Familiar faces as Washington hosts Georgia State

TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE (AP) — Trent Miles still has the memories even if his time working at Washington was mostly filled with forgettable losses.

“I really enjoyed living there. My two daughters were born there at the UW Medical Center and just up until recently we still owned a home there,” Miles said. “My wife is quoted saying as it being the best place she’s lived up until now. It’s a special place for us.”

Now the head coach at Georgia State, Miles and his staff filled with Washington connections bring the Panthers to Seattle for a matchup with the Huskies on Saturday afternoon.

For Washington (3-0), it serves as the final tuneup with a showdown with Stanford to start Pac-12 play a week off. Georgia State (1-2) provides Washington the final chance to fully put to rest the concerns that were raised in escaping Hawaii and Eastern Washington with wins, and that were slightly calmed in last week’s 44-19 romp over Illinois.

“I think the offense is coming along, I think each week we’re improving, individually and as a unit,” Washington QB Cyler Miles said. “That’s all I can ask for.”

Geographically, it’s a matchup that makes little sense, although the Panthers are scheduled to play next season at Oregon. Georgia State is receiving $900,000 from Washington and the ties between the programs are surprisingly significant.

Along with Trent Miles, the Panthers bring three other coaches who previously worked at Washington: secondary coach J.D. Williams, wide receivers coach Tim Lappano and quarterbacks coach Luke Huard. Williams and Lappano were coaches with Miles on the staff of Tyrone Willingham during his tenure at Washington, while Huard was a graduate assistant whose two brothers both quarterbacked for the Huskies.

And to top it off, former Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who was a backup to Jake Locker, is a grad assistant for the Panthers.

“Just going back there, it’s going to invoke different things for different guys,” Miles said. ” … Excited for some guys that have been there. It’s our profession and it’s great to get back there and see it.”

Here’s what to watch as the Huskies face the Panthers for the first time:

SHAQ ATTACK: Washington LB Shaq Thompson was the Pac-12 defensive player of the week after returning an interception and fumble for touchdowns against Illinois. He became the first Washington player since at least 1978 to accomplish the feat, and may have added an offensive touchdown if not for being tripped up on a 13-yard run. He has three total touchdowns this season and could add to the total with additional offensive carries against the Panthers.

FLING IT: In just three games QB Nick Arbuckle is already setting school records. Arbuckle threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns against Abilene Christian then topped that by throwing for 414 yards and two TDs last week against Air Force. Arbuckle leads the Sun Belt Conference in passing and total offense and ranks in the top five nationally in both categories.

ROSS RAMPAGE: It’s pretty simple with John Ross. When he touches the ball, he scores more often than not. After catching a 75-yard touchdown pass last week against Illinois, Ross has four touchdowns in eight touches for the season. He would have added a 100-yard kickoff return for a score later in the game if not for a penalty bringing the play back. Georgia State is a good opportunity for the Huskies to tinker with the speedy Ross and find out the best ways to use him prior to Pac-12 play.

KEEP IT CLOSE: Give Georgia State this much: it can keep games close. After winning their opener 38-37 over Abilene Christian — the Panthers’ first win as an FBS program — they lost to New Mexico State 34-31 and last week to Air Force 48-38. The Panthers led New Mexico State in the fourth quarter before falling late and pulled within two scores of Air Force after trailing 31-10.

WHERE’S KASEN? Surprisingly absent from the stat sheet most of this season is Washington WR Kasen Williams. Once viewed as a lock for the NFL, Williams is still working his way back from a major foot/ankle injury suffered in the middle of last season. He has just four receptions in three games, but is listed as a starter for this week’s game.

“We do need to get him more involved, there’s no question,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.

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