Today is Monday.
But it isn’t any normal Monday. It is the Monday marking the first game week of UW’s 2018 season. The #6 Huskies open against the #9 Auburn Tigers in Atlanta on Saturday in the weekend’s only matchup between Top 10 teams.
Over the course of this week, you’ll get more analysis about the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game than any mere mortal can handle. For my part, I’m expecting a pure 50-50 kind of affair that could quite literally break in either direction.
The Tigers are a loaded SEC team heading into this season. QB Jarrett Stidham is a rising player who has “gunslinger” written all over him. The Baylor transfer was notoriously inaccurate on the deep ball a year ago, but not for a lack of trying. This year, he has an absolutely loaded wide receiver corps led by uber-productive Ryan Davis (101 targets, 85 catches) and lanky Darius Slayton (693 yds, 5 TDs). Whether or not he can get production from an offensive line that turns over four starters is the big question. As Chris Petersen and his staff prepare for the Tigers, they’ll undoubtedly access old footage of Auburn OC Chip Lindsey when he served in the same role for ASU two seasons ago.
The Huskies will also have to deal with a Tiger defense that looks to be one of the most balanced in the nation. The defensive front seven is experienced and deep including a linebacking corps that is starting all seniors. The secondary is one season removed from being one of the best in the nation, although they are are turning over their two starting safeties from last year.
I’ll be surprised if UW is able to move the ball consistently in this matchup. That said, I could see Auburn having the same struggles. I do worry that Auburn has more big play potential than the Huskies and that the tide of the game could turn on one of those big plays. If not, this game could come down to special teams play. That could be to UW’s benefit.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl, which is the host of the CFA Kickoff game, released their hype video over the weekend. Husky fans will enjoy the inclusion of one special highlight in the montage. Watch it now and you’ll get the point.
Power rankings, without the cool chart.
Yahoo! Sports posted their pre-season PAC 12 power rankings over the weekend. The Huskies, of course, top the list. It is interesting to note how closely the rest of their list resembles the very power rankings that will be posted by yours truly later today.
I wonder if Yahoo! is secretly a Russian hacking organization that broke into the heavily guarded SB Nation content vault and stole my article during its embargo period. Either that or the PAC 12 is just that predictable this year.
Shades of Cal.
John Ross here with your daily reminder that speed kills.
X’s and O’s: setting up the brick wall.
One of the hallmarks of the Pete Kwiatkowski defense has been its ability to play sound run defense even with a fifth defensive back in the game. In fact, most hardcore fans have come to recognize that UW pretty much plays a base defense with five defensive backs in and, increasingly, just two defensive linemen.
Inside the Pylon breaks down how UW generates run defense success in an era where most college football teams are able to shred opposing defenses that leave the box one man light. While there are some notable examples where UW buckled (think of the long runs that both Alabama and Penn State ripped off in each of the last two bowl games), the Huskies have been outstanding in keeping offensive linemen busy no matter what their scheme. As the article points out, this creates plenty of opportunity for others to make plays and keep opponents playing from behind the sticks.
T-Y spells “breakout”.
True sophomore receiver Ty Jones has been the buzz of fall camp with dazzling play after dazzling play being relayed to the outside world by observers. In Mike Vorel’s article linked above, he reviews his pending breakout as reported by Jones’s biggest fan and locker neighbor Jordan Miller.
For their part, UW’s own media department is all over the Ty Jones hype train.
Readers in this space who have followed me know that I’m a card-carrying member of the Ty Jones hype club. The 6’4” receiver is clearly UW’s best hope at developing a big play threat who can get open even when he’s covered and who can take some of the heat off of UW’s other less physically gifted receivers.
It was Hawaii, but still.
Former UW QB K.J. Carta-Samuels set a new school record for yards passing in a single game in his very first start as the new quarterback for the Colorado State Rams. In total, Carta-Samuels passed for 537 yards, 5 TDs and 68%. He also added 25 yards rushing on six carries against a Hawaii defense that seemed at times more lost than a pig at a Memphis BBQ festival.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the heavily favored Rams fell to the Warriors 43-37.
Build the fence around the state Coach Pete.
Volleyball is back with a big win.
The #17 Huskies opened up their 2018 season with a big win over #14 San Diego State in Alaska Airlines Arena.
Kara Bajema was the star of the show in UW’s big win with 13 kills on the night.
It’s a full sweep for Men’s and Women’s soccer.
Also noted in the same link as above is that both of UW’s soccer teams had wins over the weekend.
The Huskies men’s team won their season opener over Maryland 2-0. The women’s team evened their record to 1-1 with a 3-0 win over Cal State-Fullerton.
Dreaming big (man).
UW basketball coach Mike Hopkins is dreaming big about landing big man Isaiah Stewart. The five star center out of New York has announced his “final six” which includes UW along with Syracuse, Michigan State, Duke, Indiana, and Villanova.
Stewart is 6’9” of solid muscle and out of the gym length. But, as our own Max Vrooman reports, UW ultimately securing the services of Stewart still seem like a pipe dream.
But a big pipe dream at that.
Dreaming big (time).
Athlon Sports posted their “outrageous predictions” for the 2018 college football season. Chief among them is their pick to win the national championship.
In case you are interested, you can see their companion piece on outrageous PAC 12 predictions right here.