BeaversEdge.com looks at analytics, stats, and conference rankings to breakdown the Oregon State Beavers upcoming opponent.
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1. Jake Browning has struggled this season — maybe even regressed
In 2016, Washington quarterback Jake Browning led the Huskies to the College Football Playoff, and he had a tremendous season, throwing for 3,430 yards, 43 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions. He was a Heisman-type contender, and now he’s not even a top five quarterback in the Pac-12, at least statistically speaking.
Browning is averaging 224 passing yards per game and has thrown 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions through ten games.
His PFF grades have taken a dip too. Browning had an outstanding season grade of 86.3 in 2016, but that dropped a bit in 2017 with a 78.1 grade. In 2018, his grade is a very average 70.4. His grade this season is 8th best (of 11) in the Pac-12 of quarterbacks who have dropped back at least 200 times this season.
In his past four games, Browning hasn’t graded well — vs Oregon 61.4; vs Colorado 57.9; vs Cal 66.1; vs Stanford 48.8.
2. Huskies have success throwing the ball downfield
In looking at Jake Browning’s passing chart for this season, he has better grades throwing 20+ yards downfield than anywhere else on the field. It’s actually quite interesting.
The colored number at the top of each box is Browning’s grade throwing the ball in that area of the field. It’s clear that Browning throws the ball a lot to his receivers deep in one-on-one situations down the sidelines.
3. Myles Gaskin is still the Huskies’ workhorse, but Salvon Ahmed is very capable
Browning’s numbers have regressed, and running back Myles Gaskin’s season grade from last year to this has dropped from 82.1 to 71.8. Just how much has Jonathan Smith leaving the program hurt the Huskies’ offense?
Anyways, Gaskin is averaging 96.4 rushing yards per game and has played in eight games this season. He injured his shoulder and missed a couple of games, but he returned on November 3 and ran for over 100 yards and a score against Stanford in a win.
Sophomore running back Salvon Ahmed has had a strong season, splitting carries with Gaskin. He actually has a better grade than Gaskin this season at 75.7. Ahmed has ran for 413 yards and five touchdowns this season.
4. Washington’s defense is still elite
If the Huskies’ offense didn’t take a step back, I think this team is probably 9-1 or 10-0. Because this defense is still very good. They’re leading the Pac-12 in points per game allowed (16.0) and yards per game allowed (313.5).
Washington has five players that have a season overall defensive grade of 80 (which is considered very good) or higher: DL Levi Onwuzurike (87.1), DL Greg Gaines (89.6), S Taylor Rapp (89.6), CB Byron Murphy (90.4), and LB Ben Burr-Kirven (91.2).
Washington’s overall season defensive grade is a simply phenomenal 95.8, which is No. 4 in the country, only behind Alabama, Clemson, and Miami, respectively. Washington’s coverage grade of 94.6 ranks No. 1 in the nation.
5. Washington State’s pass rush isn’t great
For all of the love I just gave the Huskies, the one area they’re not fantastic at is pass rush. The aforementioned DL Onwuzurike and Gaines do have a fantastic overall season grade, but their season pass rush grades are just average; they have much more success in defending the run.
Let me say this though: In really studying these PFF grades the past several weeks, I’ve concluded that pass protection grades are higher than run blocking grades for teams across the board. For example, the highest run blocking grade in the country is Wisconsin at 85.9. But there are 20 teams that have a higher pass protection grade than 85.9.
I’ve noticed the same trend with pass rush and run defense. The highest pass rush grade in the country is Clemson at 89.9, and there are 76 teams that have a grade of 90+ in run defense.
So with all of that being said, Washington has a 95.7 run defense grade, which is good for No. 3 in the country, but their pass rush grade is a mere 67.1. While I did just point out the skew on these PFF grades, Washington’s pass rush definitely hasn’t been very good this season.
The Huskies have sacked the opposing quarterback just 15 times this season, which is No. 10 in the Pac-12; to compare, WSU has recorded 30 sacks this season and Oregon State just 10 sacks. It doesn’t seem to affect their overall numbers all that much though, as their secondary is so strong. The Huskies allow just 189.2 passing yards per game.