From Seattle -- Former Spokesman-Review reporter Christian Caple now covers the Washington Huskies for the Tacoma News Tribune. That means he'll be in the booth for tomorrow's Apple Cup. Caple was generous enough to share his knowledge of both teams by answering five questions about Friday's game.
Read on, after the jump.
What can we expect from the Washington running backs? They piled up yards against Oregon State, but struggled against Arizona State.
1. You can expect them (read: Bishop Sankey) to get the ball a heck of a lot. But I'm stopping short of predicting a super-duper big-time game on the ground, given how effectively Mike Breske game-planned for the Huskies' ground attack last year. Still, if UW has a successful game offensively, it will be because Sankey takes 25 or so carries for 140 or so yards, which is right around his per-game average this season. Not sure I'd expect anyone besides him to touch the ball a whole lot.
WSU gave up zero sacks last weekend to Utah, the national leader in sacks entering the game. Will UW be able to pressure quarterback Connor Halliday?
2. That's always kind of been the question for UW against better offenses. The Huskies are a top-20 team, nationally, in total sacks, but many of those have come against weaker teams (Idaho State, California). But they also got to Sean Mannion pretty frequently last week, sacking him on the first play from scrimmage and three times total, and pressuring him throughout the game. It really disrupted Oregon State's offensive rhythm. WSU is a lot different team than OSU, though, because the Cougars throw so much more quick stuff and make it a lot harder for opposing defenses to pressure the quarterback much. That will be a good matchup.
The Huskies have already locked up a bowl game but don't want to finish another regular season with 7 wins. The Cougars, however, aren't guaranteed to play in a bowl game. Which team is under more pressure on Friday?
3. Washington, without question. Nobody will be calling for Mike Leach's job if the Cougars don't win. A 6-6 season probably exceeds the expectations a lot of people had for WSU this year, including their own athletic director. If the Huskies go 7-5 again, that will only increase the volume of those already shouting about Steve Sarkisian's mediocre coaching record. Plus, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Bill Moos doesn't find a way to get WSU into a bowl game, whether they finish 6-6 or 7-5.
Will Washington coach Steve Sarkisian be on the hot seat with a loss in the Apple Cup?
4. Yes, he would be, but I think he's probably safe for now. Seven wins will certainly have the pressure dialed up heading into next season, but the way they played and won at OSU last week helped calm the situation a bit.
What do you miss the most about covering the Cougars?
5. Everyone at the S-R, and WSU's sports information people and administrators. Great people to work with. Players, coaches, Sella's. Pulled pork at Martin Stadium. And, of course, $495/month rent for a 2-bedroom apartment.