We’re at the halfway point of the season (can you believe it?), and the Huskies have played some very impressive football thus far. Both the offense and defense deserve credit for the Huskies 4-2 record and No. 20 ranking, which begs the question, which unit has been better this season? We asked each of our writers to give his opinion on the topic.
Evan Webeck: When I posed this question to the writers, I didn’t have an answer in mind. Obviously, both units have been impressive, if not dominant in some cases. I’m going to say the defense, just because of how far it has come in just two years since Justin Wilcox took over. It’s elevated its game to become one of the top defenses in the conference. The Huskies held Oregon to its lowest point total of the season, and are averaging a spectacular 19.8 points against per game. This is no knock against the offense but praise for the defense.
Paul Somerstein: We knew the defense was going to be solid – maybe not this good, but still solid. The big question was surrounding Keith Price and how he would be able to run this new fast paced scheme. Even with losses the past two weeks, the offense has been incredibly impressive. Bishop Sankey is getting Heisman and All-American love and Keith Price is back to his 2011 form. Imagine what they would be doing if ASJ became a factor again? This team has put up huge amounts of points and yards against two top tier teams in Stanford and Oregon, and from here, the schedule loosens up a lot. After ASU we have Cal and Colorado. I’d look for them to continue improving and putting up huge numbers.
Erik Erickson: I will have to say the defense. Going into the season I think the defense was one of the bigger questions marks. In their second season under Justin Wilcox the Huskies have finally become a defense that other teams fear. While the defensive line isnt quite up to the level of the rest of the defense, Danny Shelton has established himself as the anchor of the defense and has played at an All-Pac 12 level. The linebacking crew may be the best in the Pac-12. Shaq Thompson has emerged as a big time NFL prospect in his 2nd season, and John Timu, Princeton Fuimaono and Travis Feeney have been flying around the field. While they didnt have a great outing against Oregon, the secondary has held their own on the outside and made it difficult opposing teams to pass downfield. The offense returned so much talent that I have to say that the defense has impressed me the most so far in 2013.
Eric Nelson: So far this year, defense has been more impressive. They held Boise State to 6 points, Arizona to 13, a potent Illinois team to 24 and Stanford to 17 if you subtract the two huge special teams plays Stanford had. They have shut down every quarterback who is not a Heisman favorite, they’ve looked very, very good in every game except Oregon. However, if you look at potential to be good, I say they offense is better. Price is having his best year yet, Sankey is honestly the best RB in the nation so far, the talent at receiver and O-Line has been a pleasant surprise, and the up tempo looks like it can bring the Huskies to the next level on offense. So why are they not as good as the defense so far? They haven’t executed like the defense has, they have racked up too many penalties, and, unlike the defense, have not done well when they are close to field goal range and the red zone. If they can shore up the correctable mistakes, they will be the better unit. But for now, the defense is superior.
Jackson Safon: The defense has been the most impressive unit this season. I fully expected Keith Price and the offense to bounce back after a rough season last year, but I did not expect the defense to play at the level they are playing at. They have been one of if not the best defense in the conference! Plus, the offense always had the pieces to succeed with a heisman candidate in Bishop Sankey, an All-American in Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and a grouping of talented receivers. The question is most impressive, and because of lower expectations and just as much success, the defense has been more impressive.