The Washington Huskies will bring the heat Saturday with their high-flying passing game.
The LSU Tigers will already have the heat on display when the Huskies arrive — with buckets on the sideline to catch the sweat.
There’s little doubt Washington will test the No. 3-ranked Tigers with one of the most dangerous passing attacks they will see all season.
But the South Louisiana September weather — hot and sticky with about a 50-50 chance of rain — will likely test the Huskies’ stamina and maybe have them wishing their visit to Tiger Stadium was scheduled for another season.
It was 67 degrees with 52 percent humidity for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Seattle on Saturday as Washington turned back San Diego State 21-12. It was 82, cloudy and humid in Tiger Stadium, still damp in spots from the drenching rain of Hurricane Isaac, for LSU’s 41-14 win over North Texas.
Certainly they know precipitation in Seattle, which averages about 150 rainy days per year.
But the combination of heat and humidity is something the sub-tropical South has in abundance.
Saturday should be typically steamy. According to WeatherUnderground.com, the forecast is for 86 for the 6 p.m. kickoff with 60 percent humidity.
Strong safety Craig Loston, a native of Houston, has been playing/swimming through this climate all his life. He’s optimistic the weather will be LSU’s ally.
“That’s like us going up there for a cold-weather game,” Loston said. “It could have an effect on the game.
“If it’s pretty humid, that’s good for us. We practice in weather like this every day.”
The Tigers often play in it, too.
Last season, an unseasonably warm one, saw only one LSU game kick off at less than 60 degrees (it was 59 in Tuscaloosa for the LSU-Alabama game on Nov. 3). Six LSU games started at 71 or above, including 75 for the Arkansas game here on Nov. 25.
Conversely, Washington played in only one game that kicked off in plus-80 degree weather: 81 at Utah on Oct. 1. The Huskies played six games in which the temperature at kickoff was less than 60, including a bone-chilling, rainy 42 at Oregon State on Nov. 19.
Of course, if it’s rain you want, that could come in the passes the Huskies rain down on the LSU defense.
Washington averaged 255.5 yards per game passing per game last season, good enough to rank 35th nationally (LSU ranked 106th). Huskies quarterback Keith Price, now a junior, ranked seventh in FBS passing efficiency as he completed 242 of 362 passes for 3,063 yards with 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Against San Diego State, Price’s numbers were less robust: 25 of 35 for 222 yards and a touchdown. But that doesn’t leave LSU’s defensive backs any less impressed.
“They have no real tendencies,” free safety Eric Reid said. “They run good routes. If the defensive back is in good coverage, they’ll break the route off to give the quarterback a good throw.
“You have to be very disciplined with the eyes, as coach (Corey) Raymond says. They do a lot of play action, run the running back on wheel routes. We’ve got to stay focused.”
And Price is plenty mobile as well, Reid said. He had six carries for a net 17 yards against SDSU.
“He can stretch a play out if the pocket is breaking down,” Reid said. “He can move outside the pocket and if he can’t make a throw, he’ll just run.”
Price’s top targets are also big ones: 6-foot-6, 266-pound tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and 6-2, 216-pound wide receiver Kasen Williams. Seferian-Jenkins caught nine passes for 82 yards last week, Williams six for 75 with a touchdown.
Cornerback Tharold Simon said he only had a couple of passes that were even intended for his direction in Saturday’s 41-14 win over North Texas. But even though the Huskies are sure to target LSU freshman defensive backs like Jalen Mills, Jalen Collins, Micah Eugene and Corey Thompson, Simon figures there will be challenges all around.
“I saw some good plays and a couple of sloppy plays” from the freshmen, Simon said, “relax when they shouldn’t be relaxing. But for the most part they played a good game.
“(Mills) was my roommate at the hotel (Friday night). I kept asking him if he was ready and he said, ‘Yeah, let’s go do this.’ I think he really played good, but this week they’re going to really test him.”
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