Washington Gameday Observations...
-- Probably the most impressive win of Steve Sarkisian's career at UW aside from the wins over USC in 2009 and 2010. The Huskies were dominant in every way; they held their penalties to a season low (four); zero turnovers; four forced turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble recovery); one defensive score (Shaquille Thompson's 80-yard interception return); they rushed for 533 yards; the harrassed Sean Mannion all night long. If you didn't feel happy and satisfied with that win on Saturday night, you might as well stop watching Husky football because it really won't get any better than that from a dominance standpoint.
-- Cyler Miles showed poise and did not appear to be in awe of the moment. So many young players, especially quarterbacks, can get caught up in the pressure of the game/moment and it can paralyze them, but that wasn't the case with Miles. He had the beautiful long pass to Kevin Smith to set up Washington's second score and then found Smith for a 38-yard touchdown later.
-- Bishop Sankey is the best running back in the conference and that is saying something because Kadeem Carey is really good as well. The difference to me is that Sankey is a guy who can run inside or outside with success, while Carey almost strictly makes his yardage in-between the tackles. Both are top-notch runners, but Sankey gets the edge because of his ability to run inside or outside.
-- Travis Feeney had his best game of the season. He was all over the place. He didn't have a huge game on the stat sheet, but he always seemed to be around the ball and harassed Mannion on several occasions. He also wasn't a liability in coverage which was his bugaboo earlier this season.
-- If there is a better corner in the conference, show him to me. Marcus Peters is playing at an elite level. Other than the Oregon game where he struggled a bit, Peters has been an elite playmaker all season. He's physical, he's quick to read routes and make plays on the ball and he's starting to get the ball back for the Huskies by using his considerable ball skills. He should be the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Week after totaling six tackles (all solo), a pass breakup, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
-- I really liked what I saw out of Joe Mathis on Saturday night. He's been seeing more and more playing time and seemed to be around the ball quite a bit although he only posted two assisted tackles on the evening. He was strong at the point of attack and even got some pressure on the quarterback from the inside, something the Husky defense has been sorely lacking for seemingly the past decade.
-- Micah Hatchie had a very good night against Oregon State's Scott Crichton. Collectively, the Huskies didn't allow a sack and Hatchie was a big reason why as he was able to handle Crichton by himself most of the night, allowing the Huskies to send Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Josh Perkins into the pass pattern.
-- Dwayne Washington and Deontae Cooper will be a key vs. Washington State and in UW's bowl game. While you have to appreciate what Jesse Callier has done for the Huskies, Washington and Cooper are better runners.
-- It will be interesting to see if Washington can keep up their productivity on offense against Washington State. Damore'ea Stringfellow, John Ross and ASJ really weren't really a part of the passing game last weekend. I suspect that had more to do with limiting what Miles had to worry about during the game, leaning on the running game instead, but if Keith Price returns this week, I expect all three to have much bigger roles.
Pac 12 Weekend Observations...
-- First off, I know this will tick off a lot of Husky fans, but congrats to Washington State in getting bowl eligible for the first time since 2003 (they won six games in 2006, but were not selected to play in a bowl). They have come a long way since Mike Leach took over and seem to have hit their stride thus far.
-- That all being said, they are definitely lucky to have gotten those two early pick sixes, otherwise that game might have had a different outcome.
-- Washington State's defense looked pretty stout early on, but they have looked vulnerable to the pass, especially the deep pass. I expect the Huskies to do their best to establish the run against the Cougars, but will not be surprised to see some long passes attempted early on to loosen up the defense.
-- The UCLA/ASU game was a great one. It was a tale of two halves. ASU utterly dominated the Bruins in the first half, but Jim Mora's team didn't quit and almost came back late.
-- UCLA K Ka'imi Fairbairn had to be feeling awful on Saturday night as his miss from 38 yards out with nearly 4:30 left in the game was a killer. If he'd made that kick, all the Bruins would have needed was a field goal at the end of the game to win it instead of needing a touchdown.
-- The undisciplined play of the Bruins reared its ugly head late in that game as they were called for two holding penalties after getting over the 50 with well over a minute left in the game.
-- ASU's pass rush is relentless. Head coach Todd Graham, who also calls the defense, is super-aggressive and he attacks on almost every play. It was rare to see just three or four guys rushing. Most of the time, the Sun Devils sent five or six guys and from different angles and positions.
-- There isn't a team in the conference playing better than ASU and it will be interesting to see the rematch of the Sun Devils and Stanford in Palo Alto and if the outcome is any different. I think it will be.
-- USC is going to blast UCLA this coming weekend. Cody Kessler is playing smart football and is making plays when he has the chance to make them, but more importantly, he's not throwing interceptions and that has opened things up for the Trojans on both sides of the ball.
-- Interim head coach Ed Orgeron has also committed to running the ball more and sophomore Javorius Allen has really looked good over the past month.
-- Arizona's win over Oregon was surprising, but what was really stunning was their utter dominance of the Ducks. Oregon still outgained UA (506 yards to 482), but their three turnovers were killers.
-- I didn't like reading what some of the Duck players had to say after losing the game. Words to the effect of "we've already played in the Rose Bowl so no big deal". Come on man. Just admit you lost and move forward.
-- It was amusing reading what some Duck fans wrote on their message boards. Some were reasoned in their thoughts and brought some good analysis and even presented their worries well, but others just flew off the handle and wanted to fired Mark Helfrich. Really? Is that what the internet has turned fan bases into? You are on the greatest run ever for your program and the first sign of a possible chink in the armor and you want to scrap the whole thing? Good thing for the Ducks there are people with much more astute business senses in charge. Wow.
-- I think ASU wins rather easily this weekend, but it should be a good game on Saturday when they take on Arizona.
Weekend Thoughts (Week 13)
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