Monday, October 08, 2007

A Tale of Two Seasons

Let's take a look at the team going into the second half by reviewing the units and predicting what they will do over the next eight games. I happen to think that this team will do no worse than 5-3 over the next eight games, and I also think it is a more than reasonable expectation.

Quarterback - Everyone who has seen Jake Locker feel that not only will he be the conferences best QB in the near future he also may be the nations best. That all being said Mr Locker is probably the person most responsible for the Huskies 2-3 start. His inconsistencies as a passer has made him a little too one dimensional which has allowed opponents to set up to defense the run. That hurts Jake who is an excellent runner, and Louis Rankin who has to run against a stacked line. Jake needs to start hitting his passes at a clip of 55% to 60%. The plays are there for that to happen, he just needs to deliver the ball better.

As a runner Jake has shown he can take the ball to the house, he also has shown that he needs a lot of work on his pitches, and play fakes. He needs to make it easier for his running backs by being more deceptive. The game hasn't slowed down for Jake yet, once it does he will make his running backs more productive around the corner.

Prediction - I think Jake Locker is ready to break out Saturday night in Tempe. The two weeks off to get healthy, and work on finesse will pay off, and bring in dividends.

Running Back - I addressed most of it when I was talking about the Quarterback. Louis Rankin however can help himself, and his team quite a bit by hitting the line and not looking for the crease. He needs to pick up tough yards and carry tacklers with him. UW is really missing that inside toughness in the running game from Rankin.

The coaches supposedly spent last week looking at Hasty, Johnson, and Shaw to see which one of them was ready foe some meaningful carries in the second half. To me, Hasty should have the edge because he is a physical inside runner, he may though be missing a gear that Johnson does have.

Prediction - I liked how we ran against USC, and if we can get more balance and a higher percentage of completions from the passing game it will open up some opportunities in the second half.

Wide Receivers - I like our receivers, we have had some drops, but for the most part have been cleaning that up lately. Locker needs to simply deliver them the ball and good things will happen. Russo, Reese, and Williams can get the job done if you give them the chance.

Prediction - These guys aren't world beaters, but they have enough talent to get the job done if the QB can start delivering the ball better.

Offensive Line - You would think that I would be real critical about these guys but I am not. the offensive line is doing a nice job protecting Locker. He has enough time to make plays. the lack of production from our running backs is because teams are daring up to beat them through the air. We just don't have the talent to go five on seven against anyone right now. Once we start burning some people with the passing game things will loosen up, and the OL will have an easier time.

Prediction - These guys will keep getting better every week, and they will look better every week once Locker starts clicking.

Defensive Line - These guys have been rushing three, and four against five, or six all season. You tend to get worn down a little bit when you are constantly battling double teams. We haven't heard a lot from Afoa this year, but Reffett has been playing as well as any Husky DL I have seen the past ten years. On the ends we just aren't getting the type of rush we need. Gunheim has not been living up to his potential. UW needs some improvement, and they could also use a little help from more stunting behind them to help get the quarterback.

Prediction - Bend but don't break really puts a lot of pressure on these kids. I don't see much improvement coming unless they can get better support from the linebackers.

Linebackers - These guys had a disappointing first half of the season. As a group they simply miss way too many tackles. you can attribute that to being simply tired, and a little beat up. A week off may do wonders for these guys. These guys need to step up better in the second half if we are going to get to a bowl game.

Prediction - I don't know what to think here because I am not seeing many encouraging signs. To me this unit plays worse each week which makes me think health could be an issue.

Defensive Backs - I think we did well the first five games in this area. the bend but not break defense which protects these guys has however hurt the front seven. Roy Lewis is having an all Pac Ten year at corner. Matt Mosley, Byron Davenport, and Vonzell Mc Dowell have all had their moments this season. I like the way the cornerbacks are shaping up. We haven't lost because of pass defense.

The Safeties just haven't been intimidating factors. The loss of Jason Wells for the season is going to be felt starting next week. Darin Harris, and Nate Williams are going to be the guys plugging this hole. Williams has the best upside, the kid is going to be an excellent Safety. Williams has the potential to be a thumper, but he was the thumpee last week against USC.

Prediction - Despite the loss of Wells the DB's are going to continue to improve as the season goes on. The biggest thing they can do to help the team is cover well enough so we can run more stunts to get the quarterback.

Special Teams - Special teams cost us the game against Ohio State. Since that game we have been doing much better. The latest highlight was the Ray Lewis blocked punt against USC, but the Russo fumbled punt was one of the reasons we lost the game.

Perkins has been consistent so far in his place kicking, but he really can't be called a serious weapon. Ballman has done a good, but not perfect job punting the ball, I do however think he is an improvement over Douglas.

We haven't had a big return yet this season, and Rankin has gone back to returning kickoffs to see if he can supply some spark.

Prediction - These guys have to get better, and I think they will over the length of the season. they just need to eliminate the mistakes and stop taking away points.

The Final Eight

Can Washington go 8-0? Of course they can, they could be 5-0 right now with a little better luck and some more experience at QB.

Arizona State - WIN - I am going to come out early this week and predict a win in the desert. I just didn't see enough to like in Saturdays game with WSU.

Oregon - Toss Up - I would really like to predict a win at home against these guys since I am not fond of the Ducks. the problem is I think the Ducks are the best team in the conference right now, and one of the top five in the country. For UW to beat the Ducks they have to make them turn over the ball. It isn't impossible, the Ducks can do that on the road. I am calling it toss up, but if the ducks play error free they are going to win by a couple of TD's.

Arizona - WIN - You have to circle this one as a win. We have the horses to beat these giys at home.

Stanford - WIN - The Cardinals didn't fool me last weekend, they aren't good. They can however beat you if you keep them in the game all day by giving them five turnovers. Last week was a fluke, count on it. If UW does what they a capable of doing they wont lose this one.

Oregon State - Toss Up - This is a must win game, and while OSU looks very beatable right now they will not be the same team when the Huskies play them. Riley's teams improves over the course of the year. If OSU stays healthy I think this may be a very tough game. UW needs to make the Beavers play from behind. When the ball is in Canfield's hands it is a good thing. I like the OSU defense, and Bernard. If that portion of the OSU team is dictating terms they will win. If the ball is in Canfield's hands it will be a very good thing. Another big question is will he remain turnover prone the rest of the year?

California - WIN- It's November, it's Seattle, and the weather isn't going to be very nice. I think the Huskies will be able to pull off the upset. I don't think Cal is the best team in the conference. I think Oregon, and a healthy USC are better.

WSU - WIN- UW will send Doba out in style in his last game as Cougar coach. don't be surprised if Mike Price returns to Pullman for his last hurrah.

Hawaii - WIN- These guys just don't impress me, they don't play anybody either. The pollsters agree, and have them in the high teens despite the undefeated record.

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