The Washington Huskies Football team is off to a 3-1 start, and will be matched up against a conference foe who is coming off a huge win.
Last weekend, the Huskies marched into Lavell Edwards Stadium and pulled off their most impressive performance of the season.
Any way you slice it, the Huskies aerial attack couldn’t be stopped as junior quarterback Jacob Eason was pretty spectacular.
The offense had it’s most complete effort of the year, with a productive balance between the run game and the passing game.
Defensively, the Huskies continue to come up with timely turnovers over the past two games, which has made a huge impact.
The USC Trojans are currently 3-1 (2-0) on the season and last week they pulled off a 30-23 upset win over the #10 Utah Utes.
What stands out for USC is their revamped offense, with embracing the “Air Raid” attack and throwing the ball down the field.
“We haven’t played those guys in the last couple years, but now you get a chance to see them and study them. I think this will be our biggest challenge that we’ve had, for sure,” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said.
The Trojans are bringing in some quarterbacks that have risen up the depth chart due to injury, but the Huskies will be ready for anything.
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…..
Keep Constant Pressure On The Inexperienced USC Quarterbacks
It is unclear which USC quarterback will start against the Huskies when they take the field on Saturday afternoon. Will it be redshirt junior Matt Fink, or will true freshman Kedon Slovis be healthy enough to get the nod? Traveling to Husky Stadium and playing in the hostile environment that awaits is no easy task for any quarterback. Both quarterbacks for USC are inexperienced and don’t have many game reps on the “big stage”. It will be imperative for the Husky defense to make these guys constantly feel the pressure of the moment throughout the entire game. By keeping the quarterbacks under non-stop duress, the lack of experience will play a factor down the stretch and in clutch situations. The Husky defense will have to capitalize on mistakes and come away with turnovers.
Establish The Running Game Early
One of the biggest strengths of the Husky offense this season had been its ability to establish a run game on a weekly basis. The Huskies have some talented running backs who have been extremely productive. With so much experience and chemistry on the offensive line, the running game has been the beneficiary of holes to run through. The Huskies will need to establish their run game early, so they can control the time of possession and keep the Trojans defense on the field. Once the Huskies have their way on the ground, USC will have no choice but to “load the box” and take it away. At that point, Husky junior quarterback Jacob Eason can do what he does best which is throw the ball down field to his playmakers. Ground and pound right out of the gate!
Play “Penalty Free” Football In The Secondary
For years, we have been accustomed to watching the Pro Style offense down at USC, but this year the Trojans have completely revamped their entire offense. First year offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is a Mike Leach disciple when it comes to running the “Air Raid” offense. Make no mistake, the Trojans are going to test the Huskies secondary throughout the entire game. Harrell will be dialing up the aerial attack all the way down the field, with the hopes of catching the young secondary off guard. Often times this year, the Husky secondary has gotten called for pass interference penalties when thrown against. On 3rd and long situations, the Trojans will throw bombs downfield in the hopes of getting some cheap “P.I.” penalties. The Huskies secondary must play disciplined football.
“Stuff” USC’s Rushing Attack
While the Trojans have adopted the “Air Raid” offense this season, conventional wisdom says that they will just throw the ball all game long. Well..that is incorrect. This Southern California version of the “Air Raid” attack looks different than the Mike Leach/Washington State offense. USC still likes to run the football and mix that component into the offense to keep opposing defenses off balance. Through the years, defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake has made his living on grounding “Air Raid” assaults on a yearly basis. By completely “stuffing” the USC running game and taking that aspect away, the Husky defense can make USC’s offense one-dimensional. With the Huskies only having to worry about “ball-hawking” the passing lanes, they should be in good shape.
Offensive Line Must Protect Jacob Eason
When the Husky offense has been at its best this season, the offensive line has done a great job of protecting quarterback Jacob Eason. The offense has flourished when Eason has been given time to set his feet and deliver missile strikes down the field. The defensive line for the USC Trojans was able to make life completely uncomfortable last week for Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley. It will be critical for the Husky offensive line to win the “trench war” and keep the Trojans defensive front at bay. Eason isn’t exactly a mobile quarterback, and when opposing teams have flushed him out of the pocket, they like their chances. Arguably the biggest strength of the Husky offense, the offensive line will need to keep Eason upright and let him pick apart the Trojans secondary.
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