1) Washington has the nations’ top passing game led by Penix Jr., what has led to some of the success this season?
I think having Michael Penix back is huge for this Husky offense. He has an even better grasp of the system implemented by Deboer and OC Ryan Grubb, and a full arsenal of talent at his disposal. There are 3 guys who are almost guaranteed draft picks in the NFL at wide receiver (Odunze, Polk and McMillan) and they all have different facets of the game that they excel in. Odunze is strong, fast and athletic and you cannot cover him with just one guy. Ja’Lynn Polk is the deep threat, always liable to turn on the jets to make the DBs miss. Jalen McMillan, although injured right now, is sure handed and runs great routes and is always a threat with the ball in his hands (he can also run and play a little quarterback if they call for it). Outside of that, Germie Bernard, if available, presents more matchup problems, being tall and very athletic. I would also point to the creativity in the play calling by Ryan Grubb, and the unselfish nature of the offense. They don’t care about who scores, they just care about the points. It helps that Michael Penix is perfect for this offense, having an incredible arm and the accuracy to match.
2) What is the vibe of the team and fan base after beating Oregon and now No.5 in the nation?
The vibe is great right now in Husky nation. I can’t speak for everyone, but beating Oregon is a huge boost for my confidence in this team. It was an incredibly emotional win, and one that I’ll remember for a long time. I had no voice for 3 days after the win from screaming so much! It really validates all the feelings that I have had about this team since August that this team has a high ceiling, and more great football in store.
3) ASU is 28.5 point underdogs on the road, what can ASU do to keep this game close?
Arizona State needs to lean on the run game, limit mistakes and have Trenton Bourguet keep his cool in Husky Stadium (a tall task, for sure). If they can do those three things, then they have a chance.
4) Who are key players on offense and defense that ASU fans should know about before Saturday nights match?
I covered a few key players in the first question but that was mainly dealing with the receivers. The Dawgs have found their first running back in Dillon Johnson. Since sitting out Week 2 against Tulsa, he has steadily increased his production and is a reliable option, fitting right in as a power back. Jack Westover is an athletic, do-it-all tight end who is a perfect safety valve for Michael Penix. Jabbar Muhammad is the shutdown corner the Huskies were missing last year, and he proved that against Oregon. Edefuan Ulofoshio is a great physical linebacker who has great burst and tackles really well. Dom Hampton has great instincts and always flies to the ball to make a play. This is an aggressive and improved defense and I think they will make up for their mistakes from last year.
5) What is your game prediction?
This is an interesting situation. Fresh off an emotional win, I can forgive the Huskies if they start slow. But considering that they lost to ASU last year, I have faith that the staff will have prepared them well to seek another home victory. I’m predicting a win, but not against the spread, as the 26.5 point line might be too Herculean a task for these Dawgs.
Give me Washington 42, ASU 24