Washington football battle plan for start of conference play

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 01: Running back Sean McGrew #5 of the Washington Huskies warms up before the spring game at Husky Stadium on May 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 01: Running back Sean McGrew #5 of the Washington Huskies warms up before the spring game at Husky Stadium on May 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Washington football is entering the fourth week of the 2021 season—a week that marks the start of conference play. Things haven’t gone too well for the Huskies so far and it’s likely not going to get much better. They are 1-2 after playing an FCS Big Sky team, a Sun Belt team, and a Big Ten team.

The game against Michigan was expected to be difficult. However, it wasn’t expected of the Huskies to look so inept.

I will admit that I had tunnel vision immediately following Washington’s win over Arkansas State. I saw it as a huge accomplishment considering their previous two games, but then I had to settle back into reality and realize that they went up against a Sun Belt team who gave up 50-plus points two weeks in a row.

I proposed this question in my week 4 odds and prediction piece and I will propose it again: Washington’s offense looks to have figured things out in Week 3, but can they sustain their success against big conference opponents?

Washington football’s battle plan moving forward

It’s going to be a tough task for a team with an inexperienced head coach still trying to figure things out. However, Jimmy Lake looks to be finally showing signs that he can adapt to the game and make the best adjustments for the success of his team.

The biggest aspect in Washington’s battle plan going forward is going to be the coaching. John Donovan has to have faith in his quarterback Dylan Morris and be open to throwing the ball. We saw it worked in Week 3 when he decided to move to the booth to get a better view of the All-22 going down on the field.

UW Dawg Pound reported that the Husky offense ran play-action 42.8% of the time against Arkansas State. Apparently, Dylan Morris has played successfully when utilizing play-action, earning a 61.7% completion percentage, two touchdowns, and only one interception.

The Huskies saw that they were victorious when they mixed up the offensive play calling. Not running the ball too much opened up for more successful conversions, which allowed for the thriving play-action passing game. They ran the ball well against Arkansas State and this forced the Red Wolves defense to bite too many times on the play fake.

Another huge key for the Huskies moving forward in the season is to utilize running back Sean McGrew on offense more. We all know what he’s capable of doing and he has been a huge contributor on offense for Washington in his six seasons with the program.

The Huskies have a highly talented group of running backs who each possess different skills. One thing McGrew can do that many of the other backs can’t is to make players miss. They need him on offense as the season progresses.

On the other side of the ball, the defense has to fix their inability to stop the run, especially with the game against Cal coming up. Cal has a good balance on the offense and while their backfield doesn’t put up eye-popping numbers on a weekly basis, they remain consistent.

The Last of the Haul

Remember that also some point this season we can expect All-American outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui to be back in action. This is will be pivotal in improving the Huskies’ ability to rush the line of scrimmage.

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In the end, it all comes down to how Jimmy Lake coaches his team. Lake learned the hard way from their season opener against Montana that you must come prepared in order to play a football game. They must be prepared to face the tenacious Pac-12.

Their next five games:

  • 9/25: vs. California
  • 10/2 at Oregon State
  • 10/16: vs. UCLA
  • 10/22: at Arizona
  • 10/30: at Stanford