shelton is also playing at an All-Pac 12 level. He's almost impossible to move off the ball and his backside pursuit on running plays is really a sight to behold. His only struggles are in the pass rush, but that has never and will never be something that he will be counted on to produce.

-- I like what I've seen from Connor Cree this year. He's long and he pursues well too. He should only get better down the stretch and could be a real force in 2014.

-- Mark it down...John Ross is going to take a kick back for a touchdown before the end of the season. That's my bold prediction. Aside from a hold that was no where close to the play, he would have done that vs. Cal. He's starting to show a decisiveness that had been lacking in the early part of the season, but I'm not seeing that anymore.

-- Marvin Hall might be fast and I liked what I saw from him as a punt returner on Saturday, but he's still not a natural receiver and he's a liability in the passing game right now.

-- Erik Kohler had a nice bounceback game after looking completely lost vs. Arizona State two weeks ago. Hopefully Dexter Charles can get back after a week of rest for the bye, but if not, the Huskies had to be put a little more at ease with Kohler's improved play.

-- With Kasen Williams lost for the rest of the season due to a lower-leg injury, guys like DiAndre Campbell, John Ross and Damore'ea Stringfellow really will need to step up. Also don't be surprised to see Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Josh Perkins to see increased roles.

-- It was great to see the outpouring of love and admiration for Don James on Sunday. I was impressed with all of the speakers. Some of the stories I heard were both amazing and memory-jogging. I had the privilege of having a couple of interactions with D.J. over the years and while he wouldn't have remembered me at all, he really made an impression on me with how he handled himself (he always sat and listened and had an anecdote or story for you) and how he treated others.
Pac 12 Weekend Observations...

-- Utah looked utterly befuddled in their loss to USC last weekend. A team that has looked so good at times during the past few weeks was confused and overwhelmed by the Trojans managing just three points and 201 yards on offense. QB Travis Wilson continued to turn the ball over throwing two interceptions and going just 5 of 14 before he was pulled.

-- Most thought Utah was bound for a bowl game, but with upcoming games against ASU (at home), Oregon and Washington State on the road and then Colorado to close things out, it's tough to find two wins.

-- On that note, while USC's offense continues to struggle, their defense is playing the best of any stop unit in the Pac 12 and probably outside of a few SEC schools, they are playing the best of any unit in the country.

-- I still think Oregon is the best team in the country and, even after watching Florida State and Alabama, I still believe the Ducks have the most talent and speed in the country. They didn't play well vs. UCLA in the first half, but still blew the doors off the Bruins in the second half, making Brett Hundley look like a below-average signal-caller and for my money, Marcus Mariota would still get my Heisman vote if I had one.

-- As far as defending Hundley, you have to make him move. If you do, he's just average at finding guys down the field. Now, when you let him scramble and make positive plays with his legs, he's a guy who can really hurt you and when he gets into a rhythm throwing the ball, he can be deadly, but if you hit him or confuse him with coverages and make him move around in the pocket, you can really cut down on his effectiveness.

-- The rumor was that UCLA was really struggling to run the ball. Coming in, most thought they wouldn't be able to do it much vs. Oregon with Jordon James out, but freshman Paul Perkins looked solid and with their depleted depth along the offensive line it should be much easier to run it than it is to pass it.

-- Stanford's defensive line just abused Sean Mannion, registering eight sacks (2.5 by Trent Murphy alone) and hitting him at least 10 other times that I saw while watching that game. If there is a better front four in the country, I'd like to see it. They are big, they are physical and they have a lot of athleticism.

-- Oregon State cannot run the ball. They are one-dimensional. Mannion still threw the ball 57 times and hit on 41 of his throws, but he only threw for 271 yards and a touchdown. You have to make sure you tackle well, get pressure on him when the opportunity arises (with Oregon State's struggles along the offensive line so opportunities are plentiful) and keep things in front of you and you have a great shot at beating them.

-- Who would have thought that Arizona's B.J. Denker could do what he's done since facing the Dawgs. Against Washington, the senior looked like one of the most incompetent signal-callers in the country much less the conference, but since then he's been solid to great for the Wildcats and he had a huge day vs. Colorado when he went 21 of 32 for 265 yards with a touchdown and a pick while rushing for 192 yards in their 44-20 win over the Buffs.

-- Sefo Liufau continues to progress as a passer, but the guy to worry about on that Colorado team is Paul Richardson. With little to no help on offense, the junior wideout has hauled in 50 receptions for 914 yards and seven touchdowns. It should be fun to watch Richardson and Peters go at it in a couple of weeks at Husky Stadium.

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