Williams To Start - Analysis

With Cyler Miles apparently not fully recovered from his concussion-like symptoms, word came out on Friday that redshirt freshman QB Troy Williams will make his first career start against Arizona State this weekend. What changes and what stays the same? Here is what the Husky offense could look like on Saturday when the Huskies take on the Sun Devils...

Scouting Williams: Williams is a year young, about two inches shorter and about 20 pounds lighter than Miles, but he has a much stronger arm. Of all the lamentations about what Miles brings to the table, one of the first out of the mouths of his critics, yours truly included, is that he lacks enough arm-strength to get the ball out to the boundary when called upon. That doesn't mean that Miles can't be successful, but it does limit the throws he can make.

Williams on the other hand, probably had the strongest arm of the entire position group -- you could make an argument that Jeff Lindquist does, but it's pretty much splitting hairs.

The redshirt freshman from Narbonne High School throws the tightest spiral of the group and he throws a great deep ball.

Williams can also run, as demonstrated by his nifty touchdown run vs. Oregon last weekend.

While he does have some mobility, being the first option as a runner is not where he's at his best, so don't expect a lot of direct runs called for the quarterback.

Decision-making is key: One of the reasons that Williams wound up third string as we headed into the season was because he didn't take care of the ball well enough to give the coaches confidence in his decision-making. While both offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith and head coach Chris Petersen have said that his decision-making has "progressed", one things fans need to be prepared for is that Williams will take more chances with the ball than Miles did and that could result in some big plays, but it could also lead to some turnovers.

What will Arizona State do on defense: Todd Graham loves to blitz and he's got an aggressive front-seven that is very active. ASU averages close to 295 pounds across their defensive line, depending on the situation, so they can throw a lot of size at the offensive line and their linebackers are really active and sure-tackles.

Expect them to try, at least early on, to get pressure with just four rushers while sitting back and hoping that Williams makes a mistake.

However, at key times, you can certainly expect blitzes to come and for coverages to be disguised until just before the ball is snapped as they hope to confuse Williams and buy themselves more time to get pressure on him.

What to expect from the Husky offense: First off, the offensive line and running backs have to give Williams time to throw the ball.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Huskies' best linemen heading into the season, Dexter Charles, had his foot in a boot after the Oregon game, so his status is up in the air while Ben Riva, another projected starter before the season and a senior leader, has missed all but parts of three games at right tackle.

While redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton has looked decent and shown a lot of promise at right tackle, he's still very inexperienced and he struggles with powerful defensive ends.

Expect quick passes and for the Huskies to employ their jailbreak and tunnel screens that have been so prevalent during the first part of the season. With Williams' arm-strength and quick release, he may give the receivers, Jaydon Mickens and John Ross especially, enough time to make plays in the open field.

Fans should also expect more throws to the backs, something Williams did quite a bit vs. Oregon when he came in for an injured Miles.

Lastly, expect an even bigger emphasis, especially early in the game, on the running game as the Huskies hope to put Williams in short yardage situations on second and third down.

Will the Huskies win:: It's still going to be a tough task to get a win vs. Arizona State as the Sun Devils come in sky-high after their total domination of Stanford last weekend.

Add in the fact that Williams is young, the offensive line is banged up and the weather will be less than forgiving, it could be a tough task, but this is where special players rise to the top. Can Williams live up to the hype he came to Washington with as a freshman?

That question will be answered starting at 7:45 pm tomorrow night at Husky Stadium.


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