Hello Husky fans, Erik Erickson here at Rainy Dawg Radio with a preview of Black Fridays Apple cup matchup featuring the Washington state Cougars and the Washington Huskies. UW comes into the game at 7-4 after a dominating performance in which they beat the Oregon State Beavers 69-27 in Corvallis. In that game the Huskies jumped ahead from the get-go, rushing for a total of 530 yards, and had 3 different running backs break the 100 yard barrier.
The Cougars are riding a two game winning streak into the Apple Cup, coming off a 49-37 win over Utah, which makes them bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. For the first time since 2002, both teams enter the apple cup with a winning record. The huskies have their mind set on redemption after blowing an 18 point deficit a year ago in Pullman. A win would not only take back state bragging rights, it would give the Huskies their 8th crack the last two seasons.
Here are three keys to the game that give the Huskies the best shot at a win on Friday:
1. Start off fast- Many times this season, the Huskies have failed to get play great in the first half, and while they are a strong second half team, their so-so performances to open games has definitely cost them. Last week against Oregon State, the Huskies were able to score on their first drive and never looked back. If the Huskies are able to start of fast in front of the home crowd, the Cougars may never have a chance. If the Huskies start slow much like they did against UCLA, the Cougars may be the ones never looking back.
2. Keep Keith Price Upright- If Keith Price is healthy enough to play on Friday, the Huskies need to make sure he stays healthy. If the offensive line is able to give Price time in the pocket, he should have no problem picking apart a Cougar defense which gives up 31 points per game on average. If Price is being flushed from the pocket and taken down, he may be back on the training table and Cyler Miles may see more action than needed. Not that Cyler Miles isn’t a proven back-up but Keith Price gives the Huskies the best chance to win, and fans would love to see a big time performance from him for his last game at Husky Stadium.
3. Discipline- at this point I sound like a broken record to fans but the Huskies need to win the turnover and penalty battle. Last week the Huskies had zero turnovers and commited just 4 penalties, and they put up 69 points. If the Huskies play a clean game, they are the more talented team, and will give themselves a great chance to take the Apple Cup.
Know that we have gone over the keys to the game lets look at the players to watch in Fridays matchup for the Huskies:
On the offensive side of the ball its 6’3 freshman wide receiver Demore’ea Stringfellow- After a quiet start to the season. Stringfellow emerged against UCLA, catching 8 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. Stringfellow also had a touchdown called back on the phantom hands to the face penalty. After his performance against UCLA,Stringfellow looks to have filled the hole left by the Kasen Williams injury, and will most likely start alongside Williams next season. Against Oregon State, Stringfellow caught just one pass for 9 yards, as the Huskies did the majority of their damage on the ground with backup Cyler Miles getting the start at QB. If Keith Price is good to go, Stringfellow will be a go to target for the dawgs and could be ready for another breakout game against a mediocre Cougar pass defense. The Huskies have plenty of offensive weapons to choose from, but look for Stringfellows name to be called early and often for the Huskies.
On defense the player to watch is cornerback Marcus Peters- Peters finally got the national attention he deserves after putting a stellar performance together against Oregon State. The redshirt sophomore caused three turnovers, two interceptions and one fumble against the Beavers to help the Huskies blow the game wide open. Peters has proven that he can be left on an island against receivers and has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the Pac-12. The Cougars gameplan is no secret, averaging 372 yards in the air per game they will look to pass it and pass it often. With the Cougars hitting the air multiple times, Peters will get plenty of chances to get his hand on a ball and force a turnover.
The Black Friday matchup of the 103rd pretty much locks the Cougars for a bowl game. A win for the Huskies gets the 7 win monkey off their back and makes Steve Sarkisians coaching seat a little cooler. The apple cup looks like it won’t disappoint and all Husky fans should be at the stadium on Friday. Go Dawgs!