University of Washington

Apple Cup Preview: UW’s offensive line vs. WSU’s offensive line

Washington offensive linemen Nick Harris and Coleman Shelton have played a role in the group only allowing 15 sacks this season.
Washington offensive linemen Nick Harris and Coleman Shelton have played a role in the group only allowing 15 sacks this season. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Somebody has to give the quarterback time to throw the ball. Or allow the running back a chance to find some open space.

That’s where the offensive line come in handy. It’s up to the line to create time and/or space to make an offense function.

How Washington and Washington State’s offensive lines perform will be something to watch during The Apple Cup on 5 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium.

With The Apple Cup days away, the News Tribune will preview what the Cougars and Huskies have at each position group.

MAKING A CASE FOR THE HUSKIES O-LINE

It’s an interesting question: Is UW’s offensive line the team’s most improved position group?

The Huskies allowed 26 sacks last season en route to the College Football Playoff. UW finished tied for 60th out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in 2016. Move ahead to this season and the line has only allowed 15 sacks and that’s good enough to be tied for 24th nationally.

UW’s line has kept Jake Browning upright and provided him plenty of time to search down field. They’ve also played a part in allowing running backs Lavon Coleman and Myles Gaskin to get beyond the line of scrimmage.

Keep this in mind. The Huskies continued their cohesion even after they lost star left tackle Trey Adams for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

MAKING A CASE FOR THE COUGARS O-LINE

WSU’s offensive line has endured a nightmare season.

A year ago, the Cougars allowed 29 sacks through 13 games. They finished 82nd in the nation.

This year? They’ve given up 39 sacks and there’s still at least two more games left. WSU is third from bottom in most sacks allowed by a FBS program. Only Massachusetts and Kent State have allowed more sacks.

Yet even with those issues, the Cougars are still the No. 29 offense in college football.

AND THE WINNER IS...

This one goes to the Huskies. But don’t be too surprised if either group struggles come Saturday. UW enters with the No. 4 defense in the nation while WSU is 11th. The Cougars are eighth in sacks with 35 while the Huskies are 10th with 33.

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark

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