The the 20th ranked Broncos (I'm using our higher ranking, sue me) line up this Saturday against traditional power Washington they hope to make a statement about who's the dominant team in the Northwest. Certainly in the last few years, Washington has had their share of woes, and has in many ways gone the opposite direction of the Broncos.
HOWEVER, the Husky Nation has cause for jubilation...it seems their savior has arrived in the seemingly mortal body of Jake Locker. Now, the Vatican wants to see a few more documented miracles before they bestow sainthood upon young Locker—but for the time being...the kid looks like the "real deal". Of course, I am merely having some fun at the expense of some Husky fans that believe that Locker can do everything short of walking on water—he is young, talented and looks to be a good one. I am just not sure if he can singlehandedly win this game for the Huskies.
Boise State comes into the game, virtually at full strength, but are they the same strength as last year? Linebacker Kyle Gingg returns to the field after a fall camp concussion and DE Mike T. Williams should be back from an unspecified leg injury. CB Kyle Wilson suffered a broken hand in the Weber State game but will start against UW. Hopefully Wilson's sure tackling won't be affected as the Huskies' team speed could be a concern around the edges.
Locker was 14 of 19 in his debut against Syracuse...the exact same completion percentage as Taylor Tharp in his debut against Weber. Tharp only played about one half of football though, so it is hard to read too far into this. Similarly, Locker never had to get too "fancy" against the vanilla Syracuse defense. Locker showed in the Syracuse game that he is dangerous with his feet, adding 83 yards rushing to his stats. Locker should have a tougher time rushing the ball against the historically tough BSU defense, but if UW running back Louis Rankin can contribute and get some good runs going, Locker could have some open lanes. I think an option-style attack from the Huskies could be successful against our fairly young D-line and linebackers...then again, it could not be successful as well.
The key to this game will be ball management and turnovers. I think that Boise State's secondary is primed for some interceptions and if Justin Wilcox can cook up some good blitz packages and make Locker throw some rushed throws, Tadmand and the gang will be licking their collective chops.
Ian Johnson will of course be a big factor as well as he sets out to prove to another Pac-10 team that he's for real. Nobody's really thinking that Johnson will match his 240 yard, 5 TD outing that he had against Oregon State last year, but I do think that he can cause major problems for the Husky defense. If Ian can get into their secondary, he will be nearly impossible to stop. With Boise State's excellent O-line...I can see a big day for Johnson and I suspect won't see a whole lot of the passing game unless they start to really place all their efforts on stopping the run.
The unit matchups in this game are intriguing as both teams tend to match strengths to weaknesses. UW's defensive weakness appears to be their secondary, but with a good D-line and inexperience in the Broncos deep threats...this could be neutralized. Of course, the Bronco strength on offense is the O-line and the run game...so something has gotta give here.
I will put the special teams play as a "tie" between the two schools...both have young kickers that need to step up and both appear to have legitimate return men. The Broncos, for one, need to work on their kickoff coverage as several near disasters played out last week.
Here's my bottom line: If Tharp can manage to game, not turn the ball over and not try to match Locker BSU will be fine.
If Johnson can get 25-30 touches and keep his ypc the same as it is AND not turn the ball over, BSU will be fine.
If Boise States' D-line can get some pressure on Locker and the Linebacking corps can take away Jake's "escape routes", BSU will be fine.
BSU has a history of taking a quarter or two to "figure out" strong running QBs and I hope that Wilcox has the boys ready for the dual-threat when they step on the field. Strong tackling, heads up play and aggressiveness will make the Bronco D tough to get through. Locker is not invincible and if the Broncos can force him to make mistakes (or pull his halo down over his eyes) the Dawgs will have to go with other options.
Boise State 32, Washington 20
Posted by Drew at 10:44 AM