Of Washington’s many defensive issues, the largest of late is the lack of a pass rush: The Huskies have just 17 sacks total and 12 in eight Pac-12 games, each among the lowest in the conference.
To be fair, however, in its past five games Washington has faced offenses that rank among the top six in the conference in allowing the fewest sacks.
That won’t be the case this week as Washington State has given up 32 sacks, second-most in the conference ahead of only Washington (which has allowed 33, and 17 in the past three games, also a big factor in UW’s recent struggles and a matchup that also bears watching. In fact, UW and WSU are tied for most sacks allowed in Pac-12 games at 26 each, six more than any other Pac-12 team).
The game could easily boil down to which team does the better job of protecting its quarterback, and that could be especially critical when WSU has the ball. The Cougars are going with Marshall Lobbestael at quarterback, who is not as mobile as Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday, each sidelined with injuries.
Asked this week what the Huskies can do to generate more of a pass rush, coach Steve Sarkisian said: “Every week’s different, because every team is different and every offensive philosophy and approach is different. Hopefully we can find some things, scheme-wise, that we like — and also in some matchups where we can win some one-on-one battles.”