For Washington’s football season, you can get game previews pretty much anywhere — The Seattle Times, Bleacher Report, Scout, Cooking Light, your drunk neighbor Dave’s porch. You get the picture. So instead of providing you with something you have complete access to elsewhere, here at Armchair we’ll be previewing each Husky game by asking the question “What can we learn from this week’s game?” This week that means the punishing (but somewhat struggling) Utah Utes.
How well can the pass offense capitalize on a clean pocket?
Utah’s normally dominant defense has had somewhat of a down year this season, and a huge part of that has been the sheer amount of talent they lost off last year’s defensive line due to graduation and the NFL.
The offensive line has been playing better in pass protection the last few weeks but this is a chance to have their best performance in that realm this year. Unfortunately for the Huskies, there have been plenty of times where it looks like infinity seconds still isn’t enough for the receivers to get separation or for Jake Browning to make a decision, but the more pocket time, the merrier, right?
Furthermore, Browning’s occasional propensity to scramble instead of step up in the pocket is no doubt exacerbated by an offensive line that was merely okay at the beginning of the year; there’s always the possibility that the effect of this stretch of games with them doing quite well becomes more noticeable Saturday, giving Jake the mental edge to stay in the pocket and get in more throws with better lower body power.
What’s the defense’s response to last week?
It’s not remotely reasonable to blame last week’s loss on the defense — they were put in terrible situations over and over again thanks to the offense — but their performance last week was by far their worst of the season.
Stanford’s power running game combined with the time they were on the field and the size mismatch of UW’s defensive backs with JJ Arcega-Whiteside looked like the closest thing the Huskies’ defense has to a kryptonite. Luckily for the Dawgs, Utah isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut this year even if they do have some shifty quarterbacking and a spread attack that, when executed well, requires a lot of discipline from opposing defenses to stop it.
It’s all but certain Washington’s defense will have a better game this Saturday than they did last Friday, but it will take more than just “better” to look like they’ve completely regained form.
Turnovers? Yes? No? What’s the scoop there?
Let’s just pretend that’s a complete, articulated thought for a moment.
The Dawgs’ offense has for the most part done a fantastic job at limiting those pesky things. Jake continues to throw few interceptions (five) and the practical emphasis on ball security has paid off (also five fumbles lost). Against Stanford, Myles Gaskin lost a fumble for only the second time in his college career.
However, the defense hasn’t been quite as ball hawk-y this year as in 2016. Sure, Keishawn Bierria still has that almost psychic superpower of always being in the place where a fumble’s gonna happen and the secondary and linebackers have had their fare share of interceptions, but it doesn’t stand out very much this season.
Utah, on the other hand, has had an epidemic of turnovers from their offense, with 10 fumbles lost and 13 interceptions. This is “good” for 122nd in the country. If the Huskies’ defense can take advantage of ball security against any team, it’s this one.
That’s it for this week. Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.
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