After over 10 months between games, the Washington football started on the right foot this past weekend with a 27-21 victory over Oregon State, thanks in part to redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris. And the UW will be eager to turn that singular win into a streak when it hosts Arizona Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
In last season’s meeting, the Huskies (1-0) used a strong second half to run out 51-27 winners. Things have changed for both teams though, as the Wildcats welcome new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, and the Huskies have first-year head coach Jimmy Lake.
There are still many questions facing Washington before it takes on Arizona this week, so to get some perspective on the Wildcats (0-1), the Daily sat down with The Daily Wildcat’s Sports Editor Jacob Mennuti to talk some UA football. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What surprised you the most about Arizona's first game?
Jacob Mennuti: “I was pretty surprised about how well the defense played. Everyone was kind of expecting Arizona’s defense to get rolled with all the transfers, and USC’s offense to have a field day. I think it was six red zone trips and USC only scored 20 points. I couldn’t remember the last time Arizona stopped someone in the red zone, it was a free seven points every time someone got down there last season.”
Q: The offense was pretty balanced in the first game, does that continue against the UW?
A: “The play calling, pass to run, was pretty balanced [40 rushes to 36 pass attempts]. I was really excited to see Grant Gunnell take over the reigns as the new quarterback and lead this offense. Last year he was splitting time with Khalil Tate, it was such a mess. I think Gunnell looks really good with this new scheme. He was hitting check-downs and going through reads, which is something we didn’t see last year with Tate. I really like what I saw from [running back] Gary Brightwell last week as well. So yeah, I hope to see a balance between pass and rush.”
Q: Jermarye Joiner is the top returning wideout but Tayvian Cunningham led the team in receiving yards in week one, who’s the WR to watch this week?
A: “I think Tayvian, the reason he had a big day, is because he had a 70-yard touchdown he caught. He’s a speedster, I don’t think people really realize how fast he is, he’s a dual-sport athlete and does track and field in the Spring, he’s got some burners for sure. But Jermarye, he’s been the top receiver for Arizona. Last year he led the team in passing touchdowns and receiving yards, so he’s definitely going to be the number one.”
Q: Last season the Huskies won in a blowout, what’s the key for the Wildcats this year?
A: “It’s going to be a tough one, because it’s their first road game and they’re going up to Seattle. The rain is going to be a big factor. If Arizona establishes that run game early, that’ll kind of set the tone for everything because if you don’t start that run game early, defenses can just sit back and watch the pass and you become one-dimensional. On the other side, plugging that run game up as well. Washington ran all over Oregon State last week, so that should definitely be an emphasis this week to kind of stop that run game.”
Q: What is your prediction for this game?
A: “I think Arizona covers the spread [+11], I don’t think it’ll be a blowout, it’s definitely going to be a close game. It’ll be a tough one for Arizona to win, because it’s their first road game and the weather's gonna be kind of crappy. It’s hard to say because we don’t know much about Washington. Arizona’s offense looked really good last week, I think they’re putting up anywhere between 25 to 30 points, it just depends if Arizona’s defense can stop that run game. I’ll say 31-27 Washington. They’ll cover the spread, but come up just a little bit short.”
You can follow sports editor Jacob Mennuti on Twitter at @jacob_mennuti and stay up-to-date on all things Wildcats at @dailywildcat.
Reach reporter Anthony Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @edwardsanthonyb
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