Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2007 Washington Huskies

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2008


2007 Washington Huskies Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Washington Huskies

Recap: After raising awareness with a 2-0 start and an upset of Boise State, U-Dub proved to be a tease, losing its next six games, and finishing alone in the Pac-10 cellar.  In the end, the Huskies were crushed under the weight of a feeble defense and way too many second-half collapses.  On a positive note, the program did take the wraps off redshirt freshman Jake Locker, who flashed the dual-threat potential to become the best in a solid lineage of Washington quarterbacks.    

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Jake Locker

Defensive Player of the Year: LB E.J. Savannah

Biggest Surprise: While an opening day blowout of Syracuse did little to build a following, Washington opened lots of eyes with a Week 2 defeat of Boise State, snapping the nation’s longest winning streak.  The Huskies were balanced on offense, and stingy on defense, two traits that rarely materialized on the same Saturday. 

Biggest Disappointment: The last two weekends of the season showed you everything you needed to know about the 2007 Huskies.  On Nov. 24, they blew a late lead to rival Washington State, losing the Apple Cup on an Alex Brink touchdown pass with 31 seconds left.  A week later, they opened a 21-point lead on undefeated Hawaii before bowing, 35-28.  Strong starts and weak finishes was the theme of the season for Washington.

Looking Ahead: Washington is going to be a dangerous team as long as Locker is in Seattle, and improving his passing skills.  To get beyond average, however, the Huskies need to surround their messiah with better skill position players and a little help on defense.

- 2007 UW Preview
- 2006 UW Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-8
2007 Record:
4-9

Aug. 31 at Syracuse W 42-12
Sept. 8
Boise State W 24-10
Sept. 15 Ohio State L 33-14
Sept. 22 at UCLA L 44-31
Sept. 29 USC L 27-24
Oct. 13 at Arizona St L 44-20
Oct. 20 Oregon L 55-34
Oct. 27
Arizona L 48-41
Nov. 3 at Stanford W 27-9
Nov. 10 at Oregon St L 29-23
Nov. 17
California W 37-23
Nov. 24 Washington St L 42-35
Dec. 1 at Hawaii L 35-28

Dec. 1
Hawaii 35 ... Washington 28
Down 21 midway through the second quarter, Hawaii scored 28 unanswered points with Ryan Grice-Mullen taking a pass for a five-yard score with 44 seconds to play. Washington had a last shot with two long passes, including a 49-yard play to Marcel Reece, to get down to the Hawaii six, but in the final moments, a Jake Locker pass was bobbled into the hands of Ryan Mouton, who sealed the perfect regular season for the Warriors. Colt Brennan was nearly perfect with four touchdown passes to Jason Rivers to get back in the game after a slow start. Washington scored the first 21 points of the game on two short Luke Kravitz runs and an eight-yard Locker run, but couldn't keep the offense going after the big first quarter.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 42 of 50 passes for 442 yards and five touchdowns. Jason Rivers caught 14 passes for 167 yards and four scores
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 9-17, 142 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Louis Rankin, 21-145. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 3-38
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 42-50, 442 yds, 5 TD
Rushing:
Daniel Libre, 10-82. Receiving: Jason Rivers, 14-167, 4 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While the Ty Willingham era might still need a bit more time, considering the franchise, Jake Locker, needs seasoning, it won't be an easy offseason. Losing the Apple Cup to Washington State is one thing, but blowing a 21-point lead Hawaii doesn't help the cause. The defense needs big-time improving, and the team won't go anywhere unless Locker becomes a more consistent passer, but at the end of the day, considering the schedule, the Huskies were close to having a great year. Five games were decided by seven points or fewer.

Nov. 24
Washington State 42 ... Washington 35
Alex Brink bombed away for 399 yards and five touchdowns with two to Brandon Gibson including a 35-yarder with 31 seconds to play for the win. The Huskies started off with a bang with Louis Ranking returning the opening kickoff for a score, and the fireworks continued throughout with Jake Locker running for two scores and connecting with Marcel Reece for a 63-yard touchdown and the Cougars keeping pace with Brink hitting Devin Frischknecht for touchdowns from 41 and 19 yards out and Joshua Anderson from 28 yards away. A final UW Hail Mary pass was picked off by Alfonso Jackson.
Player of the game: Washington State QB Alex Brink completed 27 of 40 passes for 399 yards and five touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Washington State - Passing: Alex Brink, 27-40, 399 yds, 5 TD
Rushing: Chris Ivory, 14-114, 1 TD. Receiving: Brandon Gibson, 6-137, 2 TD
Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 13-35, 224 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Jake Locker, 14-103, 2 TD. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 5-101
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Washington secondary has hit the skids over the last few weeks getting picked apart by Cal's Nate Longshore and now Washington State's Alex Brink. That's not a good sign going into the date with Hawaii. Jake Locker was solid and the running game was fine, but to have any shot against the Warriors, the defense will have to do a better job of getting to Colt Brennan than it did this week.

Nov. 17
Washington 37 ... California 23
Washington ran for 334 yards with Louis Ranking cranking out 224 with a five-yard touchdown. The Bears appeared to take control with three first half Nate Longshore touchdown passes, but the Huskies rallied with a 12-yard Marcel Reece scoring grab with 12 seconds to play after getting a short field following a fumble. And then the UW running game took over as it hung on to the ball for close to 20 minutes in the second half with the scoring coming from three Ryan Perkins field goals. In the loss, Thomas DeCoud made 16 tackles for the Bears.
Player of the game: Washington RB Louis Rankin ran 21 times for 224 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: California - Passing: Nate Longshore, 20-28, 236 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Justin Forsett, 22-141. Receiving: Lavelle Hawkins, 6-58
Washington - Passing: Carl Bonnell, 7-19, 108 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Louis Rankin, 21-224, 1 TD. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 3-26
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Huskies did a tremendous job of overcoming the loss of Jake Locker by plowing their way over California. This was a manhood game with UW beating the Bears up on the interior and controlling the game in the second half. While it's obviously not a plus to lose Locker, everyone else stepped up their play now that more were able to get involved. Yes, Washington has other players who can produce. The season might have been dying, but with a win in the Apple Cup against Washington State, and potentially ruining Hawaii's dream year, could end things on a huge high note with a world of excitement for 2008.

Nov. 10
Oregon State 29 ... Washington 23
In a strange, scary game, Oregon State got five field goals from Alexis Serna and a blocked punt return for a score on the way to a 26-10 lead. But Washington, who saw star QB Jake Locker get taken off the field on an ambulance, but was later released from the hospital, roared back as Carl Bonnell bombed away with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Russo and a 86-yard play to Cody Ellis to pull within six. That would be as close as the Dawgs would get with a final drive halted by an misfire on the OSU 29. UW converted just one of 14 third down chances, and none of its four fourth down attempts.
Player of the game: Oregon State PK Alexis Serna connected on field goals from 51, 34, 43, 30 and 28 yards out
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Lyle Moevao, 10-22, 109 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 36-149. Receiving: Yvenson Bernard, 3-26
Washington - Passing: Carl Bonnell, 10-25, 233 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Louis Rankin, 20-60. Receiving:
Anthony Russo, 4-83, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Fortunately, Jake Locker appears to be fine after suffering a scary hit against Oregon State. Now it's up to Carl Bonnell to get the offense moving, and while he did a good job coming up with big yards against the Beavers, he struggled to keep the chains moving. Louis Rankin and the running game need to contribute more, and more big plays from the defense would be a big help to bust out of an ugly season. With home games against Cal and Washington State up next, this is a vital two-week stretch in the Ty Willingham era. He should be safe with a young team that's expected to come back strong next year, but his team needs to show a sign of life.

Nov 3

Washington 27 ... Stanford 9
Washington tore off 388 rushing yards and held on to the ball for 35:46, but it needed a bit fourth quarter with Louis Rankin running for a one-yard score and Jake Locker sealing things with a seven-yard scoring run with :21 to play. Locker also ran for a 17-yard touchdown to start the scoring, but it was Rankin's day with 255 rushing yards. Stanford stayed alive with a one-yard Tyrone McGraw touchdown run making it a four point game late in the third, but that was as close the Cardinal would get. Ryan Perkins added two field goals for the Huskies.
Player of the game: Washington RB Louis Rankin ran 36 times for 255 yards and a score, and caught two passes for 11 yards.
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 16-32, 151 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Louis Rankin, 36-255, 1 TD. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 5-71
Stanford - Passing: T.C. Ostrander, 16-28, 133 yds
Rushing:
Tyrone McGraw, 11-89, 1 TD. Receiving: Tyrone McGraw, 4-36

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The team can breathe a temporary sigh of relief; it got a win for the first time since early September. The 1-2 rushing punch of Louis Rankin and Jake Locker was too much for Stanford, and now the ground game has to control the momentum and the clock as long as possible against Oregon State and Cal over the next few weeks. Now the Huskies have to find more explosion. The passing game isn't there to hit home runs, so the big plays have to come from the running game.

Oct. 27
Arizona 48 .. Washington 41
Willie Tuitama bombed away for 510 yards and five touchdowns including three scoring passes to Mike Thomas, connecting from 66, two, and 27 yards out. The first touchdown pass started off the scoring, while the last two tied it, and then gave the Wildcats the lead in a wild fourth quarter. Down 41-26, Tuitama threw a 33-yard touchdown pass To Terrell Turner, and then UW started to screw up. Jake Locker, who had a huge game with 336 passing yards and 157 on the ground, lost a fumble leading to the second Thomas score. After Arizona took the lead with just over two minutes to play, Washington got to the Wildcat 42 before Locker was picked off by Antoine Cason. The two teams combined for 1,107 total yards.
Player of the game: Arizona QB Willie Tuitama completed 38 of 51 passes for 510 yards and five touchdowns with an interception, and ran five times for seven yards
Stat Leaders: Arizona - Passing: Willie Tuitama, 38-51, 510 yds, 5 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Nicholas Grigsby, 13-24. Receiving: Michael Thomas, 10-165, 3 TD
Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 17-30, 336 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Jake Locker, 23-157 yds, 2 TD. Receiving: Marcel Reese, 5-166, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Husky defense couldn't handle the run over a two-game span, and then it couldn't come close to slowing down Willie Tuitama and Arizona's passing game. Worse yet, a brilliant day from Jake Locker, in what might have been his breakout performance, was spoiled by five turnovers, three coming from Locker. Now the season has crashed and burned with six straight loss and road trips to Stanford and Oregon State ahead. The key will be for the young team, especially Locker, to improve each week.

Oct. 20
Oregon 55 ... Washington 34
The score was tied at 31 late in the third quarter when Washington QB Jake Locker threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game on a 38-yard play to Marcel Reese. And then the roof caved in, as the Ducks outscored the Huskies 24-3 helped by a 13-yard Dennis Dixon touchdown runs along with short scoring dashes from Matt Evenson and Remene Alston. Locker bombed away, highlighted by an 83-yard scoring pass to Anthony Russo, but the defense couldn't handle Jonathan Stewart and the Duck ground game that ran for 465 yards. Andrew Crenshaw, who ran for 113 yards, and Stewart each ran for two touchdowns as part of Oregon's six scoring runs. In all. Oregon cranked out 661 yards of total offense, while Washington amassed 421.
Player of the game: Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart ran 32 times for 251 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 20 yards
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 12-31, 257 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jake Locker, 13-78. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 5-127, 1 TD
Oregon - Passing: Dennis Dixon, 19-30, 196 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Jonathan Stewart, 32-251, 2 TD. Receiving: Jaison Williams, 5-60

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... For the second straight week, the run defense was pounded on. Oregon's offense is blasting past everyone, and Washington was able to stand toe-for-toe for three quarters, but once the Ducks started to pull away, the Huskies didn't have an answer. Jake Locker threw for big yards and four scores on only 12 completions, but he's still having major accuracy problems, and it's killing drives. Against Arizona next week, the key will be consistency. UW is the better team, and is at home, and now it has to play like it to try to save the season.

Oct. 13
Arizona State 44 ... Washington 20
It took ASU about a half to get going, but it came out of the locker room rolling with 21 straight points on a 21-yard pass play to Rudy Burgess, and 57-yard Dimitri Nance touchdown run, and a 76-yard Keegan Herring scoring dash. Washington's offense didn't have an answer, only getting a 31-yard Ryan Perkins field goal in the second half, while ASU tacked on another ten points highlighted by a 35-yard Troy Nolan interception return for a score. ASU outgained Washington 523 yards to 288.
Player of the game: Arizona State RB Keegan Herring ran ten times for 119 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Arizona State - Passing: Rudy Carpenter, 20-31, 227 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Keegan Herring, 10-119, 1 TD. Receiving: Chris McGaha, 5-73
Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 10-28, 142 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Louis Rankin, 11-80. Receiving: M
arcel Reece, 2-45, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Eventually, Jake Locker is going to have to start throwing better. While he's dangerous running the ball, he hasn't been nearly as accurate as he needs to be against the better teams. Against Arizona State, he needed to be able to keep the chains moving, and he couldn't do it, especially in the fourth quarter as ASU held on to the ball for 10:41. The defense can only hold up for so long, and against Oregon next week, the offense will have to figure out how to keep pace in a firefight. Either Locker will have to start bombing away, or he'll have to start completing more than 60% of his throws.

Sept. 29

USC 27 ... Washington 24
USC overcame its many mistakes and inefficient offense to hold on late. John David Booty hit Patrick Turner with a 23-yard touchdown pass, and Stafon Johnson and Chauncey Washington each ran for short touchdowns on the way to a 24-14 lead. In the fourth quarter, Washington got a field goal, and almost turned the momentum completely around with an interception in the end zone that was correctly ruled incomplete on replay. USC kicked the field goal, and then survived a blocked punt and Jake Locker's second rushing touchdown of the day by recovering an onside kick to close it out. The Huskies stayed alive with a Mesphin Forrester interception return for a score in the second quarter to tie it at 14, but the offense was outgained 460 yards to 190.
Player of the game ... USC LB Rey Maualuga made ten tackles with a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 13-28, 90 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jake Locker, 18-50, 2 TD  Receiving: Marcel Reece, 4-15
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 20-37, 236 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Stafon Johnson, 14-122, 1 TD   Receiving: Patrick Turner, 6-87, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Jake Locker needs help. He's such a great talent that it's easy to revolve everything around him, but Washington needs to get other weapons involved to get more offense going against the better teams. Louis Rankin hasn't been a forgotten man, but he was quickly abandoned from the overall game plan with just 12 touches. That means the running game became Locker, Locker, Locker. The team didn't show any quit against USC, and the defense played a gutty effort, but now things are starting to slip. This is the brutal part of the schedule with Arizona State and Oregon up next, so the team has to keep fighting, even if the results aren't there. This hasn't been easy in the past few years.

Sept. 22
UCLA 44 ... Washington 31
In a game of big plays, UCLA came up with a few more. In a wild second half, UCLA's Dennis Keyes took an Jake Locker pass 60 yards for a 24-10 lead on the way to a seemingly easy fourth quarter, but the Huskies started off the fourth quarter by turning an interception into a 20-yard Anthony Russo touchdown. Just when it seemed like UW was about to take over the momentum, UCLA got it back as Chris Markey tore off a 72-yard touchdown run. But the Huskies would respond with a 63-yard Russo score to pull within seven. Again, it seemed like UW was about to make a big move, but on the ensuing kickoff, Matt Slater took it 85 yards for a score. Kai Forbath hit two late field goals, and the Bruins weren't threatened again.
Player of the game: UCLA RB Chris Markey ran 14 times for 193 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for five yards.
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 17-36, 216 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Jake Locker, 15-92. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 5-106, 2 TD
UCLA - Passing: Patrick Cowan, 17-30, 147 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Chris Markey, 14-193, 1 TD. Receiving: Dominique Johnson, 5-32, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Huskies have playmakers on both sides of the ball, and a ton of promise at the offensive skill spots, but for the second week in a row, the defense struggles in the second half and couldn't stop the big plays. Jake Locker showed once again what a talent he is, and just how dangerous a runner he is in the open field, but the attack needs to be more consistent and all the parts need to be working to beat a team like UCLA. However, it'll have to get ready to bomb away with USC coming to town this week. The Husky D line won't be able to handle the Trojan running game.

Sept. 15
Ohio State 33 ... Washington 14
In a dogfight early on, Ohio State's defense put the clamps down on Washington in the second half, while the offense used the big play and the running game to blow past the Huskies. Down 7-3 after halftime, the Buckeyes struck on a 68-yard Brian Robiskie touchdown catch to spark a 24-point run. Chris Wells ran for a 14-yard touchdown, and Brian Hartline caught a 36-yard touchdown pass. Washington got the first touchdown on a 23-yard Anthony Russo catch with just three seconds to play in the first half, but didn't get back into the end zone until Louis Rankin got in from two yards out in the final minute. OSU's Brandon Saine tore off a 37-yard touchdown run with no time left.
Player of the game: Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis had eight tackles, two interceptions and a sack.
Stat Leaders: Ohio State - Passing: Todd Boeckman, 14-25, 218 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing: Chris Wells, 24-135, 1 TD. Receiving: Brian Hartline, 6-88, 1 TD
Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 16-33, 153 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing:
Jake Locker, 14-102. Receiving: Marcel Reece, 5-66
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While the loss to Ohio State might be tremendously disappointing, it's still important to remember that this is a young team, and Jake Locker will have to take a few lumps along the way. The defense was tremendous for a half, but Ohio State got the plays it needed to early in the second half, and the lines did a tremendous job. Four turnovers weren't going to help matters, but if the mistakes are kept to a minimum, and if the run defense plays better, the Huskies appear to be strong enough to beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl next week. The loss to Ohio State won't matter much if the Dawgs are 1-0 in the Pac 10 before hosting USC.

Sept. 8
Washington 24 .. Boise State 10
Washington ended Boise State's 14-game winning streak as Jake Locker ran for a six-yard score and connected with Marcel Reece for a 58-yard touchdowns. The Huskies took a 14-0 lead when RB Louis Rankin hit Quintin Demps for a 16-yard score, but Boise State responded :20 later with a one-yard Taylor Tharp scoring run. The Broncos wouldn't get in the end zone again, and neither team was able to score in the second half. BSU RB Ian Johnson's streak of seven straight 100-yard games was halted as he was held to 81 yards.
Player of the game: Washington QB Jake Locker finished 13-of-25 for 193 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while rushing 16 times for 84 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Boise State
- Passing: Taylor Tharp, 29-47, 285 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: Ian Johnson, 20-81. Receiving: Jeremy Childs, 9-94
Washington
- Passing: Jake Locker, 13-25, 193 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jake Locker, 16-84, 1 TD. Receiving: Marcel Reece, 4-102, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Washington might not have been perfect against Boise State, but after getting the program's first win over a ranked team since 2003, there's not much room for complaining. Jake Locker will get all the national exposure as a dangerous dual threat playmaker, but this was a game for the defense. The defensive front held up extremely well against a good Bronco offensive line, and was able to generate decent pressure throughout. Now comes the big chance to make a national statement with Ohio State coming to town. Locker will need to use all the weapons around him against the Buckeye defense.

Aug. 31
Washington 42 ... Syracuse 12
Washington's Louis Rankin tore off touchdown runs from 13, 47 and 20 yards out and Jake Locker added scoring dashes from one and eight yards on the way to a stunning blowout. Syracuse managed two 42-yard Patrick Shadle field goals in the first half and got a ten-yard Mike Williams scoring grab late in the fourth, but the run defense couldn't handle the Huskies, who outgained the Orange 302 yards to eight on the ground.
Player of the game: Washington RB Louis Rankin ran 17 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns and caught two passes for ten yards
Stat Leaders: Syracuse - Passing: Andrew Robinson 20-32, 199 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Derrell Smith, 5-19. Receiving: Taj Smith, 5-33
Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 14-19, 142 yds
Rushing:
Louis Rankin, 17-147, 3 TD. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 5-49
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Could you have asked for a better first game performance from Jake Locker? He was efficient, if not spectacular, against Syracuse with his passing, and ran the ball extremely well with 83 yards and two scores. But this game was for the offensive line that pushed the Orange around all game long and opened up the needed holes for Louis Rankin and the running attack to work. With nasty games against Boise State, Ohio State, UCLA and USC ahead, this was the exact sort of confidence builder that Ty Willingham's bunch needed.

Aug. 31 – at
Syracuse
Offense: The pieces are there among the skill players for a night-and-day improvement from last year’s putrid attack that cranked out a mere 264 yards and 17.4 points per game. The receiving cops, helped by the return of Taj Smith from injury, should be one of the best in the Big East, while Curtis Brinkley is a good back to work around. Sophomore QB Andrew Robinson is a star in the making, but he’ll have a hard time with his consistency behind an offensive line that needs work even with three starters returning in the interior.
Defense: It might take a little while, but the D will improve as the season goes on, it struggled in every area but getting into the backfield, and with a strong defensive line returning, led be end Jameel McClain, generating pressure won’t be much of a problem. The linebacking corps will be a work in progress with three news starters, but the excellent safety tandem of Dowayne Davis and Joe Fields should clean up plenty of messes.


Sept. 8 - Boise State
Offense: As the Fiesta Bowl showed, there isn't a more creative offensive coaching staff in the country, but the attack, led by a Heisman caliber back in Ian Johnson working behind a tremendous line, could look positively vanilla (by Boise State standards) early on. Ryan Clady leads a dominant front five with four starters returning, and they'll need to be even stronger in pass protection with the quarterback situation unsettled. Taylor Tharp is a good, accurate passer, while Bush Hamdan is a big-armed runner who'll throw it all over the place. The receiving corps has potential, but the top four pass catchers have to be replaced. Even so, look for several different formations and several different looks from game to game.
Defense: As expected, the defense was the best in the WAC last year and should be fantastic again with seven starters returning. Stopping the run will be goal one, and it can be with a fantastic returning pass defense. The secondary will be great with safety Marty Tadman and the corner tandem of Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson returning, while the linebacking corps, even with the loss of Korey Hall, will be a strength with Derrell Acrey expected to step up and star, with veterans Kyle Gingg and David Shields keeping the run defense strong. Mike Williams and Nick Schlekeway form a good end tandem, but the tackles will be the team's biggest question mark outside of the quarterback situation.

Sept. 15 - Ohio State
Offense: You don't get better after losing Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Antonio Pittman, and, oh yeah, some quarterback who won a Heisman and owned Michigan. While many will predict doom and gloom, the offense might crank out close to as many yards as last year when it was 26th in the nation as long as Chris Wells holds up and becomes the running back everyone's expecting him to be, and new starting quarterback Todd Boeckman is merely above average. The receiving corps is talented, but untested, while there's plenty of reason to be excited about a line that'll field one of the best starting fives in the nation. Tackles Alex Boone and Kirk Barton and guard Steve Rehring will be first day draft picks. Welcome back to Tressel ball with more running and fewer shots taken down the field.
Defense: A question mark last year thanks to a ton of turnover, the defense reloaded and should be fantastic as long as the tackles and safeties shine and a second corner emerges on the other side of Malcolm Jenkins. There are stars to build around, with Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis and end Vernon Gholston among the best in the country, while there are emerging stars, as always around OSU, in like linebackers Larry Grant and Ross Homan and end Lawrence Wilson. Don't expect too many bells and whistles; this D will beat teams by simply being far more athletic.

Sept. 22 – at UCLA
Offense: Tired of his feeble offense and conservative play calling, Karl Dorrell is turning the unit over to Jay Norvell, a Nebraska import who’ll be calling plays for the first time in his career.  With him comes an up tempo version of the West Coast offense that’ll be rooted in high percentage passes and the occasional use of the shotgun.  Norvell’s triggerman will be lefty Ben Olson, who’s held off the challenge of Patrick Cowan, and is still waiting for a breakthrough season five years after being a ballyhooed BYU recruit.  Although 12 players with extensive starting experience return, only guard Shannon Tevaga and running back Chris Markey can be considered bona fide threats for all-league honors.  To help get Olson where he needs to be, a playmaker or two needs to emerge among a pedestrian receiving corps.
Defense: Kudos to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who did the improbable in 2006 by whipping a sorry Bruin defense into shape.  Ten starters are back from that unit, which finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 in total defense and tops against the run.  One All-American rush end, Justin Hickman, has departed, but one, Bruce Davis, returns to wreak havoc on league quarterbacks.  Although the linebackers look nothing like the ones across town at USC, they’re fast, instinctive and a nice fit for Walker’s defense.  Middle linebacker Christian Taylor is the definition of a hard-working college athlete that makes a ton of plays, but likely won’t be wearing pads beyond 2007.  The secondary is an enigma that’s loaded with returning talent, yet still vulnerable through the air.  Strong safety Chris Horton laid the groundwork last year for what should be a terrific final season at UCLA.

Sept. 29 - USC
Offense: Does anyone in the country reload faster than the Trojans?  While there’ll be new faces on the line, at wide receiver, and at offensive coordinator, the high-powered results that have become commonplace in the Pete Carroll era aren’t about to change.  Of course, it helps to have at the controls strong-armed senior John David Booty, one of the early favorites to add a fourth Heisman Trophy to Heritage Hall in the last six years.  He’ll be surrounded by an absolutely decadent amount of skill position talent, but most of the receivers lack experience at this level.  In this case, talent will overcome inexperience in a rout.  At 6-5 and 220 pounds, junior receiver Patrick Turner has the imposing size and sticky fingers to conjure up images of Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett, and have a breakout year.  Although the line is going to miss the presence of center Ryan Kalil, returning two-time All-American Sam Baker to protect Booty’s blindside will help cushion the blow.    
Defense: The Trojan offense is good.  The Trojan defense is scary good.  Backed by a Who’s Who of future first-day NFL Draft choices, USC is ready to unleash the nastiest and stingiest unit of the Pete Carroll era.  Led by Sedrick Ellis at the nose, Keith Rivers at middle linebacker, and Terrell Thomas at cornerback, the Trojans boast seven players capable of making a run at All-America honors in 2007.  Yeah, a few more sacks and takeaways would be nice, but this is as close to a flawless unit that there is in the country.  From front to back, they’re aggressive, experienced and fast enough to create a swarming effect on the ball carrier.  Although the Trojans will give up yards to teams playing from behind, scoring meaningful points on them in the first three quarters is going to be a year-long nightmare.   

Oct. 13 – at Arizona State
Offense: Arizona State really wasn’t Arizona State in 2006, but with ten starters returning, there’s reason to believe that the Sun Devils will score in bunches this year.  Dennis Erickson brings a balanced and unpredictable system that’ll use multiple formations and plenty of shotgun, yet still lean heavily on the running game.  The success of the unit hinges on the play of quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who looked destined for stardom as a freshman before suffering through a humbling sophomore season marked by turnovers and lapses in confidence.  His supporting cast is headed by Ryan Torain, one of the nation’s best backs that no one outside the Pac-10 has seen.  With six seasoned linemen back, he’s destined to become the first Sun Devil in over 30 years to go for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.  Although Carpenter’s receivers did nothing to help him out of his slump in 2006, they’re now awash with the kind of speed and playmaking potential that’s customary in Tempe.       
Defense: Six starters return to a defense that improved in 2006, yet still allowed more than 40 points in four of the final ten games.  The Sun Devils will continue to run out of a 4-3 base while asking their linebackers and safeties to freelance and make plays all over the field.  There are building blocks—and question marks—at each unit heading into 2007.  Tackle Michael Marquardt and Dexter Davis have all-league potential, but both are going to need support from a couple of new starters.  Although the linebackers have considerable upside, the man in the middle, Morris Wooten, is a first-year player.  And while safety Josh Barrett and corner Justin Tryon will play on Sundays, the pass defense is in deep trouble if the other cornerback gets routinely exposed.  The net result?  A nice collection of talent that’ll still allow plenty of yards to the Pac-10’s finer-tuned offenses.                                    

Oct. 20 - Oregon
Offense: As usual, Oregon gobbled up a ton of yards in 2006, but lacked efficiency most of the year and imploded under the weight of its turnovers in the second half of the season.  So when offensive coordinator Gary Crowton left for LSU, Mike Bellotti turned to New Hampshire’s Chip Kelly to get the offense back on course.  A spread offense guru, Kelly will have a few new bells and whistles in his toolbox, including greater use of the no-huddle and increased reliance on superstar back Jonathan Stewart.  The key for the offense, and probably the entire team, will be the development of senior quarterback Dennis Dixon, who became the poster boy for the Ducks’ collapse late last year.  He’ll get adequate protection from Max Unger and the boys up front, but needs more consistency from a receiving corps that misplayed too many balls in 2006. 
Defense: Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti isn’t shy about bringing pressure with his wave of good athletes, and now has a couple of quality corners to marginalize the risk of selling out.  Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond, Freshman All-Americans in 2006, join standout rover Patrick Chung to give the Ducks their feistiest secondary in years.  The front seven, however, is far less stable.  After finishing ninth in the Pac-10 in run defense, Oregon needs to shore up the middle of its defense and develop an end or two that can consistently create pressure.  Redshirt freshman Brandon Bair is one possibility that has the staff cautiously excited about the defensive end spot.  In a league filled with strong-armed hurlers, that promising secondary will pay the price if opposing passers are given too much time to throw.   

Oct. 27 - Arizona
Offense: After averaging a 100th place finish in total offense over the last three years, Mike Stoops has handed the unit off to former Texas Tech coordinator Sonny Dykes.  Dykes has learned from the likes of Mike Leach and Hal Mumme over the last decade, so expect to see a rejuvenated Willie Tuitama in the shotgun, putting the ball up a ton more than last season.  The Wildcats’ quest to stretch defenses vertically and horizontally in the spread offense will hinge on their ability to develop dependable receivers other than junior Mike Thomas.  The beleaguered offensive line is a year older, intact and poised to benefit from a system that forces the quarterback to make quick passes and even quicker decisions.  Sophomore Eben Britton is on the brink of becoming a prodigy at right tackle.
Defense: With the return of ten starters and an all-star caliber player at each unit, Arizona should be even stingier than 2006, when it led the Pac-10 in turnover margin and allowed fewer than 20 points a game.  The headliner once again will be senior Antoine Cason, one of the smoothest corners in America and a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award.  Led by underrated senior Spencer Larsen, the linebackers are a no-name crew that just goes out and makes a bunch of tackles every Saturday.  The onus for jump starting the pass rush falls squarely on the shoulders of senior Louis Holmes, a massive talent that underachieved in his first season out of junior college. 

Nov. 3 – at Stanford
Offense: Jim Harbaugh wants to attack defenses with an up tempo offense that’ll feature lots of pre-snap motion and a ball control element that harkens back to the Bill Walsh days of the West Coast offense.  It worked swimmingly at the University of San Diego for the past couple of years, but this is Stanford where ten points and less than 250 yards a game was the norm last year.  The Cardinal is experienced everywhere and pretty deep at the skill positions, but none of that will matter unless the offensive line does a complete 180 off last year’s atrocious performance. 
Defense: New defensive coordinator Scott Shafer is scrapping the 3-4 this year in favor of an attacking 4-3 that is designed to create more turnovers and more plays for negative yards.  The Cardinal is open to suggestions after finishing last in the Pac-10 in just about every defensive category in 2006.  There are holes, to be sure, but Shafer will also inherit some exciting young talent at each unit, such as sophomore tackle Ekom Udofia, sophomore linebacker Clinton Snyder and junior cornerback Wopamo Osaisai.  Above all else, the defense has to find some answers against the run after being humiliated for more than 2,500 yards and nearly five yards a carry a year ago. 

Nov. 10 – at Oregon State
Offense: While the Beavers regularly skip using a fullback in favor of a third receiver, they’re a balanced offense that’ll run it as much as they throw.  When you’ve got a back as talented as senior Yvenson Bernard, that’s called using your resources wisely.  Bernard has run for more than 1,300 yards in each of the last two seasons behind a nasty, no-nonsense line that welcomes back all but one starter.  Senior split end Sammie Stroughter is an open field dynamo coming off a monster season in 2006.  What he can do for an encore depends in large part on how well one of two sophomore quarterbacks adapts to a full-time gig.  Hard-throwing lefty Sean Canfield is the acknowledged favorite to supplant Matt Moore, but Lyle Moevao sent a message this spring that he won’t go away quietly.             
Defense: Much of the unit that led the Pac-10 in takeaways and sacks is back in Corvallis for 2007.  The front seven, in particular, is rock solid and made up entirely of seniors.  The best of the bunch is outside linebacker Derrick Doggett, who has the range and long stride to literally make plays anywhere on the field.  After bagging a team-high nine sacks as a reserve in 2006, end Dorian Smith is a sleeper with a chance to shed his anonymity this fall.  Whether the Beaver D can get from really good to impervious in 2007 depends on the development of a suspect secondary that allowed 223 yards a game a year ago.  Junior corners Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes are moving in the right direction, but you don’t get better by losing long-time patrolman Sabby Piscitelli.                                     

Nov. 17 - California
Offense: With Jeff Tedford at the controls, this is basically a pro-style offense that mixes the run and the pass evenly, and puts up points as quickly as any program in the country.  The head coach will be calling plays again after a one-year hiatus, meaning trick plays will be more frequent than a year ago.  The job of distributing the ball to an array of speedy skill position players belongs to quarterback Nate Longshore, a strong-armed junior that threw 24 touchdown passes in 2006 and a few too many picks.  Although he has plenty of receivers to choose from, none is more lethal than DeSean Jackson, a field-stretcher and legit Heisman candidate.  Super sub Justin Forsett takes over for Marshawn Lynch at running back, where he’ll be running behind an outstanding veteran line.  Center Alex Mack is on the All-American doorstep after earning first team All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore.
Defense: There’s plenty of work to be done for a Cal defense that begins a new era without its signature all-conference player at each of the three defensive units.  Outstanding recruiting by Jeff Tedford and his staff in recent years ensures that the cupboard is far from empty, but there’ll be a learning curve early on in 2007.  Of greatest concern is a pass defense that gets modest support up front and will be relying on a slew of green cornerbacks.  Sophomore Syd’Quan Thompson and redshirt freshman Darian Hagan look the part, but need to deliver once Pac-10 plays begins.  Junior Zack Follett is the budding star of a linebacker unit that has the potential to be the next best thing to USC in the conference.      

Nov. 24 - Washington State
Offense: Washington State won’t abandon the run by any means, but this is an offense that’s traditionally wide-open and run out of three-wide sets.  The engineer of the attack will be fourth-year starting quarterback Alex Brink, who enters his senior season with a real nice complement of receivers, led by all-Pac-10 candidates Brandon Gibson and Michael Bumpus.  Although the offensive line welcomes back four players that started games a year ago, both tackles will be new, a big concern heading into the season.  If they’re overmatched, the ripple effect will reverberate throughout the entire offense.          
Defense: Expect some subtle changes as head coach Bill Doba steps in to coordinate the defense in 2007.  He’d like to utilize more man coverages and blitz packages, both of which could be suicide for a secondary that’s been gutted by graduations and is in dire need of a couple of reliable cornerbacks.  The Cougars are going to give up plenty of yards and points, but if they can create turnovers and sack the quarterback, like last year, there’s hope that the breakdowns can be managed.  The defense is loaded with big, agile bodies up front, but there’s a catch—serious injuries are mounting and could bleed into the start of the season.  While there’s no quick fix for the pass defense, junior college transfer Terry Mixon has the potential to be a star from the moment he steps foot in Pullman.

Dec. 1 – at Hawaii
Offense: Everything worked last year as Colt Brennan and the offense exploded for a nation-leading 559 yards and 46.86 points per game. While Brennan is back, after flirting with the idea of turning pro early, along with star receivers Davone Bess, Jason Rivers and Ryan Grice-Mullen, the line isn't remotely as good as last year's and the running game will desperately miss Nate Ilaoa. David Farmer has to add the run to the run and shoot, or else Brennan won't be nearly as effective. Even so, expect video game numbers out of the nation's best passing attack.
Defense:
With defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville gone, Greg McMackin will change the D from a 3-4 to a 4-3, even though the one weak spot, at least early on, is experience on the line. The linebackers will be excellent with good depth behind top tacklers Adam Leonard and Solomon Elimimian, and they won't have to do  as much compared to last year with a more conservative, though not that much, overall defensive approach. Three starters return to a secondary that needs to be far tighter and far more clutch in big situations.



Related Stories
Ask Coach Baird
 -by Dawgman.com  Jan 22, 2008
Trip Report - Paipai Falemalu
 -by Dawgman.com  Jan 20, 2008
The BLITZ
 -by FOXSportsRecruiting.com  Jan 22, 2008








Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Washington
[View My HotList]