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September 19, 2013

ISU passing game could test secondary




The simple reality is it's nearly impossible for college football teams to show their A-game more than a few times a season. Don't be surprised if Saturday's game is less than Washington's best.

The players have read plenty of gushing press clippings over the first three weeks of the season.

The team is returning home from halfway across the country after a convincing win over a BCS opponent.

And they're taking on an FCS opponent.

Fans and observers can say it even if players and coaches can't. Washington doesn't have to play their best to beat Idaho State this weekend. Nobody would be surprised if the Huskies win this weekend's match-up by forty points. But don't be surprised if this game is a little anti-climactic compared to the feverish pitch of the last two.

The atmosphere won't approach that of the opener against Boise State. It's a day game and the opponent doesn't have a big name brand.

The Bengals haven't looked bad at all this season. In fact they have the opportunity to piece together a great year. But the biggest game on their calendar almost seems like an intermission between a challenging non-conference slate and the start of Pac-12 play.

But now that we've gotten all of that out of the way let's think about something else. Idaho State has the kind of passing game that could really test Washington. Probably not enough to beat the Huskies, but enough to give them plenty of practice heading into league play.

The Bengals are 2-0 and have totaled nearly 900 yards through the air in those two contests. Justin Arias, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior from Agoura Hills (Calif.), has thrown all 98 of the team's passes. Only one was intercepted and four have gone for touchdowns.

While the quantity of passes has been enormous the Bengals aren't hitting on the big plays that would keep Justin Wilcox up at night; Arias' longest completions in those games went for 37 and 31-yards respectively.

Still, it's an efficient passing game. Senior receiver Cameron Richmond is putting up huge numbers and the game-plan will revolve around making other players beat him.

Washington's defense can be very good this year. So can the offense. But don't be surprised if there are moments on Saturday when it looks like the Huskies are less than their best. Even if the final score doesn't reflect that.

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