My prediction of Cal winning 77-4 last week didn’t turn out to be exactly right. I was close though! How great was it to see a Husky Football team come out of a BYE week and look like they actually had extra time to prepare for their opponent. I won’t lie, I thought going into that game that UW was going to have a really tough time slowing down Cal’s offense. As it turns out, they handled them rather easily.
To go up against an offense like Cal’s and hold them to just 7 points is pretty impressive (in fact, I would wager to guess no one during the rest of the season will do this to Cal), especially with the concerns we had in our secondary when this year began, and even in the early portions of the year. I thought Budda (pronounced Buttah by PAC12 Networks Play-By-Play) Baker played a terrific game, the guy is so sound and he just shows up so much when you are watching the games. He has been close to getting a few turnovers, those will come, and when they do he will score a lot (kinda like Shaq Thompson). We even got a glimpse of his skill with the ball in his hands on the interception return that got called back in the first half. And it was hard not to notice him flying past Shaq on the fumble return.
Sidney Jones continues to impress as a true freshman as well. It is hard to even remember many instances of him really messing up, and he does seem like he likes to hit people as we have seen a few times so far this year. Naijiel Hale has shown up when he has been in the games, and he has been playing well in special teams. I noticed Darren Gardenhire a few times on punt return defense and kick return defense as well. The young players in the secondary that have been playing have really seemed to be improving and I am very excited for a potential future secondary of: Jones, Gardenhire, Baker, Hale, Kelly, and King. Credit to Jimmy Lake on coaching those guys up, and let’s hope they can keep it up as the offenses we will be facing going forward are all pretty solid.
With all that being said about the secondary perhaps the main reason they have been playing so well is because of the front four of the Huskies. Since I have been following UW football I have not seen a better front four (or front seven). It was a thing of beauty to watch the pocket collapse on Jared Goff over and over again on Saturday. I actually had flashbacks to Hau’oli Kikaha going up against the Left Tackle of BYU in the Bowl Game last year throughout that game, it was just unfair. Danny Shelton continues to just dominate the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis. At one point he got an initial hit on the Left Guard in the 2nd quarter I believe and the LG went back about four yards straight into Goff. Danny barely missed a sack on that play, but he did force Goff to throw the ball away. Just an amazing performance by those two, and then you get to see a few plays where Andrew Hudson and Evan Hudson are shoving their man straight back into the QB and they have been causing issues around the line of scrimmage too.
We haven’t even talked about Shaq Thompson and Marcus Peters. This defense is seriously fun to watch, I look forward to seeing these guys perform the rest of the year and then watching them as they continue their careers in the NFL.
I do remember before the year some talk on the boards about how Shaq had not really lived up to the hype he had coming out of High School; well he certainly is now. And the jump Danny has made has been incredible to watch, I did not get to see Emtman play live, but I am assuming he affected games in much the same manner that Danny is right now. I also don’t think it is a coincidence that these players have stepped up their games so much with a staff that is so focused on details now leading the team. Numerous times during fall camp and spring ball Petersen and others on staff pointed to Danny and Shaq as players that had really bought into what the coaches have been saying. Just this week Petersen said that what makes Shaq great is, “How he prepares during the week,” and that he really just likes him as a person first and foremost. Danny himself has said during interviews on game weeks that one of the reasons he has gotten better this year is that he has bought into “the details.” He even acknowledged that when the coaches first got in he wasn’t really listening when they were talking about how important every single detail is, but that he finally bought in and he believes that is one of the reasons he has improved so much. These are the types of players this staff is looking for, players that treat Sunday - Friday as important as Saturday itself. I am very hopeful that the players that are coming up through the program now are watching these guys buy-in and seeing how drastically they have improved in just one offseason.
I do not know what this week will hold for the Huskies, but I do know that I am looking forward to seeing this team play the Ducks on Saturday. I am looking forward to seeing our front four get after Mariotta. I am looking forward to seeing what Shaq does this week. I am looking forward to seeing our young players in the secondary get better. And I am looking forward to seeing Petersen swear on the sidelines.
All that being said, I don’t think UW will score enough points this week to take down the Ducks of Oregon. Let’s call it Oregon 77 UW 4.