After a bye last week, the Washington Huskies return to action on Saturday at Husky Stadium against the visiting Oregon State Beavers.
Here are five things to watch as the fifth-ranked Huskies take the field as 37-point favorites.
1. Another new opposing QB.
For the second consecutive game — and the third time in four Pac-12 contests this season — the Huskies will face an opposing quarterback who did not begin the year as his team’s starter.
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This time, it’s third-year sophomore Marcus McMaryion, who is stepping into the starting role after injuries to regular starter Darell Garretson and true freshman walk-on Conor Blount.
McMaryion started one game last year as a redshirt freshman — Oregon State’s 52-42 loss at Oregon, in which McMaryion completed 11 of 22 pass attempts for 154 yards. He entered last week’s 19-14 loss to Utah in the fourth quarter and led OSU on a touchdown drive, completing 5 of 9 passes for 76 yards total.
McMaryion played some against the Huskies in last season’s 52-7 UW victory in Corvallis. He completed 8 of 16 passes in that game for 109 yards, a touchdown and had an interception.
The Beavers rank dead last nationally in passing efficiency and yards per pass attempt.
2. Banged-up Beavers.
Oregon State’s injury issues don’t end with its quarterbacks. The Beavers’ top rusher, third-year sophomore Ryan Nall, was still in a boot at Thursday’s practice, The Oregonian reported, and is officially doubtful to play.
OSU will be without linebackers Titus Failauga, Shemar Smith and Joah Robinett, H-back Ricky Ortiz and offensive lineman Yanni Demogerontas.
3. Banged-up Huskies?
Washington should be relatively healthy coming off its bye week, but it remains to be seen whether previously injured players Chico McClatcher and Shane Brostek will be able to play.
Both missed UW’s game at Oregon on Oct. 8 with undisclosed injuries. Coach Chris Petersen said afterward that he thought both would be able to play against Oregon State, and his only comment on the matter this week has been that he is still hopeful they can return.
McClatcher was UW’s leading receiver entering the Oregon game, with 313 yards on 16 catches. Brostek started each of UW’s first five games at right guard. Andrew Kirkland filled in for him against Oregon.
4. More fake-zone-read-option-whatever?
There is no formal name for it, but the Huskies’ implemented an interesting play design during their Sept. 30 victory against Stanford.
It starts out looking like a zone-read, with quarterback Jake Browning turning to the tailback — usually Myles Gaskin — who takes a step forward as if he might be about to receive a handoff.
This action forces the defensive end to commit to defending the zone-read, with either Browning handing to Gaskin or keeping it and running around end. But instead of running a zone-read, both players instead break to the outside to run a more traditional option play, now with the defensive end out of position due to the zone-read fake.
Both times the Huskies ran the play against Stanford, it led to healthy gains.
So, where’d they get the play?
“Let me just tell you this. We steal everything,” Petersen said. “I’ll just say that. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever had an original thought in my life. But I know a good thing when I see it.”
5. A (slightly) tougher challenge for Jake Browning.
For all that Oregon State struggles to do on the football field, the Beavers have at least been mostly successful at defending the pass this season, ranking ninth nationally in passing efficiency defense.
And while they haven’t faced a quarterback as talented as Browning, UW’s star sophomore hasn’t faced a defense as highly rated as Oregon State’s.
In fact, the Beavers have the 43rd-best defense in the nation, in terms of yards per play allowed. The best the Huskies have faced so far this year in that category is Stanford, which ranks 74th.
UW’s other three FBS opponents — Idaho, Arizona and Oregon — each rank among the 20 worst defenses in the country.
Only one team remaining on the Huskies’ schedule — UCLA, at 16th — is allowing fewer yards per play than Oregon State.
Browning is the national leader in passing efficiency and completion percentage, and is second in the country with 23 touchdown passes.
NO. 5 WASHINGTON (6-0, 3-0 PAC-12) VS. OREGON STATE (2-4, 1-2)
3:30 p.m., Husky Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Network. Radio: 1000-AM, 97.7-FM.
The series: Washington leads, 62-34-4.
The pick: Washington, 49-0
1 — John Ross, WR (5-11, 190, jr.): 30 catches, 371 yards, 9 TDs.
5 — Joe Mathis, DE (6-2, 255, sr.): 5.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss.
8 — Dante Pettis, WR (6-1, 188, fr.): 23 catches, 345 yards, 6 TDs.
32 — Budda Baker, FS (5-10, 192, jr.): Had his first INT of season last week.
6 — Victor Bolden Jr., WR (5-9, 183, sr.): 22 catches, 197 yards, 1 TD.
14 — Treston Decoud, CB (6-3, 208, sr.): 2 INTs, 32 tackles.
22 — Seth Collins, WR (6-3, 188, so.): Former QB is team’s top receiver.
35 — Caleb Saulo, LB (6-1, 235, sr.): 52 tackles, 1 sack.
Christian Caple: email@example.com