By Brent Stecker
The Washington Huskies entered the 2013 season with a new, fast-paced, no-huddle offense that, at least for a time, gave opposing defenses all they could handle.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, teams with similar tendencies, including Oregon and Arizona State, were the ones they had the most trouble keeping up with. And that’s what makes Friday’s Fight Hunger Bowl matchup with BYU so interesting.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who will lead the Cougars into the Fight Hunger Bowl Friday against Washington, is the first player in program history to rush for over 1,000 yards and pass for over 2,000 yards in a single season. (AP)
Like those teams, the independent Cougars (8-4) keep things up-tempo when they have the ball, which could give Washington (8-4) fits in its first game since head coach Steve Sarkisian bolted for USC.
Brigham Young’s offense is built around quarterback Taysom Hill, who broke out this season, becoming the first player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards and pass for over 2,000 in a single campaign. He ranks 22nd in the FBS with 1,211 rushing yards (third among quarterbacks), and he’s combined with running back Jamaal Williams (1,202 yards) to make the Cougars the 10th-best running team in the nation.
It’s that duo that signals an especially dangerous threat for the Huskies, as their defensive Achilles heel has been running quarterbacks with an accurate arm and a solid backfield partner.
Case in point is the 53-24 loss at Arizona State on Oct. 19, in which the Sun Devils’ 1-2 punch of running back Marion Grice (158) and quarterback Taylor Kelly (84 rushing yards) put the game out of reach in the first half. And then there was the previous week’s loss to Oregon, when quarterback Marcus Mariota rushed for 88 yards and Byron Marshall added 106 to help the Ducks hand Washington its only home loss of the year.
In both of those losses, the opposing quarterbacks also gouged the Huskies for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Hill might not exactly be the most prime candidate to torch Washington’s skilled secondary, but he certainly has the potential. While he’s only topped the 300-yard mark twice this season, his best game of the year saw him pass for 339 yards, three scores and no picks, plus run for 69 yards and another score. That game was a 37-20 win for the Cougars, and it came against a similarly-styled team to the Huskies: Boise State, who was coached at the time by UW’s replacement for Sarksian next season, Chris Petersen.
710 ESPN Seattle will carry the Fight Hunger Bowl live from San Francisco. Washington and BYU will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Friday.