Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Washington Huskies: First Look

USC travels to Seattle, WA this weekend to take on the University of Washington in yet another nationally televised game on ABC Primetime. Huskies' third-year head coach Ty Willingham is no stranger to the Trojans. He was on the receiving end of one too many blowouts when he was the coach at Notre Dame. His Irish teams were major contributors to the Heisman campaigns of eventual trophy winners Carson Palmer ('02), Matt Leinart ('04), and Reggie Bush ('05). The inability to compete with USC ultimately led to his firing. Now, he is trying to resurrect his career in the Pacific Northwest after enjoying previous success in the Pac-10 Conference as the head coach at Stanford. Remember, Ty Willingham is the last opposing coach to emerge from the Coliseum victorious. In 2001, Pete Carroll's first season at USC, the Trojans fell to the Cardinal 21-16. Fast forward to 2007. Carroll has built a dynasty at USC, while Willingham rebuilds what was once a very good Husky football program. He almost turned Washington around last year. The Huskies got off to a (4-1) start entering the USC game, but the season took a downward tailspin when star QB Isaiah Stanback suffered a season ending leg injury. Stanback led Washington into the Coliseum last season and played the Trojans right down to the wire. He simply ran out of time on what would have been the game-winning drive, as USC escaped with a 26-20 victory. Hell, if Mike McDonald doesn't hit Steve Smith for a TD on that fake FG attempt earlier in the game, Washington might have pulled off the upset. The Huskies finished a respectable (5-7), but a victory over USC would have carried them to greener pastures last year.

How will the Huskies fare against the Trojans this year? In discussing preparations for this Saturday's game at his weekly press conference, it is obvious that Ty sees something all to familiar in these Trojans...
"They are obviously the best team in the country," Willingham said Monday. "They are better than a year ago in every aspect."
The Trojans are the #1 team in the country, but what kind of team does Ty have this season? The Huskies opened up with two very impressive wins over Syracuse (42-12) and a then 22nd ranked Boise State team (24-10). Freshman QB Jake Locker became a national phenomenon, and was even referred to as the west coast version of Florida QB Tim Tebow. In week 3, they became a very popular pick to upset a 10th ranked Ohio State Buckeye team in Seattle. The Huskies played them tough, leading 7-3 at the half, but their immaturity and lack of experience was evident as the Buckeyes scored 24 consecutive 2nd half points en route to a 33-14 win. The next game was the Pac-10 opener for the Huskies on the road against a lowly fucla squad that was coming off a 44-6 pasting courtesy of Utah. The bruins, led by backup QB Patrick Cowan, put up 44 points of their own in a 44-31 victory over the Huskies. They have clearly taken a couple of steps back after getting off to such a fast start. Is the team improving? Given that their starting QB Jake Locker is still just a freshman, the Huskies have nowhere to go but up. Washington has shown that they are capable, but the question remains, "Which UW team will show up?" Can we expect to see the team that played with a level of confidence in the first 2 1/2 games of the season, or will we get the Huskies that carried over a very poor second half against Ohio State into the loss at fucla last week? We'll find out on Saturday...

Tomorrow: Preview of Washington's Offense
Thursday: Preview of UW's Defense
Friday: Key Matchups / Predictions

Fight On! Beat the Huskies!

1 comment:

Joey said...

I always expect a Ty Willingham footbal team.

this will be a battle, thats for sure.