Q&A with UW Dawg Pound: Can the Huskies take down the Cardinal?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

We spoke to SB Nation's UW Dawg Pound about the game this Saturday

1. Keith Price looks like one of the best QBs in the Pac-12 this year - like he was in 2011 - should we expect his play to remain at this high level, or is it just a blip?

His play should remain right around where it is. The passing game has been revamped to suit his skillset, being centered more on short passes than in years past. A huge chunk of his throws this season have been behind the line of scrimmage passes, where all he has to do is get it out to a guy like Jaydon Mickens and let him do damage. Unless he suddenly forgets how to throw the ball 15 yards, it's hard to imagine how he'd take a huge step backward.

2. Last year, the Huskies were hobbled by a lot of injuries, particularly along the offensive line. Is overall team health the biggest reason for Washington's breakout success thus far? Or should it be attributed to something else?

The health is the biggest thing, but it also doesn't hurt that a ton of players who were underclassmen last year have continued to improve. Last year's was a team that only had 6 juniors and seniors starting combined (4 defense, 2 offense) so it was probably going to be a season full of growing pains no matter who got injured or stayed healthy.

3. What do you think is Washington's biggest weakness so far this season, and what do you expect Stanford will do to try and exploit that weakness?

The biggest hole in the Husky defense so far is their run defense, particularly up the middle. Teams have seemed to be able to gain about 4 yards on strong running up the middle against them pretty consistently, which is not exactly ideal when going up against a team like Stanford. The counter to that is that the four teams that UW has played so far have been a lot more spread out than Stanford is, so a lot of those runs have occurred with the defense more spread out and focused on defending the perimeter. Still, opponents have had enough success there that it's a legitimate concern.

4. The Washington defense straight up stonewalled the Stanford offense a season ago and they already look excellent again - who are the best players on this defense and who do you expect to make the most plays against the Cardinal?

The Husky defense is full of players who are quickly becoming stars. A few of the brightest are Sean Parker, Danny Shelton and Marcus Peters. Parker is a senior captain at safety who has always been a heavy hitter in run support, but has turned his ballhawking up a notch this year with 3 interceptions so far. Shelton is the anchor of the Husky defense at defensive tackle and though he may not get his name called a lot, as he goes so goes the defense. Peters is a young corner who is proving to be among the conference's best and is doing a bang-up job of replacing Desmond Trufant.
The guy who'll probably make the most plays is Shaq Thompson. He's one of the conference's best linebackers, and his versatility enables him to be effective against every kind of offense the Huskies face.

5. If you had to rank the best running backs in the nation, where would you place Bishop Sankey among them? Top 5? Top 10?

I don't know if he's in the top 5, but I'd definitely put him in the top 10. He doesn't really blow you away with any of his physical attributes or measureables, but he reads blocks as well as anybody and is really sudden through the hole.

6. Washington's off to a great start this year, but after three 7-5 seasons and with back-to-back games against Stanford and Oregon, are Huskies fans still feeling any trepidation about the way the season might turn out?

There's always that trepidation because of the nature of football. A key injury or the ball bouncing the wrong way can easily derail several games. Or you can be looking pretty good and just have the wheels completely fall off for no real discernible reason as with USC last year. The Huskies do seemed to have turned some sort of corner though, as this team looks like it would whip the pants off of any of the other Husky teams of the past decade.

7. What's your prediction for Saturday's game?

My concern is this game being on the road, where it's been a really long time since UW beat anybody of consequence, much less one of the top teams in the nation. If it were in Seattle I'd like the Huskies to win, but in Palo Alto I think Stanford wins a close game 31-24.

For more on the Washington Huskies, visit UWDawgPound.com or follow @UWSBN on Twitter.

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