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New faces will be relied on down the stretch for Huskies

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New faces will be relied on down the stretch for Huskies

Washington's Joe Tryon takes down Champ Flemings in the second half of Washington’s 19-7 win over Oregon State at Reser Stadium on Nov. 8, 2019.

With its second bye week behind it, the Washington football team watched about six fewer games of tape and were able to relax and rest up a bit more in anticipation of a road matchup against Colorado this Saturday. 

Fresh off a dominating defensive performance against Oregon State last week, the Huskies (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) have run into a problem. With young playmakers like linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio stepping up of late, they have to find a way to get players like him more snaps.

“We’re going to play a lot of guys this time of year,” head coach Chris Petersen said. “They’re all going to get in there… You just hope you’re improving and I think those guys on defense took a real nice step this last game.”

For his efforts against the Beavers, Ulofoshio was awarded the Pac-12 defensive player of the week award, despite his walk-on status and lack of playing time before last week. And he isn’t alone. The secondary has been rotating young players and freshman all season long including Trent McDuffie, Asa Turner, and Kyler Gordon. The defensive line features Levi Onwuzurike and Josiah Bronson as elders in the room, but also Tuli Letuligasenoa and Taki Taimani nipping at their heels. 

With the youth movement in full swing for Washington, the focus this bye week was on what they didn’t fix during the first bye before the Utah game. 

“Certainly the third down thing more than ever have in practice,” Petersen said. “You kind of have your practice templates that you go with on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. But when something’s not exactly where you want it, whether it’s kickoff or third downs or whatever on defense, we’re going to go and spend more time on there, so we’ve been doing that for a little bit, sometimes it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers and away we go. But we keep working at it.”

Now with the challenge of taking on a Colorado squad that is also coming off of its second bye and featuring potential first-round talent on the outside in Laviska Shenault Jr., the Huskies understand the tough road ahead. 

“Coach [Mel] Tucker has done a nice job of getting those guys to play inspired,” Petersen said. “I think their crowds — from what you can see on tape — and that’s a tight venue down there where the stadium is right on you. They’ve had good crowds most of the whole season. I think that helps them. They play well at home. I think that’s another thing. So late, cold night, grass all those type of things. It’ll be a good challenge.”

Reach Sports Editor Alec Dietz at Twitter: @AlecDietz

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