Washington Football is back in the Rose Bowl!! How does the best defense in the Pac-12 stack up against one of the nation’s best offenses?
It’s no secret, Dwayne Haskins is really good. He’s probably earned a spot as a Heisman finalist good. Will he beat Tua Tagovailoa and be the first Heisman winner the Huskies have played since Robert Griffin III? That’s a whole different question. There’s a chance that he’ll be the first quarterback picked in the 2019 NFL Draft if he decides to leave school early. It’s also no secret that the Huskies have one of the best secondaries in the country. How will these two match up on New Year’s Day in Pasadena?
Another Passing Attack
Ohio State is ranked as the number two passing offense in the country, averaging 362.5 yards per game through the air, while the Huskies are 20th in the country when it comes to passing yards allowed, only giving up an average of 185.4 yards per game. Led by Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp in the secondary, the Husky defense seemed to find themselves in the Pac-12 championship game against Utah, nabbing three interceptions (two by Murphy) and allowing only 188 total yards. The Husky corners will have their hands full with OSU’s leading receivers, Parris Campbell and K.J Hill. If the running backs weren’t so good, we might see a lot of dime and quarter looks like the Huskies showed in Pullman during the Apple Cup. Speaking of the running backs, let’s talk about them.
Balancing Ground Game
The Huskies are also in the top 20 nationally when it comes to rushing defense, allowing 116.4 yards per game, but they haven’t met a backfield like this. The tandem of J.K Dobbins and Mike Weber Jr. has combined for nearly 1,700 yards on the ground, along with 15 total touchdowns. Ben Burr-Kirven will be able to truly show off in the national spotlight if he gets some one-on-one opportunities against these guys, especially Dobbins, who is excellent in space. The OSU offensive line has been excellent in front of them this season, but the Huskies definitely have the personnel up front in Greg Gaines and Jaylen Johnson to help stop the run and try to force the Buckeyes into third and long. Sometimes backup quarterback, and one time Washington commit, Tate Martell will be thrown into the mix, but if he’s out there it’s probably going to be an option play or a QB keeper, as Martell hasn’t thrown a pass since Week Two of the season.
Note: The only game the Buckeyes lost this season was their worst rushing game of the season, when Purdue held them to only 76 yards on 25 attempts. Haskins had to throw the ball 73 times for 470 yards, and could only muster 20 points.
Get. After. The. Quarterback.
Washington has only 19 sacks as a team this season, but the pass rush seemed to find ways to make Jason Shelley uncomfortable in the pocket against Utah, so it looks like things are starting to click. This OSU line will be a whole different animal, anchored by Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince, who are both on Matt Miller’s Big Board inside the top 10 for the 2019 NFL Draft at their position (Jordan is rated at number one). Keeping Haskins inside the pocket should be a goal for the Husky defense. While he isn’t a great runner, he has the ability to make plays outside the pocket, and has scored four touchdowns on the ground this season. Some of the twists and stunt plays that were run in the Pac-12 championship might not hit home, but could be enough to force Haskins to rush a few throws or panic just a bit.