Weekend Observations - UW/Pac 12 (Week 2)

The first week of the season had Husky fans concerned about the offense. After game two, now the focus has turned to the defense, specifically the secondary after the team allowed over 470 yards through the air and seven touchdown passes. Here's some thoughts on all things Washington as well as what we saw in week two around the Pac 12 Conference...

UW/Eastern Washington Observations

-- The confidence level of the entire team just looked so much different with Cyler Miles in there at the helm. Could it have been because they were at home? Maybe, but boy, you could just see the swagger that Miles brings to the entire receiver group and the way they carry themselves.

-- Even though he isn't the biggest guy on the field, Jaydon Mickens has really improved as a blocker. His block on the Eastern CB who was coming up to make a play on John Ross was key in getting Ross free for his 55-yard touchdown scamper.

-- It was nice to see them get Kasen Williams off early -- he had the first play called for him and came down with a 19-yard reception -- but they really need to get him some more targets during the game.

-- Even though it worked, I was screaming (internally since I was in the press box) when Washington decided to throw a jump ball for Williams on the two-point conversion. Even worse, they threw it to the boundary side, giving them a much smaller window to make the play. The ball was on the left hash and it sure seemed set up for Miles, who hadn't really been stopped by Eastern when he decided to run it, to roll right with a run/pass option and to complete the conversion. It worked, so it's a moot point, but I hope they don't go to that in conference play when they can't afford to miss one.

-- All due respect for Dick Baird, I don't see Danny Shelton as a top 10 draft choice. However, that being said, he's playing as well or better than Larry Tripplett, the last great interior defensive lineman for the Huskies. Shelton is definitely making a case for him to wind up as a first-round draft choice, but it's rare for a guy with his skillset to go that high. In the NFL he'll need to be a one-gap nose tackle and those guys just aren't prioritized by NFL teams. It was pretty wild seeing Shelton line up over the slot receiver a couple of times. Eventually walked it down to the end spot with he and Hauoli Kikaha or Andrew Hudson twisting and freeing up to get to the quarterback.

-- I've been saying it for a while -- Kikaha should not be dropping into coverage. His best attribute is his ability to get pressure on the quarterback. I don't see how you can keep dropping him into coverage considering the lack of pressure on the quarterback the past two weeks.

-- Marcus Peters has got to hold it together better than we saw on Saturday. Chris Petersen will not stand for a guy getting flagged for stupid reasons and, as he said after the game "I didn't even have to make a tough decision on it" meaning, if you are going to act like Peters did, you aren't going to play...there's nothing for them to consider or think about. Petersen isn't going to stand for stuff like that and it would behoove Peters to figure that out soon.

-- The young DBs really struggled, but they kept battling. Jearmaine Kelly is really struggling to make plays. He's being beaten and he's also missing tackles.

-- People sure seem to think this team will get things fixed by the start of Pac 12 play on September 27th, but I just don't see them getting better quick enough not to have some struggles. Will they get five wins in the conference? I can see about three wins off the top of my head, but the rest are tossups to me and that's not what I would have said before the season got underway.

-- Lavon Coleman continues to show he is capable of being an every down back for the Huskies. He's got great vision and power. He runs really hard.

-- Please, for the love of GOD, get the "hands to the face" stuff fixed.

-- Nice to see Ben Riva back out there. Not that Coleman Shelton did poorly in replacement duty against Hawaii, but you could see what a stabilizing presence the fifth-year senior is for the offensive line.

-- How great has Brian Clay been for the Dawgs? He's made several big hits on special teams and his recovery of the onside kick was huge as he was the only player available to make that play.
Pac 12 Observations

-- Steve Sarkisian has USC playing hard. They are flying around and showing a lot of attitude. That was a great win for Sark on the road, something he struggled with at Washington. Stanford isn't as good as they have been, but that's still a nice win for USC and puts them right in the National Championship conversation as their schedule sets up nicely for a run to playoffs.

-- What the heck is Pat Haden doing? You don't come down on the field and get in the officials' face, regardless of what is happening. It sounds like a compliance person sent a text to Haden, who was in the stands, saying that Sark wanted to talk to him because he didn't think the penalty called against him was fair. Why wasn't that addressed after the game? I think it makes you look petulant and childish.

-- USC's front seven is really talented and they are playing really well, but Stanford's running game just looks pedestrian compared to past seasons. Stanford's offensive line, which has seen a lot of talented guys come in over the past few recruiting classes, didn't get much in the way of push against USC and that's got to be a concern for them moving forward.

-- I really thought Washington State would bounce back and beat Nevada pretty handily. Boy was I wrong. Connor Halliday just looks lost. He isn't a leader and, if he gets pressured, he's a turnover machine.

-- Oregon looks outstanding. They are fast and, like past Duck teams, they do a really good job of putting their foot on the pedal in the second half and they just run away from teams. That was a good Michigan State team and they just blew them out in the second half.

-- Memphis is improved, but there has to be some concern in Westwood with what they were able to do against a talented UCLA defense.

-- UCLA RB Paul Perkins isn't explosive from the standpoint that he can just take off and run away from defenders, but he'll grind it out and just punish you. His 96 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries made a huge difference for UCLA which struggled to do anything offensively last week against Virginia.

-- Thomas Duarte is a matchup nightmare. He's basically Colt Lyerla without the psychotic behavior. He runs like a wideout and he's got soft hands.

-- Hawaii looked horrible early on vs. Oregon State, but Norm Chow has those kids playing hard and they believe they can play with anyone. OSU got out to a 38-7 lead before Hawaii stormed back with 23 unanswered in the fourth quarter to put the pressure on.

-- Sean Mannion continues to look like a pro quarterback -- if Nick Foles can play in the NFL, Mannion should be able to find a home -- but he can't do it alone. Terron Ward looked good running the ball, but they need to be much more balanced in order to win consistently once conference play begins.

-- Cal continues to look improved, but then again, they have beaten Northwestern and Sacramento State. Many people, including yours truly, thought the win over Northwestern was a good one for a rebuilding Bears squad, but then the Wildcats proceeded to poop the bed and lose to Northern Illinois at home. How good is Cal? We'll find out this week when they go on the road to take on Arizona.

-- Utah looks much improved. While Fresno State doesn't look like much, we haven't seen the Utes put up over 500 yards of offense much recently.

-- Colorado is still bad. They barely beat UMass which is only it's second season as a member of FBS. The Buffs got a good performance out of sophomore QB Sefo Liufau, but their running game is still pretty bad and their defense just has no speed. If you get into space against them with even an average athlete, chances are he's going to get a big gain or take it to the house.

-- Saw snippets of the Arizona/UTSA game. UTSA is much better than people are giving them credit for. Larry Coker has them playing well and they are laden with 38 seniors. Arizona isn't as good as they were last year, but when Anu Solomon gets it, their offense will be much better.

-- Still not sure we know how good Arizona State is. They've played two teams they should have blown out and they did. This week they take on Colorado which should be another blowout. Their first real test will be in three weeks when they take on UCLA at home.


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