Don’t look away now because the Washington Huskies are heading for a big-time showdown this coming Saturday. Back on the road to play the Stanford Cardinal, a team many consider to be one of the best in the nation. A Cardinal team that was also upset last year by these same Huskies in what proved to be the Dogs best performance of the whole season. Had Stanford not lost to Washington they would probably have played for the national championship. The Dogs could be on the other side of pay-back here and are facing the best defense they have seen so far this year.
Stanford was number 8 in the country last year and is now number 5. Are they better than the Cardinal team that beat UCLA twice at the end of the season before going to and winning the Rose Bowl? On defense, I’d say yes simply because they have great depth and lots of veterans. On offense though I think the Husky defense has a chance to hang in there. Most significantly, they will be without running back Stefan Taylor and tight end Zach Erst, who are both now playing professionally. Stanford is unique because they are just so “old-school”. They have great lines and they will run the ball right down your throat if you let them. They like run the ball down hill out of the I formation with “power” off tackle to the strong side, and “counter” back to the weak side. In both plays there is usually a backside guard who “pulls” and becomes an extra blocker along with the fullback at the point of attack. They will also run a bootleg pass off both these plays. The Huskies must stop these plays to win the game. This year the Cardinal have also added a shotgun spread attack and have been taking shots deep in each of their first four games. The Husky defenders will need to eliminate any ‘bombs ’ if they stand a chance of winning another close one.
Last year the Huskies won the turnover battle 2 to 1 and in a slugfest low scoring game ( like last year’s 17-13), turnovers can often be the deciding factor. Likewise getting a big play out of the kicking game could be the difference and right now Travis Coons, the Huskies’ punter/kicker, is having a good season as both the kicker and the punter. I think he kicks the decider in this one and the Huskies leave town with another narrow upset victory.
Here is a simple formula for victory when playing against a bully type team; Be prepared to slug it out with them. Tighten up your chin straps and Hit them right in the mouth. Don’t make mistakes that result in turnovers. Win the kicking game and the running game and you will THE game. Allow no long plays by them and don’t back down. The Huskies have a great opportunity to take a major step by beating such a veteran team. Expect it to be close and expect it to be physical.