Every week, we talk to someone who covers our upcoming opponent. This week, we talked to UW Dawg Pound's Kirk DeGrasse to figure out who is going to play quarterback for the Washington Huskies, who he'd rather see at quarterback for the Arizona Wildcats, and how he thinks the game will go.
1. Jake Browning was out last week, and K.J. Carta-Samuels was forced to start at quarterback from the Huskies. Will Browning be back this week? What do you expect to see out of Washington’s starting quarterback this week (whoever it may be)?
Kirk DeGrasse: Petersen is cagey when it comes to injuries that aren't season-ending, so there's nothing official on his status. However the smoke-signals seem to indicate Browning will be ready to go. If it's Browning, I would expect the Huskies to be more willing to pass the ball - he's ahead of KJCS in the passing game with 6 starts under his belt compared to 1. But there will likely be a greater emphasis on the running game regardless of who's under center given A) the predicted weather (rainy and windy) and B) the run game has been a lot more effective for Washington of late. If KJCS is forced to start, I do expect he'll look more settled - he was easily rattled last week at Stanford and threw early and off his back foot a lot before settling down late in the game. He's also - by FAR - a bigger threat with his legs than Browning.
2. UW is ranked 115th nationally in total offense. That is bad. Arizona is ranked 108th nationally in total defense. That is also bad. Whose badness will prevail? Will UW’s offense be able to take advantage of the Arizona defense?
Kirk DeGrasse: It's a classic good-on-good and bad-on-bad matchup this week. Washington's offense hasn't been terrible all season - they played well against a pretty good Utah State defense - but it's been a lot more of a struggle lately than expected. Washington's overall numbers are dragged down by the fact they are THE slowest paced offense out there this season, a big shift from last year when they were top quartile in pace, and by advanced measures they're better than 115th (though not by a lot). Taking a look at the numbers for the Wildcats, I could see the Husky run game continuing to play reasonably well, and against what has been a really bad pass defense the UW passing game might have their best game since Utah State. But that's not taking into account the weather - that could be a major X-factor.
3. Arizona is in a little bit of a quarterback controversy, and both Anu Solomon and Jerrard Randall will probably see snaps on Saturday. As a Washington fan, who would you rather see playing quarterback for Arizona this week?
Kirk DeGrasse: That's a tough one. Both are certainly capable of directing an explosive offense. I've seen Solomon look awesome, but I've also seen him look shaky. I haven't seen much of Randall, but his rushing numbers are ridiculous. If forced to choose, I guess I'd say I'd rather face Randall as he appears more one-dimensional, though that dimension is a tough one to stop. When Solomon is in the groove and making good decisions with the RPO plays that are such a big part of RichRod's offense, he's very tough to stop.
4. Who on the UW defense do you expect will make the biggest impact on Saturday?
Kirk DeGrasse: Another tough question but for a different reason - there are so many guys across this defense playing at a high level. I could easily go with Elijah Qualls, Travis Feeney or Azeem Victor, but I'll say Budda Baker - his ability to support in the run game against option plays and also ensure no big plays allowed in the passing game could be critical, and since the Huskies are way overdue for generating more turnovers, I think he's a good bet to reverse that trend.
5. What’s your prediction for the game?
Kirk DeGrasse: I think it's going to be a somewhat sloppy affair given the weather predictions with multiple turnovers. While our Field Turf holds up pretty well in wet weather, I can see a few plays where defenders lose their footing allowing a short play to go for big yards. I'm going to go with purple glasses and say that it will be a back-and-forth affair with a lot of momentum swings, but with Washington ultimately coming out on top 27-24, with Washington's slow pace on offense helping to keep the score lower than most think.
Thanks to Kirk for answering our questions this week! You can follow Kirk on Twitter at @KirkDeGrasse, and for everything about this week's game from the Washington perspective, check out UW Dawg Pound!