Washington is officially less than 48 hours away from its 12:30 p.m. Saturday showdown against UCLA at Husky Stadium.
Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with reporters for nearly 13 minutes after Thursday’s practice. Here are the three most notable takeaways from what Petersen said about UW’s impending battle with UCLA.
NO.1: CONTAINING JOSH ROSEN
Any and all conversation about the Bruins begins with Josh Rosen. The star junior quarterback is a likely Top 10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He’s tortured quite a few secondaries, having completed 63.5 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,620 yards and 19 touchdowns. Rosen is among the nation’s top passers. Petersen said Rosen and the Bruins are “the best challenge we’ve seen” in regards to moving the ball through the air. Petersen said UCLA’s pro-style scheme compliments Rosen’s attributes as a passer.
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UW’s ability to get to Rosen will be paramount to its success. The Bruins are in the lower half of teams when it comes to protecting its quarterback. UCLA’s offensive line has allowed an average of 2.29 sacks per game which is tied for 85th. Washington, which is tied for ninth in total sacks, averages 3.29 per contest.
“He gets the ball out quick and I always have such great appreciation for the subtleties of the game,” Petersen said of Rosen. “I think he’s really, really good in the pocket. He doesn’t get much. He doesn’t sacked much. The line blocks for him well. But I always go back, most of that is on the quarterback. He’s great at that.”
NO. 2: UW WILL TURN TO VIZCAINO IN THE KICKING GAME
Petersen did acknowledge senior place kicker Tristan Vizcaino would be his first choice if and when the time comes for a field goal.
UW’s kicking woes came under a microscope in the aftermath of its 13-7 loss to Arizona State in Tempe on Oct. 15. Freshman Van Soderberg missed two field goals attempts — from 27-yards and a 21-yards — which proved costly.
Vizcaino, who didn’t record an attempt against the Sun Devils, is 1 for 6 since going 3 for 3 in the team’s season-opening win Sept. 1 at Rutgers.
Petersen said kickers have to stick to their fundamentals and their technique. He said if Vizcaino does that, he expects his senior to have success Saturday.
“I think he’s a competitor,” Petersen said of Vizcaino. “ I think any competitor wants back out there. We wanted back out there two days later after we played. I know this: He is a competitor. He does work really, really hard. He’s had a really good couple weeks.”
NO. 3: THE GROUND GAME COULD BE BIG
Petersen said there is truth to the idea the Huskies’ running game could have a two-fold function against the Bruins.
For one, the rushing attack could open things up for quarterback Jake Browning. If the Huskies can run the ball with success, there’s a chance they can control the clock and keep Rosen on the sidelines.
The Bruins possess the worst rushing defense in the nation. Opponents are running for more than 303 yards and are averaging 6.1 yards per carry. UCLA is also 114th in rushing touchdowns allowed with 17.
UW is 71st nationally and averages 158.71 yards per game. The Huskies, however, are 27th in rushing touchdowns with 17.
“The important thing is we gotta score points. If we have the ball, we’re not getting points, that’s going to be a problem because UCLA scores points. So, at the end of the day, we can talk stats and yards and passing yards and all that, it’s going to come down to points.
“Can we slow them down and keep them out of the end zone a little bit and we have to get back on track scoring our points.”
Ryan S. Clark:@ryan_s_clark