Entering Saturday’s game against UCLA, Washington is coming off its first loss this season. It’s a rare feeling for the No. 12 Huskies, who have lost only three games since the beginning of the 2016.
UW lost to USC at home, Alabama in the College Football Playoff and Arizona State in Tempe last weekend. What does UCLA have to do Saturday to join that short list?
Let’s examine all of UW’s games during the past two seasons:
- Yardage: The Huskies were outgained three times in the past 21 games and all ended in losses.
- Sacks: USC, Alabama and Arizona each sacked Jake Browning three or more times in their wins.
- The Huskies gave up three or more sacks in a game only five times since the beginning of 2016. Arizona dropped Browning four times last year and UW needed overtime to beat the Wildcats 35-28. Oregon State sacked Browning three times this year but couldn’t move the ball (184 yards to UW’s 509) and turned it over three times in a 42-7 UW win.
- Ball security: UW’s defense forced only two turnovers in those three losses and both came against USC. Of the three times UW didn’t get a takeaway in the past 21 games, the Huskies are 1-2.
- UW needed a 58-yard punt return touchdown from Dante Pettis with 3:25 left against Utah in 2016 to escape Salt Lake City with a 31-24 win.
So how might the Bruins fare in those categories this week?
- Yardage: UCLA hasn’t had much difficulty moving the ball this season (second in the Pac-12 in total yards with 510.1 per game) and Josh Rosen has a chance to shine against a Washington secondary struggling with injuries. The Huskies are without both of their starting cornerbacks and will likely be relying on two true freshmen. Against the nation’s second-best rushing defense, the Bruins likely need to stay committed to the running game, even if they’re not getting much success. As head coach Jim Mora pointed out this week, Arizona State rushed for only 40 yards on 32 carries in its win, but the Sun Devils were able to control the ball for nearly 35 minutes.
- Sacks: UCLA is ninth in the Pac-12 in sacks with just 13, but UW won’t have its starting left tackle Trey Adams, who was first-team All-Pac-12 last year. The Bruins had four sacks last week after not getting one since Sept. 16 against Memphis. They’re without defensive lineman Matt Dickerson, who is out with a broken collarbone, and, while he will likely play, Jaelan Phillips probably isn’t fully recovered from his ankle injury. Defensive end Rick Wade is also questionable with a knee injury.
- Ball security: Turnovers have plagued the Bruins on the road this year. Eleven of their 15 turnovers have come in three away games. The offense had a clean performance last week at the Rose Bowl, its first game without a turnover since Sept. 9, but still has to prove it can hang onto the ball in tough road environments.