I'll be the first to say that I thought the Washington Huskies would ease by Hawaii and Eastern. After all, Hawaii won one game last year and Eastern is an FCS school, and Washington won nine times last year including a bowl win.
Needless to say, I was wrong. Washington's defense saved the day in Honolulu and the offense managed to score enough points (52!) to slip past extremely-talented and extremely underrated Eastern.
In a chat on SeattleTimes.com, many fans were asking beat reporter Adam Jude about the defense, particularly, and how they would defend a passing attack from the Illinois Fighting Illini that could, and probably will, throw the ball 60 times or more.
Jude didn't have many answers, partly because practices are closed but partly because we are only two games into Chris Petersen's tenure. There are still a lot of things that could go either way.
A major concern is senior cornerback Marcus Peters' outburst on the sideline last week, earning him a one-game suspension. Petersen is tight-lipped about it.
Then there's the suspension of quarterback-turned-tight end Derrick Brown, which is indefinite. Petersen remains silent on that as well.
Jude said in the chat that Petersen was surprised at how things were handled at Washington, including discipline. A fan asked if expectations for ten wins was too high, to which Jude replied it was, and that they have been tempered now.
I was one who thought ten wins was reachable, maybe even doable, maybe even going to happen. And I have to say that my expectations have certainly been tempered a little bit.
But that's no cause for concern. Quarterback Cyler Miles is only going to get more comfortable behind a really, really good offensive line (side note: when was the last time we could say that?). His rapport with receivers Kasen Williams, John Ross III, Jaydon Mickens and DiAndre Campbell will only get better. Running backs Lavon Coleman, Dwayne Washington, Jesse Callier and Deonte Cooper have proven to be a solid stable in both the running game and the passing game. Then you have Shaq Thompson, who is most certainly going to play at the next level.
The defense will be ok, too. Remember, these are new systems the players are learning. The UW has moved to a 3-4 scheme, trying to utilize the versatility of their linebacking corps. Hau'oli Kikaha hasn't been rushing the passer as much this season, something that will be changed. Danny Shelton has been a force in the middle of the line, but a three-man rush might get picked apart against Illinois as it did against Eastern.
The secondary is still major, major question mark. The loss of Peters is a tough one, forcing inexperience and youth into starting positions in the back end.
I know those all sound scary and worrisome, but take a deep breath: in through the nose and out the mouth. Eventually — hopefully sooner rather than later — Petersen's schemes and overall system will begin to take hold.
And guess what, the UW found ways to win both games. And honestly, that's the most important thing about the last two games. They could have easily lost both, but they were tough, and resilient, and hard-nosed enough to pull them out. That's one of the best qualities to have as a football team, and qualities we can see in Petersen.
Don't fret. All will be well in due time.