Well the season is off and running and there is a lot to talk about so let’s get right to it!
The Huskies began the season with a win, beating the San Diego State Aztecs by the score of 21-12. Something I thought I wouldn’t say for quite some time, but the Husky defense looked much better than the high octane offense that us Dawg fans have grown accustomed to. But a win is a win, so we’re all smiles here at SS&O.
It was somewhat a mixed bag to take away from the game Saturday night. I think we can all agree that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the real deal. I understand that he was extremely good as a freshman last season, but he is now the focal point of the offensive game plan, alongside Kasen Williams. ASJ hauled in nine receptions for a total of 91 yards. It took at least two defenders just to take him down. He will demand a load of respect from defenses from now on, and if they fail to notice his capabilities, he will punish them repeatedly.
Kasen also had a nice game, making six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. On that scoring play I thought Sark was excellent with the play call, using Williams in the backfield and motioning him out into the flats to set up the screen. It was great how Kasen hid himself from the defense by crouching behind the Huskies O-line, making it hard for the Aztecs to adjust once he was put in motion. Williams did have a catch negated in the first half due to an offensive pass interference call (to the displeasure of the Husky faithful), but after watching the replay, the zebras got it right. He created clear separation from the defensive back by using both arms to push off.
The rushing attack for the Huskies wasn’t anything great, but it had its moments. The boys in purple suffered a setback when Jesse Callier went down with an apparent knee injury. It seemed as though he just got tripped up on his own after receiving a catch. He is scheduled to have an MRI and hopefully it won’t be anything that keeps him out for too long. In his stead, Bishop Sankey assumed the bulk of the rushing load, carrying 22 times for a total of 66 yards and a score. Erich Wilson II saw a few carries as well, breaking one of them for 17 yards. Still not really who you want as your number two back if we find Callier to be out for an extended period of time, but good for him as well as Willis Wilson for getting some meaningful carries in there.
The offensive line was by far the worst unit out there for the Huskies on Saturday night. They struggled mightily to give Keith time in the pocket to throw the ball and they also had a tough time opening holes for the running backs. To make it even tougher, tackle Ben Riva fractured his arm and should be out for quite some time. They have to get it figured out sometime this week if they are hoping to keep their quarterback in one piece when they travel down South to meet one of the nastiest defenses in the country next Saturday.
The always steady Keith Price was actually somewhat shaky in my opinion. I will give him the benefit of the doubt because he had defenders in the offensive backfield all night due to the poor line play, but he missed several throws that he should have made. He did go 25/35 while accumulating 222 yards and one touchdown to no interceptions, so a pretty solid stat line, but still, something just didn’t click on saturday night. It may have very well been just the offensive lines’ struggles that caused the offense to become stagnant for the majority of the game, but I expect Keith Price to right the ship in those situations and i didn’t see that during the game. I’m not too worried though. We know what Keith can do and how he can lead this football team. The offense should be fine.
What an encouraging performance from the Husky defense! As fans, we really had no idea what to expect based on the change in coaches, scheme, and the addition of several new players to the starting lineup. But we were introduced to a Husky defense with a whole new attitude. A defense that played like they had a chip on their shoulder and something to prove, which they certainly do. We saw tenacity and agression from them, something we haven’t seen since the Holiday Bowl. It was very refreshing to watch, especially as a fan who loves nothing more than a strong defensive performance.
The line managed to get in the backfield and disrupt Ryan Katz and the SDSU offense for the majority of the night. The defense did give up big plays here and there, but that is expected when you play an agressive brand of football. There will be times when the offense breaks one for big yards. It’s just a tradeoff you have to deal with, and i will gladly accept that risk.
Shaq Thompson played the role as a nickelback, coming down in the box most of the time and seemed to be a part of a lot of the action. I can’t wait to watch this kid develop into an absolute monster. Travis Feeney really impressed in his new linebacking role, sacking Ryan Katz and forcing a fumble on the same play. Overall, the secondary was very good against the pass, other than some blown coverage by Tre Watson on a couple occasions. It was nice to see the Dawgs win the turnover battle, as that will be a key to succes for this team this season.
Mostly good to take away in this department. I was impressed with true freshman punter Korey Durkee, who pinned the ball within the Aztec 20 yard line 2 of the 5 times he punted. But it could have easily been 4, due to a mental lapse by Anthony Gobern not catching the ball at the one yard line and another punt that barely trickled into the endzone. Travis Coons was a little disappointing in my opinion. I wasn’t very impressed with his leg strength on kickoffs, as he struggled to reach the 5 yard line on almost every kick. He also missed his only attempt at a field goal, but it was from 50 yards out so we will let that one slide.
In the return game I thought Jaydon Mickens looked quite comfortable in the kickoff/punt returning role. He seemed to stay up and grab a few extra yards on most returns, and that can only help with eventually taking one back to the house. I expect some fireworks in this department this season.
A lot of information to take away from this game, and to be honest I think i may be more in the dark about this team than before the start of the SDSU game. The Huskies take on LSU next week in Baton Rouge, and it will take the game of their lives in order to beat them. But that’s why they play the game, right? Until then, Go Dawgs.