This has been an interesting week out on the banks of Lake Washington. You can feel the intensity building after last weeks disaster in Oregon. The coaches are in defense mode as they try to get their team ready for another top twenty opponent.
The coaches are saying things usually reserved for later in the season like they are opening up the play book, or they feel their team is capable of playing better. Pretty much all the usual cliches when you feel like climbing in a hole because you are so embarrased after such a devastating loss.
Despite the nose rubbing last week a number of observers feel that the Huskies will rebound this week and beat BYU. The feeling out there is Oregon is a lot better than most people think they are. I had Oregon rated as the #2 team in the Pac Ten this year and I was very tempted to put them at number one. The only thing that held me back was inexperience at the QB position. As we saw last week the Ducks have four pretty capable QB's despite the fact that Nate Costa will miss the season. The Oregon system is truly on a roll and the Ducks will seriously challenge the Trojans later in the year if they stay healthy.
BYU is not going to be as good defensively as Oregon. They also aren't going to be as tricky on offense even though they have one of the best QB's in the country. The Cougars do have one thing in common with Oregon and that is overall experience. The Cougars average 2.62 years of experience in comparison to the Dawgs 2.12. You also have to factor in that the BYU team is probably around 1.8 years older because of missions. They aren't exactly a team of Tripper Johnson's, but Tripper would feel more at home with BYU maturity wise.
The one edge that Washington has going into this one is the advantage of playing at home. The benefit of being able to hear your signals in a friendly environment is worth at least a touchdown. The Huskies will probably face another stacked box but they won't be going up against one of the best secondaries in the country without being able to her Jake call signals. That should mean there will be some opportunities for big plays which will begin to give the offense some running room.
The experts think if Washington can beat the Cougars deep early, and create some space to run, an upset may be brewing. I'm not sure if the experts saw last weeks game in its entirety or if they just have a general disdain for non BCS conferences. I partially agree with the theory that if BYU was in the Pac Ten this season they would rated them fifth to sixth which means Washington should be competitive with them this Saturday. What I don't agree with is that Washington is good enough to contend to finish fifth to six in the conference. I just didn't see it last Saturday.
UW needs to win this game. If the Huskies can get through the first four games with a 2-2 record there is hope that this team will mature enough after the opening three game gauntlet to finish with a winning record. It is going to be a very tall order to win on Saturday because BYU is going to approach the game like it is for the national championship. The Huskies need to bring the same type of intensity if they are going to emerge victorious.
Willingham went into the season knowing he had to win one of the first three. Everyone had a pretty good idea the Huskies were not going to beat Oregon, and Oklahoma. BYU on the other hand is one of those games you have to win if you seriously want to contend for a bowl game.
EJ says he is eligible and ready to rejoin the team as soon as Willingham gives his approval. He talked to Kim Grinolds over at Dawgman tonight and here is what had to say on the record.
"He ( Tyrone) has the ball in his court. I'm eligible and in shape waiting to get back with the team. I'm just in waiting right now because I wanna be out there"
You have to wonder when Willinghm is going to level with the public on the EJ Savannah situation. He hasn't been exactly accurate in describing EJ's academic situation.
One thing is for sure is the Husky defense is a different unit with him out there.
This one is going to boil over.