I covered the overall hype of the upcoming season for the Husky Football team last week and needless to say I am buying into the potential of the 2016 season for the Dawgs. Every game this year is a stop on “The Hype Highway” for the Huskies. The first stop is Rutgers at home. This should be a relatively easy matchup for the Huskies as they are favored by three or more touchdowns on various betting sites. So let's hit the gas and see what's under the hood for the Huskies against the Scarlet Knights.
The Huskies are now in the third year of the Coach Petersen era. This gives them a firm understanding of the system he runs and should be better prepared than last year having mastered the playbook. Rutgers has as first year coach, Chris Ash, and a new playbook. This gives Huskies an instant advantage over a team still learning the ropes of a new system.
On the offensive side for the Huskies they have a young squad but full of returning starters. Both Jake Browning at quarterback and Myles Gaskin at running back look solid. Talented receivers John Ross, Chico McClatcher, and Dante Pettis will look to make big plays. Brayden Lenius is suspended for team violations for the first three games which will mildly hurt the depth at receiver, but otherwise a solid squad to start the year. Rutgers looks to have a moderately talented offense with two running backs who put up decent numbers last year and a mediocre quarterback in Chris Laviano. However, Laviano lost his best weapon from last year, NFL third round draft pick receiver, Leonte Carroo, and could easily take a step back in production this year rather than a step forward.
Defensively, the Huskies have one of the best squads in the nation returning most of the members of the top Pac-12 defense from last year. For Rutgers, just the opposite as their defense ranked 111 in the NCAA and allowed 443 yards per game. Huskies are looking to be even better than last year while Rutgers may in fact be even worse. Look for Washington to aggressively stuff the run in this first game as Rutgers does not look to be a team dangerous in the air.
Special teams is probably a toss-up for Washington and Rutgers.This is only because Rutgers kick returner Janarion Grant destroyed the Washington State Cougars with two touchdowns and 337 yards last year and scored four total special teams touchdowns for the Knights. Grant is very dangerous. Everything else looks ordinary for Rutgers. Washington has two special teams aces in Ross and Pettis that together equal or even surpass Grant. Nothing exceptional on either side for the kicking squads so we will give Rutgers the benefit of the doubt and call this one a draw.
Hype Highway Predictions:
-Jake Browning throws three touchdowns
-Gaskin adds two more touchdowns on the ground
-One kick is returned for a touchdown by John Ross or Dante Pettis
-Huskies nab 3 interceptions. One each for Azeem Victor, Budda Baker and Sidney Jones
-Elijah Qualls forces a fumble
-Rutgers scores less than 20 points
-Huskies move up 2 spots to AP number 12 spot in rankings the following week
Final Score: Washington 45 - Rutgers 17