I've kind of went back and forth all week with this pick. It's not that I ever thought the Huskies were going to lose. But I just wondered how close the game would be. A lot of it depends on Chris Polk and how much he plays. Yes, Jesse Callier is good. But Polk plays at a whole different level.
Everything I know about football tells me it won't be a blowout. Why? Because Eastern is too veteran and played in too many big games to allow that to happen. Plus the Eagles have talent. You will see it.
The Huskies are favored by 19 points, I don't think they cover that. The only way this thing turns into a blowout is if Eastern gets behind by a lot early and has to take unnecessary chances in terms of field position and going for it on fourth down. Still, because they spread it out and throw so much, the Eagles aren't afraid to play from behind.
The reason UW wins this game is because they win the battle up front. I don't know how good the Huskies' offensive line is right now. It's better than it's been. There's also continuity as the same guys have been in the same spots all fall camp. But we really don't how Colin Tanigawa will react to his first game. We aren't certain how Erik Kohler, who most people believe might be better as a guard, will play at right tackle.
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But I do believe the Huskies defensive line will be too much for Eastern to handle. The unit has a good mix of size and speed. And now there is depth. Having guys like Sione Pota'e and Danny Shelton and Josh Shirley to rotate in for rest and certain situations is a luxury that the Huskies haven't had. It will wear on Eastern's offensive line. Will it result in sacks for Haoul'i Jamora? Maybe, maybe not. Eastern is in the shotgun a lot and they throw a lot of quick hitting stuff underneath. But the sacks could come when Bo Levi Mitchell tries to throw the fade route to Brandon Kaufman. Believe me, they will try and get the 6-5 Kaufman lined up on the 5-10 Greg Ducre and take advantage of his height. It's a big part of their offense.
Offensively, I'm curious to see how Keith Price reacts as a starting quarterback. What do we really know about Price as a QB. Last year was a pretty small sample size to make any real judgements. It will be interesting to see what Steve Sarkisian does with him in terms of play calling. Does he keep it conservative early to let Price get his confidence? Getting him in a rhythm early would be big.
If Price has any sort of time and delivers the ball with any sort of accuracy, he could have a big day. His receivers are that good. I expect Kasen Williams makes an impact on this game at some point. He's just too good not to. We might even see him on a fly sweep.
Another to thing to watch is the Huskies special teams. It was a focus in fall camp and supposedly it's improved. If that's the case it should show up against Eastern - which won't have the same type of athletes on its special teams units.
So I will take a guess and say the Huskies will win 34-20.