Washington State Football: Apple Cup Q&A With “The Husky Haul”


ACU:

The Huskies have had a better than expected season, one that’s been
up and down for sure. Was there ever a time when Husky fans jumped off
the bandwagon a little bit on this year or has the feeling been pretty
positive, even through the 3 game losing streak that took place
mid-season.

HH:

I would say that after the Arizona loss, things started to unravel a
bit. While they never represented anything but a small minority of the
fanbase, the #Firesark promoters were visible on twitter, and even for
people that weren’t willing to go that far, it seemed like a “here we
go again” type of a moment for the defense and for the team as a
whole, and it killed whatever was left of the optimism created by the
Stanford win. But then the Huskies beat then-undefeated Oregon State
at home and things have gone well since then.

ACU:

What has Washington done to earn this 4 game streak? In your mind,
what has been the most important win this season for UW?

HH:

I’m tempted to say that Stanford was the most important win because up
until that point, there was no way of knowing Washington was capable
of beating top-10 teams, but after the mayhem created by the three
straight losses to Oregon, USC, and Arizona, I think that the Oregon
State game was the most key. It was the first win of the 4 game
streak, but it was also the only win of the four that came against an
opponent with a winning record. Because of that, it’s tough to tell
how much of the win streak has been due to internal improvement by
Washington, especially as far as playing on the road is concerned, or
simply due to a softening of the schedule. It’s probably a bit of
both.

ACU:

The Cougars were the talk of the town coming into the Spring with
the Mike Leach hiring and a lot of players returning. However it’s
been a serious struggle for WSU and the fans continue to get more and
more frustrated with all of the bad news that keeps piling on. What’s
the perspective from a Husky fans’ point of view on the Leach hire
(both for now and going forward), the struggles for the Cougs this
season and the Marquess Wilson situation?

HH:

I can’t exactly laugh at WSU fans that are bitterly disappointed, as I
definitely projected a 6-6 record after the Leach hire. Obviously
things have been ugly, and from my point of view it looks like a real
mess of different problems. A lack of talent, injuries, and maybe even
a problem with player’s buying into Leach’s system, both on and off
the field. Still, it could have been chalked up to inflated
expectations coming back down to earth if not for the ugly Wilson
situation. It seems like some of how Wilson handled the whole thing
hurts his credibility a bit, but unless he made up a great deal of his
accusations, it certainly points to a problem with Leach and his
staff. Unless the investigation into the situation unearths some
damning evidence, I say give Leach another year, but I don’t have much
confidence that he will turn things around.

ACU:

What are your keys to a Husky victory on Friday? If the Huskies
were to lose, what would be the cause?

HH:

The Huskies need to keep doing what they’ve done over the past four
games. On offense, that means at least 25 carries for Bishop Sankey,
with the increasingly 2011-esque Price using play action to
occasionally take shots downfield to Kasen Williams and ASJ. On
defense, rely on the strength of the defensive backfield to harass
Jeff Tuel (if he starts) while he attempts a ludicrous number of
passes. If WSU wins, it will be because Washington’s defense blows a
few assignments, allowing for a couple long scores through the air
while Price has another game plagued with turnovers, perhaps two picks
and two fumbles, leading to a score somewhere in the neighborhood of
31-21 WSU. However, I don’t think that’s likely. The Huskies have
played much better on the road lately, and the Cougars are just in
disarray.

ACU:

WSU will be passing the ball 80% of the time in this game, what are
your thoughts on the Husky D-front against the Cougar O-Line and the
Cougar receivers against the Husky secondary?

HH:

I think that Washington wins both matchups. The Husky D-line hasn’t
gotten much of a pass rush going this year (assuming Colorado was an
outlier) and that may not change, but the team as a whole has done a
pretty good job against the run, so I doubt WSU’s occasional runs will
be all that effective. As far as the WSU receivers against the Husky
secondary, I think this will be the matchup that decides whether or
not the Cougars stay in it. Players like Sean Parker, Shaq Thompson,
and Desmond Trufant are capable of picking off passes, forcing
fumbles, and blowing up receivers over the middle, and I wouldn’t be
shocked to see them pick off Tuel three or four times. However, there
is the caveat that UW has struggled against spread offenses. Still,
with that in mind, Leach’s Air Raid hasn’t been all that effective
this year, and I don’t know why it would start working against a set
of defensive backs that are among the best in the conference.

ACU:

Final Predictions? How will the game play out and what will the
score be at the end of the day?

HH:

I’m tempted to call for a blowout in Washington’s favor. WSU has been
the second worst team in the conference, and the Huskies are hot as of
late. But still, this is the Apple Cup, and no matter what has gone on
for either team during the rest of the season, it’s dangerous to
underestimate the Cougars that badly on their home field. Still, I
think Sankey quickly establishes the run and Price has an efficient
day, maybe 250 yards and two scores, while avoiding any big turnovers.
On defense, the Cougars might make a play or two, but I am confident
that the defensive backs will harass Tuel and force several turnovers.
UW 31, WSU 17

Tags: Football Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars