Todd Husak Looks at the Stanford-Washington Game
Sept. 25, 2008
Each week during the season, KTRB 860 AM radio analyst and former Cardinal quarterback Todd Husak will offer insightful analysis and breakdown Stanford keys to victory against its opponent. This week, Todd takes a look at Saturday's Stanford-Washington game in Seattle.
Stanford is looking to go 2-1 in the Pac-10 Conference and they are playing a Washington Huskies team that has its back to the wall and a lot on the line. The Huskies are looking to bounce back from an 0-3 start against the toughest schedule in the country, and this is their chance to get their season back on track. This is a huge momentum game for both teams as a win for Stanford puts the Cardinal halfway to a bowl game, while a loss before a tough stretch in the schedule would be a big setback. Let's analyze how Stanford can get back over .500:
Shut down Jake Locker:
Without a stable of reliable WRs and Louis Rankin to lean on, the Washington offense revolves around Locker and his ability to make plays with his legs. The Stanford front 4 needs to start this game like they finished the SJSU contest, and that means dominate and put pressure on the quarterback. Tom Keiser (who broke out against the Spartans with two late sacks), Erik Lorig and Pannel Egboh need to push back the Husky offensive line and force Locker to make quick decisions in the passing game, which is not his strength.
Open up the passing game:
Coach Harbaugh thinks this is a vulnerable Washington secondary and this is the best chance to get the passing game going. WR Richard Sherman broke out in Husky Stadium two years ago with the biggest game of his college career (6 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown) and the table is set for a similar performance. Doug Baldwin had a big reception last week but couldn't finish in the end zone, TEs Coby Fleener and Austin Gunder have the speed to get down the middle of the field, and Tavita Pritchard will have the opportunity for some long completions.
Keep handing it to Toby Gerhardt:
Toby Gerhart has emerged as one of the most dangerous backs in the conference and he really hit his stride in the second half against San Jose State. If true freshman Delano Howell can get a few carries, his speed and quickness can be the perfect counter to Toby's punishing running style and keep Toby fresh for the fourth quarter when they can use him to grind the defense and put the game away.
Husky Stadium is the second most intimidating venue in the conference (behind Oregon's Autzen Stadium) and Stanford needs to get out to an early lead in order to shut the crowd down. An early start could also crush the hope of a Washington team that doesn't have a lot of confidence and could open things up for a Stanford blowout.