Dawgman Editorial

As they did last season, Washington won their opener. However the feeling is MUCH different. Whereas last year the Huskies struggled to hang on against San Jose State in Husky Stadium, this year the Dawgs were putting a thumping on Syracuse on the road in New York.

Very little went wrong for Washington as they unveiled an offense that will feature two very fast and very strong men in the backfield. Quarterback Jake Locker showed that he really is "that fast", turning the corner on the Syracuse defense and when it was called for, went up the middle and bulled them over. Jake has such a solid frame it's hard to believe that he is that fast – until you realize that he just outran the linebackers and is in the secondary. He is Marques Tuiasosopo, only about three clicks faster and 10 pounds heavier.

His arm isn't too shabby, either. He has that high release, the ball has that fast revolution that you love to see from natural throwers, and his accuracy was on display as he connected on 75% of his throws – and that doesn't consider that his first two throws had a bit too much velocity on them because of being pumped up for his first college game.

With a quarterback like that in the shot gun, he must be respected. If you don't spy him with a linebacker (or two), he will absolutely KILL you.

And that means nothing but good things for senior tailback Louis Rankin, who looked marvelous on Friday evening. Rankin hit the holes hard, and when he ran laterally, it wasn't because he was looking to dance or bounce everything outside, but rather to set up his blocks or to wait for the defense to commit so he could make his cut. His acceleration once he got to the hole was outstanding, and his vision of where the play was going and where the holes would be was spot on. Rankin had a marvelous spring and a fantastic fall camp, and it certainly showed on Friday.

The offensive line turned in a terrific performance. Ben Ossai and Cody Habben made a nice rotation at weak tackle, keeping both men fresh and keeping the Orange out of the Husky backfield. Locker was not sacked once and wasn't hit much at all on plays that weren't designed for him to be hit. Juan Garcia's leadership in the trenches is apparent, as he, Tolar, and Bulyca all showed toughness and a nastiness that is good to see. Nice to know that all of these kids will be in the program next season as well. And Chad Macklin held down the other side of the line well, providing a key block on Rankin's second touchdown run.

On defense, the front four sacked the Orange quarterback SEVEN times. That will do wonders for their confidence, which has lacked because of lack of production in recent seasons. Caesar Rayford is sparking this unit and brings a lanky, fast, motor-at-full-tilt guy off the edge that will force teams to leave a back in to block him. Greyson Gunheim's added size doesn't seem to have slowed him one iota, and Afoa, Reffett, Lobos, and Elisara provided an inside rotation that kept them all fresh. This unit looked VERY GOOD.

The linebackers, EJ Savannah particularly, showed some sure tackling. The ability to wrap up and stop a ball carrier on initial contact has been a problem, but Savannah, Tuiasosopo, and Howell all looked solid in that regard. And Howell looks downright dangerous if a quarterback loses sight of him. He arrives in the backfield with bad intentions for such a polite young man. There is a lot of speed here when you add Butler and Stevens to the mix. They weren't guilty of over pursuit on Friday, another area that had been a problem in recent seasons from this unit.

The secondary wasn't tested much on Friday. Part of that had to do with the Orange quarterback being sacked so often, but part of that had to do with a game plan by Syracuse that befuddled me. Why on earth did they not pick on our 5-7 true freshman cornerback that was playing in his first college game? Strange. That being said, when Vonzell McDowell was tested, he looked VERY GOOD. So did fellow true frosh Nate Williams. Williams is a BIG DUDE. He is going to intimidate some people as he fills out. He is going to be the big safety that has been missing in the secondary. Wells and Forrester are solid guys but Williams is the one that is going to make receivers look up to make sure he isn't coming at you at the same time the ball is.

Before I get ahead of myself, I realize that the opponent was a Syracuse team that is predicted (with good reason it appears) to finish last in the Big East. But my point in all of this gushing is that the Huskies did what they were supposed to – they blew out a Syracuse team that they probably should've blown out. Washington would not have done this last year, or the year before, frankly.

That is my point. 42-12 against a Division I opponent on the road is a resounding win, and this Husky team did just that. They opened up a big can of whoop ass on the home team in front of their fans three time zones away.

Bring on the Boise State Broncos. This game will be a much bigger test, but the Huskies will take that test in the friendly confines of Husky Stadium.

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