Washington also has the John Mackey Award winner for the No. 1 tight end in the country, and that's Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He racked up frankly paltry numbers compared to his sophomore season, but that had more to do with Sark going to the run game more and the tight ends much less this year. He's still a huge weapon in the passing game and has really improved his ability as a blocker on the end.
The Huskies also have a number of receivers they've had to rely on in Kasen Williams' absence. The star wide-out is out for the rest of the year after getting tangled up with Cal's Kameron Jackson and coming down awkwardly on his foot and ankle. Jaydon Mickens, Kevin Smith, John Ross and freshman Damore'ea Stringfellow are the ones to watch when Price goes back to pass.
4. Same question on defense. What are the strengths and what type of defense do the Huskies run?
RESPONSE — Justin Wilcox has been nothing short of a miracle worker in his two years after taking over from Nick Holt. His defensive numbers immediately went from the 100's nationally to the 30's in both rush and pass defense. He runs multiple fronts and doesn't blitz a ton, relying on a four- or five-man rush and great secondary coverage to do damage. Wilcox assembled a young, talented group of assistants, but two of them — LB coach Peter Sirmon and DB coach Keith Heyward — are already with Steve Sarkisian at USC. So that means some graduate assistants are filling in. We haven't been given access to them, so we don't know that much about what's going on, but in talking to the players they sound like everything is business as usual.
Up front the difference-makers are Danny Shelton on the inside — a Star Loutulelei type, and Hauoli Kikaha (formerly Jamora) outside. Kikaha came back from two knee surgeries to second-team All-Pac-12 honors. The linebackers are a talented bunch, and they fly around. Junior MLB John Timu is a team captain, while he's typically flanked by sophomores Travis Feeney and Shaq Thompson. Thompson was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 pick. The secondary is talented and experienced, including three senior starters. Both safeties — Sean Parker and Will Shamburger — are seniors, as is corner Greg Ducre. The other corner is Second Team All-Pac-12 pick Marcus Peters, who many are touting as the next great Washington DB after Desmond Trufant.
5. How does the team and fan base regard BYU? How do the Huskies match up against the Cougars and what do they need to do to come away with a win?
RESPONSE — I think Washington fans have a healthy respect for BYU and what the Cougars have done to the Huskies — especially the last three times they've played. And then there's always BYU's 1984 national championship that UW fans would desperately dispute — that would have been a great game. I don't think a lot of older Husky fans have ever gotten over that snub.
As far as how UW matches up, I only know enough about BYU this year to be very dangerous. I do know they dismantled Texas, a game which got everyone's attention. Generally speaking, the makeup of how the Cougars got to 8-4 this year is somewhat similar to UW: they beat the teams they were supposed to, came away with a tough win or two, but had a tougher time beating the teams ranked ahead of them or tougher games that were played on the road. That's why the game — at least on paper — appears so compelling. You have two productive quarterbacks that have done it in much different ways.
In games like this where the teams appear to be close enough to be considered evenly matched, it always comes down to the footballing cliches; hold onto the ball, start out strong, keep everything in front of you on defense, eliminate the big play, and then don't get caught unaware on special teams. I think if UW does those things, as well as rely on the things that got them to this point, they should be right there to the end.
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