Friday, November 2, 2012
Huskies looking for first road win of the season at Cal
This week the Washington Huskies(4-4,2-3) fresh off of their 20-17 upset win over #7 Oregon State Beavers will travel to face a struggling California Golden Bears(3-6,2-4) team who has lost back to back games by a combined score of 70-30. The Huskies have defeated the Bears the last three years in the Steve Sarkisian era with the past two wins being instant classics. Two years ago down at California with the Huskies trailing 13-10 with their bowl hopes on the line as well as California's Sarkisian decided to instead of kicking the field goal to send it to overtime he would go for it on fourth and goal from the one yard line. Chris Polk scored the game winning touchdown with no time left as the Huskies won 16-13. Last year at Husky stadium the Huskies led 31-23 as the Bears had the ball on the Huskies two yard line facing second and goal. The Huskies stuffed the Bears three straight times including Zach Maynard throwing an incomplete pass on fourth and goal. The Huskies have won the last two meetings at the goal line.
This year has been a much different story for Price as he is struggling. On the year he is 161-268(60.1%) passing for only 1,530 yards(5.7 YPA) with 8 TD's to 9 interceptions. He has only 10 net rushing yards due to losing 151 yards in sacks. Price hasn't had a game where he threw for more touchdowns than interceptions since the Portland State game. He only has two games both against non BCS opponents where he has thrown for more touchdowns than interceptions. Last year he had eight games where he threw for more touchdowns than interceptions. The play of Keith Price is why this Huskies offense is only averaging 16.1 points per game against D-1 schools. In conference play Price has thrown only four touchdown passes while throwing eight interceptions.
This year Maynard is 165-267(61.8%) passing for 2,039 yards(7.6 YPA) with 12 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. He also has 52 yards rushing with three touchdowns. Maynard will be without his top weapon this Friday as Keenan Allen won't be playing. Maynard represents the Cal team well as you never know what you are going to get with him.
Kasen Williams last year only had three receptions for 12 yards against California. His role has expanded this year as he already has a career high 46 receptions for a career high 503 yards(10.9 YPC) with four touchdown receptions. Besides these two it's been tough for the Huskies. True freshman Jaydon Mickens has 15 receptions for 112 yards(7.5 YPC) including last week catching two passes for 40 yards. DiAndre Campbell has nine receptions for 96 yards(10.7 YPC) with a touchdown. Tight end Michael Hartvigson has six receptions for 55 yards(9.2 YPC) including a 31 yard reception last week. The Huskies must get some production from this group to succeed going forward.
Behind him is Isi Sofele who leads the team in carries. Last year against the Huskies Sofele ran for 98 yards on 17 carries(5.8 YPC). This year Sofele has ran for 477 yards on 109 carries(4.4 YPC) with two touchdowns. He has six receptions for 64 yards. Then there is electric sophomore running back Brendan Bigelow who has ran for 343 yards on only 27 carries(12.7 YPC) with three touchdowns including an exciting 81 yard score at Ohio State. Look for the Bears to try and run the ball down the Huskies throats with these three.
Behind him is true freshman Kendyl Taylor who started the year off as the starting wide receiver. Taylor has ran for 107 yards on 18 carries(5.9 YPC). He also has 10 receptions for 59 yards(5.9 YPC) for the year. The Huskies last week ran the ball effectively on Oregon State which allowed Price to have a nice second half. Look for the Huskies to pound the ball on the Bears to establish the run game to make life easier on Price.
The Huskies face a winnable four game stretch starting this week against 3-6 Cal on the road, then host 3-5 Utah, travel to 1-7 Colorado and finish the year at 2-6 Washington State Cougars. The tough schedule is behind the Huskies as they have a chance to finish the regular season on a five game winning streak to go to 8-4 for the first time since 2001. Cal must win out to go to a bowl game and seeing how they still have Oregon left on their schedule and at Oregon State I don't see that happening. Good chance Jeff Tedford is going to be fired after this year for the Bears. The Huskies though are 0-3 on the road this year losing by 41-3 at LSU, 52-21 at Oregon and 52-17 at Arizona as none of those three games were even competitive. With Cal struggling, the Huskies having their number as of late and with the Bears best offensive weapon out this is a great opportunity for Sarkisian to earn an impressive road win on ESPN to show the nation that the Huskies program has turned the corner. The tough stretch is now behind the Huskies this is where the Huskies have a chance to turn the corner as a program. That chance will start Friday at California on ESPN2.