Notebook: Petersen says UW lacks ‘good, clean’ game vs. ranked teams

Nov 3, 2014, 5:45 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2014, 9:45 am
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The Huskies kept it close with then-No. 16 Stanford but ultimately fell in what was their first of three losses to ranked opponents this season. (AP)
(AP)

Washington may be bowl eligible after moving to 6-3 with Saturday’s win at Colorado, but there are some things they’ve yet to solve this season – such as ranked opponents.

The Huskies are 0-3 against ranked teams this season, even though they began the season in the Top 25 themselves and were within striking distance late in two of their games against ranked opponents. Now as they head into a two-game stretch against a pair of teams in the polls – No. 18 UCLA at home this week and at No. 21 Arizona the following week – their lack of success against Top 25 teams has moved to the forefront.

So, what has held the Huskies back in their previous games against Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford?

“You have to play a really good, clean game, and we haven’t done that,” coach Chris Petersen said Monday. “We’ve turned the ball over too much, we haven’t hit enough big plays, those type of things. And that’s what has to happen. You’re not going to be able to go in there and play average football and beat one of these ranked teams.”

On the flip side, the all-around clean game hasn’t been much of an issue for 7-2 UCLA, and it’s a reason why Petersen said he hasn’t seen any one area on the field for the Bruins that can be exploited in his preparation for next Saturday’s game.

“I really don’t see a bunch of weakness. I think that’s their strength,” he said. “They don’t really have a position group that’s a little bit of their Achilles’ heel. You put the defense on and they fly around. We know about their offense and the quarterback (Brett Hundley). They do the same thing with Myles Jack (that Washington does with linebacker/tailback Shaq Thompson), move him around and get good players on the field as much as they can. I’m really, really impressed with this program and this team.”

Thompson’s emergence could help recruiting

The two-way star power that Shaq Thompson has shown this season has done a lot for the Huskies on the field, but Petersen brought up another way the junior’s huge year could help Washington in the long-term.

“I think it’s kind of fun. I think it’s cool for Shaq, I think it’s cool for our team, I think it’s good for even recruiting,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good high school players that play two ways, and if they’re good enough, we’ll play you two ways. We’ll figure out how to maximize your talents and how you can help the team the best.”

A look at Thompson’s stats for this year certainly reads like a good advertisement for the program. He has six total touchdowns – four on defense, two rushing – to lead the team, and his 363 yards on the ground ranks second despite having 61 fewer carries than leader Lavon Coleman. He’s also leads the way with three fumbles recoveries and four total takeaways, is tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles, and ranks third in all-purpose yards (448).

Notes

• Though RBs Lavon Coleman (shoulder) and Dwayne Washington (chest) are both healthy heading into the UCLA game, Petersen indicated that Thompson will be the No. 1 tailback again this week. That doesn’t mean Thompson won’t be back in his linebacker spot from time to time, though. “I know he misses the defensive side,” Petersen said. “He’ll play some offense, and he’ll probably play some defense as well.”

• The lack of snaps for WR John Ross against Colorado stemmed from him being limited in practice last week due to being banged up.

• LG Dexter Charles could return against UCLA after missing the past two games with a foot injury.

• Petersen said the hope is RT Ben Riva (knee, ankle) will be back in action before the end of the season.

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Notebook: Petersen says UW lacks ‘good, clean’ game vs. ranked teams