WEEK 1: No. 19 Boise State Broncos vs. Washington Huskies
WHEN: Saturday, August 31, 7:00 PM PT (8:00 PM MT).
WHERE: Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA (72,500)
CONFERENCES: MWC vs. Pac-12
2013 SEASON: Boise State 0-0; Washington 0-0.
COACHES: Boise State head coach Chris Petersen (84-8); Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian (26-25).
TV COVERAGE: FOX Sports 1
WEB STREAMING: Gametracker
RADIO: FOX Sports Radio and XM satellite radio
SERIES RECORD: Boise State is 1-1 against Washington
LAST MEETING: December 22, 2012, MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, NV, Boise State 28, Washington 26.
Boise State would like nothing better than to give Washington a second straight loss. That was the outcome eight month ago when the matchup ended with a close win over the Huskies in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. Boise needs the win on Saturday to keep their top-25 ranking and their hopes alive for a shot at a BCS bowl, while the Huskies are looking for redemption and a win for the fans as they open the 2013 season in newly renovated Husky Stadium.
What to look for when Washington has the ball: Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian has a whole new offensive system to throw at the Broncos this year. Most importantly will be a quick-strike offense taken from the pages of the Oregon playbook. He’s also polished up QB Keith Price, 6-1, 202 lbs, who is expected to mix it up with passes and running. Price's main target is TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, 6-6, 276 lbs, but who broke his finger two weeks ago. The tight end also received a DUI in July and jail time, but Sarkisian is desperate for a win over the Broncos so he is going to start him against Boise State. Look for the Huskies to rely on the running game as well, which could be particularly lethal behind junior RB Bishop Stankey, 5-10, 200 lbs. Stankey rushed for 1,439 yards last year and 205 of those were against Boise State.
So if last year is any barometer on Saturday's game Boise State will have its hands full against Washington. The Broncos’ defense was ranked one the best in the nation in 2012, but only 5 starters return this year to go head to head with the Huskies. On top of that, defensive coordinator Pete Kwaitkowski will be hustling to get in his substitutions in between plays against a no-huddle offense. Luckily he has junior DE Demarcus Lawrence, 6-3, 244 lbs, and senor DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, 6-3, 303 lbs, to shore up the D-line and help stuff the run. Another big plus is a young but talented group of linebackers that fit very well with the 3-4 scheme. In the secondary, junior safety Jeremy Ioane, 5-10, 189 lbs, and sophomore safety Darian Thompson, 6-1, 201 lbs, will be expected to stop any Husky deep threat.
What to look for when Boise State has the ball: the Broncos offense will be using a more streamlined playbook this year and senior QB Joe Southwick, 6-1, 202 lbs has reinforced himself with the details. OC Robert Prince will probably opt to run the ball behind sophomores Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 215 lbs, and Jack Fields, 5-9, 198 lbs, in the hopes that the strategy might slow the pace and allow the Broncos defense to rest.
But given the chance, don’t be surprised to see Southwick throw a deep ball or start opening up the holes if the pass coverage is weak. The word on the field is he will have an offense that is a more improved over last year’s team. Southwick will be looking to throw some of those passes to junior WR Matt Miller, 6-3, 218 lbs. Miller averaged over 11 yards per catch in each of the past two years (1448 yards) and promises to be a standout receiver again this season. Seniors Kirby Moore, 6-3, 206 lbs, and Aaron Burks, 6-3, 215 lbs, along with sophomore Shane Williams-Rhodes, 5-6, 158 lbs, are all going to get some passes thrown at them as well.
The Washington defense is more than capable of handling Southwick and his Broncos. The Husky defensive coordinator is Justin Wilcox, who was the former DC for the Broncos and has some insight into the Broncos play action. So you can expect Washington to mount a vigorous pass rush against Southwick and stop the run. Will it be either/or? Who knows, but the Huskies will want to test the waters to see if they have improved on the pass rush since last season. They will also want to show the Broncos early on they can’t easily penetrate the Washington secondary.
Can Washington hold the Broncos this week at home and hand the Broncos a loss? The bookies in Vegas have the Huskies as a 2.5 point favorite. The Huskies have home field advantage. They also return 17 starters who have had a taste of defeat at the hands of Boise State and they are determined to win this one.
On Saturday it will be up to head coach Chris Petersen and his herd of Broncos to deny the Huskies a victory and prove the odds makers wrong.