SEATTLE – Chris Petersen spoke with reporters for more than 10 minutes after Thursday’s practice in the buildup to the 7 p.m. Saturday showdown against rival Oregon at Husky Stadium.
The Huskies coach covered quite a bit of ground but here are the three biggest takeaways from what he said:
UW preparing for scheme, not Herbert or Burmeister: As multiple outlets reported Wednesday, it appears Justin Herbert could be Oregon’s starting quarterback against Washington.
Or will it be Braxton Burmeister?
Herbert is medically cleared to play after fracturing his left, non-throwing side collarbone four weeks ago, according to a report in The Oregonian.
Ducks coach Willie Taggart told reporters he wasn’t going to play Herbert, “unless he is healed and ready to go.”
If he can’t go, it’s likely Oregon will go with Burmeister.
Herbert has thrown for 1,264 yards, nine touchdowns and ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Burmeister has thrown for 293 yards, two touchdowns and has 68 rushing yards with three touchdowns.
Petersen said the Huskies have made a point to concentrate on the Ducks’ scheme rather than making the focus on preparing for a specific quarterback.
“We prepare for the system and whoever they put out there, we gotta go play,” Petersen said. “Like I said, we may emphasize different things for different quarterbacks, it’s the same. It’s the same system.”
Ducks’ running game more than just Freeman: There’s no denying Oregon senior running back Royce Freeman is the driving force behind the team’s rushing attack.
He’s ran 182 times for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017. Freeman is only one of a few options the Ducks have.
Oregon has also used Kani Benoit while also working Tony Brooks-James into the fold. Benoit has 67 carries for 446 yards and nine touchdowns. Brooks-James has 58 carries for 317 yards and two touchdowns.
All three backs are averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry.
Petersen was asked if this was the best collection of running backs the Huskies have faced this season.
He responded by saying, “Yeah, no question.”
“We all know that Utah plays really good defense and run defense and those guys had an unbelievable day against them,” Petersen in reference to the Ducks rushing for 347 yards in last week’s 41-20 win over the Utes. “It’s a lot of speed on the field and a lot of guys to pay attention to. They’re all unique and I think Oregon does a great job of moving them around and getting the guys the ball.”
Petersen says Ahmed has been “really productive” for Huskies: Petersen was talking about how to develop players over the course of the season which led to a discussion about a certain former four-star prospect from Kirkland.
He was asked if Salvon Ahmed was ready to take on a bigger role within the offense.
Ahmed has shown he can be an instant jolt when given the chance. His strongest game of his brief tenure came in last week’s 44-23 win over UCLA.
The 5-foot-11 and 189-pound freshman finished with a team-high 208 all-purpose yards. He rushed six times for 40 yards and ran all over the Bruins for 161 kickoff return yards.
It led to junior running back Myles Gaskin saying after the game that Ahmed, “can do whatever he wants” and “I got nothing but faith in that guy. I love to see him touch the rock.”
What did Petersen have to say about Ahmed?
“I think we’ve been doing a good job with him and we just have to keep bringing him along,” Petersen said. “He’s been really productive in how we’ve used him.
“But if you think if you think he’s going to do everything in all these different positions, it’s probably not helping the guy.”
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