The Washington Huskies are coming off a disappointing 12-10 road loss against the California Bears last week.
It was a game where the Huskies couldn’t get anything going offensively and were sort of “stuck in the mud” so to speak all game long.
“it’s obviously painful when you lose a game and your up a defensive touchdown. We’re all trying to figure out how to help that. We will be working like we always have. I love our guys and I know they’ll come out on a mission to get better. I know that for a fact.” Head coach Chris Petersen said earlier this week.
This week the Huskies face another stiff test against a Pac-12 North Division rival that they are all too familiar with.
Last season the Huskies lost to Stanford 30-22 down on the farm and they will be looking for revenge this Saturday when the Cardinal roll into town.
On the season, Stanford is 5-3 overall and they are coming off of a tough 41-38 loss themselves to the Washington State Cougars.
Both teams are coming into this contest banged with injuries and desperately looking for a win to keep their season’s alive.
The Huskies control their own destiny the rest of the season. It’s simple! Win their three remaining regular season games and enjoy a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Here are some keys to the game that the Huskies must do in order to put themselves in a good position to win this game…..
Find Some Fire And Energy
Make no mistake, the Huskies are beat up both physically and mentally as its been a tough grind as of late. Things have not been the same since the loss down at Oregon and the team can’t welcome the bye week fast enough after this game. Lost in all of this is the fact that the Huskies still have everything to play for the rest of the season. With a 6-3 record, they still control their own fate with a chance at winning the Pac-12 Championship. After the tough loss last week against the Bears, a chance to right the ship for this season is still there. The Huskies need to come out with some fire and energy and play like the elite team they were pegged as before the season started.
Get Myles Gaskin Back
The Huskies have been without the heart and soul of their offense the last two weeks and it has really showed. The offense has struggled mightily in his absence and everything flows when #9 is in the backfield. With Myles Gaskin in the lineup, it keeps opposing defenses honest and it opens up everything for Jake Browning to be successful in the passing game. Gaskin has an innate ability to gain tough yards in critical moments of the game and it’s something that this offense has been missing lately. If Gaskin is able to return for this game, it should provide the jolt that the offense is so desperately needing right now. He is the engine that makes the offense go.
Find A Way To Score In The Red Zone
One of the biggest issues for the Husky offense this season has been their inability to score points once they get into the red zone. There have been a number of times this season, especially recently where the offense will drive the ball all the way down the field, only to stall and have their momentum killed. Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan has to find a way to simplify things once the team is in the red zone. Often times this season, the play calls have been “too cute” when trying to finish off a drive instead of going with what got you down the field in the first place. The Huskies offense currently ranks 102nd in the nation in red zone scoring and they must find a way to put points up on the board against Stanford.
The Defense Has to Create Turnovers
While the Husky defense has played at an elite level for most of the season, the one thing that has alluded them is their ability to consistently create turnovers. There have been many times throughout the season where they are close to coming up with a turnover, but the ball just seems to be away from their grasp. One way for a struggling offense to get going is to rely on your defense to get you a couple more possessions each game. Often times, these turnovers setup good field position and the Husky offense will welcome any help right now. Stanford likes to run the ball with their power game while controlling the line of scrimmage. The Husky defense will need to play physical and win the turnover battle in order to beat the Cardinal.
Jake Browning Will Have To Refocus
As everyone knows, last week there was a quarterback controversy towards the end of the game which resulted in the abrupt benching of Jake Browning. He was visibly upset on the sidelines after being replaced by backup Jake Haener, but was put back into the game which wasn’t enough to secure the victory. Petersen said earlier this week that Browning will absolutely be the starter against Stanford but where is he at mentally after last week. Browning is a four-year starter and usually quarterbacks with that kind of experience don’t get benched. Will he come out with a chip on his shoulder and play even harder or did last week affect his confidence? The Huskies need Browning to play inspired mistake free football this weekend!