Arizona State is set to take on its toughest test of the season, as the Sun Devils will face off against No. 5 ranked Washington at home in Tempe. The Huskies are one of the hottest teams in the country right now, with six straight wins all by at least a sixteen-point margin. Washington stomped ASU 44-18 last season and will try to do so again on Saturday night.
Here are some things to watch out for with Washington.
The Huskies have been one of the best defensive programs over the past few years and they have only gotten better this season. Washington is third in the nation with an average of just 244.2 yards per game allowed and rank fourth in points allowed per game with just under 11 points given up per contest.
The Huskies defensive dominance has mainly been a team effort with six different players registering at least one interception and five players with at least 20 tackles though six games. However, one Washington player has stood out from the pack with junior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven. Burr-Kirven leads the team with 40 total tackles so far this season, 16 more than the next highest total. He also has two tackles for a loss, one sack and a forced fumble.
Burr-Kirven only had 44 total tackles in 12 games played last season but he has sunk his teeth into a larger role this year and run away with the increased opportunity. Despite his smaller frame, listed at 6-foot, 222 pounds, Burr-Kirven is certainly a player to watch out for on the Huskies defense.
Browning Throwing Bombs
While the stellar defense is at many times the focal point for Washington, the importance of junior quarterback Jake Browning cannot be understated. The 2016 Pac-12 Player of the Year is top-12 in the country in passing touchdowns, quarterback rating and completion percentage this year, despite losing his best weapon in wide-out John Ross to the NFL draft last year. Browning has also been getting it done with his legs, with three rushing touchdowns and an average of a little over three yards per carry.
Even with a slightly heavier focus on running the ball this season with junior Myles Gaskin averaging 6.2 yards per rush and 209 team carries compared to 173 passing attempts for Browning, Dante Pettis has taken over as Browning’s favorite target — he leads the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns. With Browning under center the Huskies will likely take advantage of an ASU passing defense that has been one of the worst in the country this year.