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UCLA Football Oppo Preview: A Closer Look at the Washington Offense

A glance into the struggling Washington Huskies offense that has turned to a star defensive player at running back.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Washington's offense is not very good. Just to get that out of the way early on in this preview.

To be clear, that is not meant to be bashing the Washington Huskies. The Huskies are probably going to end up winning 8 or more games in Chris Petersen's first season as head coach. Tough for anyone to have expected much more than that considering that he has cleared house on the program, approaching double digits on dismissals.

They are pretty clearly the 3rd best program in the Pac-12 North and a talented team that would be competitive in any conference in the country. Probably somewhere around a top 40 team in the country despite their problems.

If UCLA takes the Huskies lightly in Seattle, they will be in for another long game that UW could easily win.

If UCLA's defense plays the way they did against Arizona, or even 90% as well as they did, the Huskies shouldn't score more than 14 points in this one on offense.

Let's get into the most important statistical categories (in my opinion)

Yards Per Play:

The Huskies are averaging just 4.7 yards per play against FBS teams, which ranks 106th overall in the NCAA and 11th in the Pac-12 (interestingly, only #17 Utah is ranked lower).

Points Per Game:

The Huskies average 27.2 points per game, which is 66th nationally and 10th in the Pac-12. Against the three decent football teams that Washington has played (Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon), the Huskies have scored 43 combined points and lost all 3 games.

3rd Down Conversion Percentage:

The Huskies convert just 35.4% of their 3rd downs, which is good for 96th in the country and 11th in the Pac-12 (only Oregon State is worse). The last 3 weeks, they've been worse than that at just 30.23%.

Red Zone Scoring Percentage:

The Huskies convert possession in the red zone into points on 83.33% of their chances this season. That is 61st in the country and 8th in the Pac-12.

Yards Per Carry:

3.8 yards per carry for the Huskies, which is why Shaq Thompson was forced to move to offense to try and give them a boost. That number ranks 88th nationally and 9th in the Pac-12.

Yards Per Attempt:

The Huskies rank 81st in the NCAA and 10th in the Pac-12 at 6.6 YPA.

Yards Per Completion:

The Huskies rank 108th in the NCAA and 9th in the Pac-12 at 10.5 yards per completion.

Those numbers are reflective of what has been the most difficult offense to watch in the Pac-12. The Huskies are far too talented to be that bad offensively. But if you don't have a quarterback, then you really don't have an offense and the Huskies might have the worst QB in the conference.


Cyler Miles had some off-the-field issues prior to the season, which is sugar coating that he and a teammate assaulted a guy because he was a Seattle Seahawks fan in Seattle celebrating a Super Bowl victory...allegedly.

He was suspended for a game against Hawaii. A game the Huskies won by 1 point, 17-16.

Miles' first real game experience was against UCLA last season after Keith Price was knocked out. He threw two TDs and two INTs in the 2nd half.

If you just look at the stats with no context, Miles looks to be having quite a debut season for the Huskies.

12 touchdowns to just 1 interception. Completing 66.5% of his passes. Has 3 rushing touchdowns and close to 200 yards on the ground.

ESPN's QBR tells a much better story as Miles ranks 104th in QBR, along such stalwarts as Jeff Driskel of Florida and last among qualifying Pac-12 QBs.

UCLA has had an occasional habit of making marginal QBs seem effective, but Miles might not be capable of taking advantage.

Running Back

Shaq Thompson is going to get the start again this season.

I do not agree with the decision to do this by the Huskies, even though Thompson has been extremely effective at RB (more successful than Myles Jack has ever been and with far superior instincts as a runner).

He has 45 carries for 356 yards and will likely become the Huskies leading rusher on the season in this game, even If UCLA has a good game. That is how bad the performance has been from the Huskies' backfield.

Deonte Cooper (a Southern California kid) has been getting more touches of late as well, he's more of a change of pace back but is capable of making big plays.

Redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman (5'11", 217) is the current leading rusher on the Huskies, but he did not garner a touch in last week's game with Thompson at RB.

Offensive LIne

The offensive line that started against Colorado is as follows:

Senior Micah Hatchie (6'5", 306) at left tackle. Junior Siosifa Tufunga (6'3", 321) at left guard. Senior Colin Tanagawa (6'3", 292) at center. Massive senior James Atoe (6'7", 381!!) at right guard. Redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton (6'4", 281) at right tackle.

It is an experienced group for sure. This lineup could change due to health or something of that nature, they did a pretty solid job against Colorado, allowing just one sack and two TFLs in 60 snaps.

Wide Receivers

Sophomore John Ross (5'11", 179) and junior Jaydon Mickens (5'11", 174, but if you've seen UW play you know that is generous) are the real workhorses of this struggling passing games. They're the only player over 300 yards receiving (371 and 329, respectively). Senior DiAndre Campbell (6'2", 206) and freshman Dante Pettis (6', 170) are another players to keep an eye on.

Senior Kasen Williams (6'3", 217) is an intriguing player, as he was Honorable Mention Pac-12 in 2012 and looked on his way to being a 1st or 2nd teamer in 2013 before a season-ending injury. He hasn't looked to be at full speed yet despite playing in games this year. Immensely talented, but just does not appear to be the same player any longer. Hopefully he can get there at some point, but hopefully not in this contest.

Go Bruins!