Everyone in college football heard about what Eastern Washington did to Oregon State to start the season and you don’t have to go too far back to recall what Appalachian State did to Michigan. In fact, Michigan almost lost to the Akron “Zips” this past weekend. Those two upsets alone should be enough to prepare the Huskies for their upcoming game with Idaho State. These sorts of big school vs. little school match-ups naturally create the classic “underdog” or “Rocky” mentality and we all know that you never, ever, underestimate your opponent. Football is very systematic the preparation phase for a game, so if you prepare with the same intensity you do every week and believe in the system, you will be physically and mentally ready to win the game. If that happens, the talent difference alone between Washington Huskies and Idaho State will clearly dictate the outcome.
So, what good comes from playing an opponent that is not your equal in scholarships alone? (Washington has 85 and Idaho State has 65). A win is the simplest answer and then write them a big check and send them on their way back to Pocatello. Does Idaho State even stand a chance? Probably not, but these kind of games can be great for your squad development and getting your depth ready for the conference opener in two weeks against Arizona. An Arizona Wildcat team, who quite frankly, ran the Huskies right off the field last year with a spread option, hurry-up, no huddle, read-zone offense. Sound familiar?
That 17-52 loss to the Wildcats in 2012 was surely the lowest point in last season and the third of three consecutive losses for the Huskies. In that game Arizona amassed 533 yards and beat the Dogs worse than even the Ducks did. How can the Idaho State game possibly prepare the Huskies for Wildcats in what is surely to be the most important game of the season?
This is obviously then a preparation game to begin conference play. It has meaning in terms of getting to a bowl game and an overall undefeated season. If you stay undefeated then you are the national champion. That’s what you’re playing for.
Idaho State comes into to Seattle with a 2-0 record (their first time they’ve opened a season with two wins since 1999) and their players will no doubt be excited to play in Husky Stadium. This is the big time of college football and certainly they have watched or at least heard of the Eastern upset of the Beavers. They feature a wide open passing attack and are led by Coach Mike Kramer whose has had stops at both Eastern Washington and Montana State previously to coming to the Bengals. He is one of the winningest coaches ever in Big Sky history and survived a scandal of grand proportions just this very past season when he was accused of player abuse and had to go through a grueling ordeal just to finally be exonerated of the charge.
Coach Kramer brings in a team with smaller numbers, smaller bodies, and lower recruited players. They put up ungodly numbers against the like of Dixie State and Western State (not the mental hospital) and will try to keep up with a Husky team that seems to be finding a groove on both sides of the football.
The best player for the Bengals is probably their kicker, Brendon Garcia, who averages 3.5 field goals per game and leads the nation. Last week Garcia was 3 for 3 with field goals of 30, 47, and 50 yards. That earned him Big Sky Special Teams player of the week for the second time in a row. Their quarterback, Justin Arias threw for 429 on 36 of 53 attempts. That’s right, 53 attempts, so it is obvious the Husky secondary will be heavily tested again. Arias’ favorite target is receiver Cameron Richmond who has averaged 12 catches per game. Considering that Utah, California, WSU, and Oregon State are all prolific passing teams this is an excellent test for the Husky secondary that has really been a bright spot early in this season.
Unfortunately, no matter how much Washington wins by, it will not be good enough. The expectations are already for a complete blowout and that is a possibility but regardless of the score there should be an opportunity to get playing time for many of the back-ups. It would really be great to get Cyler Myles, the number two quarterback some snaps as well as some of the Huskies’ freshmen receivers like Damore’ea Stringfellow, John Ross, and Darrel Daniels a chance to play. Probably the area where it would really help to get some playing experience is in the defensive line where the Huskies will need as much depth as possible for the conference campaign.
This is simply the next game on the schedule and if the Huskies can take care of business then they can begin the long and difficult climb through their conference schedule. Still, to go 3-0 through the non-conference part will be their best start in a decade.