The Washington Huskies Football team is off to a 2-1 start, and faces a different challenge this week with its first road game of the season.
Last weekend, the Huskies got back on track with their dominating 52-20 victory over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
A much improved aspect for the Huskies was the offense was able to convert its scoring drives into touchdowns.
The offense was very balanced with the rushing attack and aerial assault, wearing down the Hawaii defense throughout the game.
Defensively, the Huskies were much more improved than the week before and came away with the first turnovers of the season.
The BYU Cougars are off to a 2-1 start to their season, and last week they gutted out a 30-27 overtime win over the USC Trojans.
BYU’s offense comes wrapped with a bunch of “window” dressing, so it will important for the Husky defense to remain sound.
“It will be good..it’s exciting. First time to go on the road in a really cool venue..really good opponent and all those things so we’re excited,” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said.
The Huskies are bringing a bunch of younger players into a hostile environment and they will need to temper the environment.
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…..
Get Off To A Fast Start
Just like the Huskies did last week, it will be even more imperative to get off to a fast start on the road against the Cougars. When traveling to a hostile environment like Lavell Edwards Stadium, getting off to a fast start can really pay dividends for the Huskies. Taking the emotion out of the BYU crowd early, with scoring touchdowns and putting points on the board, can help settle the Huskies down. For some of the younger players, this will be the first time playing on the road in their college career and nerves will definitely play a factor. Without the comfort of the Husky Stadium crowd, the Huskies will need to find a way to dig in, and not get wrapped up in the atmosphere. Whether its a big score on offense or a takeaway on defense..they need to quiet the Cougar fan base quickly.
Control The Time Of Possession
One of the productive groups on offense this season for the Huskies, has been the consistent play of the running backs group. When facing the Cougars, the Huskies will need to control the time of possession and keep the defense off the field. The Huskies boast an experienced offensive line with a lot of starts under their belt. If the Huskies can consistently run the football behind their strong line, and chunk off six to seven minute drives, then advantage Huskies. The strong offensive line can wear down the Cougars defensive front throughout the course of the game. With the running game fully established, the Husky defense can stay off the field more and be rested in the 4th quarter where they need to be fresh. The altitude definitely plays a factor here.
Don’t Fall For The “Window Dressing”
The BYU offense is very complex, as they like to throw a bunch of personnel groupings, formations and pre-snap motions at their opponents. What they are really trying to do is confuse the defense and make them fall for the bait. With causing pre-snap confusion, the Huskies will have to “keep their eyes”, and not fall for the “window dressing” that the Cougars present. By staying sound in their assignments and staying true to their gaps, the Huskies will be able to work as a whole to keep the Cougars offense in check. It’s always attractive for defenders to try and do too much and get out of their lanes. This game in particular will prove crucial to “just do your part”. Don’t get outside of yourself and try to do somebody else’s job. Stay on your “keys” and focus on the snap.
Play “All” Four Quarters
When traveling into a hostile environment like Provo and taking on a team with confidence, it will be critical to play “all” four quarters! Last week against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, the Huskies took the 3rd Quarter off, especially on defense. They were fortunate that it didn’t come back to fully haunt them at the end of the game. Make no mistake..the Cougars are playing with supreme confidence right now, with pulling off back-to-back impressive wins against Tennessee and USC. If the Huskies decide to take a quarter off this week, it will prove costly for their chances of winning this game. The good teams make you pay when you decide to take your foot off the gas pedal. The Huskies need to operate with a no letup mentality to escape Provo with a “W”.
Convert On Big Plays
A big component to the Cougars success so far this season has been their ability to convert on big play situations. This aspect hasn’t just been limited to the BYU offense, but also to the defense as well. It’s almost as if the Cougars welcome these scenarios and really focus even more on getting the job done. If the Huskies can come away with converting these big plays instead of BYU, then it will suck the life out of their sideline and Lavell Edwards Stadium. Emotion plays a big factor in college football and when playing against the Cougars, you are playing against men..literally! What comes to mind is 3rd down conversions on both sides of the ball. Converting 3rd and 4’s and extending drives, will be key for the offense. Getting off the field on 3rd downs for the defense is vital!
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