Ben Burr-Kirven Is The Hero The Huskies Need
Ben Burr-Kirven is having an amazing season for the Huskies. He was recently named to the final watch list for the Bednarik Award, which is given to the best defensive player in the country every season. Is Burr-Kirven the best player on the Washington defense? Probably not, cornerback Byron Murphy was also named to the Bednarik watch list, and Taylor Rapp deserves to be on that list too. But statistically speaking, Burr-Kirven has had the best season for the Huskies and it’s not even close. He’s totaled 74 total tackles, which almost doubles the team’s next leading tackler, Myles Bryant, who has 35.
Filling A Need
The linebacker position was a big question mark coming into this season, as Burr-Kirven was the only known entity. The Huskies lost Keishawn Bierria to graduation and the draft, and the move of Tevis Bartlett to inside linebacker was a big question mark. Ale Kaho was supposed to play opposite of Burr-Kirven, but he was released of his letter of intent and enrolled at Alabama. Husky fans expect a lot from their linebackers after some of the players that have come through, like Shaq Thompson and Mason Foster. Burr-Kirven has the opportunity to be just like them.
Quarterbacks have been afraid to throw against the Husky secondary, for the most part, relying on the run game to find chinks in the armor of this vaunted defense. That’s where Burr-Kirven shines. While he’s a great coverage linebacker and knows how to sit in a zone very well, he’s arguably the best run defender in the Pac-12. His range and ability to wrap up ball carriers are second to none in the conference. That showed up, especially against Arizona State, when Burr-Kirven totaled 20 tackles and earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors.
A Key Piece Against Oregon
Going into the matchup with Oregon, the Ducks are going to want to establish the run with CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. Oregon is averaging 216 rushing yards per game, and they’ll try to make it as easy as possible for Justin Herbert to throw the ball against the UW secondary. But if Burr-Kirven can hold strong and not let the Oregon offense run all over the field, the UW defense will be able to do whatever they want.