University of Washington

After watching Hawaii tape, UW coach Chris Petersen evaluates quarterback Jacob Eason, running backs

When Washington head coach Chris Petersen addressed the media after Saturday’s 52-20 victory over Hawaii, he said there were a few elements of the performance he was eager to see on tape.

One was the running backs, including the red-zone runs from redshirt freshman Richard Newton. He was also anxious to evaluate the pass rush and said he always looks forward to understanding what the quarterback sees on the field.

On Monday, two days after the victory, Petersen revisited those categories during his weekly press conference. He was first asked about the pass rush.

The Huskies finished with just one sack and one tackle for loss against the Rainbow Warriors. UW played six — and sometimes seven — defensive backs in order to combat Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense, and safety Myles Bryant had the Huskies’ lone sack.

“Sometimes it’s tough when you’re mixing it up and you’re going to rush three a bunch of times,” Petersen said. “I thought the defensive coaches did a nice job of mixing how much pressure. It wasn’t all the same — it was definitely different. That’s something we’re always trying to get better at is pass rushing. Last year it was a little bit of an Achilles heel and I think we’ve improved, but we’re still grinding on it.”

Petersen then moved on to the running backs.

Three backs — Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew and Newton — each carried the ball eight times. Ahmed led the way with 83 rushing yards while McGrew had 63 yards and a touchdown. Newton finished with just 29 yards but scored three touchdowns, all from less than 10 yards out.

Salvon had the longest run when he burst through a hole in the second quarter and picked up 42 yards. He nearly reached the end zone before being brought down at Hawaii’s 9-yard line.

“I thought all those guys played well,” Petersen said. “I thought our O-line did a pretty good job. I thought all those guys kind of ran tough and found all the creases. It was all a little bit different.

“Salvon kind of hit a couple long ones, and McGrew kind of bounced around and found some holes. And Rich (Newton) always seem to run pretty tough down there.”

Finally, Petersen was prompted to discuss Jacob Eason.

A week after completing 18-of-30 passes for 132 yard and an interception in the loss to Cal, UW’s quarterback completed 18-of-25 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

During the first three games, Petersen said, he’s noticed Eason gaining a better command of the offense.

“That’s probably the No. 1 thing,” Petersen said. “Certainly he can throw the ball and get the ball to the receivers in a hurry. I think that’s just the main thing is just really understanding exactly what we’re trying to do and some of the RPO game and when to throw it out there, when not to throw it out there, when to hand it off, shifts and motions. Sometimes that can be a little bit cumbersome on the quarterbacks. Now he’s got protections and all kinds of stuff.”

Injury update

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Trey Lowe has yet to play this season. Petersen previously said that Lowe was battling an infection. On Monday, he said Lowe still wasn’t practicing but was “closer” to returning to the field.

“He might be back with us before he’s in a game ...,” Petersen said. “That’s the one thing, when a guy’s been out for a while, there’s a tendency to throw him back in and he’s not ready. I think our trainers do a good job. It’s just amazing, (players) can work with the trainers and be running and cutting all those things. And then they come play football with us and it’s really different. There’s kind of a stage that they take them through.”

Extra points

Myles Bryant was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the week after finishing with two interceptions and a sack against Hawaii. … The Huskies moved up to No. 22 in this week’s AP top-25 poll. The Pac-12 had six teams ranked in total. The others were Utah (10th), Oregon (16th), Washington State (19th), Cal (23rd) and Arizona State (24th).

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for A Pennsylvania native and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also covered college athletics for the Beaver County Times from 2012-2016.
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