We are just one day away from ESPN’s College Gameday visiting campus and one of the biggest games to take place at Rice-Eccles Stadium. On Wednesday we looked at what the Utah offense could expect to see from the Husky defense. Today we’ll switch it around, and take a peak at Washington’s offense.
Washington has one of the best and most efficient offenses in the country. They lead the Pac-12 in points per game (48.3), yards per rush (5.88), yards per pass attempt (9.8) and passing touchdowns (29). This offense can score, and they can do it in a variety of ways.
Not one of Washington’s opponents has been able to stop their offense this season. The fewest points the Huskies have scored was 35 against Arizona. The offense is constantly threatening, averaging 3.88 points per drive. 10 different Huskies have at least one touchdown reception, which is the most of any team in the country. Utah might be the best defense Washington has faced this year, but Washington will likewise be the best offense Utah has played this year.
Sophomore Jake Browning (6-2, 209 lbs.) is still young, but plays like a seasoned veteran. Browning is playing maybe the best of any quarterback in the country right now, with 26 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions. Browning has the ability to chuck the ball deep to his speedy receivers, but also has great vision and touch, when distributing the ball underneath.
An overlooked part of Browning’s game is his ability to run with the football. He is not what most would call a “duel threat”, but he has the ability to run, with 4 rushing touchdowns and is great at stepping away from pressure.
Browning has the second highest passer rating in the country (199.62) and leads the Pac-12, with his passer rating 30 points higher than the next highest Pac-12 quarterback. Jake Browning is a legitimate Heisman contender at this point in the season, and will be a huge test for the Utah secondary.
Washington has two very good running backs Utah will see on Saturday. The first is sophomore Myles Gaskin (5-10, 195 lbs.) who leads the Pac-12 in rushing, averaging 103.8 yards per game. Gaskin is quick, fast and shifty with enough power to break a few tackles and a total blast to watch run the football, unless it’s against your team.
Behind him is junior Lavon Coleman (5-11, 228 lbs.) who is statistically, the most efficient runner in the Pac-12, averaging a league leading 8.47 yards a carry on 51 rushing attempts. Coleman provides more of a bruising running style, but is still a pretty balanced back with good speed if gets loose.
This is a position group that particularly worries me with the injury to Marcus Williams. Washington has some serious speed at receiver. It starts with John Ross (5-11, 190 lbs.), a game breaker who shows shades of vintage DeSean Jackson, with his ability to get behind the secondary in the blink of an eye. He leads the Pac-12 with 9 touchdown receptions. Ross is also a threat on kickoff returns, where he returned the season opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.
Dante Pettis (6-1, 188 lbs.) provides a little more size at the other receiver position, but also has really good speed. Pettis is one of the Huskies most improved players and has great hands and body control, making him a legitimate threat opposite Ross. He is tied for second in the Pac-12 with 8 touchdown receptions on the season.
Sophomore Chico McClatcher (5-7, 179 lbs.) is another name to know. McClatcher is a player with great speed and is very versatile lining up all over the field. He has the ability to catch passes deep, out of the backfield, or take handoffs on sweeps and reverses. He is coming off a knee injury and only saw limited time the past couple weeks, so it remains to be seen how much of a factor he will play in Washington’s offense this week.
This is a tough matchup for a Utah defense missing linebacker Sunia Tauteoli and safety Marcus Williams. The Huskies bring a lot of skill and speed to the table with their offense and you’d think Utah would need to be fully loaded with their best players to have a chance at slowing down Browning and the Husky offense.
That being said, Utah’s defense has thrived off turnovers this season and lead the nation with 22 take aways. On the flip side, Washington has taken very good care of the ball this season turning it over only 4 times. Utah will need to win the turnover battle and force Washington into some uncharacteristic errors. If the Utah defense can get turnovers to set up a short field for Utah’s offense, that will go a long way in helping Utah get some points on the board.
The last thing Utah wants is this game to turn into a shootout. Last week’s game being the anomaly, Utah is just not built to win a shootout, especially against an offense as efficient as Washington’s. The Utes best defense will be controlling time of possession and keeping Jake Browning on the sideline.