Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Cal Football

A (Slightly) Too Early Opponent Preview: Washington Huskies

July 16, 2019
3,027

Cal has a bit of scheduling whiplash to start the 2019 season. After facing the UC Davis Aggies in week one — largely considered their most winnable game of the season — the Bears travel to Seattle to open conference play in week two against the Washington Huskies — largely considered their least winnable game on the schedule. The Huskies, Utah, and Oregon are all considered the favorites in the Pac-12 and Cal got the unlucky draw of getting them all on the road in 2019 and the first test comes on September 7.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Cal has a 14.7% of beating the Huskies and is predicted to lose by 13.5 points. SBNation’s S&P+ projections give Cal a win-probability of 17% and places them as a 16.7 point underdog. Of course, both of these rankings are a bit in hypothetical land, but Cal’s game against UW will likely be one of the toughest — if not the toughest — games on their schedule.

And then there’s last year’s game between the two teams. UW came in ranked 15th and the Bears were able to ugly-up the game enough to knock off the Huskies. Despite gaining only 245 yards in offense and not scoring an offensive TD, Evan Weaver had plans of his own and picked off backup QB Jake Haener and took it 36 yards for the pick-six. Weaver and the Bears’ defense took care of the rest, leading to a 12-10 victory, nearly ruining UW’s chances of finishing at the top of the Pac-12 standings.

There’s the blueprint for a major repeat upset, although a tad bit more of offensive production would be nice.

Taking a step back, it’s pretty crazy to look at where UW has come from since 2008 when the Huskies went 0-12 in Ty Willingham’s final season. In 2016, UW went 12-2, earning a birth in the College Football Playoff. And over the past three seasons, the Huskies have gone 32-9, taking two out of three Pac-12 titles. And while this year is technically a rebuilding one for Washington, it doesn’t really feel that way. The reason? The Huskies have gradually been increasing their talent level over the past five recruiting cycles, averaging right around 30th nationally from 2014 to 2017 to top-20 classes in 2018 and 2019. Chris Peterson has things rolling in Seattle.

The question marks and rebuild — but also excitement around the talent influx — begins at QB for the Huskies, which serves as a microcosm of what’s happening for the majority of programs this year. Gone is the four-year starter and seasoned vet in Jake Browning. Enter Jacob Eason, who stands 6-6 and weighs 228 pounds, grew up about 40 minutes outside of Seattle and was the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school when he signed with Georgia in 2016. He was a top-five player nationally and — pardon the cliche — has a cannon for an arm.

But things didn’t go super-well for Eason in Athens. He started his freshman season but took the expected lumps navigating an SEC schedule, ending the season with a 120.3 passing rating and a 16-to-eight TD-to-pick ratio. He got injured during the first game in 2017 and then passed by younger QB, Jake Fromm, who led the Dawgs to a national title game.

Losing players like Myles Gaskin at running back, and Greg Gaines, JoJo McIntosh, Taylor Rapp, Ben Burr-Kirven, and Tevis Bartlett on defense, the Huskies are losing guys that have been reliable with the program for years but are replacing them with some shiny and talented new recruits.

It’s easy to see the potential for the 2019 Huskies — explaining the pre-season hype they have received. Eason will have some weapons with seniors Aaron Fuller and Andre Baccellia. Both are proven wideouts, along with junior Ty Jones, who waned in production towards the end of last season after a promising start. Throw in tight ends Hunter Bryant and Cade Otton along with a slew of redshirt freshmen led by former top-60 recruit Marquis Spiker and, well, Eason has options.

In the trenches, UW also boasts a seasoned O-line with five returning starters with a combined 106 career starts. Center Nick Harris was all-conference last season and the Huskies also get 6-8 left tackle, Trey Adams back from injury. Adams has 32 career starts and was also an all-conference performer in 2016.

In 2018, Washington’s defense was the only one in the Pac-12 that finished with a better S&P+ ranking than Cal, finishing fourth compared to Cal’s 13th spot. UW’s defense does it in a fascinating way. They didn’t sack or stop runs behind the line of scrimmage well. And they allowed a ton of pass completions (ranking 118 out of 130 in FBS for pass completions allowed). But they didn’t break, only allowing 16.4 points per game — lowest in the conference. Different from the offense, UW’s defense brings back veterans at pretty much every position as well as plenty of former blue chippers as freshmen and redshirt freshmen.

On paper, this is Washington’s conference to lose. They return just enough talent, bring in just enough talent, and have a schedule that setups ideally for them. The three projected toughest teams on UW’s schedule (Oregon, USC, and Utah) all come to Seattle and the only projected top-50 opponent the Huskies play on the road is The Furd. The S&P+ has them projected to win all 12 games and the FPI has them projected to win all except against Oregon (they still have a 48.1% chance of winning. 

Projection: Washington Huskies 17, Cal Bears 13

This might be a bit of a homer projection. Washington could break this game wide open, but scoring 17 points on Cal’s defense won’t happen often this season. Look for an untimely turnover to potentially lead to some of those 17 points. 

Discussion from...

A (Slightly) Too Early Opponent Preview: Washington Huskies

NYCGOBEARS
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Everyone is putting a whole lot of hope on untested UW players living up to their hype. I'll believe it when I see it and also think that it'll be a close game.
59bear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Huge word for UW this year....Potential. They are potentially better at QB and WR. Their defense is dripping with highly rated but inexperienced talent. They are solid at RB, have, arguably, the best OL in the league and superb HC and DC. I think they reload rather than rebuild but much will depend on Eason performing better at QB than he did in the spring. And we're not sneaking up on them or anyone else this season.
bearfan93
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Browning gets trashed a lot for leading a school in TDs and being #2 in overall passing yards.

will be interesting to see their new guy, who by all accounts is supposed to be an upgrade.

i guess its good we get them early?
85Bear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
bearfan93 said:

i guess its good we get them early?
THEY'RE lucky they get US early.
MoragaBear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
bearfan93 said:

Browning gets trashed a lot for leading a school in TDs and being #2 in overall passing yards.

will be interesting to see their new guy, who by all accounts is supposed to be an upgrade.

i guess its good we get them early?


Going by recruiting ratings, he's an upgrade but based on what most observers have said seeing Eason play at UGA and spring ball at UW, definitively no.
59bear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
bearfan93 said:

Browning gets trashed a lot for leading a school in TDs and being #2 in overall passing yards.

will be interesting to see their new guy, who by all accounts is supposed to be an upgrade.

i guess its good we get them early?
The only areas in which Eason is clearly superior to Browning are stature and arm strength. He still has to prove he can convert these advantages to results.
CalPaTroll
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Funny, this looks like the same preseason article from last year......How did that work out for the Dawgs.......
upsetof86
How long do you want to ignore this user?
NYCGOBEARS said:

Everyone is putting a whole lot of hope on untested UW players living up to their hype. I'll believe it when I see it and also think that it'll be a close game.


This.
upsetof86
How long do you want to ignore this user?
CalPaTroll said:

Funny, this looks like the same preseason article from last year......How did that work out for the Dawgs.......



Loved that game. I knew our D would hold on after taking the lead. What a classic. Course they had no Gaskins......oh yeah like this upcoming year too. We gotta a shot.
oskirules
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Despite the talent they have at their offensive skill positions, I see Petersen running the ball until his face turns blue to wear out the Cal defense, especially in the 2nd half.
BearGoggles
How long do you want to ignore this user?
MoragaBear said:

bearfan93 said:

Browning gets trashed a lot for leading a school in TDs and being #2 in overall passing yards.

will be interesting to see their new guy, who by all accounts is supposed to be an upgrade.

i guess its good we get them early?


Going by recruiting ratings, he's an upgrade but based on what most observers have said seeing Eason play at UGA and spring ball at UW, definitively no.
Even if he's an eventual upgrade, I like the matchup of Cal's defense against UW early in the season. Eason will be inexperienced and under scrutiny and I expect DeRuyter to have a really good plan for him.

In recent years, it seems Cal has missed playing USC other teams breaking in new qbs early in the season. Cal always seems to catch them later in the year when they've improved. The schedule is finally offering a break this year.
CalPaTroll
How long do you want to ignore this user?
BearGoggles said:

MoragaBear said:

bearfan93 said:

Browning gets trashed a lot for leading a school in TDs and being #2 in overall passing yards.

will be interesting to see their new guy, who by all accounts is supposed to be an upgrade.

i guess its good we get them early?


Going by recruiting ratings, he's an upgrade but based on what most observers have said seeing Eason play at UGA and spring ball at UW, definitively no.
Even if he's an eventual upgrade, I like the matchup of Cal's defense against UW early in the season. Eason will be inexperienced and under scrutiny and I expect DeRuyter to have a really good plan for him.

In recent years, it seems Cal has missed playing USC other teams breaking in new qbs early in the season. Cal always seems to catch them later in the year when they've improved. The schedule is finally offering a break this year.


I totally agree with you, every year it seems we end up facing a hot QB. Sure would be nice to have a hot QB.....
Page 1 of 1
 
×
Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.