Friday, October 26, 2012

Huskies host undefeated #7 Oregon State Beavers

By  Kshell

The Washington Huskies(3-4,1-3) are riding a three game losing streak and they are hosting another top 10 team in undefeated #7 Oregon State Beavers(6-0, 4-0) this Saturday. There has been plenty of talk on the message boards and even columnist about the future of Huskies fourth year head coach Steve Sarkisian. Also talk about struggling quarterback Keith Price who hasn't played well this year. The Huskies offense has been awful this year and they are facing a tough Oregon State team who is only allowing 16.5 points per game. The Huskies who have lost all three road games by 30 plus points can't afford a loss here at home with three of their final four games at home. The Beavers despite getting owned historically in this series have won seven of their last eight meetings against the Huskies including last year 38-21 down in Corvallis.

The Huskies passing offense has been terrible this year which was supposed to be the strength. Price hasn't looked at all like himself this season as he is a turnover machine as of late. In the last three games which were all losses Price has turned the ball over 10 times.

For the season  he is 143-238 passing (60.1%) for 1,336 yards(5.6 YPA) with 8 TD's to 8 interceptions. He has ran for 16 net yards but take away the 143 yards he has lost in sacks he has ran for 159 yards this season(22.7 yards per game).  He clearly isn't himself and seems affected by a struggling offensive line. He also has no trust in his receivers not named Kasen Williams. Price last year was a guy who had no expectations while this year he is struggling to cope with all the pressure being on him.

In the 38-21 loss last year to the Beavers Price didn't start. In fact Nick Montana made his only start of the season. Price did come off the bench to complete five of nine(55.6%) for 76 yards(8.4 YPA) with a touchdown and an interception. Had Price started that game perhaps the Huskies win instead they lost yet another game on the road.

For the Beavers they are most likely to see quarterback Sean Mannion return this week. For the year Mannion is 107-169(63.3%) passing for 1,358 yards(8.0 YPA) with seven touchdowns to four interceptions. Last year in the upset win over the Huskies he was 26-37(70.3%) passing for 339 yards(9.2 YPA) with two touchdowns and one interception.

If Mannion can't go the Beavers are in good hands with Cody Vaz who is 36-58(62.1%) passing for 506 yards(8.7 YPA) with three touchdowns while not throwing an interception. The improved play at the quarterback position along with their stellar defense is a big reason why the Beavers are undefeated this season.

The Huskies rushing game has been pretty good this year led by Bishop Sankey. On the year Sankey has ran the ball well rushing for 574 yards on 122 carries(4.7 YPC) with seven touchdowns. Sankey also has 15 receptions for 96 yards(6.4 YPC) on the season. Last year in the loss to the Beavers Sankey only ran the ball two times but did gain 12 yards(6.0 YPC). Sankey has hard this year and been effective in red zone scoring six touchdowns this year.

His backup true freshman Kendyl Taylor has played well too. Taylor on the year  has ran for 96 yards on 15 carries(6.4 YPC). He busted a 30 yard run last week in the loss to Arizona. He also has eight receptions for 47 yards(5.9 YPC) as he began the year as the Huskies starting wide receiver. Teams this year are only averaging 80.3 yards rushing against the Beavers and only 2.9 yards per carry. The Huskies must establish a rushing attack to help the struggling Keith Price. If Sarkisian avoids running the ball like he has the last couple of weeks the Huskies could be in line to get blown out once again.

The Beavers rushing attack is led by freshman running back Storm Woods who has ran for 450 yards on 102 carries(4.4 YPC) with six touchdowns. His backup is Malcom Agnew who has ran for 154 yards on 37 carries(4.2 YPC).

Woods has also caught 19 passes for 147 yards(7.7 YPC). The Beavers rushing attack hasn't been that good this year averaging only 3.1 YPC on the season. Woods has only had one 100 yard rushing performance on the season as well. The Huskies defense has struggled against the run giving up an average of 196 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. The Beavers offense isn't very explosive so look for them to try and control the clock and play field position as they wait for the Huskies to self destruct.

The Huskies passing game has been struggling but don't think that is because of Kasen Williams. For the season he has 41 receptions for 442 yards with four touchdowns. Last year in the loss to the Beavers he led the team in receiving with three receptions for 54 yards including a 36 yard reception.

Another weapon in the passing game who is doing well is tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  For the season he has 37 receptions for 447 yards with three touchdowns. Last year against the Beavers he had six receptions for 40 yards with two touchdowns. Problem for the Huskies is they aren't getting any production from anyone else. DiAndre Campbell has just nine receptions for 96 yards with a touchdown. Jaydon Mickens has only 13 receptions for 70 yards. If Williams or Seferian-Jenkins aren't making a play in the passing game then the Huskies are getting shut down. The Beavers pass defense has allowed only seven passing touchdowns while intercepting 12 passes this year.

Last year Markus Wheaton destroyed the Huskies. In the upset win Wheaton caught seven passes for 125 yards(17.9 YPC) with a 52 yard reception. He also ran the ball three times for 66 yards(22.0 YPC) with a long of 56 yards. He is cousins with Kenny Wheaton who had the famous interception for Oregon to defeat the #9 Washington Huskies back in 1994.

Wheaton is having a great year this year catching 48 passes for 654 yards(13.6 YPC) with six touchdowns. He has also ran the ball 10 times for 38 yards(3.8 YPC) with a touchdown.

Another weapon for the Beavers is Brandin Cooks who has 35 receptions for 667 yards(19.1 YPC) with two touchdowns. He has ran the ball nine times for 39 yards(4.2 YPC). The Huskies pass defense this year has allowed only 184 yards passing a game with 12 touchdowns to seven interceptions. The Huskies defense has only recorded nine sacks on the season while giving up 21 sacks.

Oregon State will be the fourth top 10 opponent the Huskies have faced this year which doesn't include the USC Trojans who are currently ranked 10th. For Steve Sarkisian this is a must win for him as well as Keith Price. The Huskies have lost three games in a row and three more losses would eliminate them from bowl contention. Another loss would clinch the fact that the Huskies won't improve on their seven wins from last regular season. The Huskies can't afford to lose to a program who they have been out recruiting like they did last week to Arizona.  One thing to lose to LSU, Oregon and USC but it's another to lose to middle of the road conference foes. Sarkisian is starting to slowly feel the pressure as he was named #22 on the coaches hot seat rankings. This is a must win for the Huskies and especially for Sarkisian if he wants any future with this program.

The Huskies face the most important game in the Sarkisian era this Saturday. Despite being undefeated and ranked in the top 10 the Beavers are only 4.5 point favorites against the Huskies this Saturday. The Huskies have played well this year at home as they are 3-1 with their only loss being by 10 points to USC. Sarkisian is 17-7 at home in career at home. The Huskies tend to play better at home and haven't lost back to back home games in the Sarkisian era since losing to Nebraska and Arizona State back in early 2010. The Beavers have a strong defense and average offense. While the Huskies have an average defense with an awful offense who has shown it can be productive last year. Perhaps this is finally the week the Huskies offense has that break out game.

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