The Washington Huskies Football team is off to a 1-1 start, and an opponent with momentum and confidence is heading to town.
Last weekend, the Huskies battled unprecedented adversity with a long delay and a foe that seems to have the Huskies number.
While the bright spot of the day was placekicker Peyton Henry, going 4 for 4 and connecting on a 49-yarder, it still wasn’t enough to seal the deal.
After a great first game offensively, the Huskies stalled on offense last week and manifested their redzone woes from last season.
Defensively, the Huskies were not sharp and had trouble wrapping up and making tackles all night long, which proved costly.
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are off to a 2-0 start to their season, and both wins are against Pac-12 opponents.
This matchup is unique for the Huskies because they will have to defend the chaotic “run and shoot” offense that Hawaii flaunts.
“This offense is completely unique. We have not seen it since we’ve been here” Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said.
The Huskies will be looking to bounce back after their shocking loss to California last weekend and “right the ship”.
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…..
Recharge The Batteries
After the tough loss to California last weekend, the Huskies felt the effects physically and emotionally. Playing into the early morning hours, the Huskies could still be feeling the lingering effects of getting themselves right and back on schedule. Mentally, no doubt the loss took a toll on the psyche of the team from coaches down to the players. Losing a game that you were supposed to win can linger in the locker room and affect your focus and preparation for the next week. The good news for the Huskies is that the loss took place early in the season. They still have a lot to play for, and need to put the loss behind them and move on. It’s time for the Huskies to recharge their batteries this week and find a way to refresh physically and mentally for a tough opponent coming in.
Keep Quarterback Cole McDonald In the Pocket
With facing a unique style offense that is predicated on the quarterback rolling out and getting loose, it will be paramount for the Huskies to contain the quarterback. Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald had a monster game last week against the Oregon State Beavers. He finished with a stat line of 30 for 52, with 421 yards and 4 TD’s. The game plan for Hawaii will be to roll McDonald out, and let him survey what is going on downfield. It will be absolutely crucial for the Huskies to not let McDonald break contain, and somehow keep him collapsed in the pocket. By limiting his legs, the Huskies will be able to make him one dimensional, limiting the variations that Hawaii can run in their offense. It eliminates the ability to pitch the ball as well, which keeps defenses guessing all game.
Constant Communication On Defense
Maybe the biggest key to the game for the Husky defense is to keep constant communication with each other on every single play. What makes the “run and shoot” offense so difficult to defend is the creativity and freedom given to the receivers. The “green light” to read the defender and make adjustments to the route running on the fly will be very difficult to defend. All three position groups will have to completely be in sync and communicate with each other at all times throughout the game. The players must keep their eyes and be sound in their coverages and reroutes at all times. Hawaii coaches will study the film and try and get the Huskies secondary into pass interference situations all game long. Safety Myles Bryant comes to mind here, with leading the back end.
Score Touchdowns in The Redzone
Plain and simple, this aspect has been talked about ad nauseam for quite some time now. The Huskies must convert touchdowns when they get into the redzone, and put pressure on the Rainbow Warriors. When playing an opponent who can score a bunch of points with their rare style of offense, it will be critical for the Huskies to keep up. If the game gets into a “shootout”, settling for field goals like the Huskies did against California will not get it done. Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan is going to have to find his groove and call plays that maximize the strengths of the Husky offense. When going on long sustained drives, sometimes it’s just as simple as doing what got you down into the redzone in the first place. If they haven’t stopped it for 60-yards, then stick with it!
Wide Receivers Need To Catch The Ball
How do you fix an ailing offense that can’t find its rhythm? The wide receivers have to help out the quarterback and make plays consistently. Last game against California, just when the offense was ready to gain traction and momentum, it was stunted by a dropped pass. Washington head coach Chris Petersen said himself, “maybe it’s on me” in regards to settling for field goals and not going for it more. That may be the case, but the receivers have to give Petersen a reason to forego field goals and throw it to them instead. With an “explosive” offense coming in, as defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake described, dropped passes cannot happen this week. There are some young and talented receivers on the roster, and maybe it’s time to give them some “run” and see how they do.