In a way, the Washington Huskies of this year are similar to last. Head coach Steve Sarkisian is still trucking along, and he has quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey back for a formidable one-two punch. Below the surface, however, there are many differences in 2012 compared to 2013.
Washington is confident, for one. Last year, Price sat behind a poor offensive line and game-by-game was being rocked physically, which led to him being rocked mentally. But he's found him mojo this season, and Sankey has continued to build upon last year's success.
The Huskies gave up 38 sacks last year. Considering Price is a mobile enough guy, that was a lot. Comparatively, the Wildcats only gave up 18 sacks last season.
So with all the problems up front, Washington managed to finish with a 7-6 record, not all that bad considering four of their losses came to ranked teams in LSU, USC, Oregon and Boise State. The other two came against Arizona and rival Washington State.
Sarkisian's crew visited Arizona battered after losing to both Oregon and USC, and Arizona, which seemed refreshed coming off a bye, pummeled the Huskies 52-17. On Tuesday's Pac-12 teleconference call, Sarkisian said Arizona's defense found ways to get Price and Co. off balance.
"They created a couple turnovers," the UW coach said. "I thought they did a nice job up front of trying to create some things to cause us to get out of sync a little bit, and then ultimately they did a good of, when they got the lead ... they built that lead up and kept the ball in front of them and tackled us."
If we must go into a blowout against Idaho State, then we must. The Huskies had by far their easiest game of the year on Saturday, winning 56-0. Washington scored 21 points in the first two quarters, and that was that. But if the Huskies are nitpicking, then they might be worried about having 16 penalties for 130 yards.
Washington wasted little time letting the Pac-12 know they weren't messing around. In the season opener, they drubbed Boise State 38-6 and then beat Illinois at Soldier Field, 34-24, before rolling last week.
Price is back to his old self. He's completed 77 percent of his passes through three games, two of which were against solid defenses. He's thrown seven touchdowns to one interception in an offense that's implemented a faster-paced tempo than last season.
The Huskies are averaging 83.7 plays per game, according to the Seattle Times, which will help both their offensive and defensive units against a similarly fast Arizona attack.
Additionally, the Huskies have given up just three sacks this season -- that's a sack per game for anyone slow with a calculator. The offensive line is also doing well in the run game, as Sankey has piled up 446 yards, four touchdowns and a 7.0 yard-per-carry average thus far.
And if we're to guess a new wrinkle to attack the Wildcats, expect it to come from a familiar name. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has also played hoops for UW, only has eight catches through three games but considering Arizona's trouble stopping tight ends last year, he could see a lot of passes coming his way on Saturday.