Husky head coach Chris Petersen; ” It’s about winning the league”

Friday night’s football rematch between the University of Washington ( (9-3 overall, 7-2 Pac-12) and the Utah Utes ( (9-3, 6-3) is a high stakes winner take all match up that will earn the winner the Pac-12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl on January 1st.

The two teams are no strangers to each other and rather than have contempt from familiarity the two teams have offered nothing but respect for the other. And with good reason. Friday’s game will be the second time the two teams faced off against each other this season. The  Huskies knocked off the Utes 21-7 in Utah on September 15th.The Huskies are 11-1 overall against Utah, dating to the first meeting between the two teams in 1939 The Utes joined the Pac-12 in 2011 and their lone win over the Huskies was a 34 to 23 win in Husky Stadium in 2015.

Defensive  Juggernauts

The game figures to be a hard heating affair due to the fact that the top two defenses in the Nation and  Pac-12 will be on display. The Huskies and Utes are ranked 13th (311.3 ypg) and 15th (315.8), respectively, in the nation when it comes to total defense. The Huskies and Utes are ranked 13th (311.3 ypg) and 15th (315.8), respectively, in the nation when it comes to total defense.  The Huskies will try to counter with a running game led by the Pac-12 Offensive payer of the week Myles Gaskin who had 30 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting. 

The Husky defense is led  senior Ben Burr-Kirven  who was named the  Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the year.

Chris Petersen on how his team has improved since the first game between the two teams.

Petersen on how injuries have played a role.

UTAH COACH   KYLE WHITTINGHAM’S WEEKLY 

Opening Statement…
“Great opportunity for our players this week to go over to Santa Clara and be involved in the Pac-12 Championship game. It is our first trip to the championship. I am proud of our guys for continuing to persevere and fight this season. We overcame so many obstacles and so much adversity. They are just a great group to be around and this has been one of the most enjoyable years of coaching for me.

They are just a tough-minded group of players and I am proud of them. Our opponent, Washington Huskies, we are very familiar with them since we have played them multiple times since joining the Pac-12. They are an outstanding football team, well-coached, good players, great defense, great quarterback, great tailback, you name it, they’ve got it. So, we have our work cut out for us, but it is a challenge and an opportunity and we are looking forward to it.”

On if there are any lessons they learned from their first meeting with Washington this season…
“Sure, that will be a big part of our preparation is what transpired in that game and what we can do differently. Now both teams have evolved since then and for us, probably more than them because they have been pretty constant. But we have been playing better offensively and things like the quarterback change. That will be a big part of the preparation though is what happened in that game.”

On the importance of getting pressure on Washington quarterback Jake Browning…
“I can tell you one thing, Jake Browning is a terrific quarterback and does a good job handling pressure. His escape ability is very good. It is far above average than most quarterbacks and his pocket presence and ability to sense the rush and maneuver out of tough situations is outstanding.”

On how he felt they did against Washington running back Myles Gaskin in the first game…
“We didn’t let him just go crazy on us but still had a good night. I think he is a heck of a back and one of the best in the country in my opinion. He was banged up around mid-season and missed some time, in fact the Cal game which is one of the games they lost, he didn’t play at all. So he is definitely a guy that we are going to focus on. If he gets out and gets going and has a big game, then our chances aren’t real good. 

On the journey to transitioning into the Pac-12 and then getting to the championship game…
“It has been an exciting journey. Like I’ve said many times, when we joined the Pac-12 it was like getting a new job. Everything was different. The bar was raised in virtually every area and coming from a group of five to the Power Five is a huge undertaking. I think bigger than most people realize. I think we did it the right way. Facilities got on board and we did a lot of things in that regard and now the stadium is going to be expanded, so I think that we are still in process. It is never a finished product and we are continuing to transition. It has been a challenge from a roster standpoint, which was probably the most important thing was getting the roster to the right place as far as depth to compete in this conference.”

On if there is a lot of hype around this game or if they are looking at it as business as usual…
“More the latter, but this certainly is an exciting opportunity for our players. This group has done a great job of handling their business this year. Not getting too high or too low and just staying the course. I keep going back to our seniors on what a good job they have done leading this team all year long and my guess is that we won’t press, we will just come out and play and give us our best shot.”

Husky linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven ( Cascadiasports.net)

GAMENOTES

Jason Shelley, who became the starting quarterback afterTyler Huntley’s injury on Nov. 3, did not play in the earlier game against Washington.

 > Utah has won seven of its last eight games since losses on back-to-back weeks against the Washington schools in September.

 > Utah’s 6-3 Pac-12 record matches its best league mark. The Utes were also 6-3 in 2015, when they were co-champs in the Pac-12 South with USC.

 > Utah is 1-0 in Levi’s Stadium with a win over Indiana in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl. > Inhis 14th season as Utah’s head coach, Kyle Whittingham is the longest-tenured coach in the Pac-12 Conference and the third-longest tenured coach at the same school in the NCAA FBS.

UW Offensive Rankings
Category ……………………………Avg. …………. Pac-12 … NCAA
Rushing Offense ………………….185.0 ……….. 5 …………. 53
Passing Offense ………………….236.3 ……….. 10 ……….. 63
Pass Efficiency Offense ………..152.22 ……… 2 …………. 24
Total Offense ………………………421.3 ……….. 5 …………. 51
Scoring Offense …………………..28.0 …………. 7 …………. 75

UW Defensive Rankings
Category ……………………………Avg. …………. Pac-12 … NCAA
Rushing Defense …………………121.8 ……….. 2 …………. 20
Passing Defense …………………189.4 ……….. 2 …………. 25
Pass Efficiency Defense ……….116.45 ………. 2 …………. 27
Total Defense ………………………311.3 ………… 1 …………. 13
Scoring Defense ………………….16.5 …………. 1 …………. 8

UW in the NCAA Top 25
Player, Category ………………………….Avg./# …… Pac-12 ….NCAA
Jake Browning, yards/attempt …………….8.94 …………1 ……………10
Jake Browning, passing yards/comp. …..13.73 ……….2 ……………18
Jake Browning, completion pct. …………..0.651 ……….3 ……………24
Ben Burr-Kirven, solo tackles/gm ………..6.5 …………..2 ……………4
Ben Burr-Kirven, total tackles/gm ………..12.9 …………1 ……………T2
Ben Burr-Kirven, forced fumbles/gm ……0.33 …………T2 ………….T9
Ben Burr-Kirven, fumbles recovered ……3 ……………..T1 ………….T5
Taylor Rapp, fumbles recovered ………….3 ……………..T1 ………….T5
Byron Murphy, passes defended/gm ……1.2 …………..T3 ………….T24
Myles Gaskin, rushing yards/gm …………107.6 ……….6 ……………16

Utah Offensive Rankings
Category ……………………………………. Avg. ………..Pac-12… NCAA
Rushing Offense ………………………….. 197.8 ……….2 ………… 44
Passing Offense ………………………….. 215.2 ……….11 ………. 80
Pass Efficiency Offense ………………… 138.69 ……..7 ………… 55
Total Offense ………………………………. 413.0 ……….6 ………… 60
Scoring Offense …………………………… 30.8 …………4 ………… 52

Utah Defensive Rankings
Category ……………………………………. Avg. ………..Pac-12… NCAA
Rushing Defense …………………………. 100.3 ……….1 ………… 5
Passing Defense …………………………. 215.5 ……….4 ………… 52
Pass Efficiency Defense ……………….. 116.75 ……..3 ………… 28
Total Defense ………………………………. 315.8 ……….2 ………… 15
Scoring Defense ………………………….. 19.3 …………2 ………… 17

Utes in the NCAA Top 25
Player, Category ………………………….Avg./# …… Pac-12 ….NCAA
Matt Gay, field goals/gm …………………1.92 ………. 1 …………..3
Matt Gay, total points scored …………..112 ……….. 1 …………..10
Matt Gay, scoring avg. ……………………9.3 ………… 1 …………..T11
Zack Moss, rushing yards/gm ………….121.3 …….. 2 …………..6
Zack Moss, all-purpose yds/gm ……….126.89 …… 5 …………..23
Jaylon Johnson, total interceptions ….4 …………… T1 ………..T13
Jaylon Johnson, interceptions/gm ……0.30 ………. T2 ………..T17
Mitch Wishnowsky, punt avg. ………….45.4 ………. 2 …………..9
Chase Hansen, TFL/gm …………………1.8 ………… T1 ………..T4
Hauati Pututau, fumbles recovered ….2 …………… T3 ………..T21

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