Washington starts the week 0-4 with high flying Arizona next up on the schedule. The Wildcats are off to a 3-1 start and have had an extra week to prepare for Washington after taking apart UCLA 31-10 on the road.
Arizona coach Mike Stoops started the season on the hot seat and lopsided wins over Idaho and Toledo gave him some breathing room. An unexpected loss to New Mexico for the second straight year started fanning those flames again. The Wildcats however rebounded to knock off UCLA the following week. A win over UW this week is a must if the Wildcats hope to be taken seriously in the Pac Ten race.
On paper this looks like it will be a lopsided win for the Wildcats. Washington enters the game crippled on offense with QB Jake Locker, and WR D'Andre Goodwin out for possibly the rest of the season. Promising freshman RB David Freeman is also doubtful after suffering an ankle injury in the loss to Stanford.
On defense the Huskies gave up nearly 500 yards of total offense to the Cardinal and have the worst defense statistically among the BCS schools. It will be a very tall order for the Huskies to stop Willie Tuitama and company on Saturday.
Ty Willingham commented after the game that the team can't seem to get the right rhythm. "We put pressure, but then on pressure they catch it in front of us. ... And then we don't put pressure, we don't stop them that way. "We haven't found the cure."
Willingham and his coaching staff are running out of time to get this mess turned around. Visiting Arizona on the road this week is another recipe for disaster. The Wildcats are capable of putting over 50 points on the boards against Washington.
The loss of Jake Locker limits what Washington will be able to do on offense even though Ronnie Fouch did a very good job in relief of him this past weekend. If the Huskies don't move the ball and eat some time on the clock this one could get ugly pretty quickly.
Everyone said all the same things going onto the California game last season with Locker on the sidelines. The Huskies responded with their best game during Willingham's tenure at Washington demolishing the Bears with a straight forward running attack and solid defensive play.
Locker moving to safety?
Jake Locker says he wants to play safety while his thumb is healing. The injury could take four to eight weeks to heal. He is going to visit a hand specialist on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
Jake just happens to be the best athlete on the team and we have always thought he could play anywhere on the field. The thumb can be casted which would protect it from injury but playing him on defense would be a big risk because he could end up hurting something else like a shoulder which would complicate matters for him in the future. Tim Lappano commented that it is up to the head man to decide whether the risk is worth taking.
What's wrong with the defense?
Even with Jake Locker out indefinitely the biggest problem Washington has right now is the defense. What exactly is wrong with these guys? Is it coaching? Is it talent? Are they too young?
Washington simply isn't as fast, big, experienced, or as talented as the teams they are playing.
Senio Kelemente, Alameda Ta'amu, Craig Noble, and Everette Thompson, all have one thing in common. They shouldn't be on the playing field yet. The group may have the most potential of any defensive line ever to go to Washington but it is a lot to ask of true freshman to come in and compete against BCS competiton. These kids are routinely going up against men who are 3-5 years older than they are. The only solution to the problem is for the kids to grow up right away and that isn't going to happen.
The seeds for the inexperience on the DL were sewn before Willingham arrived at Washington. Greyson Gunheim, Ceasar Rayford, JWF, and Erik Lobos could have really been difference makers this season if they hadn't have been forced to play as true frosh. The rule of thumb is don't play your freshmen lineman right away. It destroys your future potential.