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Getting to know the Washington Huskies with Seattle radio’s Dave Mahler

Washington has some issues that need to be corrected in a hurry.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Washington at Stanford

Michigan got off to a good start in Week 1 with a 47-14 win over Western Michigan. However, UM’s Week 2 opponent fell flat to open their year. The Washington Huskies were upset by Montana 13-7.

The Huskies were ranked No. 20 heading into Week 1, but offensive line issues plagued them in their loss to the Grizzlies. Washington’s defense held their own until the final minutes, but there are a lot of question marks and injuries on the offensive side of the ball heading into their tilt vs. Michigan.

To sort it all out we caught up with Dave Mahler from 950 KJR in Seattle to get the scoop on Washington. You can find the conversation below in both transcript and podcast form.

For the Michigan fan who didn’t watch Washington’s loss to Montana — what went wrong and what can they do to fix it?

Well, the biggest problem was the offensive line. To be honest with you, they just got man handled by Montana’s front seven. And that was the most disappointing thing I think of the entire game is that was supposed to be one of your strengths. And You could you can envision maybe some wacky, crazy ending where Montana just simply finds a way to win the game, but not like that. Not because your offensive lines struggled to protect the quarterback. And that was, I think, disturbing for Husky fans to see on Saturday.

All offseason long, we talked about how great this offensive line was going to be. And they had all five guys back from a year ago, including an all American candidate in Jaxson Kirkland at left tackle, whose father Dean played for the Huskies back in the day. That was pretty shocking to see. They actually replaced a couple linemen during the game on Saturday. And really, nothing worked against those guys. And it’s possible it was just a horrible, horrible matchup for them. It’s also possible they overlooked Montana.

Ryan Bowman, defensive end No. 55 said today that he thought that they just did not have any energy at the sideline, which is very unusual for a head coach like Jimmy Lake — one of his biggest things he brings to the table is his youthfulness and his energy. And they did not have any of that on Saturday. It was just a complete disaster on on all sides. The football, recruiting, special teams, coaching. Defense, the defense hung in there as long as they could and then got pushed around in the fourth quarter when it became apparent that they maybe needed to score to win the game or force a turnover. Maybe they were pressing a little bit. I think the biggest problem on Saturday was the play of the offensive line. So we’re gonna see what happens this weekend against a much better front seven, I’ll tell you that in Michigan.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris obviously had a bad game, but part of that can be attributed the offensive line. He threw three interceptions. — but he was a highly touted prospect, the No. 5 pro style quarterback in his class. Can Morris get some stuff done if he’s protected?

Dylan Morris is not — you think of all the great Husky quarterbacks that we’ve had here at UW from like Jake locke, Brock Huard, Warren Moon, Damon Huard. Chris Chandler back in the day, of course, Marcus Tuisasasopo, who beat Purdue in the Rose Bowl, and Drew Brees in 2000. He’s not of that ilk. There’s no question about that. He’s not a guy that right now, I would think would be coveted by the NFL.

But we saw last year that he’s also not totally incapable, either. I mean, he had a bad day, nobody’s gonna make excuses for Dylan Morris, he had a bad day, throwing a football he had three interceptions. At least two of them were on him, by the way, ran into at least one sack, maybe even two of them. He was over throwing, under throwing guys all day long. But I think a large part of that was because of the offensive line.

Yes, if you give him protection, he can find guys. But on top of that, and this is another issue for this game on Saturday, Washington was down there top four wide receivers in this game. I know you guys are down Ronnie Bell after the Western Michigan game over the weekend. But if they don’t get some of those guys back, that could be a pretty thin group this weekend as well.

With all these receivers out, it seems like conventional wisdom would say Cade Otton is gonna be a bigger factor?

Yeah, he had eight catches in the game on Saturday. But, you know, they were having to leave him home to block a lot. And I’m wondering what his kind of role for this game will be against Michigan. Are they gonna use jumbo packages again? We saw three tight end sets in this game on Saturday versus Montana, will we see that again against Michigan?

He is he is from a past catching perspective. Absolutely the biggest threat that Washington has to offer. He’s a ten targets per game kind of guy and has NFL written all over him. But if you can’t protect the five and need to leave six home, even seven, then all of a sudden Cade Otton’s effectiveness as a past catcher is negated because the guy is staying home to be used as a blocker. I’m just curious to see what last week meant and what going into Saturday they can get done with their basic offensive line. Because if they need to use Cade Otton as a blocker that’s going to take away a giant weapon for Dylan Morris.

Moving to the other side of the ball on defense — Washington last season, although it was a truncated season, they did lead the PAC 12 in total defense. That’s always an impressive feat when you look at that conference, a talented conference. Are you still high on the Washington defense this year?

Yeah, I am. I thought there were some disappointing things about the game on Saturday. But you know, eleven minutes to go in the game — Montana had three points. I’m not saying that is really anything that should be celebrated. Because it’s Montana, for God’s sakes. I mean, they should do a good job of holding a team like that down. But I think the defense for the most part, up until those last couple drives, they were doing everything they were supposed to do. And then for whatever reason, they just fell apart. Maybe it was because they felt pressure to step up. Maybe they were getting tight. Maybe they felt like they should have forced a turn over and given the Huskies better field position. But there were two opportunities in the game where UW’s defense did give the Huskies the ball inside the Montana 50. And they did nothing with it. I think if there’s one thing about the defense, I’d like to see them do better, I’d love to see the interior of the defensive line maybe play a little better (Saim Taimani and Tuli Letuligasenoa)

No. 55 Ryan Bowman might be their best edge rusher, No. 48 Edefuan Ulofoshio is their best linebacker, and then No. 22 Trent McDuffie is probably their best cover corner. It’s just hard to talk about anything positive from that game. When you lose to a freaking FCS team.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh made comments this past week where he called the loss Washington had to Montana irrelevant. And he also said that he’s heard from Michigan players — that their friends on Washington consider Michigan ‘like their biggest game’, they’ve been ‘preparing for it all summer’, ‘the one they had circled’. What have you heard in your orbit out that way in the Pacific Northwest?

Because it’s the biggest non conference game that you play. It’s the next game on the schedule. So I mean, I don’t know what Harbaugh’s talking about, that just sounds like a bunch of nonsense and a guy just throwing cliches out there to get his own team fired up. I mean, if I were Jim Harbaugh, I would not want my players looking at Washington as the team that lost the Montana, I would want them looking at them just as Washington — a team that when you normally play them, it’s a gigantic game. This is the first time since the 1950s that neither one of these teams are ranked in this series. So usually, when these guys get together, it’s either a matchup of top 25 teams in non conference or it’s in the Rose Bowl for God’s sakes. So this usually is a really, really big game. And obviously, with both teams kind of struggling right now with where they’re at, regarding the history of the program.

The game isn’t as big from a national scale. But you know, look, I mean, if I’m Washington, I’m glad you’re playing Michigan, as opposed to a team like Arkansas State, who the Huskies have a week from now. I don’t know how much you could have learned from a game like that. I think need to play a game like this to truly see where they’re at. You play a game like Arkansas State, and you pound them, you’re supposed to win a game like that, it’s just basically another version of Montana for God’s sakes

I’m glad that Washington’s playing a game like this because we’re going to get a real measuring stick for where they are after this game on Saturday.

Speaking of measure sticks, where do you measure Michigan? Have you had a chance to do a little film study this past week?

I wouldn’t say film study, I did watch the first three quarters of the Western Michigan game last week. The guy that I was most impressed with is now not playing — Ronnie Bell, I thought he was electric in that game on Saturday before he got hurt. I was pretty impressed by Cade McNamara, he has touch down the field. And Hutchinson we all know about, he’s obviously a great player whose dad Chad played for Michigan back in the day.

I think this this Michigan defense looks decent to me. I don’t know, I’m not sure if they’re a world beater, elite Big Ten defense right now, but they look very capable. They look like they’re on par with what UW has to offer.

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