UW key players
QB Dylan Morris: 1,120 passing yards, 57.8% completions, six pass TDs, five INTs, one rush TD
RB Sean McGrew: 84 rushing yards, 3.8 yards per carry, four TDs
CB Kyler Gordon: 21 tackles, two INTs, two pass breakups, one tackle for loss
ILB Edefuan Ulofoshio: 25 tackles, two TFL, one PBU
Oregon State key players
QB Chance Nolan: 847 passing yards, 72.29% completions, nine pass TDs, two INTs, 128 rush yards
RB B.J. Baylor: 422 rush yards, 6.9 YPC, seven TDs
ILB Avery Roberts: 35 tackles, five TFL, one sack, one PBU, one forced fumble
OLB Andrzej Hughes-Murray: 14 tackles, four TFL, three sacks
Four quarters of offense
Is that too much to ask? In six of John Donovan’s eight games as offensive coordinator, UW has failed to score a touchdown in an entire half – three points in the second half against Oregon State (2020), zero points in the first half against Utah (2020), three points in the first half against Stanford (2020), zero points in the second half against Montana, zero points in the first half against Michigan, and three points in the second half against Cal. Donovan has either been forced to abandon his game plan, or his opponent has made halftime adjustments to nullify it. Last weekend, Washington managed just 62 total yards in its last five drives before beating Cal in overtime. That won’t work against an Oregon State team that put up 45 points in an impressive road win over USC last week. The Husky offense needs to put together a complete performance, or else.
Stuffing the run
If this seems like a key to victory every week, there’s a reason for that. UW’s outcome often hinges on its ability to stop the run. Last weekend, Oregon State ran for 322 yards and 6.3 yards per carry in pummeling the Trojans . The Beavers have seemingly replaced Jamar Jefferson with another star back, as redshirt junior B.J. Baylor has rushed for 422 yards, 6.9 yards per carry and seven touchdowns in his first four games. A UW defense that struggles to contain dual threat quarterbacks will be tasked with corralling Chance Nolan (129 rushing yards and 7.2 yards per carry) as well. Though UW held up for the most part against Cal, this is still a unit that surrendered 343 rushing yards, 6.1 yards per carry and four rushing scores in a 31-10 loss to Michigan. There is plenty still to prove.
The turnover tango
UW head coach Jimmy Lake has repeatedly said that if the Huskies can score points, stop the run and force opponents into passing situations, the turnovers will come. In the past two games, they have. UW forced two turnovers apiece in its back-to-back wins over Arkansas State and Cal. Even so, Washington ranks 91st nationally in overall turnover margin (-2). The Beavers, meanwhile, rank 16th nationally in that category (+4) – having forced nine turnovers while committing five through four games. That includes eight interceptions for an opportunistic Oregon State secondary. Like Lake said, UW needs to limit the run game and force Oregon State into obvious throwing situations on Saturday – at which point an inconsistent pass rush needs to show up. On the other side, quarterback Dylan Morris – who has thrown five interceptions through four games – needs to efficiently lead the UW offense while avoiding the big mistake.
Don’t expect the Huskies to establish much of a running game against an Oregon State squad ranking 22nd nationally in rushing defense (89.25 yards per game) and 23rd in opponent yards per carry (3). Even so, UW’s offense is becoming more dynamic as its key playmakers get healthy.
Final score: Huskies 28, Beavers 24
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