CFB preview: No. 8 Washington vs. Portland State
Portland State is an FCS school that just got whacked 66-35 by San Jose State. but Washington coach Chris Petersen knows one way to get his team focused for Saturday night's contest with the Vikings at Husky Stadium: Video.
Petersen said he would "absolutely" show his team the tape of Portland State's stunning 24-17 victory over Apple Cup rival Washington State last year in Pullman.
"I think if we have a mature team -- which I think we do -- you put on the tape ... and you watch a team when they play at their best, no matter who it is, because you always count on somebody bringing their best, and how do you defend that?" Petersen said. "Certainly when they go and look at the Washington State game, I mean, Portland State did a great job. They did. They played those guys awesome."
The Vikings (1-1) are one of the top teams in FCS, finishing 9-3 overall last season and tied for second in the 13-team Big Sky Conference at 6-2. They own four victories over FBS teams, including last year's stunner over Mike Leach's Cougars.
Washington is ranked No. 8 with a 2-0 record but those wins have comes against the likes of Rutgers (48-13) and Idaho (59-14). So barring a huge upset by the Vikings, Washington will head to Arizona unbeaten to begin Pac-12 play Sept. 24.
Petersen is doing all that he can to make sure his players are focused without getting caught up in the hype after playing suspect opponents. That's why following Washington's victory over visiting Idaho, Petersen tried to not overly praise quarterback Jake Browning for his five-touchdown passing game.
He was more critical than anything about Browning's attention to detail, including when to scramble and when to stay in the pocket.
"When you go back (and watch film), what I really want to look at is, did he need to escape (out of the pocket)?" Petersen said. "Did he have things (where) he could have got the ball out? I know he had one early on, I think he threw a touchdown. He didn't need to make it so spectacular."
On his first touchdown pass to receiver Dante Pettis, Browning said he had another receiver (Chico McClatcher) wide open for a touchdown. Because of Idaho's pass rush and impatience, he could not see him.
Said Browning: "I scrambled and Dante did a good job coming back to the ball, and I thought he played really, really well."
Browning, a sophomore, has started 14 of his 15 games with Washington. He has eight straight games with 200 or more yards passing. He tied a Washington record with the five touchdown passes against Idaho (23-for-28, 294 yards without an interception). His 82.1 completion percentage was the fifth-best at Washington.
Petersen said he will continue to keep a close eye on the details.
"I think each week we're building," Petersen said. "It's interesting to see how they show up, their mindset and energy that they play with. That's the thing I always look at."
One big area of concern for the Huskies is the ground game. Running back Myles Gaskin, who gained 1,302 yards with 14 touchdowns on 227 carries in 2015, has 124 yards on 27 carries this season and Washington ranks ninth in the conference averaging only 108.5 rushing yards per game.
However, one would expect Gaskin and the Washington ground game to get well against the Vikings, who allowed 642 total yards in the 66-35 loss at San Jose State, including 409 yards rushing. Portland State also didn't help itself with six turnovers.
Senior Alex Kuresa starts at quarterback for Portland State but is completing only 54.2 percent of his throws. He was 10 of 22 for 135 yards and a touchdown against San Jose State and was intercepted three times.
Defensively, the Vikings are led by junior defensive end Davond Dade, who had 7.5 sacks last season, and junior cornerback Xavier Coleman, who has led the Big Sky in pass breakups and passes defensed each of the last two years.