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Consulting the Chart: Rematch with Utah

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What’s changed since the first Utah game and what do those changes suggest about UW’s approach this time around?

NCAA Football: Washington at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies defeated the Utah Utes by a score of 21-7 back on September 16th, 2018. However, both teams look quite a bit different now than they did during that game. The changes are a little more obvious for Utah who are missing both their starting QB and RB from that game but there are still some differences for Washington as well. Based on my charting from the first match-up against Utah, here is a look at who got playing time as well as what formations the Huskies ran with an eye towards what they may try again and what will change.

Offensive Snap Counts from Game 1

QB: Browning- 66, Gaskin- 2

Washington ran the wildcat with Myles Gaskin twice and you can expect that they’ll bring it out at least a few times on Friday.

RB: Gaskin- 57, Ahmed- 6, McGrew- 6, Pleasant- 2

This was the game where there was heavy speculation that Ahmed was hurt despite denials from the coaching staff because he carried the ball just 3 times for 5 yards which was a season low. You would expect his numbers to go up this time around. Kamari Pleasant has missed the last 2 games with an injury and while he might return, I wouldn’t be shocked if he sat again with the other 3 backs mostly healthy. Gaskin’s shoulder is clearly still bothering him again but if him at 80-90% results in numbers like he put against Wazzu then I’m ok with it.

WR: Fuller- 48, Jones- 47, Baccellia- 39, Pounds- 16, McClatcher- 11, Bynum- 4, Browning- 2, Ahmed- 2

The three main receivers of Fuller, Jones, and Baccellia dominated the snaps at WR and I would expect that to be the case again this time around. Quinten Pounds is out for the year with a knee injury and Chico McClatcher stepped away from the team so those are 27 snaps that are up for grabs.

Over the last 2 games the Huskies have had Alex Cook and Jordan Chin mostly splitting the snaps at the 4th/5th WR spots. Terrell Bynum has seen a handful of snaps but appears to still be the 6th WR although he briefly moved up with the other injuries before getting passed again by Cook/Chin. My guess is about half the Pounds/McClatcher snaps get redistributed to the big 3 with Cook and Chin taking the rest. Ahmed will continue to see “WR” snaps either to run a fly sweep or receive a bubble screen.

TE: Sample- 64, Otton- 31, Warren- 3, Kizer- 2

This is a spot where dramatic changes have happened since Hunter Bryant returned from injury against Stanford. Even before his return the snaps between Drew Sample and Cade Otton had started to level out. Sample is going to continue to outsnap Otton but it won’t be at a 2 to 1 rate. It might be more accurate to say from above that the Pounds/McClatcher snaps will instead just go to Hunter Bryant with a reduced workload for all of the WRs.

LT: Hilbers- 43, Roberts- 25

Remember back when the Huskies were still rotating between Jared Hilbers and Henry Roberts at LT? Hilbers is questionable for this game after suffering an injury against Washington State and so he may not play at all. But if he doesn’t then you can expect Trey Adams rather than Henry Roberts to get those snaps. If Hilbers does play we may still see a rotation between him and Adams since UW did that against Oregon State. But that was OSU, not the Pac-12 title game.

LG: Wattenberg- 45, Bainivalu- 23

Washington also did some mix and match at LG in this game with Henry Bainivalu coming in for a few drives. Bainivalu also saw some time at LT throughout the year but recently he’s only been on the field as a tackle-eligible 6th OL in a jumbo package. We haven’t seen anyone but Wattenberg in a game in non-garbage time at LG since the Utah game.

C: Harris- 52, Sosebee- 16

Harris was injured at the end of the 3rd quarter during this game and Jesse Sosebee took over for the remainder of the game. The only snaps Harris hasn’t been in there for were because he was injured or it was garbage time so don’t expect anyone else.

RG: Kirkland- All snaps, RT: McGary- All snaps

Same.

Offensive Formations

If you notice that adding up pass and run plays doesn’t equal the total snaps, it’s because there were penalties on those other plays.

1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE: 37 snaps (54.4%)

Pass Plays- 21, Pass Success Rate- 33.3%

Run Plays- 13, Run Success Rate- 46.2%

This was the most variable formation the Huskies set up in but it was still more than a 60/40 split towards passes. It seems likely that Utah geared up for the pass when the Huskies trotted out 3 WRs as they had a lot more success running the ball in those situations than they did passing the ball. But those pass plays included trying to convert on 6 instances of 3rd and 10+ when the Huskies went 0/6.

1 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE: 25 snaps (36.8%)

Pass Plays- 4, Pass Success Rate- 75%

Run Plays- 19, Run Success Rate- 42.1%

The Huskies were incredibly run heavy when lining up with 2 TEs. That’s a trend across the entire season but it’s closer to a 70/30 split if you take out the Utah game than the 80/20 split we saw here. But because the Huskies were so run heavy when lining up with a pair of TEs they had great success when they mixed things up and passed instead. Between the emergency of Cade Otton as a pass catcher which happened after Utah as well as the reinsertion of Hunter Bryant into the lineup you should expect to see more 2 TE sets as well as more passes in those sets.

1 RB, 1 WR, 3 TE: 3 snaps (4.4%)

Run Plays- 3, Run Success Rate- 33.3%

Without Bryant the 3 TE package was strictly a jumbo look and they only ran the ball out of it in a few snaps. Again, a healthy Bryant means I would expect to see 5+ 3 TE plays during the course of the game with a couple of passes in there.

2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE: 2 snaps (2.9%)

Pass Plays- 1, Pass Success Rate- 100%

Run Plays- 1, Run Success Rate- 0%

The Huskies really only line up with 2 RBs when they have Kamari Pleasant in there to serve as a potential FB and with his availability in doubt I wouldn’t expect to see this formation much. They’ve preferred to have Cade Otton serve as a psuedo-fullback recently.

2 RB, 1 WR, 2 TE: 1 snap (1.5%)

Run Plays- 1, Run Success Rate- 100%

See above.

Defensive Snap Counts

Note that the position on defense refers to the general position the person played rather than their alignment on the field. Jaylen Johnson lined up on the outside as an OLB for several snaps in this game but they’re counted as part of his D-Line snaps.

Defensive Line

Gaines- 54, Johnson- 44, S. Bowman- 23, Onwuzurike- 21, Clark- 6, Bronson- 4

Levi Onwuzurike took on a much bigger role for a large portion of the year once Shane Bowman went down with a leg injury. He’s been outsnapping Bowman by about a 2 to 1 rate since Bowman’s return so I would expect something like 5 of the Bowman snaps to get redistributed to Onwuzurike. I don’t expect to see much if any of Clark and Bronson while the game is in doubt now that the other 4 are healthy and Johnson doesn’t line up outside as much anymore.

Outside Linebacker

Potoa’e- 49, Ngata- 35, R. Bowman- 22, Williams- 10

Things have changed dramatically at this spot since the Utah game. Benning Potoa’e has continued to be the snaps leader all season and that won’t change this time around. But Ariel Ngata played the most that he had all season against Utah. That trend didn’t continue and in the last several weeks he’s been relegated to situational pass rusher again. Ryan Bowman has benefited from that change and he’s been heavily involved in the rotation. The missing piece though is Joe Tryon who has seen more playing time both with Ngata’s demotion but also with Amandre Williams leaving the team. I would expect that the majority of the time we’ll see 2 of the Potoa’e/Tryon/Bowman trio with a splash of Ariel Ngata and Tevis Bartlett who we’ll get to in a moment.

Inside Linebacker

BBK- 71, Bartlett- 60, Wambaugh- 3, Manu- 1

This is another position where there’s been a major shakeup since both Brandon Wellington and D.J Beavers missed the Utah game due to injury but have now returned. Tevis Bartlett played almost the entire season as the 2nd ILB alongside BBK but against Washington State that role went to a combination of Wellington and Beavers and he instead functioned as the 4th OLB. I don’t think that was strictly because of facing the air raid but can’t be certain. We may see all 3 guys manning that 2nd spot with BBK playing every snap when he’s healthy.

Cornerback

Miller- 71, Murphy- 68, Bryant- 64, Joyner- 23, Molden- 13

As you would have expected the trio of Jordan Miller, Byron Murphy, and Myles Bryant played the vast majority of the snaps against Utah as they have all season when they’ve been healthy. Only Bryant’s health is in question for this one after he missed the entire 2nd half against Washington State. If he can’t go then expect Elijah Molden to take all of his snaps. Austin Joyner suffered a concussion on a kickoff return in the Husky’s next game against Arizona State and was forced to retire from the sport. Keith Taylor has stepped up as the swing corner instead and I expect him to play one series for each of Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller to help keep them fresh.

I’m not including the safeties because Taylor Rapp and JoJo McIntosh just play every single snap regardless of alignment. Austin Joyner played the 6th DB role in the Husky dime package in this game. I would expect Brandon McKinney to be in there instead this time around and get maybe 5-8 snaps depending on how often Utah is in 3rd and long.

Defensive Formations

My charting has less detail for defense than offense so I’m only breaking it into 3 categories: Base nickel defense, Dime defense, and Heavy package

Base Nickel (5 DBs): 49 snaps (67.1%)

Pass Plays- 24, Pass Success Rate- 33.3%

Run Plays- 22, Run Success Rate- 36.4%

The Utah offense had a nearly impossible time moving the ball on standard downs when the Huskies were in their base defense. They ran and passed the ball in nearly equal measure and it didn’t really matter what they called. You need your success rate over at least 40% to really say you continually moved the chains and it was evident that Utah couldn’t do that in Round 1.

Dime (6+ DBs): 21 snaps (28.4%)

Pass Plays- 20, Pass Success Rate- 45%

Run Plays- 1, Run Success Rate- 100%

However, the Utes had much more success when the Huskies switched to their dime package. Utah converted 7 first downs via the pass on 3rd down when the Huskies were in this position grouping and it helped keep them in the game. They were also good about not substituting after converting those 3rd downs to force UW into staying in their dime look on the subsequent 1st down. It’s somewhat surprising they didn’t run the ball on any of the five 1st downs when the Huskies had Austin Joyner in the game in place of another D-lineman.

Heavy (4 DL): 2 snaps (2.8%)

Pass Plays- 1, Pass Success Rate- 0%

Run Plays- 1, Run Success Rate- 100%

The Huskies went to this look when Utah had the ball at the 3 yard line and the 1 yard line. Utah ran the ball from the 3 and scored a TD. When they passed it’s when Huntley, on 4th and goal, zoomed a pass to the wide open TE leaking out from the formation who couldn’t handle it and so they turned it over on downs.