Darin is on the mic:
I don't care what anybody says. I liked the shiny helmets. I even liked the purple uniforms. Arizona, by contrast, looked like the NFC Pro-Bowl team.
There is nothing better than a day in the rain at Husky Stadium. Put your rubber pants on and get your butt out there! Just think of those poor, shivering Arizona boys. They probably haven't seen anything south of 70 since 2012. Not with that kind of wind and rain that makes you feel like Harry Whittington.
Defense. I'm a Dawg fan from back in the day, and there's nothing I like better than a good three and out. I know Arizona's passing game is not exactly the New England Patriots, but as I recall it was at least five attempts before they were able to actually achieve an incompletion -- a pick and three sacks. That's great.
Marcus Peters. Remember that name. He's turned himself into a very nice cornerback. I remember him making the tackle on a swing pass while engaged by a blocker. Honestly, it was a spectacular play. My own theory is that the phantom PI call on him was born of pity, but I've been wrong about that kind of thing before.
Offensive line. I need to watch again, but my basic reaction is that they fully handled a defense that knew to metaphysical certainty that there was a run coming. Twenty five passes, a little more pressure than I'd have liked, but if you'd offered me that performance before the game I'd have jumped on it with both feet.
What did you think of the OL?
I saw a really cool play at a high school game. The offense lined up with two wides, At the snap, the outside receiver blocked his man, and the QB threw almost laterally to the inside receiver, who outran the outside linebacker for a big gain. Kind of just bubbled out there like a screen. Or whatever. The Huskies should run something like that, don't you think?
Explain to me why Jessie Callier isn't getting more carries.
Yeah, I liked those helmets with the all purple look too. I’m not sure it would’ve looked as good with the gold pants. We’ll probably get a chance to see.
It rained in your seats? Huh. I’ve heard a lot of people say that. It was sunny and warm in mine. My neck actually got a little burned because I forgot to put on sunscreen.
I wouldn’t have expected this from the defense. But I think we still have to take it with a fairly large grain of salt – the Boise State win is losing luster each passing week, Illinois is still undetermined, and Arizona was in conditions that make it tough to really judge what they’ve got. The defense mostly dominated the game. But giving up two huge plays on 4th down bothered me. Especially the run by BJ Denker. There were really only two guys the defense had to defend on that play, and they simply failed to cover one of them. To the tune of 33 yards. Most of the QB’s that the Dawgs play the rest of this season are capable of making that play.
Marcus Peters is on his way to becoming a stud. It’s great to see a young guy accept the mantle of being "The Man" right away after the previous "Man" graduates. He’s a presence out there. At the beginning of the season, I expected that Will Shamburger was going to get beaten out. Now, he’s playing solidly enough that the dropoff between he and Justin Glenn is negligible.
I don’t really agree that the line was anything special. Keith Price was under pressure just about every time he dropped back to pass. And it still seems like Bishop Sankey is doing a little too much on his own in the running game. Arizona blitzed more than the Dawgs have seen so far this season, and I don’t think the line did a great job handling the looks they saw. They weren’t "bad," but they just weren’t that good.
I wonder why the bubble screen has been MIA ever since game one. I can sort of understand it on Saturday – it isn’t exactly a short pass, it’s got to have some velocity, and the conditions just made throwing the ball at all a risky proposition. But that doesn’t explain where it’s been in previous weeks. I think it’s the type of play that needs to make an appearance against Stanford – as good as they are up front, I’d much rather make their secondary make tackles, and getting rid of the ball with the quickness is a good plan.
Does this actually feel like a top 15 team to you? I’m not sure it does to me right now. Maybe it’s just being jaded after the last decade (plus), but they still seem real vulnerable to me.
You heard Coach Sarkisian's explanation about the purple pants? Apparently the gold of the helmet didn't match the gold of the pants, so they went with purple. Ergo, you may never see the shiny helmets with the gold pants. Sorry, dude. If it makes you feel better, you can wear your gold pajama bottoms for the next away game.
I agree about taking a "wait and see" tack with the defense. They haven't been tested yet. I'm so used to seeing bad defense on Montlake that I find myself cringing, waiting for the breakdown. But there's no objective reason to expect it this year. That's not to say they'll shut out Oregon or hold Stanford without a first down until halftime, but I think we can reasonably expect solid defense that plays well enough to win a big game. Remember when we gave up -- I don't know -- a thousand yards to Cal? Or 110 points to Arizona? That won't happen.
You didn't think the offensive line was anything special. Okay, I suppose that's fair. There was some pressure on the QB, there were some defenders in the backfield. It's true. Still, this was a game in the rain. Everybody knew Sankey was getting the ball, and still the OL won the battle, when you weigh it all out. I think we should take that win. Remember: the OL was the biggest question mark going into the season. They were the position group that made us the most nervous. Are they Stanford? Of course not. Are they doing well? Yes. Yes, they are.
Does this feel like a top-15 team? No. That's not to say they aren't the fifteenth-best team in the country, which I believe is objectively possible. I'm just so nervous. I'm so used to being disappointed. But let's be clear. The Dawgs have a legitimate shot to beat Stanford in Palo Alto. And Stanford is the legitimate number five in the country (as near as I can tell). So when I look at the facts instead of how I feel as a totally spooked Husky fan, I can see it.
The geniuses in Las Vegas suggest that the Dawgs have something like a 30 percent chance to win. If you had to bet the money we've set aside to put mom and dad in a home so they won't have to live with either of us, which way would you bet?
Brad wraps it up:
Yeah, I’ll agree on the defense, mostly with two caveats – Oregon, because, well, they’re still really good, and UCLA, because they’ve got a really good offense and the game is on the road. I don’t have the road willies the way I used to, but it’s tougher for just about any team to play as well on the road as at home. I’m not expecting to get shellacked like in years past. But better teams are going to have much better days against the Husky defense.
A game in the rain? What does that have to do with blocking the guy in front of you? Near as I could tell, Arizona’s defense played in the same conditions as the Washington offense. That’s just not an excuse. The real kicker for me is the fact that the Huskies couldn’t (or at least didn’t) run near as many of their packaged plays. When they threw, it was mostly with a true drop and a pocket formed by the line. And the line didn’t look much better in that endeavor than it did last year, given the level of competition. And make no doubt – even with all of the teeth-gnashing here and in the rest of media about Arizona and the Wildcats’ big win against the UW last season, this was a mediocre team in 2012 that is worse this year. A bottom half of the conference team. And even though their defense is better this year than last, it’s still bad. And they got way, way, WAY too much pressure on passing plays. And too much penetration against the run. What’s Stanford going to do? Or Oregon? What does a game look like when they aren’t playing from ahead?
I flip-flop with this team with the changing of the breeze. Part of me wants to get behind them, totally. And I am, but like you, I’m nervous. Sarkisian has mostly done well dealing with adversity, but he’s almost entirely failed dealing with success. And right now, that’s my worry. We were both there when a fledgling, ranked team got beat down by an up-and-coming Stanford team in 2009. And for the epic beating in 2011 when the Dawgs were again in the rankings (when we had the thrill of a near face-to-face with Tyrone Willingham replete in Stanford regalia). I don’t like the things that I’m hearing right now from Sarkisian or the team – they play on my nerves. Look at the latest from Keith Price in the Times; something to the effect of "This is where we belong. Playing for conference championships." Dude, it’s one single conference game. Against a team that ain’t exactly in the running. Sarkisian seems pretty impressed with them as well. I like building confidence. But this team has to be made aware that a 4-0 record doesn’t actually mean anything right now. It should be the expectation given the competition, not a reason to celebrate. I agree that they might be the 15th best team in the country. But I’d like to see them look like it once for a whole game. 10-3, 10-3, and 11-6 in the first halves of the games that actually matter doesn’t do it. This team can’t afford to leave points on the board in the first half any longer.
That money is untouchable. My wife has made it that way. Literally. There are passwords and limb amputations required to get at it that I just can’t know right now. It's not really wise for me to discuss using it. But hypothetically, I think the Dawgs have a reasonable chance against Stanford if two things happen: 1. The Dawgs look like the team they did against Boise State- the one that made a living using speed on the edges, and 2. The defense can mostly shut down the passing game playing man coverage. Stanford’s receivers are big, and Greg Ducre isn’t. If he and Marcus Peters can man up and take away Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste on their own, the defense can make hay. If not, well….