Can the Huskies start Pac-12 play 2-0?
Although the Huskies stole a win versus Cal last week, things might be a little more difficult this week for them. It was announced during the week that DE Hau’oli Jamora and RB Jori Fogerson are both out for the season with the injuries they suffered during the Cal game.
LB John Timu, who was taken off the field on a stretcher during the game, has been cleared and made the trip with the Huskies to Utah, but is still iffy to play. Coach Sarkisian has compared his symptoms to whiplash as Timu still has a sore neck.
Those not familiar with these two should remember that last week’s goal line stands against Cal were largely in part to these two, who filled in brilliantly when their counterparts went down.
With that being said, the Huskies are hoping to make their first ever visit to Salt Lake City a memorable one. The game (4:00 pm kickoff, ROOT/Fox Sports) is the first time Washington and Utah have met since 1979 and they haven’t played outside of Husky Stadium.
Utah is coming off a bye week after soundly defeating BYU 54-10 the previous week while Washington is still fresh off their 31-23 defeat of Cal. Washington is the only Pac-12 team Utah has not beat yet, winning the overall series 6-0.
QB Keith Price has been just short of amazing this season. He is already on pace to break the Huskies single season touchdown total with his nation-leading 14 touchdown passes thus far. And the hype only gets bigger from there.
The key, like always, is Price’s knees. If he can continue to get the pass protection he’s been getting this season, he is poised to put up bigger numbers for the Huskies.
RB Chris Polk had off-week rushing last week with only 60 yards, but look for him to play an even bigger role in this week’s game. Last week he had a clutch 70 yard touchdown catch which added a whole new dimension to his already dominant play.
Polk only needs 17 more rush yards to become the third Husky in history to reach 3,000 yards rushing, behind Joe Steele and Napoleon Kaufman.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is another big target that Price has been using to his full advantage this season, with 2 touchdowns last week, both set up by WR Devin Aguilar‘s big catches to set the Huskies up for their scores. WR James Johnson has also played a large part in the Husky passing game.
Wide Receivers Jermaine Kearse and Kasen Williams will be looking to play a bigger part this week as well, as the huge targets can become more available if Utah hones in on the popularity of Seferian-Jenkins and Aguilar with Price.
The Utah defense this season has been stellar and Washington will have to pick and choose wisely where they run and throw. Utah is 3rd in the nation in red zone defense (50%), 33rd in pass defense (114.8 yards per game), 15th in scoring defense (14.3 points per game), and 14th in rushing defense (79.3 yards per game.) They are also tied for the national lead in fumbles recovered (8), 6th in turnovers caused (12) and have a Pac-12 leading 4 interceptions.
Also, look for LB Cort Dennison to play some inspired football in his homecoming to Utah. He chose a full scholarship to the University of Washington as Utah overlooked him, asking him to try for a walk-on role on his hometown team.
The Huskies have been playing to their opponents level all season. Let’s see if they can do it again this week in Salt Lake.