As a new feature in 2016 at On The Banks, we will be thoroughly previewing each one of Rutgers’ opponents. Up first are the 14th ranked Washington Huskies.
If you want complete game notes from Washington’s athletic department, you can find them here. This is where I went to learn some new things about Washington you’ll find in this preview.
If you want to read SB Nation’s crazy in-depth preview on Washington, click here. It’s really good.
Ranking: #14 (AP) | #18 (Coaches)
Head Coach: Chris Peterson (15-12)
2015 Record: 7-6 (4-5)
Current Streak: W3
SB Nation Site: UW Dawg Pound
One Big Thing
Washington is without a doubt the trendiest “underdog” pick to make a College Football Playoff run in 2016. Analysts love their defense, which is elite, as well as the sophomore QB/RB combo of Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin. I’ll have more on them later.
Opponent Depth Chart
Key Offensive Players
QB Jake Browning
Browning is a true sophomore from California who was the 5th ranked pocket passer in the recruiting class of 2015. He was handed the reigns immediately and made the most of it, posting very impressive numbers for a true freshman in a power five conference. With all that experience as a first-year QB, the expectations are sky high for Browning. He is even being listed on some Heisman watches. He will be working against a relatively young but talented Rutgers secondary which should pose somewhat of a challenge to the star QB.
RB Myles Gaskin
Even though the PAC-12 is known for its shitty defenses, Gaskin put up ridiculous numbers as a true freshman. His clear downfall is that he is not a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. However, that doesn’t really matter when you rush for 1300 yards and 14 TDs in what was really 11 games of action. It is important to note, though, that half of his touchdowns were scored against Sacramento State and Southern Miss, not exactly powerhouse programs.
Key Defensive Players
CB Sidney Jones
Jones is returning as a junior and one of the stars of the secondary. In 2015 he totaled 4 interception, 3.5 TFLs, 10 PBUs, and most surprisingly, 4 forced fumbles and 2 recoveries. He does it all for the Huskies and will frustrate any Rutgers receiver that lines up across from him.
FS Budda Baker
Here we get to know the other star of the secondary. Baker earned first-team All-PAC-12 as a sophomore last year, reeling in 2 interception, defending 9 passes, as well as racking up 49 tackles. That was also good enough for him to be named preseason All-American by ESPN. The combination of Baker and Jones will be giving Drew Mehringer nightmares.
MLB Azeem Victor
Victor will also be a junior and is the leader of defense at middle linebacker. In 2015 he led the team with 77 tackles. He also had 9 TFLs and 6 PBUs to go along with an interception. Unlike the defensive line which is loaded with depth, Victor stands alone in my eyes as the star of the linebacking corps.
Why they are better than Rutgers
Washington is clearly the better team in this matchup. That doesn’t mean Rutgers can’t win, it just means they will have a very hard time doing so. Washington has huge advantages in arguably the two most important areas of a football team, QB play and defense. Jake Browning may be a little over hyped but he is still a top-notch QB who is better than anyone on the Rutgers roster as of now. As for their defense, it is elite at all 3 levels and has loads of depth, especially at the defensive line. There are two ways teams make championship runs: a QB carrying the team (Ohio State/FSU) or an elite defense (Alabama).
Why they are not as good as you think
Up to this point, Washington is all hype and no substance. Let’s take a trip back to 2012 when Arkansas was ranked in the top 10 to start the season. There was no way Rutgers even had a shot at beating them on the road. However, the Arkansas hype was all for nothing as they lost to Rutgers and went 4-8 in a disaster season. For all we know Washington isn’t nearly as good as everyone seems. The bottom line is this is mostly speculation on how good Washington will be. On paper they are a top-15 team, but paper doesn’t mean shit when you step on the football field.
A few more notes
- Second leading returning wide receiver Brayden Lenius is suspended for the first 3 games of 2016 meaning he will miss the opener
- John Ross, Washington’s version of Janarion Grant who can also play cornerback, missed 2015 but will return fully healthy for the season opener
- 33 different Washington players currently on the roster have started at least one game in their college careers
- There are only 13 seniors on the roster
Stay tuned for even more game content, including roundtable predictions from the OTB staff as well as an official game preview later this week!