The Washington Huskies Football team is off to a 1-0 start to their season and their first conference game awaits them this weekend.
Last weekend, the Husky coaches were able to play a bunch of players and get the younger guys some much needed experience.
The day belonged to junior quarterback Jacob Eason as he was simply fantastic in his debut on Montlake.
For once, the offense had a different feel to it. With Eason at the controls, the Huskies were able to move the ball without strain.
On defense, the Huskies were able to achieve nine tackles for loss and really get after the opposing quarterback.
The California Golden Bears are also 1-0 on the season and coming off a game where they didn’t look impressive against an inferior opponent.
Many believe that the Bears boast one of the top defenses in the conference, which is anchored by its talented secondary.
“People don’t realize how good Cal is on defense!” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said.
The Huskies will be looking for revenge, after suffering a heartbreaking 12-10 defeat on the road to Cal last season, at California Memorial Stadium.
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…..
Limit The Bears Rushing Attack
After the first week, the one thing that stands out about Cal’s offense is their running game. Sophomore running back Christopher Brown Jr. is coming off a monster performance against UC Davis last week. Brown Jr. had a stat line of 36 carries for 197 yards and 1 TD. What is apparent is that 36 carries is a big workload for any single running back, and the Bears rely heavily on his production. With an established running game, it allows sophomore quarterback Chase Garbers to take pressure off himself and not try to be superhuman in the passing lanes. It will be paramount for the Husky defense to be stout up front at the point of attack and plug the middle. They must stay disciplined and play assignment and gap sound football, and stay on their keys to stymie the run.
Spring Salvon Ahmed Loose
With being the lead back for the Huskies, junior running back Salvon Ahmed needs to be “sprung loose” by the coaching staff. Ahmed is arguably the most explosive on the entire team and offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan must capitalize on using his ability. Many have asked this past week as to why Ahmed didn’t play more last game and receive more carries? Against the Bears, finding a way to get Ahmed creases and holes to run through will prove essential to get him into the second level of the defense. With facing a skilled secondary, the Huskies will need to get Ahmed dialed in to help Eason have open passing lanes to throw into, instead of forcing the ball into tight windows. Let #26 do what he was brought to Montlake to do!
Keep Relentless Pressure On Chase Garbers
Playing in a hostile environment like Husky Stadium is no easy task for opposing quarterbacks, and for sophomore Chase Garbers it won’t be any different. He can be a very effective and efficient quarterback when he is given time to throw the ball. With his feet set, the kid can sling it! One tendency that Garbers has shown in the past is that he can turn the ball over by throwing picks. If the Huskies can get constant pressure on him all night long, the odds stack in the Huskies favor. A big emphasis for the Dawgs has been to improve its pass rush and get after opposing quarterbacks. With Garbers running for his life, he will try to force the issue and make tough plays against our fast and talented secondary. A couple picks by Garbers will surely ignite the late night Husky crowd.
Don’t Succumb To The Hype
While the Bears secondary is perceived to be one of the best in the conference, it doesn’t mean that the Huskies have to shy away from attacking it. In the offseason, Petersen and Hamdan identified a major fix to the offense. Trust the receivers to go and make a play when throwing the ball downfield. In the past, the coaches would shy away from taking chances down the field against a vaunted secondary like Cal. Well…those Husky teams didn’t have Eason commandeering the offense. Instead of buying into the hype and being scared to challenge their secondary, the Huskies should play to Eason’s strength. Let him throw the ball downfield to his playmakers as you saw him do during the season opener. As Petersen says, “its always about us!”. Let is fly and let Eason soar.
Stay In The Moment
Make no mistake, the Huskies have had this game circled on their calendar for a full year now and revenge has been deeply rooted in their minds. This past week, senior inside linebacker Evan Weaver gave the Huskies some bulletin board material. “Right now, it’s not looking good. But we’ll get it right tomorrow in the film room, Monday, Tuesday, all the way ’til Friday. Then we’ll fly up there and we’ll beat ‘em Saturday. That’s what we do. We win games.” Weaver said. It’s easy for the Huskies to get too amped up with both of these factors affecting their psyche. If they can just stay in the moment and let their disciplined play do the talking for them, it will be a good night for the Huskies. The focus should be on executing the game plan perfectly, which is what Petersen preaches.