Headed into Friday’s game on ESPN2 we got the inside scoop on Washington football from John Sayler over at UW Dawg Pound. The Huskies feature an explosive pass-happy offense, but have been involved in a few shootouts due to a leaky secondary. The forecast calls for excessive rain on Friday, so it should be interesting. We also answered a few question over at UWDP check it out here.
1. The Huskies passing game has been super prolific in 2022. Leading the nation in a bunch of noteworthy stats. Who gets the majority of the praise? The QB, OC, WRs, OL, lack of running game?
I’m sure coach Kalen DeBoer and OC Ryan Grubb would like a bit more balance on offense, but the fact of the matter is that the Husky passing game is very hard to defend. I like to keep it simple: The QB gets the praise from me. Michael Penix, Jr. has been outstanding. He has a very good WR corps, and OC Grubb has some really great play designs. But football comes down to execution, and Penix executes. His throws are on time and accurate, and his ability to look off defenders has created some wide open looks for his targets. The offensive line deserves some of the credit as well, as Penix has had fantastic protection all year long.
2. Washington is a perfect 5-0 at home, but just 1-2 on the road. What gives?
Add to that: 6-0 on turf, 0-2 on grass. It’s hard to win on the road, and maybe the grass field at the Rose Bowl and Sun Devil Stadium had little or nothing to do with it, but the Huskies have not won in Tempe in years, and at UCLA they have had a history of troubles as well. UW fell behind early in both games, and even when you have a great offense it’s hard to make a comeback when your defense cannot stop anyone. It’s the only time we’ve really seen Penix make mistakes, when the team falls behind and he tries to do a little too much.
The defense was extra horrible against ASU and UCLA. Due to injury, the secondary has been using a ton of subs all season long, but it was particularly thin for those two contests.
3. Oregon State likes to lean on the ground game. How is the Huskies run defense? Has their secondary slipped compared to years past?
To say the secondary has “slipped” might be the understatement of the year. Formerly known as DBU (or at least DBU West), this secondary is not good at all. Even when everyone is healthy, it’s a weakness of the team. They were depleted down to the #5 and #6 corners at one point in the season, and now are a bit more healthy. Still, they are not very good on the back end. Jonathan Smith is well aware I’m sure.
Stopping the run is where this defense has improved from a year ago. The defensive line has been winning at the point of attack, and teams have not had a ton of success rushing the football. I still think OSU will attack with the run game. If they can scheme well, this is not the kind of stout front seven that will stop a good running game with a good plan and solid execution.
4. Nationally people like to talk about the Pac-12 as a 4 team league (Oregon, Utah, USC & UCLA). Can Washington beat Oregon next weekend and make a push for the Pac-12 championship?
Sure, they CAN beat Oregon. But can they also beat Oregon State, Wazzu, etc? They are unlikely to beat Oregon, but I think they have a very solid chance to win this week. That’s where the team’s focus is, and honestly it’s where the fans’ focus should be as well. Every one of these games is key to getting into a better bowl game, and feeling better about the season. Getting into the top 2 in the conference is going to be really tough. Especially with a loss to UCLA, one of the teams they would hope to tie with.
5. Prediction for Friday night?
This will be a slugfest. Maybe similar to the game at Cal a week ago, which UW won 28-21. I don’t see Washington running up 40 on Oregon State, so the Husky defense will need to get some stops. I think the crowd helps them do that, and the key is getting off to an early lead.
UW 31, OSU 27
Huge thank you to John & UW Dawg Pound for answering a few of our questions! The #23 ranked Beavs will want to keep the good times rolling, but they’ve got a big test in front of them Friday evening in Seattle.