2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Washington Offense
Scoring touchdowns again would be nice. It was a strange year for the Washington O.
It was fine, it moved the chains – it led the Pac-12 in third down conversions – and it dominated the clock by holding on to the ball for a conference-leading 32:20.
But the points were lacking.
How weird was the UW offensive season? The 2017 team put up 471 points and scored four touchdowns or more in ten games. The 2016 squad that got to the College Football Playoff scored 585 points and got in the end zone four times or more 12 times. Last year?
369 points, with four touchdowns or more in a mere five games.
It all worked out considering the Huskies won the Pac-12 title and got to the Rose Bowl, but considering the changes on defense with nine new starters, being more explosive and finding more scoring pop is a big deal.
Biggest Key To The Washington Defense
Find more of a pass rush. How do you adapt, adjust, and rebuild a defense that loses nine starters? Start by being more disruptive and get to the quarterback.
As good as the Washington defense was last year – it was the best in the Pac-12 – it got the job done with little pressure into the backfield. The Dawgs came up with 24 sacks after generating 39 in 2017, having big problems in a midseason power outage.
There weren’t enough tackles for loss, either, with just 64 after generating 86 the year before. On the plus side, even with the few starters back, there’s athleticism across the board and quickness on the big line. It would be nice, though, if a killer pass rusher emerged.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Jacob Eason, Jr.
Jake Browning wasn’t always perfect, but he ended up leading the way to two Pac-12 titles, a College Football Playoff appearance, three major bowl games, and he finished his career with 12,296 yards – 32nd in NCAA history, just ahead of Jared Goff and just behind Matt Barkley and Kliff Kingsbury. He was a solid four-year starter, and now it’s up to Jacob Eason to be even better.
The one-time Georgia super-recruit started right away as a freshman, and he was okay with 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns, and eight picks. He only completed 55% of his passes, though, and he was shoved aside when Jake Fromm hit campus.
He’s got the 6-6, 228-pound size, but he’s coming in a bit cold after going almost two years without any meaningful action. He might have been able to dive into the UW system over the last year, and he’s got a loaded group of receivers to work with, but he needs to be fantastic.
Not only are the expectations high, but he’ll have to go against a boatload of great passing quarterbacks throughout the season. Now he has to look and play up to his five-star skills.
Key Game To The Washington Season
at Stanford, Oct. 5
Washington might need to replace a whole slew of key parts, but if it’s any good – or great – it should be 5-0 with a home win over USC to get excited about. The rest of the schedule isn’t easy, but Oregon, Utah, and Washington State are at home, and road games against Arizona, Oregon State and Colorado are against teams that didn’t go bowling. That all comes after having to go to Stanford.
Lose to the Cardinal, and the pressure will be on to be nearly perfect against the Ducks and Cougars of the Pac-12 world. Win, and a third trip to the conference title game in four years is there for the taking. 2007 was the last time UW won in Palo Alto.
– Washington Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Washington Fun Stats
– Points Per Game: Washington 26.4 – Opponents 16.4
– Fumbles: Opponents 23 (lost 9) – Washington 11 (lost 5)
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 13-of-23 (57%) – Opponents 11-of-21 (52%)