Huskies prepare for clash with Fresno State Saturday - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Huskies prepare for clash with Fresno State Saturday

Photo: Washington Athletics Photo: Washington Athletics

By Washington Athletics
THE GAME: The Washington football team (2-0) wraps up the non-conference schedule this Saturday as Fresno State (1-1) visits Husky Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. game, which will air on Pac-12 Network. The Huskies have opened the season with wins at Rutgers and home against Montana while the Bulldogs, under first-year head coach Jeff Tedford (who spent last season at the UW as a consultant), opened with a win vs. Incarnate Word and a loss to No. 1 Alabama. The Huskies are ranked No. 6 in both of the latest polls. After Saturday's game, the Huskies open Pac-12 play with back-to-back road games, Sept. 23 at Colorado and Sept. 30 at Oregon State.
 
QUICK SLANTS: Washington's Dante Pettis tied the Pac-12 record with his sixth career punt return for a touchdown, with a 61-yard score at Rutgers ... against Montana, he broke that record, with his seventh, a 67-yard TD ... he's now one shy of the NCAA record of eight, shared by Wes Welker (Texas Tech) and Antonio Perkins (Oklahoma) ... in the win over Montana, eight different Huskies scored a touchdown, including five different players on rushing plays ... Washington played 74 players in the Montana game ... Washington led the nation in turnover margin in 2016 ... this year, the Huskies have six takeaways and one turnover, and the Huskies' +2.50 per game is currently third-best in the nation  ... Keishawn Bierria led the nation in fumble recoveries last year, with five ... he recovered one against Montana, giving him seven for his career, one shy of the UW career record ... tailback Myles Gaskin scored his 25th career rushing touchdown vs. the Grizzlies, placing him 10th on the UW list ... two games into his junior season, Jake Browning currently sits fourth on the UW career passing yards (6,928) and career completions (515) charts ... his 63 career TD passes remain second on the list, behind Keith Price's 75 ... six true freshmen have seen action for the UW so far this year: TE Hunter Bryant, TE Jacob Kizer, TB Salvon Ahmed and DBs Keith Taylor, Brandon McKinney and Elijah Molden ... UW entered the year with 32 players on the roster who had started at least one game ... four more (LB Ben Burr-Kirven and DBs Jordan Miller, Myles Bryant and Murphy) earned their first starts at Rutgers, meaning that 36 different Huskies have started a game.
 
TELEVISION: The Washington-Fresno State game will air live to a national audience on Pac-12 Network with Ted Robinson (play-by-play), Yogi Roth (color) and Jill Savage (sidelines) providing the commentary.
 
RADIO: The Washington IMG College Network, with its flagship station KOMO AM-1000 and FM-97.7, will carry the live broadcast of every football game on 17 Northwest radio stations. Longtime play-by-play man Bob Rondeau and color analyst Damon Huard are joined by sideline reporter Elise Woodward. The home broadcast of the game will also air on Sirius (145) and XM (197) satellite radio.
 
THE YOUNG AND THE OLD: Washington has been a notably and demonstrably young team the last couple of years and, while the Huskies have gotten distinctly more experienced across the board, the roster still skews towards youth. The 2017 roster includes 40 freshmen and 26 sophomores, compared to just 16 seniors and 27 juniors, meaning just under 61 percent of the players have three or more years of eligibility left. At the same time, Washington has 53 returning lettermen and, not counting specialists, 32 different Huskies have started at least one game during their career, entering the 2017 season.
 
THE DEFENSE:  Washington's defense has been the strongest it has been in years in 2015 and again in 2016, once again leaving a standard for this season that will be a challenge to match. Last year, the Husky defense finished first in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing just 248 points, or 17.7 per game, the best average by the UW since 1992 (12.3 per game). The Dawgs also led the conference in total defense (316.9 yards per game), passing defense (182.9), opponent first downs (246), third-down conversion defense (.306) and turnovers gained (33).
 
THE OFFENSE:  Washington had one of its most successful offensive seasons ever in 2016, scoring more points and more touchdowns than ever before – both by a wide margin. The Huskies notched 77 touchdowns, 13 more than the old record (64 in 2013) and scored 585 points, 93 more than the old standard (493 in 2013). The Huskies' 41.8 points per game were just one-tenth of a point shy of the school record (41.9 in 1991). The Dawgs also had their second-highest totals ever in both rushing yards (2,774) and passing yards (3,623).
 
HOME vs. NON-CONFERENCE:  Washington has been very tough to beat in home, non-conference games over the last several decades. Going back to (and including) the 1981 season, the Huskies have posted a 66-13 record against non-Pac-10/Pac-12 foes in Husky Stadium. Those 13 losses have come to Nebraska (2010), LSU (2009), BYU (2008), Oklahoma (2008), Ohio State (2007), Notre Dame (2005), Fresno State (2004), Nevada (2003), Air Force (1999), Nebraska (1997), Notre Dame (1995), Colorado (1989) and Oklahoma State (1985). Notable wins wins during that stretch include victories over No. 19 Boise State last season, No. 22 Boise State in 2007, No. 11 Michigan in 2001, No. 4 Miami in 2000, and No. 12 Nebraska in 1992. Prior to the 2004 loss to Nevada, Washington hadn't lost a home game to a non-league opponent since falling to Air Force, 31-21, on September 18, 1999. The Huskies had won 10 such games before that Nevada loss. The UW is 16-2 over its last 19 home, non-league games, with a 15-game winning streak.
 
HUSKIES vs. BULLDOGS HISTORY:  Surprisingly enough for two teams from the West Coast, Washington and Fresno State have met only three times in their history. Sept. 29, 1979, at Husky Stadium, the No. 9-ranked Huskies beat Fresno State, 49-14, in what many in the press (as well as Coach Don James) regarded as a lackluster UW performance, final score notwithstanding. Washington, fresh from a come-from-behind 21-17 win the previous week vs. Oregon in Eugene (the UW scored on a 53-yard punt return with 1:59 left to win 21-17) had moved into the top 10 for the first time in the Don James era when the unranked Bulldogs came to Husky Stadium. After quarterback Tom Porras got the UW on the board with a nine-yard TD run 2:48 into the first quarter, Fresno State replied with a 73-yard touchdown drive that was helped along by a converted fourth down and a 40-yard pass interference penalty. Ken Lovely scored on a one-yard run to cap the drive. On the ensuing kickoff, UW return man Anthony Allen was tackled in the endzone for a safety and Fresno (which had missed its earlier PAT) led 8-7. Late in the opening quarter, the Bulldogs made it 14-7 when Gary Kaiser hit James Terry on a 20-yard pass. However, Washington would go on to score 42 unanswered points, including 21 in the second quarter, to roll to the win. Mike Lansford hit two field goals, the UW got scoring runs from Toussaint Tyler, Joe Steele and Willis Ray Mackey  and two TD passes (Tom Porras to Paul Skansi and Steele) to account for their total. Steele finished with 133 rushing yards on 14 carries while Porras passed 11-for-16 for 158 yards and one TD. For the Bulldogs, Lovely ran for 83 yards on 24 tries while Kaiser was 10-for-27 for 197 yards and a TD to go with five interceptions. The next UW-Fresno State game took place in the 2004 season opener, when the Bulldogs handed the Huskies a 35-16 loss. After a scoreless opening quarter, UW took the game's first lead on an eight-yard run from Isaiah Stanback early in the second quarter. However, James Sanders returned an interception for a 19-yard TD later in the second and Joe Fernandez caught a 12-yard scoring pass from Paul Pinegar in the third to put the visitors on top, 14-7.  In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs pulled away as Brian Morris returned a fumble 18 yards for one touchdown and Dwayne Wright ran in a score from 28 yards to make it 28-10. After Kenny James ran in a one-yard TD, Fresno's Richard Marshall ran back an interception for a 75-yard TD to ice the game, the third time in the game that the Bulldogs returned a Husky turnover for a touchdown. Receiver Charles Frederick led the Huskies statistically, notching 114 yards on nine receptions.  Wright rushed for 109 yards to lead the Bulldogs while Pinegar was 13-for-21 for 125 yards. Two years later, in the third game of the 2006 season, UW's 6-foot-7 Caesar Rayford blocked a Fresno State extra-point attempt with 4:30 on the clock to give the Huskies a 21-20 win. The Bulldogs had scored what looked to be the game-tying TD on a one-yard run from  Dwayne Wright. Fresno State actually got the ball back, but a Mesphin Forrester interception sealed the win. Wright had given the visitors a 7-0 lead on an earlier, one-yard run, but Stanback hit Johnie Kirton with a TD pass to tie it. Stanback then scored on a run to make it 14-7, UW. In the third quarter, Fresno State's Paul  Williams (brother of former Husky Curtis Williams) scored on a 38-yard reception to tie it, before Washington went in front, 21-14, on a Stanback TD pass to Sonny Shackelford.
 
DAWGS vs. THE MWC: Washington has a pretty fair amount of history with the current (2017 season) members of the Mountain West Conference. Washington has played all but three (Colorado State, New Mexico and UNLV) of the 12 schools that comprise the MWC. All totaled, the Huskies are 29-11 against current MWC members, Here's the breakdown: 2-6 vs. Air Force; 2-2 vs. Boise State; 2-1 vs. Fresno State; 4-1 vs. Hawai'i; 1-1 vs. Nevada; 3-0 vs. San Diego State; 10-0 vs. San Jose State; 3-0 vs. Utah State; and 2-0 vs. Wyoming.

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