Analysis: Can UW beat Power Five opponents with a totally unbalanced offense?
Mike Vorel Can a totally unbalanced offense beat Michigan State? We’ll find out Saturday. Because, through two weeks (and wins), Washington’s offense looks like this: Passing Vs. Boise State: 31-42, 73.
8% completions, 490 yards, 6 TD Vs. Tulsa: 30-40, 75% completions, 454 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT Total: 61-82, 74. 4% completions, 944 pass yards, 9 TD, 1 INT FULL COVERAGE WASHINGTON 43, TULSA 10 Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze gets past Tulsa Golden Hurricane cornerback Tyree Carlisle and goes high for a touchdown catch during the first quarter Saturday, Sept.
9, 2023 in Seattle. 224933 Rushing Vs. Boise State: 19 carries, 78 yards, 4.
1 yards per carry, 2 TD Vs. Tulsa: 22 carries, 109 yards, 5. 0 yards per carry, 3 TD Total: 41 carries, 187 yards, 4.
6 yards per carry, 5 TD There are 133 teams in the FBS. Washington ranks 132nd in rush attempts per game (20. 5), above only Colorado State.
When you drill deeper, that imbalance may be best for business. Without assumed starter Cameron Davis — who went down for the season during preseason practices — running backs Will Nixon, Dillon Johnson, Daniyel Ngata and Sam Adams II combined for 111 rushing yards, 3. 6 yards per carry and two touchdowns against a pair of Group of Five opponents.
Washington’s wide receivers (49 rushing yards, 2 TD) matched its running backs (49 rushing yards, 1 TD) in Saturday’s trouncing of Tulsa … with 12 fewer carries. With perhaps the nation’s premier combination of quarterback, wide receivers and pass protection, does UW really need to run? “Instead of having to take two times to convert a short-yardage situation, you’d like to get it the first time. That happened a couple times today,” UW coach Kalen DeBoer said, when asked if developing a traditional running game is essential.
“It’s just really hard. When you see so many things that are just open and are given [in the passing game] and your guys can attack and go make plays, it’s hard not to call those plays. ” Indeed, a year after Michael Penix Jr.
led the nation in passing yards per game, UW again ranks first in passing (472 yards per game) and completions of 30 yards or more (10), fourth in pass touchdowns (9), fourth in yards per pass attempt (11. 5), fifth in pass efficiency rating (204. 87), seventh in red zone touchdown percentage (91.
67%), eighth in sacks allowed (1), 14th in pass attempts (41 per game) and 17th in completion percentage (74. 4%). Or how about the statistics that matter most? Without a legitimate rushing threat, the Huskies still sit sixth in total offense (565.
5 yards per game) and eighth in scoring (49. 5 points per game). Of course, it’s possible those results are a Montlake mirage, enhanced by inferior competition.
It’s possible UW’s Pac-12 opponents will counter an obviously one-dimensional offense, pressuring Penix and forcing mistakes similar to the several we saw Saturday. It’s also possible Penix, wide receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, Ja’Lynn Polk and Germie Bernard, and tight ends Jack Westover and Devin Culp are too much to contain, with or without a running game. “We do have to work on that, and we will continue to emphasize [the running game],” DeBoer said Saturday.
“I thought Will Nixon (who finished with 30 rushing yards and five yards per carry, plus two catches for 25 yards), again, did a nice job. I thought he was very consistent. He comes out of the backfield and makes a play.
They’re good in pass protection. There were some runs in there. We haven’t hit the big long one you’d like to see at this point yet, but it also takes more than a few carries.
We haven’t had enough opportunities. ” Which arrives at another point: With fewer plays per game, DeBoer and Co. are determined to prioritize proven playmakers.
Because of recently implemented NCAA rule changes, the game clock no longer stops after most first downs, only doing so in the final two minutes of a half. That effectively shortens the game and affords teams fewer plays and possessions. “We’ve got to get our snaps in and let our players make plays in space when it’s there,” DeBoer said.
“The run game will open up as the pass game continues to excel. ” Again — clock jokes aside — time will tell. We’ll see on Saturday.
A year ago, UW steamrolled Michigan State with a more (technically) balanced attack. Penix completed 24 of 40 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns, while Washington rushed 36 times (47. 4% of snaps) for just 106 yards with 2.
9 yards per carry and a touchdown. That Spartan secondary finished 106th nationally in opponent yards per pass attempt (7. 9), 114th in pass touchdowns allowed (26), 123rd in opponent completion percentage (66.
4%), 125th in opponent pass efficiency rating (155. 73) and dead last in interceptions (2) last fall. Through two wins — a statistically irrelevant sample size, considering the competition — the Spartans appear improved, ranking fifth in passing defense (107 yards allowed per game) and opponent yards per pass attempt (4.
3). MSU’s five sacks per game is also third in the nation. But those numbers were amassed against Central Michigan (a MAC program that finished 4-8 a year ago) and FCS Richmond.
A more terrifying test awaits. And the home team won’t be the only one tested. Can Washington really excel by highlighting its strengths and essentially ignoring its weaknesses? Given the Huskies’ armada of available playmakers, is a passing attack enough? UW stands pat at No.
8 For the second consecutive week, Washington was ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, which was released Sunday morning. The Huskies were one of a whopping eight Pac-12 programs represented, along with No.
5 USC, No. 12 Utah, No. 13 Oregon, No.
16 Oregon State, No. 18 Colorado, No. 23 Washington State and No.
24 UCLA. The only other conference to have as many as eight teams ranked in the same AP poll is the SEC, which has done so 21 times, with a record 10 in September 2015. .