University of Washington

UW Huskies vs. Utah Utes: What to watch for

NO. 9 UTAH (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) VS. WASHINGTON (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12)

When: 1 p.m. PT, Saturday

Where: Husky Stadium

TV: Fox

Radio: KOMO-AM 1000/FM-97.7

Outlook: Washington is coming off a bye week after falling to Oregon 35-31 two weeks ago. Utah topped Cal 35-0 last week.

The Utes have one of the top defenses in the country. They have the No. 4 scoring defense, allowing 10.3 points per game and the No. 3 total defense, giving up 231.0 yards per game. The Utes have only allowed nine touchdowns this season and have given up no more than 23 points in any game.

Utah has 16 sacks and nine interceptions on the season. It’s also forced four fumbles and has three fumble recoveries.

Offensively, running back Zack Moss leads the Utes. Despite missing the game against Washington State with an injury, Moss is third in the Pac-12 with 728 rushing yards on 110 carries. He averages 104.0 yards per game, which is second in the conference. He also leads the Pac-12 with 10 rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Tyler Huntley has completed 122-of-167 passes for 1,778 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception. He’s also rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns on 49 attempts, an average of 4.7 yards per carry.

“Just another year of experience and a lot of good reps under his belt,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said of Huntley’s development. “The thing that I see is kind of his pocket presence. … If you look at the really, really best in the NFL, it is like a work of art in the pocket. I think college guys are developing in those areas.

“That is one of the areas I’ve really noticed about him. I have a lot of respect for how he plays in the pocket. Like I said, even though one of his strengths is being able to run, he does a great job in there. It’s pretty impressive.”

The Huskies have struggled against the run this season, allowing 147.6 rushing yards per game. Last year, UW gave up just 116.1 rushing yards per game, which was second in the conference behind Utah.

UW will be looking to build off a strong offensive performance against Oregon — for three quarters, anyway.

The Huskies scored more points against the Ducks than any team at that point in the season. They were strong on the ground — Salvon Ahmed rushed for 140 yards on 24 carries — and the young wide receivers got more involved. Terrell Bynum had six catches for 43 yards while Puka Nacua had three catches for 43 yards.

UW players to watch: Quarterback Jacob Eason. Eason completed 23-of-30 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon. It was exactly the kind of performance the Huskies needed to give themselves a chance to win, and they’ll need a similar outing against Utah.

Utah player to watch: Jaylon Johnson, who is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the country. He has an interception and eight pass breakups on the season.

Keep an eye on: The line of scrimmage. Utah’s defensive line will be a tough test for the Huskies’ offensive line, which has been a strength for UW all season. The Utes are led by defensive end Bradlee Anae. An All-Pac-12 first-team selection last season, Anae has 7.0 sacks this year. In 2018, he led the conference with 8.0 sacks.

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for PennLive.com. 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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