Offensive consistency key to UW hopes vs Utah

Pettis vs Utah photo.jpg
Dante Pettis against Utah in 2016. (KOMO News photo)

By Bill Swartz

They came out like a house of fire at Stanford last Friday night putting together an impressive 12-play, 88-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession. After that, it was a struggle for the Washington Husky offense in a disheartening 30-22 loss to the Cardinal.

While putting up over 400 yards and scoring 37 points per game, the Dawg’s offense has become inconsistent. Quarterback Jake Browning says at Stanford self-inflicted wounds were the culprit.

“We had some miscues at bad times. People were playing hard, and we had some stuff there. We just didn’t quite execute it. I had some negative plays, and that’s something I need to improve on,” Browning told KOMO News after a U-Dub practice this week.

Because Washington’s normally reliable defense couldn’t get off the field on third downs, the Husky offense had only 10 series for coordinator Jonathan Smith to dial up the best of the best plays against Stanford.

“I think the tendency if to press a little, but I don’t think we were totally that way. We did feel like we had to start making some things happen,” Smith said. “That didn’t start happening until late in the fourth quarter when we put something together.”

Injuries are certainly a factor for the unstable Husky offense. Washington lost one of its top dynamic weapons Chico McClatcher in September. Promising freshman tight end Hunter Bryant and deep threat receiver Quinten Pounds both went down with knee injuries. All Pac-12 left tackle Trey Adams had season ending knee surgery.

No question the nationally ranked Dawgs have been getting most every team’s best shot. What’s more, tougher defenses like Stanford and this Saturday night’s Husky opponent Utah are putting more defenders in the box to stymie the UW running attack. That means Washington’s receiving group must do more to beat tight, press coverage.

“They (Utah) are a stingy defense. They don’t give up many big plays, get a lot of turnovers and make you earn everything,” said UW senior receiver Dante Pettis. “Beating one-on-one coverage will be huge. Any time a team plays you man, it always comes down to, can the receivers get open?”

Last year in Salt Lake City it took a Pettis' punt return for touchdown to pull out a 31-24 Washington victory over the Utes.

NO Scoreboard watching

The Utah at Washington game doesn’t kick off until 7:30 p.m. Saturday. California plays at Stanford at 5 o’clock, so the Huskies could know their fate when they run out the tunnel onto Alaska Airlines Field.

The Golden Bears would have to upset the Cardinal to keep the Husky's hopes alive of winning the Pac-12 North division, setting up a winner-take-all Apple Cup game against Washington State Nov. 25 in Seattle.

UW coach Chris Petersen and most Husky players we spoke with don’t want to know the “Big Game” outcome. Their focus is squarely on Utah.

Media coverage

ESPN has the pictures of the Utah- Washington game. At 2:30, Gaard Swanson launches a full day of Husky radio coverage with the KOMO Kickoff Show on am 1000/ fm 97.7 Join KOMO’s Tom Hutlyer and Bill Swartz, coach Keith Gilbertson, and ex-UW running back Greg Lewis in ‘The ZONE’ for the Husky Tailgate show at 4:30.