I go to great pains to make sure that no matter where I am in the world I don't miss the game. I watched last weeks game on my laptop in a hotel room on the island of St John in the Virgin Islands. So that explains why I was absent more than usual during the week since my wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary.
I never got a chance to watch a replay on a decent sized screen until last night and I came away with pretty much the same impression I had this past weekend. The Huskies stunk it up and if they come out flat against Hawaii on Saturday they are going to get seriously pummeled by a very good Warrior football team.
Washington is a six point favorite in this one and the odds have increased by about four points in the Huskies favor since the line was posted earlier in the week. So what do the pro's know that we don't?
First of all historically Hawaii doesn't play that well on the road against non conference opponents. They are 1-6 against the spread in recent years when playing a non conference opponent on the road. Las Vegas absolutely hates that because it is an undeniable trend.
Hawaii only gained 343 total yards against Colorado. Believe it or not only 178 of those yards came through the air. What killed Colorado was the running of QB Bryant Moniz who picked up 121 yards on 14 carries. He also ran for three Warrior TD's.
Moniz isn't going to be able to run on Washington. I would be very surprised if Hawaii as a team picks up more than 75 yards against the Washington defense. As bad as the Huskies were against the pass last week they still have the ability up front to shut down the running games of most of the teams they will play this season.
Defensively the Warriors shut down the Colorado offense. What was surprising here is that they limited the Buff's to only 17 rushing yards. They won't be able to do that against Washington. Chris Polk is destined to go over the century mark this week. With the rust removed he will be more of a force and home run threat.
Washington picked up four turnovers last week. That, the running of Chris Polk, and lack of mistakes by QB Keith Price was the difference in the game. The Huskies are going to need a lot more this week to get it done and it all starts on defense.
I expect a lot of improvement between week one and week two for this football team. The coaches have been all over the players at practice this week. I don't see these kids coming out flat on Saturday. I expect that with a complete game under their belt that the younger players will play faster this week.
Still it is really tough for me to pick the Huskies this week after last weeks performance. I saw a defense that couldn't mount any type of pass rush while giving up 473 yards through the air to a FCS team. I saw a defense that lacked emotion and was lined up out of position the majority of the afternoon.
I saw an offensive line that missed blocks all day. I saw a QB whose longest completion was in the 10 yard range. I saw receivers who repeatedly dropped catchable balls. I saw the best coaching staff money can buy get handed their collective jockstraps by a bunch of comparative coaching paupers.
So who shows up this week?
Jim Owens had his death march. Don James slept in his office for a few weeks. Steve Sarkisian closed practice on Thursday so there would be no witnesses to the multiple tortures and verbal abuse he had prepared to wake up his squad.
Ok..perhaps I am getting a little carried away but these were his exact comments to the media Thursday night after practice.
"I wanted this to be a hard one...This Thursday practice, I wanted it to be a hard one. I wanted it to be hard-nosed. Sometimes our Thursday practices have a tendency to be a little bit light - not light in the sense of we're not going hard, but just light-hearted. And I wanted to make sure it wasn't that. I didn't need people out there with our guys. I wanted us really locked in and sharp and hard, and it was. It was exactly what I was hoping to have happen."
"It's been a little bit of on edge, I guess would be the best way to describe it,'' he said. "I think myself included. I've been a little on edge because I just don't, I know we are better than the way we played last week and it starts with me and it's got to go through everybody in the program and we need to get right and we need to get right as fast as we can. We only have 12 more opportunities to do this thing and I just don't want to accept mediocrity around here. I think the on-edge mentality has been throughout, all week long.''
If you want to condense those two paragraphs it means that Thursday was all about getting the attention of his team to make sure that they would be fired up and prepared for Saturday. Sark and his staff have been successful after every bump in the road since he arrived and there is no reason to doubt that he won't be successful after this one.
Last week was humbling and the close scare just might have been enough for this team to avoid an upset this week. I think Chris Polk will run for over for 175 yards. I predict that Jermaine Kearse will have at least seven receptions and two TD passes. I think Keith Price will shine at QB and pass for over 250 yards.
Defensively Washington will shut down the run. They still will give up more yards in the air than they should but they will create enough turnovers to help negate that. Alameda Ta'amu is going to dominate the inside of the trenches. Quinton Richardson's return is going to revitalize the secondary.
I am predicting that Washington will win 34-27.