Century Link Field, usually festooned in blue and green, will dress up in purple tonight as the Washington Huskies take on the Aztecs of San Diego State in the 2012 season opener. The Huskies will play their home game at The Clink this season, as venerable Husky Stadium is being gutted and renovated for the 2013 season.
Offensively the Huskies look for junior quarterback Keith Price to continue developing. Price has been electrifying at times from behind center. Last year saw improvement in passing accuracy from Price, as he completed 66% of his passes for 3063 yards, with 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Those numbers, taken as a whole, resulted in a quarterback rating of 161.9, which exceeded the best output of Price’s more heralded predecessor, Jake Locker. Now, as an upperclassman, Price is expected to assume an even greater leadership role going forward.
With Chris Polk gone, the rushing duties fall to Jessie Callier and Bishop Sankey. Though they combined for 447 yards in 75 carries last year, neither has been asked to be the workhorse that Polk was for the Huskies. How they handle the heavier load will say much about the success of the Huskies ground attack this year.
It is on defense that Husky fans are hoping for great improvement. New defensive leadership was brought on board after the Huskies were embarrassed in the Alamo Bowl loss to Robert Griffin III and the Baylor Bears. Justin Wilcox, who played for Oregon in his collegiate days, was lured to Seattle to be the defensive coordinator for the Huskies. He had held the same position for the Tennessee Volunteers.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies most heralded defensive recruit in many years, safety Shaquille Thompson, hopes to make an early impression on his new fans. He joins Desmond Trufant, senior corner from Tacoma, in a defensive backfield that is short career success but long on potential.
The Aztecs bring a quarterback to Seattle that is no stranger to Pac-12 venues. Ryan Katz, transfer from Oregon State will be behind center for San Diego State tonight. The Aztec running game will be three headed with Adam Muema, Walter Kazee, and Chase Price all expected to get carries.
Las Vegas says the Huskies should win this one handily, pegging Washington as a 16.5 point favorite at home. The prediction from here? Take the Huskies and lay the points. Washington over San Diego State by a score of 42-17.
Tonight’s game can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks, with kickoff scheduled for 7:35 p.m. PDT. It will also be broadcast live on 950 KJR-AM.