One of the best weekends of the year is upon us. For the first time in 2011 we have three straight days of nonstop football. High School Friday night lights, College football Saturday, and the opening weekend of the NFL on Sunday. If that doesn’t excite you then I question why you are reading this blog. The game that I personally am most interested in is the showdown on Montlake between the Huskies, who look to rebound from a disappointing win last week (when’s the last time you could say that about UW), and the Run-n-Shoot Warriors of Hawaii.
This is extremely hard to predict. The Huskies defense struggled mightily last week against lower level opponent Eastern Washington, conceding 504 yards on the day with 473 of those coming through the air. The Dawgs will get some help with the return of starting senior cornerback Quinton Richardson. According to Sark, he will see a lot of time at nickel back because he is the very physical on the inside, which could disrupt the rhythm of Hawaii’s passing attack. This means we will see Greg Ducre and possibly Anthony Gobern out wide. Ducre was punished by Eastern last week so it will be interesting to see how he responds to such a poor showing. The Huskies defense will not have the pleasure of expecting just the pass. Star quarterback Bryant Moniz can also kill you on the ground, which was on display against Colorado last weekend as he compiled a monstrous 121 yards and 3 touchdowns on 14 carries. It will be a tough task for the front seven of the Huskies to keep him contained.
Some of the things to watch for tomorrow will obviously be how the secondary responds after a tough outing last week. It will also be interesting to see how affective the defensive line for Dawgs can contain and pressure the quarterback, as I believe they underperformed last week against Eastern. They gave EWU QB Bo Levi Mitchell tons of time to pick out a receiver, which could be deadly if the luxury is given to Moniz. As for the Huskies offense, if Chris Polk continues doing what he does best, smash mouth downhill running, and Price stays poised in the pocket and delivers to the wide receivers, I don’t see the Hawaii defense giving the Dawgs much trouble. Price, who was shaken up with a minor knee injury last week will be good to go and so will Jermaine Kearse, who suffered an ankle sprain early on against Eastern. Polk looked great last week while handling 23 carries. His knee should be fine.
Although I am a pretty biased opinion when it comes to predictions, I believe the game will be close in the first half and even into the 3rd quarter. I think after the break and into the second half, the Huskies defense will begin to figure out how to stop Moniz and the dual-threat he possesses and will give the offense the opportunity to put it out of reach in the final quarter. Let’s hope the Dawgs can pull out the win and head into Nebraska with an undefeated record.
My Prediction: 38-28 Huskies