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Behind Enemy Lines: Washington Huskies Football

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John Sayler from the UW Dawg Pound helps us suss out the Huskies

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully, as CU fans, you have some familiarity with the Washington Huskies. They’re in Washington, they’re named the Huskies, and they’re good. If that’s all you know, no problem! John Sayler from Ralphie Report’s sister site, UW Dawg Pound, was nice enough to answer some questions for us. Head over there and check out our answers to their questions.

Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman are two of the conferences’ best RBs, but it seems that UW isn’t using them heavily or they aren’t finding much success. Is the offense pass-heavy? Pass-dependent?

These non-conference blowouts against lesser teams can really make the numbers look odd. Each of those guys has gotten 8 carries a game. That’s just not going to happen in any games where the 4

Last pre-season it was the same story with a heavy “What’s wrong with the running game” narrative. The meager non-conference numbers in 2016 were similar to those of these first three games. Then Lavon Coleman went for 188 yards in the Pac-12 opener. Gaskin started getting things rolling and was the conference’s leading rusher by week 6, and the UW rushing attack was really good all season.

It’s the same offensive line as last year with one new starter and most of the two deep returning. The eye test at times this season has said they don’t look all that great. I’m quite curious to see how they play Saturday night.

How has the loss of John Ross affected the offense, if at all?

Oh, it be affectin’ stuff.

I have joked that John Ross is still Jake Browning’s first read out there sometimes. What I mean is that last season it seemed Browning would take his drop, plant, and immediately fire bullet to the outside where Ross would be coming right out of his break to snag it. This season there has been a little more hesitation from Browning, and he has Sam Darnolded around the pocket a bit before launching some passes.

Ross was just such an explosive weapon that defenses had to account for. There isn’t anyone on the team like that this year, but how often is there a guy that runs a 4.22? The rest of the receiving core played a supporting role to Ross last season, and we’re going to see who steps up to star alongside Dante Pettis. Pettis had 15 receiving TDs last season, so I guess you could say he was Ross’ co-star, but Pettis just flies under the radar somehow. His flashiness is so smooth it almost looks like anyone could do it.

Vita Vea is the star in the middle of the defense, but UW has playmakers in Greg Gaines and Azeem Victor up front as well. How has the front seven as a whole performed and how would you attack it?

The front seven is the perceived strength of the Husky team this season, although we’re still a little unclear who will be playing on the outside. There are just a lot of guys there and they have all been getting reps. The linebacker depth allows for UW to use multiple schemes in terms of who rushes and who is in coverage, so one of the big questions for fans is “who is going to get to the QB?” I don’t think we really know that yet.

You attack the Husky front seven the way you attack any good defense; recognize what they are doing and try to run a play that can beat it. Oh, then you have to block really well too. And if you throw it underneath, you will need to be aware of who is dropping or that’s gonna be trouble as well. Also, hold the ball tight because they are coming for it. Specifically, the perimeter players are who I would attack.

The secondary, much like CU’s, lost a lot of NFL talent but seems to have reloaded. We know Taylor Rapp, but who are the new faces?

How long would Taylor Rapp have to wait for a table on the patio at The Med in Boulder? I’m guessing there would suddenly be nothing available.

The most exciting new face is redshirt freshman corner Byron Murphy. We heard about how great he looked in camp over and over, but that is just practice. Murphy is the most highly touted recruit for Chris Petersen at Washington, and he has lived up to the hype so far. Myles Bryant, a sophomore former walk-on has impressed as well. He is playing the nickel spot and shows great instincts. The secondary was thought to be a concern going into the season, just based on the players that moved on to the NFL, but so far the back end looks just fine. We’ll see how they fare in conference play.

Who are some players to watch on offense? Defense?

True freshman tight end (really more of a pass-catching H-Back) Hunter Bryant has been allotted more playing time with and injury to one of the starting tight ends. UW employs a lot of two tight end sets, and Bryant is the most dangerous receiver at the position that the Huskies have had since Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Chico McClatcher is always a player you need to look out for. He is explosive with the ball in his hands and Washington finds a number of ways to get him involved. Ditto true freshman running back Salvon Ahmed.

Defensively, you mentioned LB Victor, and DTs Gaines and Vea who anchor the interior. LB Keishawn Bierria is another great player on this Husky defense, a fierce hitter with a knack for finding the ball. Jaylen Johnson gives UW a third player along the defensive line who makes his way into opposing backfields regularly.

Prediction for the game?

Pac-12 road games are never easy, and Colorado returns a lot of great players from last year’s south division champions. I think this one will be close, with Washington using their passing game to keep the Buffs from overloading against the run. The advantage on both sides of the trenches should favor the Huskies, and in the 4

UW 31, CU 23