Former Husky defensive back Nigel Burton returns to Seattle for the first time as a head coach on Saturday when the Portland State Vikings travel up I-5 to face Washington at Century Link Field in Seattle. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
This wasn't a great week for Coach Sark, his staff, or his beat-up-tiger-bit squad. The loss to LSU left an indelible mark and the coach has been in a decidedly chippy mood with the press the entire week. He was so chippy that he even put a policy in place that further restricts what the media can report on during practice.
From now on nobody including the coach himself will disclose information concerning injuries. Thats too bad because approximately 10% of the team is sidelined at the moment and that is the one topic that everyone wants to talk about. So don't dare ask about the status of Colin Tanigawa.
Colin just happened to be suited up and in pads during practice yesterday. He was wearing a yellow jersey and didn't participate much. One line of thought is that his ACL must be OK if he suited up...another more devious line of thought said that maybe Sark was just using him as a decoy to confuse the writers and more importantly the coaching staff at Stanford.
Good thing that Portland State is visiting this week in what can be called the first leg of the Northwest championship. Let me start by saying this. The Vikings aren't a good Big Sky team. They are coming off a serious beat down from North Dakota that led to Viking head coach and former Husky DB Nigel Burton to unceremoniously fire his defensive coordinator on Wednesday.
If the Huskies can't score at will against Portland State they won't be able to put up points against anyone. The Horny Heads struggled against tiny Carroll College (Mt) in their opener. North Dakota torched the Vikings for six touchdown passes last Saturday. Washington should easily be able to put up 60 or more points on these guys.
This is a week where Washington needs to get ahead quickly, empty the benches early, and rest the wounded in anticipation of the conference opener against Stanford in two weeks. They need to show that they can take care of business and get an offense rolling that hasn't scored in seven quarters.
How does Washington stack up against Portland State?
Portland State runs the same freaky pistol offense as Nevada does. Husky fans can expect to see a lot of pulling lineman and misdirection. The Vikings like to run zone/counter type of plays out of it. QB boot-scoots and rollouts are also part of the Pistol menu when they want to get their QB outside for a run/pass option.
The Vikings run a base 4-3 alignment on defense that was torched pretty badly by UND last week. They will play a lot of '2-high' looks in the secondary with cover 4 and ‘man-under'. On passing downs and 3rd and long they play a 3-3-5 coverage which is very similar to what Washington's base coverage has become.
Notable Pre-Game Quote
Sark said the adversity level is as high as it's ever been since he's been at UW: "Something good is right around the corner. ... Sooner or later, we'll get a good hand. ... In the meantime you got to keep fighting, scratching and clawing and doing the little things right. This week is totally about us and our ability to play the best quality of football. ... Geting ourselves right and putting what we do right on the field and seeing if that's good enough to win."
So who is going to win?
This one is pretty easy to pick. Washington would have to have a monumental breakdown on both sides of the ball (Eastern Washington?) for this one to even be close. If you are a Husky fan keep an eye on the style points because if this game is closer than three or four TD's it could end up being a very long season at Montlake.
The Prediction: Washington 41 Portland State 17