On the season, the Huskies fell to 5-4 (2-4), with no clear path of where they will end up for a bowl game berth this postseason.
The Huskies were able to control the game for most of the second half, when momentum started to shift after a crucial interception.
Defensively, the Huskies had a superb game plan of stopping the run in the first half, but couldn’t defend the pass in the second half.
On offense, the Huskies had some big strike plays early, but couldn’t move the ball for three straight quarters against the Utes.
After suffering a 52-7 defeat to the Utah Utes a few weeks ago, the Beavers have responded with a two-game winning streak.
The Beavers are entering this game in second place in the Pac-12 North Division, and are showing themselves as a scrappy bunch.
Here are some keys, the Huskies must do to put themselves in a good position to win this game…..
Don’t Take The Beavers For Granted
It may sound funny for a team that has lost 3 out of their last four games for granted against anybody, but the Huskies are a double-digit favorite against the Beavers. It is no secret that the Beavers have had their struggles in recent years with winning games, but things seem to be trending upward this season. Former Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith is in year two of his massive rebuild project down in Corvallis, Oregon. They are a scrappy bunch this season and lately they have been moving the ball on offense. Last week against the Arizona Wildcats, they put up 56 points on the scoreboard and the game was on the road. The Huskies shouldn’t assume they are just going to march into Reser Stadium and handle their business. They have to respect the Beavers!
Tighten Up The Defense In The Red Zone
One glaring aspect of success for the Beavers offense this season has been their ability to capitalize when they get down to the red zone. On the season, the Beavers have converted 27 of 30 attempts at a conversion rate of 90%. Of those 30 attempts, they have scored 25 touchdowns which is quite remarkable. It will be critical for the Huskies to “tighten up the defense” in the red zone and not let the Beavers score. When Oregon State is moving the football, if the Huskies can keep them out of the red zone and force them to attempt long field goals then advantage Huskies. The Beavers are only 2 for 7 this season on field goal attempts, which is not their strong suit. Mixing up coverages and confusing the Beavers will be important for the Huskies in shutting down the red zone.
Create Explosive Plays On Offense
The Beavers defense is one of the worst in the entire Pac-12 Conference this season. They are surrendering 32.4 points per game and also are giving up 439.2 yards per game. Obviously the Huskies offense has had their struggles with consistency this season but it shouldn’t happen in this game. The Huskies should be able to move the ball on the Beavers with relative ease in both the running game and the passing game. They need to create some explosive plays that result in some big yardage gains and generate some huge momentum throughout the game. With Oregon State ranking last in the conference in defense efficiency rating at 28.5, its time for Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan to open up the playbook and “let it loose” against the Beavers defense!
Keep Beavers Wide Receiver Isaiah Hodgins “In-Check”
Washington head coach Chris Petersen said it best during his press conference this week. He said that Oregon State wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins may be the best wide receiver in the Pac-12 Conference. Hodgins is their “go-to-guy” in the passing game and he is extremely tough to defend down the field. On the season, Hodgins has 12 touchdowns, which has accounted for 72 points on the Beavers scoreboard. He is currently averaging 111.9 yards per game receiving and is an elite play maker for the Beavers. The Huskies secondary must keep their eyes and mark Hodgins all game long. He will get his yards, but what is most important is limiting the impact of his plays. Don’t let him make explosive plays down the field, that can change the entire complexion of the game.
“Execution, Confidence, Belief!”
During his weekly press conference this week, Petersen was asked what they need to do in order to “finish” games. He outlined three important aspects, which were execution, confidence and belief. If that is what Petersen has diagnosed about his team, then it’s time for the “entire team” to get it done. When losing a couple tough games back-to-back, it would be easy for the confidence and belief of the players to be “rattled.” It’s human nature to question yourself heading into your next game. The Huskies must block out all of that “noise” and “doubt” and get back to playing their “brand” of football! Execution will be imperative on the road and it’s time for the Huskies to “finish” this week as “one” team and on both sides of the ball! It’s about self-pride and it starts this Friday night!
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