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Arizona vs. Washington: A Friendly Conversation Between a Cat and a Dawg

Adam Butler and Jack Follman go back and forth for the second year in a row about the heated rivalry between Arizona and Washington.

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

JF - Last year's game in Tucson was probably the low point of Husky football in the Sarkisian era at the time that it happened. How does it feel to be so hurtful?

AB - We're straight Cowboy in Tucson. It's a hard edge thing. So hard we'll even chuck our own tight ends coach (Charlie Ragle) right the hell out of the saloon. Hurtful? RichRod sat his All-American for Daniel Jenkins. Hurtful? Passing game. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

AB - What is your general feeling about illegal interceptions?

JF - Fondness. Whatever makes me forget about the trainwreck that was the 2012 Arizona/Washington game is fine, even if it involves my least favorite play in in football - the bubble screen.

JF - I recently did an article about the worst Pac-12 coaches of the past 25 years and Tyrone Willingham and John Mackovic were neck-and-neck. If you're an athletic director and you are required to hire one, which one do you choose?

AB - Tyrone Willingham with a signing bonus, car allowance for his extended family out to his kid's children's grandchildren's best friends, another signing bonus, and Mike Garrett-level support against anything NCAA. John Mackovic's entire squad walked into the school President's office to demand his firing. John Mackovic wore a suit. Maybe Ty had some similarly cold characteristics - there is overlap in their abilities to alienate - but at least Ty had one season of year-over-year improvement (4 wins to 5 in 05 to 06). Mackovick started from the bottom and went further down. It's why I have a soft spot for Mike Stoops. How's that for picking Ty?

AB - Are these Dawgs the 16th best team in the country? Boise hasn't performed and Illinois is...well...Illinois. Though they've been to a Rose Bowl (2008) more recently than either Washington (2000) or Arizona (insert infinity sign). Anyhow, what I'm really asking is: What is 2013 UW Football?

JF - Uh... right now I would say yes. I generally think once you get past that cluster of about a dozen elite teams, there isn't that much of a difference between the next 50 and I think the Huskies are probably one of the best of that bunch. 2013 in general, I'm saying right now if the tipping point. I think that starting Saturday, this is either the year that the Huskies put it all together under Sarkisian or it all comes apart with how tough their Pac-12 schedule is.

JF - A similar question to my last - Ka'Deem Carey and Bishop Sankey are probably the best traditional running backs in the Pac-12 right now. Would you trade Carey for Sankey and feel good about it?

AB - I mean, I wouldn't feel bad about it. I suppose this is win-win but I will say that Ka'Deem has half the carries that Sankey's got at this early point in the season. That's gotta count for something. And Ka'Deem is a native Tucsonan while Sankey is a native Washingtonian (Washingtoner? Although that sounds like a laundry product so we'll stick with the former). I guess what I'm getting at is I don't want to imagine a world when Tucsonans are playing in Seattle. Though you did get some good mileage out of Tom Wilhelmsen.

AB - Have you been to the new Husky stadium? And if you have, is it as cool as it would seem?

JF - I won't be up to see the new stadium until next month, so I can't answer yet, but from what I have heard it is and hopefully the days of a half-filled stadium that is littered with opposing teams' fans celebrating are over.

JF - I saw that B.J. Denker calls himself Vanilla Vick on Twitter. Is this an accurate comparison?

AB - I'd say it's about as accurate as his passing.

AB - So much was made of Justin Wilcox's hiring last year. Are you seeing his SEC roots beginning to set (8th nationally in points against) or does it feel a little bit more like a 2013 SEC defense?

JF - I'm seeing it, and was seeing it last year outside of their games against up-tempo teams. I'm a big believer in Wilcox except against the hurry-up due to how horrible they were against it last year in the Oregon and Arizona games. I think the fact that their defense practices against it everyday now though could be the difference, and we will see a lot of improvement from his unit against that scheme against Arizona, but probably not Oregon.

JF - Speaking of Denker, do you have confidence in him being able to throw against the Huskies in Husky Stadium, and do you think there is a chance that we might see one of the other quarterbacks at some point Saturday?

AB - I hated on the kid in question four but to elaborate, what he lacks in talent he makes up for in confidence and familiarity. To-date he's minimized errors and done a good job doing what he needs to do. Could he be better? Certainly and I don't doubt he'd tell you the same. But it's got to mean something to have a senior under center (or is it out in pistol?). There's a chance you'll see someone else in there but I think RichRod has his man for now and barring any egregious errors, he's going to ride this horse for the foreseeable future (which ends in December).

AB - Gimme something on this Keith Price character? Like is his current pace an indication of his maturity or a hot streak? He seems to get take heat game over game and this year the pace has picked up. Good for his season long success?

JF - I won't be fully convinced that Price is okay until I see him look strong against a good, proven defense. Price's biggest problem is that he absolutely cannot handle pressure, but he hasn't really faced it yet this year. I think the hurry-up will help with that though, as it should gas pass-rushers more and give defenses less time to call blitzes.

JF - Which of Arizona's tough non-conference opponents scared you the most... oh wait, nevermind. But judging by what you have seen thus far this season, has the Wildcats' defense legitimately improved?

AB - Arizona was running walk-ons into the mix last season. Improvement has been a matter of attrition or something like that in which it had to improve. Just having more bodies it had to improve. The site I found to give total defense in 2012 doesn't list rankings but my ctrl-f-A-R-I-Z-O-N-A search highlights the team fifth from the bottom at 485.7 ypg. To steal your vernacular, "WOOF." Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers are good players at the core of this Jeff Casteel 3-3-5. In summary: Improved by only place to go was up.

AB - No bones about it, Arizona's passing game CAN THE DAWGS STOP THE RUN? They're yileding a respectable 3.1 ypg while Arizona is racking up 6.4 a rushing touch. And Ka'Deem Carey (172 yds 1TD following a bye last year).

JF - I'm a little bit worried about the Huskies stopping the run, especially a strong, physical back like Carey. They look good statistically, but are very small up front and not very deep with size. What makes me confident in this game though, is that I'm not worried about Denker and the Wildcats' receivers beating them with the pass, especially in Husky Stadium, so I think they will be able to sell out to the run like they did against Stanford last year.