SEATTLE – The Huskies are trying their best to rattle Jacob Eason with a cacophony of confusion. It’s a purposeful plan to prepare their junior quarterback for No. 22 Washington’s road opener and what he’ll face Saturday afternoon at Brigham Young.
“They’ve got the speakers out there blaring crowd noise,” Eason said. “And we’ve got the guys overcommunicating. We’re always talking about verbal combat. That’s going to be huge going into this environment. Overemphasizing being loud, just screaming out the cadence.”
Ask Nick Harris about it.
So far, the preseason All-American center has been impressed with Eason’s composure, not just this week, but how the 6-foot-6, 227-pound signal-caller who teammates affectionately call “Skinny” has handled the compliments and critiques following UW’s 2-1 start.
“He’s a collected guy,” Harris said. “He’s real calm. He’s never too high and never too low. It’s good because I’m always high-strung and always ready to get stuff cracking. It’s good to have him in there, because he kind of levels us out.
“You feed off it because he means what he says. He has a conviction in what he’s saying out there and he’s confident. It’s a different dynamic, but it’s a good dynamic, especially with the guys we have up front because we have some characters up front.”
In this age of inflated expectations, Eason may live up to the hype that preceded his well-documented transfer from Georgia and an offseason quarterback battle with former backup Jake Haener, who left for Fresno State.
Through three games, Eason has delivered performances that have ranged from brilliant to bland.
The former Lake Stevens (Washington) High star with the explosive right arm dazzled Husky fans with a dynamic debut while throwing for 394 yards and four touchdowns in a season-opening 47-14 win against Eastern Washington.
A week later, the Huskies were humbled in a 20-19 defeat to California in which Eason connected on 18 of 30 passes for 162 yards and tossed his only interception of the season.
Last Saturday, Eason rebounded with 262 passing yards and three TDs, good enough to beat Hawaii 52-20.
In the Pac-12, Washington’s offense ranks fourth in scoring (39.3), fourth in rushing (192 yards per game), sixth in passing (264) and sixth in total offense (456).
“We’re definitely pushing towards an identity,” Eason said. “We’ve shown a few things that we can do, but I don’t know if we’ve identified ourselves yet.”
Against lesser competition, Washington showcased an attack capable of gaining big yards in chunks and scoring anywhere on the field.
That same offense, however, sputtered and stalled during a critical third quarter against Cal.
“I want to be a dangerous offense,” Eason said. “We got a lot of weapons. We got a solid receiving corps. A solid running back corps and a solid O-line. I’d rather be looked at as a dangerous offense that’s on the attack rather than something that people can game plan against easily. Just a dangerous, forceful, smart and high-scoring offense.”
Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. game at BYU (2-1) is Eason’s first road contest with Washington and a potentially dangerous challenge against an opponent that upset then-No. 24 USC 30-27 in overtime last week.
The Huskies have surrendered just five sacks, but pass protection could be an issue at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which is expected to draw a sold-out crowd of 64,045.
“It’s definitely going to be different because it’s a new team for (Eason) and his first away game with us,” junior running back Sean McGrew said. “That’ll be interesting to see how he controls the offense and how he commands us on the field.
“Everything that I’ve seen from him tells me that he’s going to be fine and we’ll be fine.”
As an 18-year-old freshman starter at Georgia, Eason posted a 3-1 record in road games, which included 719 passing yards, five TDs and three interceptions.
In his last road game, Eason threw for 245 yards and a touchdown and orchestrated a last-minute scoring drive for a 27-24 win at Kentucky on Nov. 5, 2016.
“It’s not like he’s some true freshman that’s never played college football before,” Harris said. “He’s played in those environments. He knows what it’s like playing on the road in front of a lot of people.
“He’s definitely ready. That guy, he’s ready. He’s a good leader and a good quarterback. I’m not worried about him at all. He should be good to go.”
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