Huard: What No. 5 UW Huskies must do to leave USC undefeated

Nov 3, 2023, 3:35 PM

UW Huskies Kalen DeBoer...

UW Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer stands with QB Michael Penix Jr. on Sept. 30, 2023. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are the No. 5-ranked team in the country with an 8-0 record. Now, the Huskies begin the toughest stretch of their season.

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UW’s November schedule was always daunting, and that run begins this Saturday against No. 24 USC in Los Angeles.

USC began the year as the top-ranked team in the Pac-12 and as the favorite to win the conference, but the Trojans have dropped two games this season, one a non-conference clash against Notre Dame and the other to Pac-12 rival Utah.

The Trojans have also had close calls with one-score wins over Colorado, Arizona (in triple overtime) and Cal.

But USC is a very talented squad, particularly on offense, where they’re led by reigning Heisman-winning quarterback Caleb Williams.

So how can the Huskies leave Los Angeles with another win and, most importantly, undefeated? Former UW Huskies quarterback Brock Huard shared his keys to the game during Friday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“If they start fast. If they make USC play from behind. If they make Caleb Williams press,” Huard said. “This is a game you do not want to play like you played the last couple of weeks where you slog around, where you turn it over, where you have a slow start, where you allow USC to be balanced.”

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After UW’s epic win over Oregon a few weeks ago, they’ve struggled the last two weeks over some poor Pac-12 teams with a sloppy 15-7 win over ASU and then a 42-33 victory over Stanford last weekend.

“If you can make USC one-dimensional, if you can force a fumble from their running back, who is prone to do so, if you can get ahead by 14 points and all of a sudden Caleb Williams feels like, ‘I gotta press, and instead of handing the ball off, I’ve got to throw a bubble screen. Instead of making a little read, I’ve got to try to make this spectacular play,'” Huard said. “But if they fall behind and they allow USC to have that balance, they allow USC to play the kind of game they want to play, then I think you’re in trouble.”

Huard pointed to Seahawks head coach and former USC head coach Pete Carroll, who says that you can’t win a game until the fourth quarter. But, Huard said, a fast start for the Huskies will be critical, particularly because of who UW is playing.

“This is kind of like the first round of The Masters or the US Open. If you get a lead and you make other people press and you make other people play ‘catch up’ in those tournaments, that’s a good thing,” Huard said. “And if Michael Penix and crew can get started fast and get those ‘boo birds’ down in LA (from the fans), get people frustrated in LA, get that team frustrated that’s already lost a couple games that is doubting themselves a little bit, and you get Caleb Williams pressing, (there’s) much better odds for the Huskies to come out with a win in the Coliseum.”

Listen to the full second hour of Friday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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Huard: What No. 5 UW Huskies must do to leave USC undefeated