Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The undefeated Washington Huskies will try to add a marquee win to their resume' when they entertain the 16th-ranked Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-12 Conference affair this Saturday.
Stanford has been off since blanking Army, 35-0, on Sept. 13. That win was the second of the season for the Cardinal, which also shut out UC Davis (45-0), but fell flat in a 13-10 home loss to USC in their league opener.
Chris Petersen has overseen a 4-0 start to his tenure at Washington, with the Huskies taking down Hawaii (17-16), Eastern Washington (59-52), Illinois (44-19) and Georgia State (45-14). The most recent victory over GSU wasn't exactly easy, as the Huskies entered halftime down 14-0 before turning it on in the second half. It was obviously not the effort the new coach expected.
"I thought the first half was just about as bad as football I've been around, maybe ever," Petersen said after the game, while adding how much preparation his team will need this week before facing the Cardinal. "Did you just see what I saw? I know we're not ready for Stanford."
Last year's rendition of this contest was a tightly-contested one, which Stanford won by a score of 31-28. The Huskies still hold a slim edge in the all-time series, 41-39-4, posting wins in 22 of the last 31 meetings.
Against Army, Stanford had more than twice as many yards as the Black Knights, accumulating 415 while surrendering only 207. That is really the blueprint for David Shaw's teams, with the offense doing enough to get by and the defense slamming the door on the opposition. Mission accomplished so far this season, as the Cardinal have allowed only 13 total points and just over 200 yards of offense per contest.
"I think defense is exactly where we want them to be, playing extremely well. They're playing unselfish defense, they're playing Stanford defense," Shaw said of his team. "Offensively we're close. We have explosive capabilities."
Clearly the most dynamic threat on the roster is Ty Montgomery, who not only serves as the leading receiver but also the team's punt returner. Montgomery has accumulated 246 yards and two touchdowns on 22 receptions and added 129 yards and a score on five punt returns. Austin Hooper (12 receptions, 170 yards) and Devon Cajuste (seven receptions, 96 yards, three TDs) are the complementary pieces in the passing game.
Kevin Hogan has the task of getting the ball to the playmakers, and has done so with relative ease. He is completely 73 percent of his pass attempts for 705 yards and seven touchdowns, compared to only one interception.
The normally vaunted running game has not been as effective, primarily due to a lack of a workhorse-style running back. Barry Sanders (142 yards) is averaging 7.9 yards per carry, but he has logged only 18 carries in three games. Kelsey Young (122 yards) leads the team in rushing attempts, but with only 21.
As mentioned previously, the defense is still holding up its end of the bargain. A.J. Tarpley (19 tackles, 1.0 sack) has been a real leader for the unit, which could still improve in creating pressure with only seven sacks in the first three games.
Aside from the scoreless first half against Georgia State, Washington has been doing fairly well on offense, at least in terms of scoring. The Huskies are currently posting 41.3 points per game. However, it remains to be seen if such production is sustainable considering they are last in the conference in total offense (418 ypg).
The offense relies heavily on the play of dual-threat quarterback Cyler Miles, who has not been overly impressive simply as a passer. He has just 525 yards passing this season, although he has completed 67.6 percent of his attempts, tallied five touchdowns and avoided throwing even a single interception. Add in his 114 yards and three rushing scores and he gives the Huskies a versatile threat under center.
Washington has pounded the ball on the ground with great success, ranking second in the conference in rushing (239.3 ypg). Lavon Coleman (286 yards, TD), Dwayne Washington (187 yards, three TDs) and Miles are the primary ball carriers.
Jaydon Mickens is easily the most utilized receiver on the team with 20 receptions for 200 yards and a touchdown. No other player on the roster has even 10 grabs, although John Ross has turned his six receptions into 224 yards and three touchdowns. However, Ross did not have a single catch against Georgia State
Washington has been a sturdy defensive team, although nowhere near as effective as Stanford. The Huskies are allowing 25.2 points and 405.2 yards per game, ranking right near the middle in the Pac-12 in both categories.
Danny Shelton (40 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks) and Hau'oli Kikaha (7.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks) are the standouts for the unit, with each presenting plenty of matchup problems for opposing offensive lines.