UW

No. 5 UW Huskies will have some hurdles in preparing for an Oregon State team in flux

Oct 18, 2016, 8:53 AM | Updated: 8:56 am
Oregon State quarterback Marcus McMaryion will make his first start of the season Saturday vs. UW. ...
Oregon State quarterback Marcus McMaryion will make his first start of the season Saturday vs. UW. (AP)
(AP)

It’s hard to imagine the No. 5 Washington Huskies will have much trouble this Saturday against a 2-4 Oregon State team, but that doesn’t mean that putting a game plan together will be easy. That’s because there’s a shroud of mystery around the Beavers this week.

The first reason is Oregon State’s situation at quarterback. Sophomore Marcus McMaryion, the Beavers’ third-string signal caller, will get his first start of the season after starter Darell Garretson suffered a broken ankle and backup Conor Blount also went down with an injury last Saturday against No. 19 Utah.

McMaryion did play last year against UW in a 52-7 Huskies win, pressed into duty when starter Nick Mitchell proved to be ineffective in a return from injury, so the Huskies won’t be completely in the dark regarding him. Besides that, coach Chris Petersen stressed Monday that his team usually prepares for its opponent’s system more than individual personnel.

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The other reason for the mystery is that the tape from Oregon State’s 19-14 loss to the Utes won’t be of much use to UW because of the windy conditions the game took place in.

“Really hard,” Petersen said when asked about assessing the play on tape from wind-impacted games. “That’s almost impossible to throw the ball (in the wind). … You know, rain you can deal with. It seems a lot easier with the (artificial turf) and those things, but the wind is so hard in the passing game. It changes everything. It changes the run game. So it can be really hard to watch.

“You’ve got to take it with a grain of salt.”

All that considered, though, the Huskies are still very much in good shape entering the game off of their only bye week of the season. They’re still undefeated, still the No. 5 team in the country, and they were as high as 35-point favorites as of Monday. And while UW may be limited in some ways for its preparation, the way it operates on its own comes in handy in situations like this.

When asked about defending against the fly sweep play that Oregon State has long been known for, Petersen made a point about how the Huskies’ offense helps the defense in practice.

“We run a little bit of that ourselves,” he said. “We do a lot of different things on offense depending on who we’re playing, but one of the things I like about that is our defense sees a lot of things during the year (in practice) so something isn’t completely novel to them. … We’ve still got to defend it, but it’s not something they haven’t had to see before.”

And even if the defense hasn’t seen something, it’s liable to sooner rather than later if the coaching staff does. When asked about a particularly nifty zone-read option play the Huskies used against Stanford, Petersen made sure to not take credit for the ingenuity and provided a look at how additions are made to the UW playbook.

“Let me just tell you this: We steal everything,” he said. “I’ll just say that. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever had an original thought in my life. But I know a good thing when I see it, and we steal everything.”

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No. 5 UW Huskies will have some hurdles in preparing for an Oregon State team in flux