Washington Scouting Report

Story posted December 19, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Christopher Hess

The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Washington Huskies is almost here. For the past month head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions have focused on nothing but Washington, Washington, Washington.

The Huskies are coached by Chris Petersen and enter the game ranked No. 11 with a 10-2 record. The game will be televised on ESPN on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. ET.

These two teams have met only twice before with Penn State winning both meetings. The first was in 1921 where Penn State defeated the Huskies 21-7 in Seattle. The second was in the 1983 Aloha Bowl where Penn State came away with 13-10 victory in a defensive slugfest.

Coming into the season, Washington quarterback Jake Browning proved to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country after leading last season’s team to the College Football Playoff.

This season, Browning has 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,544 yards, 18 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. His yardage and touchdown totals are down from last year, but the Huskies lost several offensive weapons from last year’s team. In addition, Browning lost one of his top targets in Chico McClatcher to a broken foot against Colorado early in the year.

At running back, Myles Gaskin quietly had one of the more productive seasons in college football. Gaskin ran for 1,282 yards and scored 19 touchdowns while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. It is the third consecutive 1,000-yard season for Gaskin. He has just over 1,500 yards from scrimmage this year and has scored a total of 22 touchdowns.

The Huskies also boast an excellent offensive line led by two First Team All-Pac-12 selections in Kaleb McGary Jr. and Coleman Shelton.

Huskies receiver Dante Pettis is their most explosive perimeter threat. Pettis has caught the ball 62 times for 721 yards and has scored 7 touchdowns. He has also returned four punts for touchdowns this season and is the all-time NCAA leader in career punt return touchdowns with nine of them.

Alongside Pettis, Hunter Bryant, Aaron Fuller, and Will Dissly have combined for 61 receptions for just under 800 yards receiving. The Washington offense is among one of the best in the Pac-12 and can score in a variety of ways.

The Washington defense is ranked fifth nationally in total defense and first in rushing allowing a mere 2.63 yards per carry. There is no doubt that this defense is a major reason as to why this team has been successful.

Ben Burr-Kirven at linebacker is the leading tackler with 79 total on the season and Taylor Rapp is the second leading tackler with 55 total tackles at safety. Rapp and Jojo McIntosh headline one of the best secondaries in the Pac-12, while Burr-Kirven and Keishawn Bierria are a formidable linebacker duo.

On the defensive line, Vita Vea is a top NFL prospect and is about as disruptive as one can be. At a staggering 6-5 and 340 pounds, he is athletic, smart, and has some serious closing speed. He is a projected first-round pick in this upcoming NFL draft. He along with Greg Gaines Jr. were both All-Pac-12 selections and are a load up front.

Look for Washington’s defense to attack Saquon Barkley right from the get-go and force Trace McSorley to be the one to make plays while also testing the extremely athletic Penn State receivers.

Buckle up everyone! This one will be a lot of fun to watch!

Christopher Hess is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com