August 29, 2007

Orange keys to victory vs. Washington

The Orange will attempt to start this season with some excitement, playing a Friday night game against the Washington Huskies in the Carrier Dome in a contest that will be nationally televised on ESPN. The game will be the Orange's first Friday game since it played Connecticut on a Friday in 2005.

"It's at home, at night, and I think we'll be prepared," Head Coach Greg Robinson said this week. The game, and the Orange's season, will kick off at 8 p.m.

The Orange will be facing a Huskies team that finished last season 5-7 but came away with victories over UCLA, Arizona, and Washington State in the PAC-10.

The Huskies started the season a promising 4-1 but lost six of their last seven games. Head Coach Tyrone Willingham is showing slow but steady improvement, finishing his first season in 2005 at 2-9 and adding three more wins in 2006.

Continuing that trend in 2007 won't be easy for Willingham though.

Here are three keys that the Orange, and their fans, should watch for heading into Friday night's opener:

1) Sophomores Under Center

Like the Orange, the Huskies are trusting a signal caller without much game experience heading into this season. In fact, sophomore starting quarterback Jake Locker will see his first snap in the Carrier Dome as he didn't make it in for a single play as a true freshman last season.

Isaiah Stanback, who started the Huskies' first seven games, threw for 1,325 yards and 10 touchdowns but has since graduated.

It will be a battle to see which sophomore (Locker or Syracuse's Andrew Robinson) can adapt to the speed of the game the quickest.

Look for Greg Robinson to use an aggressive defensive approach to rattle the young quarterback early.

Jameel McClain said this summer he hoped to break Dwight Freeney's single season record of 17.5 sacks. Chasing down Locker will be a good place to start, although McClain could have a hard time getting to the sophomore.

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