Behind enemy lines: Stanford vs. Washington

Oct. 22, 2015, 12:45 a.m.

In preparation for Stanford’s Saturday night matchup against the Washington Huskies, The Stanford Daily’s Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) had the chance to ask a few questions of Erik Erickson, sports editor of the The Daily UW, in order to get an insider’s perspective on Washington’s football program and how the team will matchup against the Stanford Cardinal.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Head coach Chris Petersen seems to be tasked with a second rebuilding year in a row after the departure of Cyler Miles and a lot of key pieces from last year’s defense. In your mind, how close is this program to being a perennial contender in the Pac-12 North?

Erik Erickson (EE): While their record this year may not indicate it, I think the Huskies are a team who could be contending for a Pac-12 title within the next few years. The Huskies have plenty of young players who have made significant impacts already this season and just continue to grow as they move forward.

Christian McCaffrey (5)
Although his stellar play has vaulted him into the Heisman conversation, sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey (above) will have a tough test in Washington, the Pac-12’s best defense this year. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

TSD: Did the USC upset change your view of the season at all? What did it mean for the program? What did a win like that tell you about this year’s team?

EE: The USC upset definitely changed my view of the season. Entering the season, Washington State and Oregon State were the only Pac-12 opponents I thought the Huskies could beat, making a bowl game seem unlikely. After the USC victory, the Huskies gained a new sense of confidence and are more likely to go bowling at the end of the season.

TSD: Stanford’s offense has seemed almost unstoppable over the last month, but it’s looking like Washington’s defense might be the toughest, by far, that Stanford will face this season. What have the Huskies been doing so well on that side of the ball, and do you expect them to be able to disrupt the Cardinal offense? Can Washington stop Christian McCaffrey’s historic tear without compromising its secondary?

EE: The Huskies have done a good job of being one of the most physical defenses in the conference and forcing turnovers. The UW has been stout against the run and never seems to wear down, no matter how much their opponent is on the field. The Huskies haven’t faced a physical offense like Stanford’s this season, and McCaffrey is one of the best players in the country, so we will see how legit the UW defense is this weekend.

TSD: Even if the defense does its job and clamps down on the Stanford offense, can the Washington offense do enough to win the game? With Jake Browning nursing an injury to his throwing shoulder and Jeff Lindquist and K.J. Carta-Samuels unproven commodities, will Washington’s offense be out of its comfort zone on Saturday?

EE: I can’t say I have much confidence in the UW offense even if Browning is able to go on Saturday. The Huskies have been inconsistent against quality opponents this season, especially through the air. If Browning isn’t able to go, the Huskies will have a really hard time passing the ball, with Lindquist and Carta-Samuels still unproven.

TSD: Washington’s offense, in general, has had lots of trouble staying on the field and ranks in the bottom two of the conference in number of offensive plays run. What has been the cause of that problem, and how do you think the team can remedy that on Saturday?

EE: They are just inconsistent. Sometimes they show flashes that make you think they can be a great offensive team. Other times, they go a whole quarter without completing a pass or recording a first down.

TSD: What does Washington need to do to win? How do you expect the game to play out? What are your keys to the game on both sides?

EE: If Washington is able to win, they will need to get off the field on third down on defense, limit big plays from McCaffrey (whether it be on the ground or in the return game) and take care of the ball on offense. If the Huskies can establish some sort of ground game and take some pressure off whoever is playing quarterback, the Huskies can make it a game in the fourth quarter. If not, this one may get ugly.

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’

Do-Hyoung Park '16, M.S. '17 is the Minnesota Twins beat reporter at, having somehow ensured that his endless hours sunk into The Daily became a shockingly viable career. He was previously the Chief Operating Officer and Business Manager at The Stanford Daily for FY17-18. He also covered Stanford football and baseball for five seasons as a student and served two terms as sports editor and four terms on the copy desk. He was also a color commentator for KZSU 90.1 FM's football broadcast team for the 2015-16 Rose Bowl season.

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