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While Washington is currently reeling from the upset loss on Saturday to FCS-level Montana, the one bright spot the Huskies had was the defense. Yes, the level of competition was significantly less compared to that of the Power Five, but UW allowed just 105 yards passing and 127 yards rushing. The Grizzlies scored only one offensive touchdown in the 13-7 upset.
But second-year Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake is cognizant that Washington’s defense will be seeing an increase in level of competition when it squares off against Michigan on Saturday night and two players have caught his eye.
First and foremost is Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara, who only attempted 11 passes but completed 9 of them for an 83% completion rate. Lake pointed to the touchdown throw to Ronnie Bell as an example of just how formidable the first-year starter can be.
“He’s a great decision maker,” Lake said. “He can make all the throws. They did a nice job with him — well first, they ran the football. They made it very easy for him to dish the football out after running the ball for over 300 yards against Western Michigan. He didn’t attempt very many passes against Western Michigan, didn’t need to. But they won the football game. Goes back to our prior conversation there. But he looks like a great decision maker, can make all the throws. Made an awesome throw vs. a zero blitz, which was a 60-yard touchdown pass last Saturday. He’s a quality, quality quarterback that we’re gonna have to be ready to defend.”
Naturally, McNamara isn’t the only player that Lake is concerned with. As he mentioned, Michigan ran the ball at-will on Saturday, with the biggest threat coming from Blake Corum, who also scored on a swing pass while having also added a 79-yard kickoff return.
To defend Corum, Lake notes that Washington is going to need to be prepared to see him in multiple phases of the game.
“Yeah, he’s a special player,” Lake said. “You just said it all — he’s not just a running back, he’s a returner. We’re gonna have to be ready for him in the special teams department and also at running back. He’s shifty, reminds us a lot of Myles Gaskin — his body type, his height, how he sees the linebackers and the safeties in the box and how he’s able to make them miss. That’s always a great quality in a running back is making people miss and he does a good job of making people miss in the return game but also at running back.”
On the other side of the ball, there is some concern for the Huskies. While they will be bringing Giles Jackson back to Ann Arbor — albeit in a different uniform — they are notably thin at wide receiver.
Lake confirms that wideout Ja’Lynn Polk suffered a season-ending chest injury on the first play of the game, while Terrell Bynum, Rome Adunze, and Jalen McMillan are all considered week-to-week — leaving Washington with but four scholarship receivers at the moment. Polk, Bynum, and Adunze are all starters at the position. Taj Davis and Jackson are the only receivers aside from Polk who caught passes in Washington’s season debut.
Speaking of Jackson, Lake was asked if he would share why he transferred to Seattle after spending two years at Michigan. He wouldn’t, but is excited that he spurned the Wolverines.
“I’m not gonna share exactly what he told me about something like that,” Lake said. “All I know is that I’m very happy that Giles is here and what he’s done is he’s bought into our culture, he’s an extremely hard worker. We believe he’s given us an added boost in the return game and at wide receiver. And he’s only gonna get better from here.”
Lake confirmed that Washington will arrive in Michigan on Thursday rather than Friday. The team plans to practice at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday and Friday in order to get acclimated to the time change.