San Diego State (0-0) at Washington (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 1st, 10:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CenturyLink Field (67,000) -- Seattle, Washington.
Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: SDSU 0-0, Washington 0-0. Away
Record: SDSU 0-0, Washington 0-0. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-0, Washington 0-0.
Conference Record: SDSU 0-0, Washington 0-0. Series Record: Washington leads,
GAME NOTES: Playing in CenturyLink Field while Husky Stadium is renovated, the
Washington Huskies will open the 2012 season with a matchup with the San Diego
State Aztecs on Saturday evening.
In his first season as head coach Rocky Long kept San Diego State steady after
Brady Hoke turned the team around in 2010. Long's squad went 8-5 and made its
second straight bowl appearance in 2011 which ended in a 32-30 loss to
Louisiana. Still another winning season was a welcome sight for a program that
did not have a record above .500 in a season since 1998.
Three years removed from a disastrous 0-12 campaign in 2008, the Washington
Huskies seem to have found the right man to lead them forward. In his second
season, Steve Sarkisian led the squad to a second straight 7-6 finish and even
pushed the Huskies into the national rankings. The campaign ended in
entertaining, albeit disappointing fashion, as the Huskies fell 67-56 in the
Alamo Bowl against Baylor.
There is not a ton of history in this matchup with only two previous meetings
sprinkled over the program's histories. Washington has won both of those
contests with the most recent a 36-3 win in 1997.
San Diego State lucked out in its search to replace star quarterback Ryan
Lindley this season. Former Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz transferred in
January. Katz threw for 2,737 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his
career with Oregon State, with only one year as the full-time starter.
Not only did the offense lose its star quarterback but also its workhouse
running back. Set to fill the shoes left by Ronnie Hillman is sophomore Adam
Muema, who rushed for 253 yards and a 6.0 yards-per-carry average as a backup
Where the Aztecs do have consistency from last season is in the receiving
corps. Junior wideouts Colin Lockett (58 receptions, 970 yards, eight TDs) and
Dylan Denso (49 receptions, 634 yards) will each return, as will tight end
Gavin Escobar who was one of the better receiving tight ends in the country
last season, pulling in 51 passes for 780 yards and seven scores.
The offensive line has a pair of returning starters but there is still concern
there including how well converted tight end Bryce Quigley will adjust at left
On defense the Aztecs will need to retool at a number of spots. Only three
starters return from last season's unit that ranked 68th nationally (391.2
ypg) in total defense.
The defensive line is an especially troubling area where there is no
returning starter and a pair of sophomores set to take on major starting
At linebacker, Jake Fely is the lone returning starter after a strong freshman
season when he recorded 58 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.
The secondary may be the most experienced unit but that's only because it has
two of the three returning starters. Safety Nate Berhe and cornerback Leon
McFadden are the holdovers. McFadden recorded 46 total tackles and nabbed a
pair of interceptions while Berhe was the better tackler (67).
The Huskies are a young team up and down the roster but with its youth,
Washington also has a great deal of talent. That begins with sophomore
quarterback Keith Price who played beyond his years last season as a freshmen.
Price completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns
and was one of the best quarterbacks in a conference that included Andrew Luck
and Matt Barkley.
Although star running back Chris Polk is gone, the skill positions have some
strong replacements. Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey are a nice tandem to
replace Polk. Kasen Williams and James Johnson are both big receivers that can
make plays down field. Williams caught 36 passes for 427 yards and six scores
The best returning starter other than Price is tight end Austin Seferian-
Jenkins who is a skilled receiver. The sophomore caught 40 passes for 544
yards and six touchdowns last season and will be one of Price's favorite
targets in 2012.
The offensive line has three returning starters led by senior center Drew
Schaefer. Whether or not sophomores Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva can fill in at
the tackle spots will go a long way in determining how well the offense does.
Washington will have a new defensive coordinator this season. Justin Wilcox
was hired from Tennessee and will be trying out a 3-4 system to slow the
prolific offenses of the Pac-12.
The secondary will be the strength led by senior cornerback Desmond Trufant
and junior strong safety Sean Parker. Trufant had 64 total tackles last season
and also nabbed two picks. Parker was even better with 91 tackles and four
interceptions. The Huskies also have high hopes for touted recruit Shaquille
At linebacker, John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono are the returning starters.
Up front the Huskies are less solid in terms of starting experience. Defensive
end Josh Shirley (12.0 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks) is an effective pass
rusher but will be flanked by others with less experience.
With talent up and down the roster, Washington is a dark horse in the Pac-12
and has its hopes set pretty high entering 2012. San Diego State will be the
first test for the Huskies who have to avoid looking beyond to a date with LSU
in week two. That shouldn't be too much of an issue for a Washington offense
that is led by a top-tier quarterback and a defense that has enough playmakers
to get a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 38, San Diego State 20
08/29 10:37:53 ET