The Washington Huskies are coming off a hard-fought 27-20 home win against conference foe Arizona State.
What was nice to see was the improved play of senior quarterback Jake Browning which helped the offense play efficiently.
“I think when we are explosive, and everyone is doing their job we move the ball fine. Some of the drives where we are stalling, and we’re either getting penalties or getting a negative play or something, we have to stay ahead of the sticks”. Senior quarterback Jake Browning said earlier this week.
There will be no rest for the Huskies this week as the #20 BYU Cougars march into town with their rare and unique style of play.
Attitude wise, the Huskies are feeling more and more confident each week, but they know they can still play much better.
Earlier this season, the Cougars marched into Madison, Wisconsin and knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers who were ranked #4 in the nation at the time.
The Huskies know that BYU won’t be intimated by the atmosphere at Husky Stadium as they already experienced a similar setting at Wisconsin.
It will take another inspired effort at home for the Huskies to pull off the win, but the team has practiced hard this week, and are ready for whatever the Cougars may throw at them!
Here are some keys to the game that the Huskies must do in order to put themselves in a good position to win this game…..
Defenders Must Keep Their “Eyes” And Stay On Their “Keys”
The BYU offense is a rare and unique type of offense that relies on constant pre-snap motions and fly sweeps. This is designed to try to create chaos and confusion for opposing defenses. Husky senior linebacker Tevis Bartlett called it “window dressing” this week. The Husky defenders must sift through all the misdirection and stay locked in on their pre-snap “keys”. Most importantly, they must keep their “eyes” and stay disciplined to their assignments. It’s easy to fall for the bait and get outside of your gaps and become a hero, but it will take constant team communication and gap integrity to play sound defense against the unusual Cougar offense.
Wide Receivers Must “Go-Up’ And Make Plays
The Husky receivers have been a pleasant surprise this year and they continue to make plays every week. BYU has a stout defense of their own which is very similar to the Huskies. They have a system they believe in and they don’t deviate from it while performing it at a high level. Head coach Chris Petersen said that the Cougars defense doesn’t blow many assignments and they don’t give up separation. With tight windows to throw into for Browning, the Husky receivers must use their athleticism and win those one-on-one balls. There are plenty of athletes at the wide receiver position for the Huskies as evidenced by the spectacular catch last week made by Ty Jones. The receivers must help out Browning here and haul in their catches.
Must “Get Off Blocks” And “Shed Tackles”
With BYU running a unique style of offense which features a lot of “option” plays, the Husky defenders must “get off blocks” and “shed tackles”. The Cougars are an extremely physical team, especially in their running game. They like to come right at you with the “option”, and they have some tough hard-nosed runners who can run straight downhill on defenders. The ability to shed tackles and make another play afterwards will be essential to containing BYU’s offense. This aspect is something former Husky Vita Vea excelled in. There will be a lot of blocking done up front by the Cougars, and the Huskies will have to match that physicality and throw people around themselves.
Get Off To A Fast Start Right Out Of The Gate
We touched on this aspect earlier, but BYU will not be intimidated by the elements of playing at Husky Stadium. It is important for the Huskies to come out to a fast start and build a lead while playing from ahead. This will put pressure on BYU and cause them to rush and make mistakes of their own. Last week the Huskies got into a hole right from the start with that head-scratching trick play. It caused the Huskies to play from behind with a 7-0 deficit right from the start. You can’t do that this week against a top-twenty team that is not scared to play the Huskies on the road. A slow start will give the Cougars life and confidence and cause them to linger around until the end of the game. It’s “sense of urgency” and “killer instinct” time for the Huskies!
Establish A Consistent Running Game Early
This feels like a statement game for the Huskies and imposing their will on BYU will be essential to winning this game. Establishing the line of scrimmage with a dominant running game will help do that. You have one of the best running back duo’s in the nation with Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. USE THEM! Jake Browning’s play and performance is so much better when the run-game is established. The offense is in rhythm when the Huskies run the ball, plain and simple! In a game like this where separation comes at a premium for the receivers, running the ball consistently will make BYU’s athletic linebackers stay honest which opens up the passing lanes for Browning to hit his receivers.