Jaime Valdez - USA Today Sports
There's a few basic facts to get out of the way about Washington in the early going:
1. They probably have the best coach in the Pac-12 in Chris Peterson
2. They have one of the best defenses in the country, to the point where Cal tried to get co-DC/defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake as their defensive coordinator earlier this year after Justin Wilcox got hired.
3. They are one of the best teams in the country statistically on offense and defense, creating and stopping explosive plays.
4. They haven't really played anybody to this point, despite their #6 ranking in the country, with a non-conference schedule that saw them play at Rutgers and at home versus Montana and Fresno State.
Peterson has done a fantastic job with the Huskies, turning them up from a perennial seven-win team to a playoff contender with a consistent defense and some excellent offensive scheming brought over from his years at Boise State. So far, it has the Huskies 5-0 and as the favorites in the Pac-12 North going forward. The Bears have a lot on their hands Saturday night, playing their third 7:30 or later starting game in four weeks.
Key Injuries for UW: CB Byron Murphy (out with a broken foot), TE Drew Sample (out with a leg injury), LB DJ Beavers (out with a foot injury), TE David Ajamu (out for the year with a broken leg), WR Chico McClatcher (out for the year with a broken ankle)
Key Players to Note:
- Jake Browning: he's the engineer of all of this, while his arm isn't high end, he can do everything that the offense asks of him and more. His throws are accurate and on time, and while he lost his main deep threat in John Ross, he's still completed over 71% of his passes, with 12 touchdowns over the five games
- Myles Gaskin: The fact that he's only a junior is astounding (it seems like he's been at Washington forever), but he's a force, averaging over 7 yards a carry while producing for 468 yards in 5 games. He a very good runner for the zone schemes, and he'll be the main back, backed up by senior Lavon Coleman
- Dante Pettis is a threat both receiving and in the punt return game. He broke Desean Jackson's record for punt return TDs, and he's UWs leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He already has three punts returned for a touchdown on the year. He's fast, has a great knowledge of the offense, and will make an undisciplined team pay.
- Trey Adams, quietly a second team all-American a year ago at left tackle. Big body at 6'8" and a listed 327 pounds, moves well for his size, protecting Browning's blindside, as UW has given up only 5 sacks on the year.
- Vita Vea: A favorite player to watch in the Pac-12, the ideal nose guard that makes the UW scheme work. Occupies blocks, opens up space for the linebacker. Everything Cal hopes Atonio Mafi will translate into in a couple years. He's also blocked a kick this year
- Ben Burr-Kirven and Azeem Victor are co-starters at one of the ILB positions, and both are benefiting, Burr-Kirven leading the team with 38 tackles and Victo having 18, a TFL and two pass break ups
- Myles Bryant and Jordan Miller are two of the cornerbacks that are the strength of the Washington defense. They can tackle in one on one situations, play tight man coverage, and will make plays on the ball, as Bryant has 3 PBUs and an INT, while Miller has 2 INTs and 3 PBUs
Numbers to Note
- 58, points off the 12 turnovers the Huskies have forced. That's more than the 54 points they've allowed all year
- 10.8, the average amount of points the Huskies have held opponents to, while facing around 66 plays per game (Cal averages around 74)
- 3.9, yards per play allowed by the UW defense
- 7.1, yards per play put up by the UW offense
- 4 for 8, on field goal attempts, where kicking has been the sole weakness
- 13, number of sacks through three games (Cal has 10), no one player has more than two (Ryan Bowman leads with 2)
- 48%, rate at which UW converts on 3rd down
- 30%, the rate at which they hold other teams to
- 22-188, penalties and yardage so far over five games, so around 4.4 penalties for 37.6 yards per game on average, a sign of a disciplined team
- 256, average yards that UW has held teams to
- 8, amount of explosive plays over 20 yards that UW has allowed.
- +7, UW's turnover ratio