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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 27, 2009 at 6:57 PM

Can the Huskies’ run defense be fixed?

That’s a question I tried to address in my story for tomorrow’s paper. You can find it on-line already.
It looks to be as big a question as there is facing the Huskies the rest of the way as there are a lot of good RBs left on Washington’s school, guys such as Jacquizz Rodgers, Jahvid Best and Nic Grigsby, among others.
And the NCAA stats this week reveal how deep a problem it is for the Huskies.
Of all of UW’s stats, it ranks lowest in rush defense, 106th in the country, allowing 195.75 yards per game, The Huskies are also allowing 5.8 yards per rushing attempt — only four teams in the country are allowing more.
Early-season stats can be misleading. But UW has now played a third of its regular season, a time when numerical trends start to be more meaningful. And Saturday’s game against Stanford spoke more loudly than any mumbers.
The Huskies are a little bit better so far than a year ago, whem the defense was statistically the worst in school history. UW allowed 240 yards per game and 6.1 yards per attempt last season.
But the rushing numbers so far indicate that while a new coach and attitude can improve things immediately to a certain extent, harsh problems like this are likely to take a little longer — namely, a few recruiting classes — to really fix.
As far some of the other numbers, almost all took a hit Saturday. UW no longer leads the Pac-10 in passing offense, for instance, dropping below Oregon State at 255 per game. And Jake Locker fell to sixth in the conference in passing efficiency.
Maybe the most disturbing of the other numbers is rushing offense — UW is 94th in the country and ninth in the Pac-10 at 108.25. Playing two good defenses in LSU and USC obviously contributes to that number. And the Huskies are also emphasizing the run more and aren’t letting Locker — one of the more dangerous running QBs in the country — do much carrying the ball.
But again, Saturday indicates there’s more to that stat than just a tough early schedule as that was a game where establishing the run was a priority to try to keep Stanford’s offense off the field and the Huskies couldn’t do it.
UW averaged 99.3 rushing yards per game last season, the second-lowest total in school history. It makes you wonder if the coaches might try to find more of a happy medium with Locker, taking the wraps off a little bit more to try to get the running game going.

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