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UW Football: Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Washington Huskies

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Washington Huskies football team?

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Any idea why the defense plays so well against pro-style offenses and gets utterly gashed by the read-option? Is it coaching? Personnel?

Jesse Kennemer, The Husky Haul: I hesitate to necessarily say that the struggles can be assigned to type of personnel, as the Huskies are loaded with athletic defensive backs and small, fairly quick linebackers that should be able to hold their own against the speed of Oregon and Arizona, but obviously when a defense falls apart, it has to have something to do with the failure of the players on the field. The blown coverage that led to wide open touchdowns for Arizona on Saturday were certainly due to the failures of individual players rather than massive flaws in the scheme, but once again, if the players are struggling, it is the responsibility of the coaches to sort things out and find a fix. They clearly haven’t done that yet.

Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: Honestly, does any defense do that well against the hurry-up and read-option these days? Guys like Chip Kelly and Rich Rodriguez have found an offense that is becoming nearly impossible to defend on the college level with the speed that they are running it at and I wouldn't want to be a defensive coach or player in college football right now with more and more teams adopting it. I would say that the Huskies probably play well against pro-style offenses because that is what they practice against every day and it's just so hard to practice against the hurry-up read-option, unless that is what your offense runs all of the time.

I think coaching and personnel are both problems for the Huskies right now, but I would put more of the blame on the coaching staff as I just am not a fan of the 3-4 against the zone-read. It seems like the defensive line has zero chance to stop the running back before he gets past the line of scrimmage, and I also don't think the Huskies have the personnel to run it effectively on the defensive line. The guys flanking the nose tackle need to be athletic and weigh in the upper 200's to run it well and the Huskies simply don't have those guys right now.

What has been the biggest strength of this team so far?

Jesse Kennemer, The Husky Haul: Earlier in the season, I probably would have said the pass defense, but Matt Scott shredded the defensive backs all game long, and any positive statistics in that category are mostly in total yardage, not efficiency. The run game was horrible early in the year, but now, I think it really is the biggest current strength. Bishop Sankey hasn’t had a big game since Oregon, but he was respectable against USC and had 87 yards and a score on Saturday. If he starts getting 25 carries a game again instead of less than 20, we’ll see more hundred yard games out of him. With Price stuggling, it’s the right call. Kendyl Taylor, moved from wide receiver to running back, has also looked good, averaging 6.4 yards a carry in limited time.

Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: I think this team does have some great individual players - Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams, Bishop Sankey, Danny Shelton, Travis Feeney, Shaq Thompson, Desmond Trufant - I think all of these guys are stars, or will be stars soon. The problem is that they are too spread out and too easy to scheme against since they are surrounded by limited talent.

For example, I'd rather have a deep collection of solid receivers than one star receiver surrounded by a bunch of inexperienced players. Or I would rather have a defensive line full of good players than one great player who can be double teamed and sub par guys. It would also be nice to have a unit or two that was really outstanding. For example, maybe not have any good linebackers, but a deep and talented defensive line that can help out the rest of the defense by tacking up blockers and providing pressure.