The Washington Huskies are coming off of a 35-7 statement win against the #20 BYU Cougars to finish their non-conference slate.
It was a night that belonged to senior quarterback Jake Browning as he became the all-time leader in school history for passing yards in surpassing former Husky QB Cody Pickett.
“My thing with records now going forward is, you know, I hope some other Washington quarterback comes along and breaks those too!” Senior quarterback Jake Browning said after the BYU win.
This week, the Huskies face a different test as they travel on the road and face the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena at Rose Bowl Stadium.
Playing there has been an arduous task for the Huskies as they haven’t won at UCLA since 1995.
The Bruins are starting out the season with an 0-4 record under first year head coach Chip Kelly.
On paper, this looks like a classic example of a “trap game” with playing a winless opponent the week before the big showdown with the Oregon Ducks.
The Huskies are not overlooking the Bruins as they have seen on film that they are close to getting it to “click” each week that they play.
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…..
The Huskies are facing a winless opponent that is 0-4 to start the season and taking them for granted is cause for concern. Despite their record, the Husky coaches insist that the Bruins are playing extremely hard and are close to having a breakout game. They still have talented players on both sides of the ball and Chip Kelly is a smart coach. Staying focused on the task at hand will be monumental in their efforts to win this game. The following week the Huskies travel down to Eugene to face the Ducks in a top-twenty showdown between two rivals who don’t like each other. The players must only set their eyes and attention to this game and come out energized and ready.
Defense Needs To Create Turnovers
One thing that always helps in winning on the road is coming out on top in the “turnover” battle. If you can create some turnovers and either score points off of them, or give the offense more possessions, then the odds start to tilt in your favor. During his postgame interview after the BYU game, defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said they need to do a better job of creating turnovers. Taking the life out of your opponent can be done by forcing them into mistakes and capitalizing on them. The defense was able to impose their will on the Utah Utes a few weeks ago with their punishing defense and this will be a key in setting the “tone” for this game as well.
Run The Football
The last couple of weeks, the Huskies have been able to get their ground game going which has really helped Jake Browning’s efficiency. It’s no secret that Browning’s two best games have come when the Huskies have been able to effectively run the football. The offensive line has found their way as of late and they have been able to create some creases and holes for the running backs. Controlling the time of possession and keeping the defense off of the field will be essential in this game. The Huskies will want to wear down that Bruins defense early which will cause them to tire out down the stretch of the 4th quarter. Every bit of offensive success for the Huskies starts with running the ball.
Don’t Assume Everything Is “Zone Read”
When viewing Chip Kelly’s offense, everyone assumes its always “zone read” but he has adapted his system as well. Earlier this week, Chris Petersen said that you can’t be fooled by UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He said even though Chip Kelly likes to run “zone read”, essentially the UCLA quarterback is a pocket-passer in that system and he can really “spin it”. Kelly has implemented some wrinkles into his offensive system that he didn’t have while he was at Oregon. He isn’t playing as fast and he has certain variations to his offensive sets that look different. The Huskies must remain ready for all of it and not just assume that this is the same Kelly offense as before.
Use The Screen Game
The coaches keep talking about how close running back Salvon Ahmed is to breaking one for a TD. When facing an athletic and aggressive defense that will certainly come after Browning, using the screen game will be very effective. Players like Ahmed, Myles Gaskin, Chico McClatcher, Sean McGrew, Aaron Fuller and Andre Baccellia could be a nice wrinkle in the offense this week. The Huskies have an athletic offensive line and getting down the field to block for the backs’ or the receivers can help the Huskies establish an identity in this game. If the Huskies can use the screen game, and keep the UCLA defense honest and back on their heels the entire game, then it will be a long night for the Bruins.