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ASU football is now 77 days away from its season opener, and 114 days from its Week 6 matchup against Washington. The Washington Huskies are a team with various question marks going into the 2022-23 season.
First-year head coach Kalen DeBoer has an overall 79-9 record at that position throughout his career. Yet, this is his first Power Five conference job.
DeBoer’s first task at hand is a hefty one as he aims to steer the ship in a better direction than 2021. The Huskies put together one of their worst seasons in recent memory after going 4-8 overall and 3-6 in Pac-12 play.
Not to mention, this year’s Huskies team is full of glaring holes, which bodes well for Arizona State. The biggest unchecked box for UW is the quarterback position.
As it stood at the end of the Washington spring game, DeBoer didn’t name a true starting quarterback. However, it looks like it’ll be between junior Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Huard.
Penix Jr. proved to be wildly inconsistent in his decision-making at Indiana. On the other hand, Huard’s only real action came against Washington State in 2021. It was a contest where he threw a single touchdown and four interceptions.
The lack of a real threat at quarterback should allow for the ASU defense to take full command of this meeting. In fact, this game might get ugly for the Huskies depending on how the Sun Devils’ secondary plays.
Regardless of the defensive backs, the expectation should be for fifth-year linebacker Merlin Robertson to have a key role in this matchup. Odds are UW will lean on the rushing attack until it figures out where their passing game stands, and that’s where Robertson thrives.
Over his career in maroon and golf, Robertson has tallied 237 tackles, four forced fumbles and seven sacks. It’ll be crucial for him to shut down UW sophomore running back Cameron Davis. Although Davis projects to be the go-to guy for the Huskies, he wouldn’t start or even be the No. 2 guy if he were at ASU.
The Sun Devil defense has a clear advantage over UW in almost every facet. With that being said, Washington teams in the past have been known for their defense. That means it’ll be up to sophomore running back Daniyel Ngata and redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones to be the difference-makers on offense.
Huskies sophomore cornerback Mishael Powell will likely be tested throughout the season and against the Sun Devils. That’s not to say Powell isn’t a talented player, but he has to fill a void left by multiple cornerbacks who were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The expectation is he slides into the No. 1 cornerback spot after playing in all 12 games in 2021. Is he ready to shoulder that workload? Jones and the Sun Devil offense will find out.
Ngata in the backfield should have somewhat of a field day against a UW defense that hasn’t significantly improved from a season ago. Washington opponents rushed for over 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2021. Running backs galloped their way to 4.7 yards per carry against the Huskies.
Despite countless players entering the transfer portal this offseason, the Sun Devils are still in much better shape than the Huskies. In fact, this may be a rare scenario for ASU in the sense that this game against UW shouldn’t be a close one.
With UW not featuring a ton of talent on offense and a relatively average defense, this is a Huskies team that may finish near the bottom of the conference in 2022.