As we address 10 questions that need to be asked leading up to Saturday night’s Washington-Arizona State football game, weather forecasters say it’s going to rain that evening. Which means it will likely be Northwest monsoon conditions. Wet, windy and biting cold at Husky Stadium.
A perfect storm for beating a team visiting from the desert, you say. A distinct advantage for the home club by forcing a group with the misfortune of being named the Sun Devils to adjust to an uncomfortable, slippery and non-passing football environment. Which brings us to this:
Will the weather even matter? Hate to rain on anyone’s Montlake parade, but a 2014 visit by ASU indicates no. In the same scenario, late at night, with everyone shivering and the smart ones at home watching on television, the Sun Devils came in, shrugged off the elements and left with a 24-10 victory. This was coach Chris Petersen’s first team. This was against a UW defense that fielded a half-dozen future NFL players, and an offense topped by all-purpose Shaq Thompson’s 104 yards rushing.
Boxers or briefs? Fries or onion rings? OK, Damon or Brock? Who will you listen to for broadcast analysis on Saturday’s game? For the third time, the Huard brothers will be in the press box at the same time, offering competing viewpoints on the air—Brock for ESPN-TV, Damon for KOMO Radio. They’re former Huskies and NFL quarterbacks who have used their football smarts to establish themselves as able broadcasters. Brock has been at ESPN since 2008, Damon on the UW radio team since 2010. Damon played 12 years in the pros, Brock six. Damon threw for 5,692 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Huskies, Brock 5,742 yards and 51 scores. As local pitchmen, one sells cars for a Puyallup dealership, the other steak dinners for a Seattle restaurant. So who’s better behind the microphone? “What are you trying to do, drive a wedge between brothers?” Brock, 42, asked as he sat with the older Damon, 45, at the UW on Thursday, going over game notes together. Leave it to Damon, who has a pair of Super Bowl rings, to bring perspective to this media moment. “Brock’s the better broadcaster,” he said. “I’m the better the quarterback.”
Who or what is a Renell Wren? Internet stories describe him as a freak or a beast. The ASU roster lists him as No. 95, a 6-foot-6, 304-pound senior defensive end. His Sun Devils profile offers a background photo that shows him about to swallow Jake Browning. He's in the photo accompanying this Maven story, looking like Superman. He’s a big reason these guys from Tempe pulled a 13-7 upset of the fourth-ranked Huskies a year ago. His lingering presence is why it could happen again.
Will Herm Edwards make a difference? The new ASU coach is 1-2 at Husky Stadium, splitting a pair of games as a Cal cornerback and losing as a San Jose State secondary coach. He’s old school. He’s fun to talk to. Hey, he beat a ranked Michigan State team two weeks ago. His team should be ready to go to work.
Are the Huskies really 17 ½ points better than the Sun Devils? I think those odds get cut in half simply by the threat of inclement weather. More on the outcome later.
In winning 11 of the past 12 outings, does ASU rightly still own the Huskies? Well, some of this upper hand was demonstrated during the darkest hours of UW football that lasted nearly a decade (the low points being Ty Willingham, 0-12, absolutely no players). Yet Petersen has dropped three of four outings against the Sun Devils so far, and Stanford is the only other conference team to beat him three times. It’s something to think about.
Who wins in the primetime match-up between ASU’s N’Keal Harry and the Huskies’ Byron Murphy? The wide receiver and the cornerback. Former high school teammates. Arizona natives. Pro prospects. Mano-on-mano. Murphy missed this game with an injury last year and played extremely well last week, so he’s got reason to be ready. Harry had a big night against the Murphy-less Huskies in 2017, so he’s got a track record. Hate to water down this pairing, but it could be a wash because of the weather. They might end up standing in the rain, wondering if anyone is going to throw it their way. Or throw it at all.
Will Myles Gaskin be a factor? He’s always a factor. The Huskies will need him more than ever this weekend because of the threat of weather and the ongoing O-line uncertainty (it’s been down two starters most of the season). He’s the guy, who with his patient ball-carrying skills, makes the Huskies a notch better at times.
Has anyone seen Trey Adams? The latest report had him lying on the beach in Cabo. No wait, he was seated in the front row at the Emmys. Hang on, we just heard he was spotted climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Actually, still no official word out of Huskyville on the status of the former All-Pac-12 tackle and pro prospect supposedly recuperating from some health setback. The school’s not talking.
OK, who wins this puddle-fest? I think Herm Edwards, the former NFL coach back for a college foray—and good for him that it’s working—will have his ASU team ready to play. I think the Sun Devils will lead early and make it interesting. However, Husky Stadium was rebuilt for Petersen and decisive wins, not Willingham or Sarkisian and the ill-timed upset. UW players will be singing, “Raindrops keep falling on my head,” while the Sun Devils keep falling on their backsides, and the 10th-ranked Huskies will pull out a 17-10 decision.