Saturday, December 22, 2012
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas keys
By Kevin Gemmell
Three things to watch in today's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas between Washington and Boise State:
1. Red zone production: Once you get there, you better get points. That's been an issue for Washington and quarterback Keith Price this season. After ranking second in FBS last year with an 80.8 red zone touchdown percentage, the Huskies have dropped to 66 percent. Last year Price was among the nation's leaders in red zone completion percentage and touchdowns with 74.1 and 25, respectively. This year he's only completing 57.6 percent in the red zone with 14 touchdowns. The Broncos have allowed just three receiving touchdowns all year and rank in the top 10 nationally in pass defense and pass-efficiency defense. They also rank seventh in red zone defense. Both teams are in the bottom half of the country in red zone offense.
2. Bring the heat: Boise State is one of the best teams in the country at protecting its quarterback. The Broncos rank seventh nationally, allowing less than a sack per game, which makes life a lot easier on quarterback Joe Southwick. The Huskies are middle of the road when it comes to creating pressure, averaging about two sacks per game. Washington's sophomore ends Josh Shirley and Andrew Hudson both check in with 6.5 sacks on the year.
3. Run, then gun: Both teams boast 1,000-yard rushers this season: Bishop Sankey for Washington (1,234 yards 15 touchdowns) and D.J. Harper for Boise State (1,065 yards, 15 touchdowns). Both have similar compact frames and both possess home run potential. Look for each offense to get their guys established on the ground and then cut it loose to their marquee receivers. Price is actually at his best when he goes deep -- tossing six touchdowns with no interceptions on throws of 15 yards or more. He'll look to either Mackey Award finalist Austin Seferian-Jenkins or wide receiver Kasen Williams. Southwick's favorite target is Matt Miller, who has 60 catches and five touchdowns on the year.