Few would have expected the Washington Huskies to be sitting at 4th place in the PAC-12 North at this time of the season, yet that’s the strange reality Husky fans are living in eight games into the 2019 season. Despite being billed as a rebuilding season, the expectation was for the Huskies to compete with the Ducks for the division title, but offensive woes have eliminated UW from contention early.
Hailing from Lake Stevens, WA, quarterback Jacon Eason returned home after a failed stint down in Georgia. The 6’6”, 227 lb junior transferred to Washington after being benched in favor of Jake Fromm in 2017 with high expectations. With NFL-ready measurables and a good-but-not-great debut in the SEC as a freshman, Eason was poised to pickup where Jake Browning left off, and through his first eight games in Seattle, he has done just that. Completing 67.4% of his passes, with an 8.5 yard average per pass, he’s not far off Browning’s mark of 64.9% completions with 8.2 yards per pass. If anything, he’s an upgrade from the 2018 version of Browning who threw for 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, as Eason has already matched his TD mark for the season with merely three INT’s to his name. The offensive struggles come down to his inexperienced receiving core.
Senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller (5’11”, 188 lbs) is still the dominant force that Utah fans saw last year, pulling in 40 receptions for 558 total yards and five TD’s, while junior tight end Hunter Bryant (6’2”, 239 lbs) has grown into his expanded role with ease, accounting for 452 yards off 30 passes, but Fuller has been sidelined with an ankle injury, forcing Bryant into an even larger role while freshman including freshman Puka Nacua, brother of Utah’s own Samson Nacua.
Perhaps the biggest difference maker for the Huskies this season comes in the form of junior running back Salvon Ahmed. Splitting time with star rusher Myles Gaskin last season, Ahmed gained plenty of on field experience, rushing 104 times for 608 yards, and has shown he’s capable of gaining yards up the gut and around the edge with the same ferociousness Gaskin was known for, while proving himself as a durable, every-down back as a starter in 2019.
Utah seemingly has more talent and veteran leadership on the field compared to the Huskies, however with a 10-1 all-time record record and a rested UW squad coming off a much-needed bye week, the Utes look to still have their hands full up north this weekend.