Let me tell you what; those Washington Huskies are a funny bunch.
Here’s a team that beat (then No. 3) USC at home and nearly defeated No. 4 LSU in the first game of the season, yet were destroyed last week at Stanford 34-14. They’re following a trend of really inconsistent teams that are on Notre Dame’s schedule.
Weird to think, but the Irish haven’t faced a ranked team yet. Their opponents have been respectable, but none have possessed a tiny number next to their name. And neither will the Huskies (2-2) when they make the 2,000 mile trip to South Bend. It’s the first of three straight home games for Notre Dame.
Offense: Lots of talk has been surrounding Washington quarterback Jake Locker and how he’s quickly transforming himself into a big-time NFL prospect. USC head coach Pete Carroll said Locker was "the best quarterback we've played in nine years here.” He’s 6’3, 225 pounds, has the ability to make plays with his legs, and has an arm that resembles a Civil War cannon.
He’s not Washington’s only weapon though. They have a shifty freshman running back Chris Polk, who is talented as a rusher and receiver. James Johnson is their go-to wide receiver, pulling in nine catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns on the year. Locker doesn’t like to focus on one guy though; he likes to share the ball. Seven different players have caught seven or more passes for Huskies already.
Locker is the rallying type that will fire his team up in big games, such as this. But if he struggles, so does the entire offense.
Defense: First year head coach Steve Sarkisian isn’t exactly known for his defense. The ex- USC offensive coordinator is familiar with racking up points, not preventing them. But wouldn’t you know it, they’re not half bad.
Unlike many defenses the Irish have seen this season, the Huskies pride themselves on their secondary. They’re giving up a stingy 185 yards passing per game and opponents have only scored three touchdowns through the air.
The same could not be said for their rushing defense, which ranks 106th out of 109 schools. In the last two weeks alone, they’ve given up 571 rushing yards on the ground.
The defensive line has been awful in all four games, and it will get a lot harder when they go up against an experienced Notre Dame offensive line.
Names you’ll hear on Saturday
Donald Butler, LB: Leads the defense with 38 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one interception.
Erik Folk, PK: As close to a sure thing as they come. He’s connected on six of seven field goal attempts (with a long of 46 yards) and is perfect on PATs.
Nate Williams, FS: The speedy Williams is the leader of the Washington secondary. He has a nose for the ball and is fourth on the team in tackles (18).