Ty-ed and Fried
Since Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw arrived on the Farm, Stanford tight ends salivated at the opportunity to catch one pass after another. In other words, wide receivers need not apply. However, the insertion of Kevin Hogan in the starting lineup altered the mentality for Stanford's offense a bit heading into 2013. Well, more than a wee bit. The main beneficiary of that change is junior WR Ty Montgomery (and Devon Cajuste isn't far behind). Montgomery is averaging five catches a game and can impact the passing game at every level. Against Arizona State, Shaw called a tunnel screen to Montgomery that he turned into an explosive 17-yard touchdown to open the scoring. He also got behind the ASU secondary for a second touchdown later in the game. Consequently, Washington's cornerbacks haven't been challenged this year, but Montgomery and his mates will change that on Saturday.
No. 1 in your program…
With Desmond Trufant collecting checks in Atlanta and former safety Shaq Thompson now at linebacker, you'd have to excuse Washington safety Sean Parker if he felt a bit lonely in the secondary. But, the senior from Los Angeles is handling his business as the Huskies defense is second in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Now, as mentioned above, the Huskies haven't faced a team that can effectively throw the football like Stanford can, which makes the challenge for Parker two fold. In the passing game, Parker's presence in the middle of the field is paramount to keep the Cardinal from hitting deep post routes as they have numerous times this season. However, the Husky defensive front needs Parker to assist in the run game which could make him susceptible to play action over the top. If there's a Husky defender that has a target on his back, it's Parker. Lucky for him, he's ready for the challenge.
The Price Can't be Wrong
After a difficult junior year, one in which Husky QB Keith Price threw 13 interceptions, Price started the 2013 season…with another interception. On the second play of the opening game, Price threw a pick on his very first attempt of the year. Luckily, he's only thrown one interception over his next 111 passes and the Husky offense has excelled since. Sure, RB Bishop Sankey can single-handedly take over the game, but Price is the one who'll take the offense to heights it's never reached or render it completely impotent. The fact is that Washington has as much perimeter player talent as any offense in the nation, but Price is the ultimate fulcrum. He didn't play exceedingly well against a decent Arizona defense, so the question remains whether he can rebound and excel against one of the top defenses in the nation, on the road? For Washington to have a chance to remain undefeated, he must.
Draftbreakdown.com Matchup to watch
Washington RB No. 25 Bishop Sankey vs.
Stanford ILB No. 11 Shayne Skov
Sankey is the nation's leading rusher, averaging 151.8 yards per game but he's also showing his workhorse abilities too. Last week against Arizona, he rolled up 40 carries and looked as if he could've carried it another 15 times that night. But, his biggest asset, his "shake in space" will be tested against a linebacker like Skov, one of the best inside linebacker tacklers in the country. You'll see in the Oregon video below that Skov made one play after another, facing up on ball carriers, making sound one-on-one space tackles. This will be an important, and fun, matchup to watch.
Videos of the Week
2013 vs. Boise State
2013 vs. Illinois
2012 vs. Oregon
Washington Player to Watch
DT No. 71 Danny Shelton
One large man. At 6-1, 327 pounds, Shelton is hard to miss in the middle for the Huskies. He won't push the pocket much rushing the quarterback, but he's difficult to move off his spot. He anchors well and offensive linemen don't push him around. Against a Stanford offensive line that prides itself on winning at the point of attack, Shelton is a major key to the Washington run defense. Arizona State DT Will Sutton didn't have much impact in the first three quarters against Stanford a few weeks ago, but Shelton is a much different, and larger animal, to corral.
Stanford Player to Watch
LG No. 54 David Yankey
Yankey didn't play last week due to family issues that forced him to travel home to Georgia, but he'll be back in the lineup to lock horns with Shelton and company. Yankey has moved up and down the Stanford offensive line over his career, but, for the betterment of the Cardinal, he's best suited to play left guard. He's powerful and aggressive, fits this offense like a glove and drives defenders off the ball. The one-on-one matchup with Shelton will ultimately be the most important one-on-one in this game.
Washington's X Factor
Washington WR Kasen Williams matched up on Stanford's CB down the field.
Stanford's X Factor
The Elephant power package in short yardage situations can lead to breakaway runs
For seven of the past eight quarters, perhaps no team in the country has been as dominant as Stanford. Outside of the fourth quarter against Arizona State, the Cardinal have taken over early in games and announced their presence with authority. A big reason for that dominance is Hogan. Stanford's junior QB has not only stretched the field with vertical throws, but he's made plays out of the pocket when it broke down around him.
Washington, though, is a different animal. Offensively, it's the most diverse unit that Stanford has faced, but then again, many said the same thing about Arizona State. That didn't end well for ASU. Sankey, though, can take over the game and carry the load, as evidenced by his 40 carries last week against Arizona. But, Stanford's front seven is quick, powerful and versatile and Washington hasn't seen anything like it this year. The Huskies will score, but the Cardinal will generate a couple of key turnovers that Hogan and company will turn into points. Revenge will be oh so sweet as Stanford takes over in the second half for a key conference win at home.