Washington Preview with UW Dawg Pound

UW Insider Mark Schafer Answers Our Questions

By Grant Avalon | 10-26-2023 10:11 PM PT

Photo by Washington Athletics

Stanford hosts #5 Washington on Saturday in what may be the toughest game yet for the Cardinal. We asked Mark Schafer of UW Dawg Pound to give us the details on this incoming juggernaut. Our answers to his questions can be found on their site.

CT: Washington has had some excellent teams over the years. How does this year's squad stack up against, say, the 2017 CFP team?

This is the best Husky offense I personally have seen in a long time. After the mess that was the Lake/Donovan era offense, this has been a breath of fresh air. The ’16-‘17 team had just one pro-ready wide receiver in the incredible John Ross. This team has 3, in Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan. All can hurt you in different ways, as will be discussed a bit later. The two squads have similarities in that they have found their “bell-cow” back (Myles Gaskin in ’16, and Dillon Johnson in ’23). As for the defense, I feel like the makeup is different because in ’16 and ’17, there were future pros everywhere. Here, maybe we have 3 or 4 but we’re far more aggressive in the secondary as opposed to last year, with less aggression on the line, as the defense ranks 118th in sacks. Still, I feel more confident in this defense to make plays and cause chaos compared to last year. They fly to the ball and hit hard, but tackling is an issue, as it’s been for the past few seasons. Steady improvement is about as much I can ask from this defense right now, this being year 2 of this new staff. To sum up, this team gets it done on offense, and less so on defense, but that’s neither good nor bad, as the identity of this squad is offense first.

Michael Penix Jr. is a Heisman favorite. What does he need to do to seal the deal and become Washington's first ever (?) Heisman winner? Will a bunch of Bo Nix style billboards do the trick?

Michael Penix Jr. is the best quarterback in the history of UW football because of his football IQ and incredible arm talent. He can make throws that even some NFL QBs can’t make, and his grasp of the system makes the players around him better. To win the Heisman, Penix must first win this game, then run through what I have termed “the Gauntlet”, or Washington’s schedule after this game, which features USC, Utah, Oregon State and Washington State. He must dominate these games, and all subsequent games afterward to seal the deal. I do think the program has done a better job with the marketing campaign than last year, but the ASU game proved that he’s human, so he needs a couple monster performances to stay in the hunt.

Which Washington players are NFL caliber? Walk us through the top talent and what round you think they'll go.

First, Michael Penix Jr. He possesses a pro ready football IQ and incredible arm talent, and is a coach on the field, who knows a pro style system. I think he has played himself up to a mid to late first round pick. Rome Odunze is a fast, physical and sure handed athletic receiver who might be the first receiver off the board, going top 10. Jalen McMillan is equally sure handed and is a kind of safety valve for Penix, getting open underneath and taking the ball himself for big gains. He can also run the ball and play a little bit of quarterback if they call for it. I think he might be a mid first round pick. Ja’Lynn Polk is the deep threat, using his speed to get separation and his incredibly soft hands to catch vertical passes. I would love for him to come back, but if he doesn’t, I think he’s a late first to a mid second round pick. On defense of course there’s Bralen Trice and ZTF. Trice uses his power and deceptive speed for a big guy to cause havoc for opposing quarterbacks, ZTF shows great quickness and burst to get in the way of opposing offenses. I think Trice is first round, but ZTF might have slipped a bit; he may be a third or fourth round pick.

Who do you got? Stanford +26.5 or Washington -26.5?

Like last week, I think 26.5 is a giant line, regardless of how good UW is or how bad Stanford is. I still think UW comes out firing, with something to prove after the meltdown by the offense last week against ASU, and I still think they win, I just think the line will be too great for the Dawgs to cover.

UW-45, Stanford-21

Rank the following in terms of how much they deserve blame for the death of the Pac-12: Larry Scott, George Kliavkoff, U$C, UCLA, Fox, ESPN

1.    Larry Scott- Oh Larry, I hate you. We hate you. From overestimating the value of the PAC 12 to making no effort to ensure the PAC 12 network was carried on DirecTV, you started this whole thing.

2.    George Kliavkoff- Kliavkoff was put in an immensely tough position, having taken over shortly before the dominoes fell. Still though, for him and the university presidents to sit on their hands while Brett Yormark, in a similar position, immediately secured a future for the Big 12 is not a good look.

3.    USC, UCLA- I’m going to pull a Dan Lanning here and pose a question: when’s the last time USC and UCLA won the conference? For USC it’s been 6 years, and for UCLA, it’s been since 1998! That’s even before I was born! For them to be the elitists snobs, like with Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC, is rich. They’re the force behind the realignment dominoes, and they deserve a large share of the blame.

4.    ESPN/Fox-It sucks so much that college football now is making decisions based on TV contracts and I think they too deserve much of the blame, but ESPN several years ago presented an offer to the PAC 12 Network to buy it outright and the commish said no, so equal blame on that.

Attached is a picture of Stanford's latest Tree. Give us your thoughts / feelings / nightmares and then describe how you'd kill it in battle

This tree is needlessly angry for no reason! What did I do to you, tree? I don’t find the default tree as scary as, say, the Penn State Nittany Lion or Purdue Pete’s unblinking face, but for this one, I make an exception.

If I may, because of my inability to walk consistently, I would like to enlist the help of other mascots to assist in battle. Give me Purdue Pete, and Pistol Pete of Oklahoma State, and of course, our ace in the hole, the Michael Jordan of this mascot brawl, Benny the Beaver. With the combined power of a guy with a hammer (Purdue Pete), a crack shot (Pistol Pete), and a beaver to gnaw through the tree (Benny) we can take the tree down in 5 minutes tops.

--Stanford Men's Hoops National Champs '42 '91 '12 '15

TAGS: Brett Yormark the PAC 12 Network ESPN UCLA the Penn State Nittany Lion Husky Purdue Pete Benny Fox Jalen Larry Scott- Larry Scott Stanford +26.5 a Dan Lanning Michael Penix Jr. Bralen Trice CFP McMillan Oklahoma State Bo Nix
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