Let’s get it on!
It’s that time of year again, folks. Saturday marks the start of the 2012 college football season in Seattle when the San Diego State Aztecs roll into town to take on the Washington Huskies. The anxiety has been building since the Huskies last took the field, putting up 56 points on Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
And while the game flashed the true potential of this Husky offense, we have been salivating to see how the new, improved defense looks.
Matchup San Diego State at Washington
Venue: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)
Game Time, TV: 7:30 PM PST, Pac-12 Networks
Date: Saturday, September 1
Team Records: SDSU (0-0) UW (0-0)
Standings: Season Opener
This is a game that many would say the Huskies have in the bag. The players may look past it, but they should be reminded that no game is a gimme in college football. If they take anything away from last year’s non-conference schedule, it’s that a game like this one can bite you.
After struggling mightily to put away both Hawaii and Eastern Washington last season, Washington needs to prepare for this game as if it were a team like USC. Most importantly, it will come down to the defense who had some issues preserving wins last year.
What to Watch: San Diego State
The Aztecs are only returning 6 starters on offense this season after losing their starting QB Ryan Lindley and starting RB Ronnie Hillman to the NFL. They have won their previous 2 season openers and have posted 2 consecutive winning seasons and are looking to make it three straight.
What’s interesting to the Huskies, though, is that the new Aztec quarterback is someone they’re more than familiar with – ex-Oregon State Beaver Ryan Katz.
What to Watch: Washington
The sights are set for the Huskies in the 2012 campaign. The Dawgs are looking to rebound from their worst defensive effort in team history last season and need to try and replace the production lost in Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar.
Steve Sarkisian loaded up the coaching staff with a bunch of new faces – Justin Wilcox and Peter Sirmon from Tennessee, Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau from California, as well as Keith Heyward from Oregon State.
UW Offense vs. SDSU Defense
The Washington offense should not skip a beat coming off an almost record setting 2011 season. Keith Price is back and he still has two of his favorite weapons: WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The Aztec defense is tenacious, ranking 25th in the nation in turnovers in 2011. They return their top defenders this season and are looking for their defense to keep them in games with the loss of their star offensive players.
UW Defense vs. SDSU Offense
The Husky defense was heavily scrutinized last season for being the worst in school history. They rarely helped their offense and had wide open gaps all over the field.
The defense is already looking better with a changed attitude and outlook as well as a few new players in some different positions. The linebacker position took the biggest hit and the Huskies will look to ex-Safeties Nate Fellner and Travis Feeney to help shore up the linebacker core.
SDSU has Ryan Katz behind center this season after losing Lindley to the NFL. Katz will have the 3 leading receivers on the team to work with – wide receivers Colin Lockett and Dylan Denso and tight end Gavin Escobar.
Many would think that losing Hillman to the NFL would hurt this team, but they have depth at running back. Returning are Adam Muema and Walter Kazee who were in the shadows of Hillman’s monster 2011. Muema had a good showing last season when he got his chances while Kazee suffered a knee injury last season, but is a career 1,000 yard rusher.
SDSU vs. UW Prediction and Analysis
This game, while seemingly easy for Washington, could very well be a trap game. The Husky offense will no doubt be on point, but are facing a tougher defense than they are used to seeing.
I don’t expect it to be too tough for the Dawgs, but it will come down to one thing.
If the Washington defense’s new look and attitude pay off, this could very well be a runaway if they can stop Katz and SDSU’s returning offensive starters.