9 Washington - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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9 Washington

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

Washington's defensive scheme gives people problems because they attack. If your team can't beat man-to-man coverage, you're going to have problems. But they lost some top players to the NFL in their secondary. That's a concern: With all of the man-to-man they play, they ask a lot of their corners in coverage. Their front seven controls the line of scrimmage, and they run a lot of stunts with their tackles and ends. Their defensive coordinator, Pete Kwiatkowski, does a really good job scheming and making you make mistakes.

What makes [junior quarterback] Jake Browning special is his ability to hit [receivers in the] hands, and he doesn't make mental mistakes. He has an incredibly high football IQ. As a defense you always hope the other team is going to throw a few bad balls, and he doesn't do that. And then you put him with [junior running back] MYLES GASKIN, who has a great ability to make you miss. He's a smaller back [5'10", 191 pounds], but the guy's a real dude. They have a great tandem of running backs with Gaskin and [5'11", 223-pound senior] Lavon Coleman.

Washington may have lost John Ross at receiver, but [coach] Chris Petersen has built that program up and they bring back an elite quarterback, so they'll be better than they were last year.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (29TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (12TH)

COMPLETION % (24TH)

YARDS PER CARRY (26TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (60TH)

TURNOVERS LOST (17TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (6TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (10TH)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (7TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (4TH)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (49TH)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (23RD)

SACKS (14TH)

TURNOVERS GAINED (1ST)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (7TH)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (4TH)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

43

The Pac-12 North title runs through Palo Alto, where Washington visits (11/10). UCLA (10/28), Oregon (11/4), Utah (11/18) and Washington State (11/25) all come to Seattle. But the likely South winner and title-game foe—USC—handed UW its lone regular-season defeat last year.

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

Star safety Budda Baker and standout corners Sidney Jones and Kevin King are gone from a defense that led the Pac-12 in yards allowed per attempt last season (3.65). Taylor Rapp, last year's Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year, should join returning junior starter JoJo McIntosh to solidify Washington at safety. But the questions at cornerback aren't as easily answered. Freshman BYRON MURPHY (5'11", 177 pounds), a four-star recruit who redshirted last season, will need to have a breakthrough year. He shone this spring, leading the Huskies in interceptions. If he can sustain that level of performance Washington will have a chance to defend its conference title.