It is unlikely the Huskies are truly as bad as we saw on Saturday. There is a chance our offensive ideas and play calling are that bad, but the output in terms of points should improve, as long as the coaches get the team playing with passion and energy.
Michigan will do what every team does in all levels of football: try to stop the run, and dare Washington to beat them over the top. With a healthy Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Terrell Bynum I would say the Huskies would have a chance to counter. But that’s not going to be the case. In the absence of WRs, Washington should look to establish the run early and often - but the exact opposite happened in the Montana game. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to predicting how Washington will attack Michigan’s defense. What does seem likely is this Husky offense still doesn’t find rhythm against an athletic Big 10 defense, on the road.
If Washington does win this game, it will probably be with some help from special teams and turnovers putting Washington in favorable field position. With the bodies missing at receiver, it is hard to see beating Michigan over the top with their star safety Dax Hill patrolling deep. When in the red zone, it will be critical for Washington’s best players step up. Namely, Cade Otton and (hopefully) Terrell Bynum.
Defensively, the Huskies should do a pretty good job, though I worry about some of Michigan’s physical running backs wearing down the front seven and not being able to get the key stops on 3rd down. It’s becoming a disturbing trend where Washington’s overall run defense numbers seem fine, but in game they make precious few stops behind the line of scrimmage, and always seem to give up the exact right amount of yardage on 3rd and short.
Expect a better performance on Saturday. If this offense ever turns the corner under John Donavan, it’s unlikely to happen tomorrow. And without that, it is hard to see this Husky team gutting out a W.
Washington- 17, Michigan- 31
UW football has a massive opportunity to regroup and make a statement this Saturday. Will they? Can they?
I’m trying to convince myself that Donovan was saving a lot for Michigan. But I have a hard time believing that. If more creative plays were already installed, then why weren’t they used when the Huskies were staring down an historic defeat? Is Donovan able and willing to substantially expand this offense in one week’s time? Seeing how the Dawgs faceplanted last Saturday, at home, with an entire offseason to prepare their schemes and their mentality - what’s to hint that we’re going to see anything vastly different against the Wolverines?
I’d say our defense did a decent job last week. But that was against an FCS offense missing it’s top two running backs. Michigan ran for 335 yards and a 7.8 yard avg. last weekend. If our run defense resembles what it was last year, things will get ugly real fast.
Dylan Morris has never played a college football road game. It’s unclear if we’ll get back any of our top 4 wideouts. And the defensive playbook to attack our offensive line is there for all to see.
Rosy assumptions are what got me to make the prediction of a ramped-up offense against Montana. I’m not going that route again. Until Donovan proves his philosophy can adapt, I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt. While I’d love to see the Huskies pull a monumental turnaround and prove that Montana was a fluke, I’m not counting on it.
Washington- 10, Michigan- 28
I mean, obviously after last week I’m not predicting a win. Last week Michigan did to Western Michigan what UW should’ve done to Montana: a basic, unspectacular (in a good way) drubbing of 47-14.
With that in mind, there’s two caveats here. One: Michigan, uh, well they’ve had a bit of a bumpy ride for the last *checks calendar* mmmmdecade plus, culminating in last year’s bizarre 2-4 COVID season. They haven’t even been _bad_ during the last forever (last year plus a couple seasons notwithstanding), just... bumpy. And seemingly destined to be stumped by the same obstacles over and over. After the Wolverines’ last season but prior to last weekend, Washington seemed like an alright bet to be one of those obstacles. And if the Montana game was just an aberration of the highest magnitude, then I suppose the Dawgs still _could_ be, but I don’t have enough money to bet any on that. (Sidenote: If anybody would like to give me some money, perhaps in exchange for me writing things for you, aloha.)
Second: Michigan’s 2-4-5 defense actually matches up better for Washington than Montana’s 3-3-5. If you forgot what I discussed in my defensive preview for the Griz, their pressure is so diverse and execution so fluid it’s glorious to watch, provided they’re not using that to embarrass your team. Unfortunately I was right in predicting Montana’s front six could give Julius Buelow especially a hard time since their source of pressure is so tricky to read pre-snap. So while Michigan’s size and talent level is lightyears ahead of the team that just made Washington look super stupid, at least for our sake their 2-4-5 pass-rush is more straightforward. If the Dawgs stand any chance, it’s that. I mean, that and the fact that Michigan’s looked good before only to then, ya know... not.
But that’s all probably moot, especially considering Rome Odunze’s still out, Jalen McMillan’s maybe still out, and Terrell Bynum’s maybe still out. If UW’s receivers couldn’t get separation versus Montana — no matter how airtight and experienced Montana’s secondary is — I’m skeptical they’d be able to do much better against Michigan.
I believe Washington can have a good game again, but after last weekend I’m not writing that down until we actually see it happen first.
Washington- 17, Michigan- 23
Had I predicted the score last week I would have predicted a Husky win by a margin or 3 or so points. After last weekend’s stunning defeat and the lack of offensive firepower that we saw I think it will be tough for UW to score more than 20 points on Michigan. The Huskies need to win the turnover battle and probably get very lucky to pull off the upset. In the end I just don’t see us pulling this one out as we lose to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Washington- 13, Michigan- 24
Is it possible to come up with a version of this game where UW executes beautifully on offense and pulls off a big road win? Sure, a week ago it would’ve been easy to forecast that sort of performance. But after the Week 1 performance by the offensive line, a questionable offensive strategy, and the loss of most of the team’s receiving options, such a prediction would go strongly against the evidence we’ve seen so far. Offensively, the more likely scenario is that Michigan’s big, athletic defensive front gives the offensive line as much trouble or more than Montana did a week ago. Dylan Morris continues to struggle with constant pressure, which prevents him from getting balls downfield. Perhaps the run game can show signs of life with a dose of Sean McGrew and some play calls outside the tackles. If they can extend drives on the ground, the scarcity of receiving options won’t matter as much. Altogether, it’s hard to use the evidence of Week 1 to predict much offensive explosion in Week 2.
Defensively, there is a bit more reason for optimism. The pass rush didn’t get home against Montana and didn’t contain the edge, but they did show an ability to get some push. Jackson Sirmon looked much better at ILB after spending last year as the unit’s whipping boy. Trent McDuffie looked as dominant as ever in the secondary. Michigan ran the ball down WMU’s throat in Week 1. The Dawgs will need their interior DL to hold up against the run to free up the ILBs to clean up plays. I think the defense will be fine, but not enough to overcome the lack of offense.
Washington- 17, Michigan- 28
This is probably about how we all feel about this game after last Saturday. For those that do trust to hope they’re relying upon a few things. The receiver room needs to get marginally healthier. There have been rumors that Terrell Bynum might be able to play and Jalen McMillan had a snapchat post hinting at his availability. If both did take the field while close to 100% on Saturday it would be a major boon. More importantly for the offense would be if Washington truly was holding back large portions of the offense thinking they could get away with showing less last week. On the one hand it would be infuriating but would suggest we could see an offense that has a ghost of a chance at succeeding.
I’m expecting Michigan and Jim Harbaugh to try to borrow heavily from his old protégé David Shaw and pound the ball the majority of the time with Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum followed with a few shots over the top. Michigan’s #1 receiver Ronnie Bell is out for the season with a knee injury and the matchup of UW’s corners versus their receivers should be the clearest advantage the Huskies have. Expect to see more 3 DL looks from the Dawgs in anticipation of a run-heavy approach as well.
While Michigan certainly has a better defense than Montana, I can’t see Washington looking just as inept on offense 2 weeks in a row. I don’t think the Dawgs will light the world on fire by any means but I (perhaps naively) refuse to believe that out of the heat of the moment the coaching staff can’t figure out how to put in some contingency plans if Michigan adopts the same strategy Montana did.
In my heart of hearts do I expect Washington to win this game? No. But sometimes you need to embrace your inner homer just a tiny bit. Cade McNamara had some serious struggles against legitimate defenses last season and if UW is able to make Michigan’s offense one-dimensional then we could see a low possession game that turns this into a rock fight meaning it could take just one big turnover or special teams play to change the tide.
Washington- 17, Michigan- 16
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up- Washington- 1, Michigan- 5
Against The Spread (UW +7)- Washington- 2, Michigan- 4
Average Score: Washington- 15.2, Michigan- 25.0