On Saturday, the Washington Huskies and Steve Sarkisian will have the privilege of facing the Illinois Fighting Illini on hallowed ground at Soldier Field. This will be the only game that the Illini will be playing at Soldier Field this season. In fact, it is only the second time the Illini have played a game at this site.
The Huskies are 1-0 so far this season, under Sarkisian and rated 19th in the AP poll. Quarterback Keith Price has definitely proven that he has a firm grip of coach Sarkisian’s pro style offense. The senior quarterback has high aspirations for his team this season, and a victory over a Big Ten team would put his team at 2-0, ready to take on Idaho State before entering Pac 12 play. The Huskies have two weeks to go before they begin their gauntlet of Arizona, Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State. They will be working out some kinks against the Fighting Illini this weekend, but do not think that they have overlooked their Big Ten opponent.
Price has a lot of experience and that experience will be vital this season, as the Huskies will be implementing a no huddle offense into their game plan. Price will have control over his offense, and his experience will hopefully pay off. Husky fans do not want to see some of the mistakes that Price made a year ago, when he threw 13 interceptions. Sarkasian is confident in his quarterback and his maturity should be evident on the field this season.
The Illini have quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase that the Husky’s defense will be responsible of keeping tabs on. Scheelhause is a true dual threat quarterback who can burn a defense with both his legs and his arm. The senior started 10 games last year, and is looking to end his career on a high note. Scheelhause will be facing a Husky defense that shut down Boise State and prides themselves on eliminating the big play. Scheelhause and his Illini offense will have to fight for every yard they can get. The Huskies have an active defensive line and secondary that is always looking to intercept the ball.
The Illini defense has not seen the success that their counterparts this weekend have. The defense for Illinios is giving up over six yards per play, which is not going to win many games. Illinois needs to find a way to stop opposing offenses, and improved offense cannot make up for a completely inept defense. The pass defense is where the Illini need the majority of their improvements, and they need them quickly with Price and the Huskies coming to town.
The Illini must disguise their pressure on the opposing quarterback ,in an attempt to put him on his back occasionally. Also, the Illini must mix up coverage packages, allowing them to steal a turnover from opponents occasionally. Their defense may not be as big or as fast as all of their opponents, but they can out-think opposing quarterbacks. Look for head coach Tim Beckman and defensive coordinator Tim Banks to spend a great amount of time preparing a defensive game plan for this week’s matchup. They need to rattle Price and force him to make some mistakes. The Illini will put up a valiant effort, but in the end, the Husky defensive prowess and the Illini Defensive deficiencies will provide the outcome of the game.