University of Washington

What the UW defense thinks about the challenge of Oregon RB Royce Freeman

The Huskies defense knows it’s in for a challenge on Saturday against Oregon's Royce Freeman. Freeman has rushed for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and has been on a big roll in his last three games, surpassing 130 yards in each.
The Huskies defense knows it’s in for a challenge on Saturday against Oregon's Royce Freeman. Freeman has rushed for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and has been on a big roll in his last three games, surpassing 130 yards in each. AP

First it was UCLA star quarterback Josh Rosen. Now, Washington’s much-vaunted defense gets another crack at Royce Freeman.

The Oregon senior running back’s first game against UW was one to remember. Or forget for the Huskies and their fans.

Freeman rushed 29 times for 169 yards and four touchdowns in 2014. A year later, he gashed the Huskies for 27 carries and a 138 yards.

The Huskies countered last year by holding Freeman to 50 yards in a 70-21 win at Autzen Stadium.

UW (7-1, 4-1 Pac 12) and Oregon (5-4, 2-3) will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium for the final time in Freeman’s career.

Freeman, a 5-foot-11, 231-pound tank, enters the game on quite a roll. He’s surpassed 130 yards rushing in each of the last three games. That’s pushed his season totals to 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 6.0 yards per carry.

The News Tribune spoke to a few members of the Huskies defense about Freeman. Here’s what they had to say:

“He’s a great running back. He’s been a phenomenal player for what is his fourth year now. You can tell he just breaks tackles, he’s got breakaway speed, he’s got great vision. So it’s going to come down to us with everybody kinda staying home and playing their gaps and being able to tackle him.” — Huskies linebacker Tevis Bartlett

“From watching film, you see him get to the next level quite a few times. We have to be ready just like everybody else on our defense does. He’s a tackle-breaker and he has good speed. Tackle low, wrap up and be efficient.” — Huskies cornerback Austin Joyner

“I’m not sure what stands out. It’s ‘What doesn’t stand out?’ There’s not much. I mean, he is big, he is strong, he is fast, he can catch the ball, he can run inside, he can run outside, he pass protects. I think he’s a complete back. That’s a first-rounder we probably gotta play this week. He’s very talented.” — Huskies linebackers coach Bob Gregory

“I think he’s a power back. He just bounces off guys and keeps running. He has good speed for being that big. I think he’s a pretty strong dude.” — Huskies cornerback Myles Bryant

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark

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