Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Arizona State presents familiar challenges

The Oregon State game was certainly the worst game that Washington has played all year. The Huskies were flat coming in on both sides of the ball and even though they were in it the entire game score wise, even leading at halftime, it was clear the Beaver's were in control most of the time. What did it for the Beavers was controlling both lines of scrimmage and simplifying their offense to run until Washington stopped them. Expect the Devils to use the same type of gameplan on Saturday.

Since the bye week ASU has gone to run first to lessen the load on Rudy Carpenter. Like the Beaver's they were supposed to be a high flying offense led by an experienced QB going in, but changes have been made to switch to the bread and butter of power football.

So exactly what does Washington need to do to win what is a must win game this Saturday? They need to come out like they did at Cal, and USC and approach the game with a lot of fire. Come out flat, ASU will be able to run at will with Torrain, and Herring carrying the ball. One thing ASU has done well all year even in defeat, is run the ball. The Devils racked up over 200 yards last Saturday.

Rudy Carpenter has had a tough sophomore jinx type of season after lighting it up last year as a RS frosh. One of the things besides himself that has hurt him is the relative inexperience of the receiver corps led by Miller, and Burgess. The key to beating ASU is shutting down the run, creating a lot of crowd noise, and putting the game on Rudy's shoulders. Expect the Devil's not to stretch the field much, they will keep it tight to build confidence for Carpenter and will follow the OSU blueprint.

Defensively the Devils have given up a lot of points this season, but are a pretty deceptively tough unit that can get to the QB, in fact they led the Pac Ten in sacks during the first half of the season. The mobility of a Carl Bonnell coupled with his accuracy should help minimize the threat of sacks, but expect him to be hurried at times from the end. ASU like all teams Washington has played this season will try to plug up the run from the get go and let the QB try to win the game. Washington while 4-4 has played better than their .500 record indicates. Both teams are entering the stretch runs of their season and view the game as must win to have a successful season and become bowl eligible.

I guess the first key to victory for Washington on Saturday is not to throw five interceptions. Personally I think last week was a fluke as Carl was breaking in against one of the best defensive backfields in the country. The second key would be stopping the ASU ground game, and finally Washington must be able to get Louis Rankin going with Kenny James most likely limited if he plays at all. Third down and short just killed us last week, and most of it had to do was with Ranking hesitating or dancing rather than hitting the hole hard with the proper pad level. Louis has the ability to do that, but for some reason he just involuntarily dances rather than powers the ball.

Ty Willingham, and his staff have to guard against a letdown after three straight close defeats. Last weekend may have been a moral victory, but those type of disappointments as we saw against USC are hard to bounce back from. Bouncing back after ASU with Isaiah being sidelined for the year was impressive, but they need to do the same against struggling ASU.

Don James was worried before the OSU game and commented that the Beavers had better talent overall than Washington did. Expect more of the same this week with ASU who despite the record have recruited very well the past few years. Last season they closed strong and pulled in a half dozen kids at the end who were on the Washington list. The Huskies need to realize that if they are going to win out they need to approach every game mentally like they did Cal, and SC, if they don't they could finish 5-7.

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