The Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Washington, and BYU’s The Daily Universe swapped game previews for the upcoming game. This preview was written by The Daily’s sports editor Alec Dietz.
The third quarter has not been a pretty one for the No. 22 Washington football team through three games this season.
The Huskies (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) got a strong start against Eastern Washington in their opener, where they outscored the Eagles 14-0 out of halftime in the third, but since then against California and Hawai’i, the Dawgs have been outscored 27-3 in the third quarter.
In its first road matchup of the year against a red-hot BYU squad fresh off an upset against then-ranked No. 24 USC, Washington can’t afford another poor start out of halftime.
“We just need to come out of halftime with more energy,” senior defensive back Myles Bryant said. “I think it’s just focus at the end of the day. You can have a lack of focus with guys getting out of their assignments and not doing their jobs, and that’s something we’ve emphasized, just do your job. It’s as simple as that.”
However, after a tough third quarter where they allowed two touchdowns against Hawai’i, the UW defense locked down and finished the game strong, shutting out the Rainbow Warriors in the fourth.
“That Hawai’i game we had a couple of bad drives but overall, 90% of that game was clean for the defense,” senior linebacker Kyler Manu said. “We were satisfied with that, we just have to clean up some of those missed tackles and I think we’ll be good for the rest of the year.”
Moving on from those previous performances, the Huskies have a tough task ahead of them in the form of an explosive and strong Cougar offense. Several members of the UW defense compared BYU’s offense to its own, which utilizes multiple formations and motions to wear defenses down.
Going up against the Washington offense every day has helped the Huskies prepare for the Cougars (2-1), according to players. Last year, the Huskies played BYU in a 35-7 victory.
“They look a bit better, I’d say,” senior linebacker Brandon Wellington said. “You gain a lot of experience and you gain a grasp of the game the longer you play.”
Away from the confines of comfort at Husky Stadium for the first time this season affords its own challenges as well, especially in what is expected to be a sold-out white-out crowd in Provo, Utah this Saturday. But it’s nothing the Huskies aren’t used to.
“It’s going to be a fun one, for me personally,” Wellington said. “I like playing on the road, it gives us an edge to play harder.”
Players to watch for the Huskies
Salvon Ahmed – Tailback
After spending much of his first two seasons behind Washington all-time rushing leader Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed has stepped up as the Huskies’ leading rusher through three weeks. With the BYU defense giving up over 200 yards rushing per game so far this season, the junior tailback could be in for a big game this week on the road. His 44 carries for 246 yards lead the team, and his 5.6 yard per carry average is top-50 in the country among running backs. Though he split carries evenly last week against Hawai’i with backup tailbacks Richard Newton and Sean McGrew, he’s Washington’s most proven rusher and is a threat to make a play out of the backfield. He also has five catches this season for 40 yards.
Myles Bryant – Safety
Bryant is Washington’s undisputed leader on the defensive side of the football, and the senior came up big in the Huskies’ latest win against Hawai’i. He finished with two interceptions and a sack in a dominant performance, and was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the week for his efforts. Bryant has played with the likes of NFL talents Taylor Rapp, Byron Murphy, Jordan Miller, and learned under all-pro safety Budda Baker when he was a freshman. With a ton of youth and inexperience in UW’s defensive backfield, he’s the one who leads the mostly unproven unit and calls all the shots.
Peyton Henry – Place kicker
After a tough first year in the program, Henry has maybe been the biggest surprise of the season so far for the UW. The sophomore is 6 for 6 on the season, with a long of 49 yards made against California that took the lead in the final moments before California made a game-winner of their own on the ensuing drive. Rewarded for his efforts, Henry was placed on scholarship this week after serving as a walk-on for the entirety of last season and the first three games of 2019.