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When the Huskies come to town on Saturday, it’ll be their first matchup against the Buffs since they blew them out 41-10 in the Pac-12 championship last year. Being that both the Buffs and Huskies lost a plethora of players from last year - most notably on the defensive side of the ball where they lost a combined eleven starters from a season ago - the two teams are completely different than they were a year ago.
Despite the elite level of talent the Huskies lost from last year, with three of their defensive backs being taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, head coach Mike MacIntyre feels the team is still more talented than they were a year ago.
“I think they’re better right now than when we played them in the Pac-12 championship game,” MacIntyre said. “Their secondary, they lost some guys in their like we did, but their quarterback is completely healthy. [Jake Browning] was a little beat up at the end of the year last year - you could tell in the way he was throwing the ball, but he’s making all the throws, and they’re clicking.”
Coach MacIntyre’s high praise for the Huskies didn’t stop there. In the Huskies dominating performance against the Buffs last year, they controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They fell just short of the 300 rushing yards mark on offense, and held the Buffs to 106 yards on the ground on defense - many of which came by way of quarterback Sefo Liufau turning on the jets when the play broke down.
Needless to say, the Buffs are going to need to do a better job of winning battles in the trenches, and controlling the line of scrimmage if they want any chance of beating Washington this year.
“They ran for over 260 yards against us last year, and completely dominated us - especially in the second half,” MacIntyre said. “They did an excellent job, and we’ve got to do a better job or we don’t have a chance to beat them if we can’t slow down the run game.”
One of the biggest storylines in the Pac-12 this season has been the emergence of Huskies wideout Dante Pettis. Pettis has made headlines for his prolific ability to extend returns by improvising, and zig zagging has way through the field into the end zone.
Being that MacIntyre has coached at the collegiate level for two decades, he’s seen a number of different types of returners over the years and feels Pettis is the most talented of them all.
“Right now, yeah I’d say he’s [Pettis] the best one I’ve seen at this time,” MacIntyre said. “I’ve seen him over the course of a season take three or four back, but not back-to-back-to-back. He’s great, don’t get me wrong, but they give him a chance to get started. He likes to go sideline-to-sideline, and he has that long end speed.”
-As of now, there is no change in the game time status of defensive lineman Frank Umu, who is yet to play in a game this season because of an undisclosed suspension.
-MacIntyre says he’s leaning toward redshirting senior Kabion Ento, although he won’t make a definitive decision on what he’ll do yet.
-According to Coach Mac, true freshman linebacker Nate Landman has looked good thus far both at linebacker and on special teams. He plans to use him on more special teams units, as well as getting him more in-game reps at linebacker.
-One thing MacIntyre stressed the importance of was making sure everyone on defense is in the right position in a given package. He feels this is especially important this week, as the Huskies like to show a lot of different formations.
-Thus far, Texas Tech wideout transfer Tony Brown has looked good on the various scout teams. Although he’s sitting out this season in compliance with NCAA regulations, he’s progressing nicely.