I was surprised when Washington came out in a 3-3-5 nickel defense with three safeties in the first quarter against Oregon. The Huskies reaction to fearing the deep ball is still to stay back rather than mount an attack on the QB from the line of scrimmage. Does that philosophy come from Willingham or is it the defense Donatell really wanted to run? I can't understand the philosophy of not putting pressure on Oregon's young QB's.
Oregon on the other hand came out and played a nine in the box defense. The nine in the box defense consists of four defensive linemen, four linebackers, and a safety that all line up near the line of scrimmage. What this defense does is sell out completely to stop the run. Oregon can run this defense with confidence because the defensive backfield still consisted of Chung, Thurmond, and Byrd who are among the nations best at their positions.
Washington's strength is the run even though that was hard to believe on Saturday night. Locker is a very mobile threat and I think Brandon Johnson, and Chris Polk are going to be very good running backs. Washington however is never going to move the ball on the ground if teams continue to stack the line of scrimmage.
How do you beat the nine in the box?
You beat nine in the box by calling a play action fake and throwing deep!
If your opponent respects your ability to throw deep it will pull them out of the alignments which will allow you to run the ball.
What Washington needs to do before next Saturday is to develop a deep passing game which will make opposing defenses pay for loading it up on the line of scrimmage.
This is easier said than done because you have a starting QB that simply isn't very accurate at long range yet. He also is out of sync with his WR's because he spent most of camp on the sidelines with an injured hamstring. Those WR's that he is out of sync with for the most part have exactly one game of experience. Don't forget that Jake's offensive line needs to give him enough time to drop back and set his feet to make a throw. They also need to give the WR's enough time to go deep and get open.
That is a lot to learn in only one week which brings up the question of why the Huskies weren't prepared for it on Saturday night. Was it matter of lack of preparation, surprise, or was it the simple matter of not being able to execute?
I think it was a little of all three and if this team is going to go anywhere in 2008 it better start anticipating and adjusting to their opponents better. Hitting a couple of long bombs while your at it wouldn't be a bad idea either.