Well Dawg fans, it's here at last - the debut of the Chris Petersen era at Washington. It's impossible not to be excited, as it's not just the start of a new season but the start of what we all hope is a return to the kind of sustained success on Montlake that we haven't seen since Don James resigned.
First up is are the Warriors of Hawaii in Aloha Stadium. It's been a tough go for them under venerable HC Norm Chow who has struggled (to put it lightly) in his first (and likely last) opportunity to run his own program as they've gone just 4-20 in his two seasons. Last year they managed just one win, their finale against Army. And unfortunately for the Warriors the prospects don't seem much brighter this year.
For Washington, they need to work past the distractions that come with a game in Hawai'i. Coach Petersen has plenty of experience with those distractions from Boise State's time in the WAC and MWC, and I expect he's done a good job preparing his team to handle them as well.
When the game starts, I expect to see Hawaii playing hard and with an edge and it may take a few series for the Washington offense under new QB Jeff Lindquist get their bearings. But the talent advantage should become apparent over the course of the game. I figure we'll see a relatively healthy dose of the run game with RB Dwayne Washington & Lavon Coleman leading the charge and Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier coming in for a change of pace. Lindquist himself might figure prominently in the run game as well.
Defensively the Huskies will need to be ready to defend a run-heavy spread attack from QB Ikaika Woolsey and RB Joey Iosefa that will test their gap discipline and open field tackling. This should be a game that allows the front seven to really shine and gently breaks in the three new starters in the secondary.
Wrapping this up, I see a tough, hard-hitting game early with the UW run game establishing control by the 2nd quarter and the Huskies pulling away late and the 2nd string getting some time in the 4th quarter: UW 48, Hawaii 13
Predicting a Husky victory here is no big exercise in prognostication. Offensively, the Huskies should be able to overwhelm the underequipped Warrior unit with both their short-passing game and their rushing attack. Expect huge days from both Jaydon Mickens and Dwayne Washington. I'm sure Petersen will allow Jeff Lindquist a few opportunities to air it out and that ought to be pretty interesting for Husky fans. Defensively, I expect the Huskies to get challenged a little more than maybe the rank-and-file fan is expecting. The Warriors have a few serviceable receivers, a big RB and an experienced o-line. Their inexperience at QB, however, will erase a lot of plus plays and I expect the final stats to look good for the UW defense. Let's call it UW 45 - Hawaii 17
Look for the Huskies to come out aggressive, and to show their dominance from the very beginning of the game. I expect some trick plays from Hawai'i, in hopes to keep this game close. It should just be an exercise of futility for the Warriors, however. They don't have the depth or the talent to compete with the Huskies; so, barring a cataclysmic event, like every starter getting hit with dysentery minutes before the game, this should be a great warm-up game for the Huskies: Huskies win 45-14
I suspect Dwayne Washington and the other backs will have a relatively easy time of it running behind UW's veteran O-Line. That success will help keep the game simple for Jeff Lindquist, who will have little reason to force contested passes.
The Huskies may not put big points on the board early, but they will steadily pull out of reach. Hawaii will run the ball well, but Woolsey turnovers and third-down sacks will kill too many decent drives. UW 38, Hawaii 13
Pretty much a carbon copy of what I wrote in my Dawg Talk article today:
Going on the road is always a difficult way to start a season, and that's especially true when you're in a locale as picturesque as the Hawaiian Islands. No doubt, the coaching staff's experience of traveling there in years past will come in handy, as they make sure their players are focused less on mai tais and leis and more on zone coverages and blocking assignments.
From a sheer talent perspective, Hawaii doesn't appear to be in the same league as Washington. According to their Scout.com rankings, Washington's classes in 2011 to 2014 ranked 22, 23, 14, and 35, whereas Hawaii ranked 82, 107, 80, and 96 during the same period. That discrepancy carried over to the stats sheet, as well, as the Warriors gave up 495 yards and 39 points per game last year-most of that coming against Mountain West competition.
All of this is to say that, whatever holes Washington might have, the holes that Hawaii has are much, much bigger. I expect Washington to amass a four-touchdown lead by the end of the third quarter, and a garbage time score or two by the Warriors will make the scoreboard look a bit closer than it was. More to the point, I will be shocked if the outcome of this game is ever in doubt. Washington 45, Hawaii 17
It's tough to know exactly what to expect here. New coaching staff, new QB, and a long road trip. Defensively, the Huskies should simply be good enough to limit Hawaii's ability to score. On offense, if the Huskies decide to protect Lindquist and pound away at Hawaii with their four running backs, it may take the Dawgs into the second half to really start piling up the points. And that's the game plan I ultimately expect to see. Call it UW 35, Hawaii 10