Washington hopes Portland State is the get-well-soon card it intended upon scheduling it. The Vikings lost last week 45-37 to North Dakota, then fired defensive coordinator Erick Jackson midway through this week.
That’s an ugly set of circumstances, almost as ugly as the Washington offense has been early. The Huskies are 117th out of 120 Div. I teams in total offense heading into Week 3.
With the caveat that thumping Portland State proves little — whereas a tight game would prove a lot — here are three things to watch from the offense Saturday:
1. Ability to handle the blitz. San Diego State blitzed Washington often out of its 3-3-5 funky defense. In week 2, LSU blitzed less, simply because it didn’t have to. Four defensive linemen were plenty for the Tigers. Washington is yet to strike against blitzes, though head coach Steve Sarkisian thinks his quarterback and receivers are close to doing so. “I think they were just a little bit off,” Sarkisian said. “The continuity is just a little bit off, we’re just a hair off here and that doesn’t mean we won’t get there, it has just taken us a little longer than we’ve liked.”
2. Wide receiver blocking. The departure of Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse, as well as the injury to James Johnson, didn’t just hurt Washington in touchdowns lost. Those three guys knew the schemes and blocked well for one another when the Huskies ran their beloved bubble screens or “sticks” throws. With two small freshman receivers at times on the edge, Jaydon Mickens (5-10, 170) and Kendyl Taylor (5-10, 200), Washington has seen little life in those plays this season.
3. Second tight end. Sarkisian salivates at the thought of two tight end sets, especially after having no traction from that spot prior to Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ arrival. But, Michael Hartvigson (one catch for five yards) has been missing the first two weeks of the season. With such manic concern from defenses around Seferian-Jenkins, Hartvigson should be able to influence the game more.
> According to Dawgman.com, junior college cornerback Travell Dixon, who originally signed to play at Alabama prior to leaving for personal reasons, will transfer to Washington. Dixon is expected to be eligible in 2013.
> Washington State hung on to beat UNLV 35-27 Friday night. Connor Halliday was 26 for 44 for 387 yards, four touchdowns and two picks. Head coach Mike Leach also had some curious end-game management decisions that gave UNLV a last shot at the end zone.
Saturday’s Pac-12 schedule:
1 p.m. (FX) Portland State at Washington: Craig Bolerjack (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (color) and Petros Papadakis (sidelines).
9 a.m.: California at No. 12 Ohio State (ABC)
Noon: Tennessee Tech at No. 4 Oregon (Pac-12 Networks) – Kevin Calabro, Adam Archuleta and Yogi Roth call the game.
4 p.m.: Arizona State at Missouri (ESPN2).
4:30 p.m.: No. 2 USC at No. 21 Stanford (FOX)
5 p.m.: Colorado at Fresno State (CBS Sports Network)
7 p.m.: No. 25 Brigham Young at Utah (ESPN2)
7:30 p.m.: Houston at No. 22 UCLA (Pac-12 Networks)
7:30 p.m.: South Carolina State at No. 24 Arizona (Pac-12 Arizona)