The Washington Huskies are coming off the comforts of their much-needed bye week after ten weeks on the schedule.
“I think it was really…..you get this deep into the season you kind of get rejuvenated a little bit. They had some time off. We didn’t practice a bunch but when we did it was really productive and so it felt pretty good.” Head coach Chris Petersen said.
During those ten weeks, the injury bug took its toll on the Huskies roster and the impact was starting to show on the field.
This week, the Huskies face a familiar foe on the northwest section of the map in the Oregon State Beavers.
On the season, the Beavers are coming into this matchup with an overall record of 2-8 and have compiled a 1-6 record in conference.
There have been growing pains this year for Oregon State as they are in the first year of a new regime, and trying to build their foundation.
An interesting storyline in the game will be the return of Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith to Husky Stadium, as he formerly served as Washington’s offensive coordinator from 2014-2017.
The Huskies control their own destiny the rest of the season. Win their two remaining regular season games and enjoy a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game. It all starts this weekend!
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…..
Don’t Overlook This Game And Look Ahead
With the Oregon State Beavers coming into town and having the worst record in the Pac-12 Conference, it would be easy for the Huskies to overlook them. After the benefit of resting during the bye week, the Huskies need to come out and set the tone early in this game and never give the Beavers a chance to stay in this game. Everyone knows that the Apple Cup showdown next week in Pullman is the game that will decide the season for the Huskies. The winner of that game will most likely decide who makes it into the Pac-12 Championship game with the hopes of a Rose Bowl berth still intact. The Husky coaches and the players are well aware of this, but the fact is, we simply are not there yet. They must remain focused on the here and now which is the Beavers.
Ride Myles Gaskin And Let Him Control The Game
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Huskies and that extra week of rest, should have helped senior running back Myles Gaskin get his shoulder healthier. At this point in the season, college football teams are who they are! You really can’t go back and reinvent the wheel and be something that you are not. The Huskies best weapon on offense is Gaskin plain and simple! He fuels the engine and gives the Husky offense the best chance to be successful and efficient. It’s time for offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan to hand the ball off to #9 and let him do what he came back for his senior season to do. When the Huskies are riding Gaskin and make him the focal point of the offense, then that much-needed balance seems to show itself!
Keep The Beavers Running Game In Check
Under first year head coach Jonathan Smith, the Beavers are having some real success in the running game this season. It’s very similar and reminiscent of how Smith used Myles Gaskin when he achieved three straight seasons of rushing over 1,300 yards. Oregon State has been able to establish a consistent running game this season because of their freshman running back Jermar Jefferson. He has been absolutely outstanding this season and actually was the leading rusher in the conference for a couple of months during the season. Jefferson currently has 1,201 yards on 199 carries and 12 total touchdowns on the season and averages 6.0 yards per carry. It will be crucial for the Husky defense to sell out and stop the run because it all starts here for the Beavers.
Defense Has To Create Turnovers
The one thing that the Husky defense has not been able to do on a consistent basis this season is create turnovers. It’s no secret that the Husky defense has played at a high level and is currently ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense at holding opponents to 16.0 points per game. What has been missing is the big-play turnover ability which has been a key component for the Huskies through the years. When playing an inferior opponent like the Beavers, getting a few turnovers can really impact the game in so many ways. It stops the Beavers from ever getting into a rhythm offensively and halts their ability to put points up on the board. More importantly, it gives the Husky offense good field position and more opportunities to score which has been much-needed this season.
Jake Browning Needs To Show Some Fire
One player that probably benefited the most from the bye week to rejuvenate himself physically and mentally is senior quarterback Jake Browning. He has been beat up lately not only on the field but emotionally as well, stemming from his abrupt benching during the Cal Bears game. What Petersen was looking for from his four-year starter was some intensity and fire. Browning’s play has been up and down throughout the course of the season and as a result the Husky offense has struggled to find consistency. He made it clear that he was pissed about the benching and that is exactly what Petersen was trying to accomplish. Browning needs to come out against the Beavers with a chip on his shoulder and show that he going to lead the Huskies the rest of the season.