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Washington Film Study: What BYU can expect from the Huskies this week

A well-coached team with good skill players will present a solid challenge for the Cougars.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Hawaii at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To help prepare for this week’s game against the Huskies, we decided to review some game film from Washington’s first couple of matchups, specifically against Cal and Hawaii. The biggest shock was that Cal was able to sneak away with a win against UW thanks to a solid ground game and stout defense. The game had a delayed start until 10:30pm PST, so things were a little wacky from the start, but we still saw some interesting things that BYU could try to exploit this week.

Here are the top five things that we noticed.

Expect lots of formations and motion

True to Chris Petersen form, Washington’s offense will work lots of different motions and formations to identify and exploit holes in the defense. People always assume that Petersen’s hallmark is the set of trick-plays that he’ll use but in reality it’s the fact that his offense is disciplined and can find many different ways to beat you.

In the video below you’ll see UW quarterback does a good job selling the dive before pitching it to Andre Baccellia for the end around. Beyond the fake, what really makes this play work is the design where Washington is able to get multiple blockers in position to lead the way for Baccellia. Usually plays like this can look a little scattered and messy but UW executes perfectly and nearly gets a score.

Washington’s offense uses the ENTIRE field

Something else that Chris Petersen likes to do with his offense is spread the field from sideline to sideline to help his wide receivers make plays in space. A lot of teams like Washington will treat these wide throws and bubble screens like run plays, content to gain 4-7 yards per play but knowing that there is always the potential for a big gain. Unlike an inside run where 3-4 good blocks are needed to spring a run, on a bubble screen it only needs 1-2.

With this wide screen pass to Chico McClatcher, UW is able to get a few big bodies to the perimeter to help clear the way. But in the end its a nice hurdle by McClatcher that makes this a nice gain. BYU’s defensive backs will need to be ready to tackle in space so these short passes don’t turn into big gains.

Jacob Eason can throw the long ball with ease

UW didn’t have a drop off when senior quarterback Jake Browning graduated, as they had Georgia transfer Jacob Eason waiting in the wings to fill his role. The Washington native returned home and has played pretty well in his first three games, throwing for seven touchdowns and only one interception. The most impressive part of his game is his ability to connect on deep routes with ease thanks to his cannon arm.

In the first clip below you’ll see that the offense does a good job setting up the Hawaii defense into thinking it’s a screen. Eason gives a nice pump fake to the flat before throwing it to the end zone to an open Puka Nakua. It’s a perfect play call and clean execution. If BYU wants to keep up they’ll need to 1) prevent big gains on the screen plays and 2) be ready for those deep shots. The second clip shows off just how lethal Eason can downfield be with a clean pocket. Austin Lee better be ready to play this week.

BYU needs to get pressure on Eason

Just like they did this last week against USC’s Kedon Slovis, BYU will need to force Jacob Eason out of his comfort zone. In watching both games against Hawaii and Cal, it was clear that Eason did his best work when he was in the pocket and had a clean throwing lane. If the pocket collapses and he needs to throw on the run, he’s not as dangerous.

In this play Cal is able to get just enough pressure to force Jacob to lazily throw the ball off his back foot. The pass is a dangerous floater towards the sideline that really should have been picked off. It’s a subtle example but it shows how important it will be for BYU to get pressure with Lorenzo Fauatea, Khyris Tonga and the rest of the defensive front. Jacob isn’t a wild playmaker that will escape and run the ball for a big 30 yard gain so getting him on the run will be to BYU’s advantage.

Run the rock = win the game

We talked a lot about Washington’s offense so far but we didn’t forget how BYU can attack their defense. When Cal beat the Huskies in that wild late-night affair, they were able to do so by working the ground game. The Golden Bears were able average 5 yards per carry on the ground and did so with sound blocking and hard running. Washington’s defense presents a bigger challenge that USC but if the Cougars execute like they did last week we should see another solid game from Ty’Son Williams and company.