Make no mistake about it, the Washington Huskies' run defense has been atrocious over the last couple years. Statistically, they rank in the cellar of the Pac-10 in almost all defensive categories, but especially the run defense.
Conventional wisdom would have suggested that Cal running back would put up gaudy numbers against the Huskies on the final game of the season. However, Best is ruled out of play by head coach Jeff Tedford.
What happens to the Huskies' chances now?
First an foremost, there is a greater chance that the Huskies can force the game more onto the shoulders of Kevin Riley, who has been inconsistent. If you can force mistakes out of Riley you can increase your chance of beating Cal.
Unfortunately, Shane Vereen has proven to be a reliable backup, and could potentially put up gaudy numbers himself. He has rushed for almost 350 yards in the two games he has been the starter.
Expect that to continue with the Washington game. While many people out there are really down on the Husky run defense, there has been a lot of improvement in my eyes. Not enough, to be sure, as they still lack a lot of discipline, but progress all the same.
The Husky defense pitched a shutout against the Washington State Cougars, something they haven't done in 12 years, and that will energize the team.
Statistically they haven't performed well this season, but looking at games like USC and WSU, there is potential there. The biggest thing the defense needs to worry about is overconfidence after the shutout.
With it being senior day in Husky stadium, meaning the final game for defensive stalwart Daniel T'eo-nesheim (and potentially a last game for Jake Locker too, depending on his NFL future), look for the Huskies to play up for pride.
Offensively the Huskies have done a decent enough job scoring points throughout the season. There have been some pitiful games by the offense (Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State), but also some really good offensive games (LSU, Idaho, Washington State).
The team did an excellent job in the USC game of coming up with the right combination of scoring the winning points and bleeding all the time off the clock so USC couldn't score.
Worry about the Husky defense more in this contest than the offense. There are good skill players, and Locker's legs makes up for a shoddy offensive line at times.
It really depends on which Husky offense decides to show up on Saturday.
Look for this game to be a shootout, maybe not a high scoring one if the offense's stutter, but a game that will be decided in the fourth quarter.
Also, remember that the Huskies upset Cal the last time the Bears came to Seattle.
Food for thought.
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