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Huard: Keys for No. 7 UW as Azeem Victor returns against Montana

Azeem Victor will play his first game back from injury and suspension on Saturday. (AP)

The Huskies moved up a spot to seventh in the Associated Press poll this week, but they didn’t have as easy of a time as was expected in their season-opening 30-14 win over Rutgers last Friday. Here are some keys for Washington on in its home opener Saturday against Montana, courtesy of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard.

Have better control of the line of scrimmage.

I think I share the coaches’ opinion that the Huskies need to be better at moving people at the line of scrimmage. Rutgers won the tug of war too often last Friday and dictated what UW could and could not do in the run game. That has to change against a much smaller and less deep Montana team.

Valuable playing time for linebacker Azeem Victor.

After Victor’s 2016 season ended early due to injury and he missed last week due to a suspension, this is an important game for him. His voice and command go a long ways and his presence on the field will add further confidence to the young people around him. That said, the linebackers were not the issue in New Jersey; it was much more the backup defensive linemen that had issues holding the point of attack. Still, Victor will need the playing time as an opportunity to get his senior season off on the right foot more than the Husky D will need him this week.

More big plays from Dante Pettis.

I expect Dante to do exactly what he’s done with nearly every opportunity he gets thrown or punted his way: excel.  He may be a 4.45 second guy in the 40-yard dash and not the 4.22 guy John Ross was, but Dante’s body control, route running and field awareness is second to none in the conference. He put that on display last week and very well could again against the Grizzlies.

Embrace the environment at Husky Stadium.

Everything is different when you compare a season opener on the other end of the country to a home opener on Lake Washington. Crowd noise. Stadium Energy. Focus. Routine. Time zone. And it helps that the Huskies will be playing an opponent that does not have the size or speed that Rutgers does.