BeaversEdge.com caught up with Lars Hanson of TheDawgReport.com on the Rivals.com network to get an in-depth look at the Oregon State Beavers' opponent this weekend.
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1. Washington had their first true test of the season in a road game in at Colorado. How impressive was their blowout win?
Lars Hanson: "Well I felt before the game that, on the road, UW would have a little harder time getting things going offensively. The two things that impressed me were how well the Huskies played in the secondary without Byron Murphy, reminding everyone in the conference how deep AND talented the group is. Jordan Miller stepped up and Myles Bryant had the highlight 30-yard interception return, which has to give Chris Petersen and Pete Kwiatkowski a good feeling moving forward.
"Secondly, UW needed to find anything in the run game, and Myles Gaskin emerged from his non-conference shell (again, in a big way) which carried the offense from the second quarter on. Overall the receiving corps is still a work in progress for UW, but if they can get Gaskin going more and get a little more out of Salvon Ahmed and Sean McGrew, the offense should have enough to get the job done the rest of the season."
2. Myles Gaskin has been a beast this season. Is Washington more reliant on the run game to be successful than the pass?
LH: "That's how Petersen wants his offense run. Even with Jake Browning filling up the stat sheet last season, if UW didn't have Gaskin's consistent success on the ground, the offense doesn't work even remotely as effectively. With a thinner receiver group UW is arguably even more dependent on the run game, but it wasn't there the first three games. So UW still has to show they can run the ball just as effectively this season as they did last year, but it certainly is a better sign."
3. How good is this Washington defense?
LH: "On paper, this Huskies unit doesn't appear as strong as 2016, but I think it might actually be better. Statistically they are still in the top 10 (currently at No. 10) in points per-game, and tied for No. 16 in total points allowed which are both conference bests as of now. Obviously, UW showed against Colorado it can certainly bend due to the youth in the secondary and offenses adapting to UW's strengths and weaknesses, but just like last year they don't break. I think it's still the best defense in the conference and it's going to be the Huskies calling card for the remainder of the season."
4. If Oregon State has any chance to pull off the upset, what do they need to exploit to win?
LH: "With UW not having the most explosive offense early in games, OSU has to be able to move the ball one drive at a time to control the time of possession. What that means is they will have to find a hole in the defense, which has mostly been with the second string unit on the field. Washington has been rotating its defensive line a decent amount during the first half of games, and that's when momentum is still up in the air. If OSU can keep it early, avoid turnovers, and somehow keep Dante Pettis out of the end zone on special teams, that is their only method to pull of the upset."
5. What is your score prediction and why?
LH: "The last two meetings between the Huskies and Beavers the point differential has been 24 and 45 respectively in 2016 and 2015, and I still don't see this game being less than a three or four touchdown game. I don't see the Huskies defense allowing much if anything, so it could be a 28-3, 35-10 sort of game, but still one that isn't very close.
Oregon State 0, Washington 34