In the Halloween spirit, let’s analyze the scariest statistic for Washington’s erratic offense.
In 2016, the Huskies converted 44.12% of their third down attempts, ranking third in the Pac-12.
In 2017 and 2018, they finished first — at 45.39% and 45.36%, respectively.
The conclusion: even as other aspects of the offense fluctuated, UW produced a relatively consistent third-down conversion rate.
Which makes this season’s dramatic decline all the more surprising.
Through nine games this fall, Washington is moving the chains on 35.37% of its third down tries, which ranks 106th nationally and 11th in the Pac-12 (only ahead of California). They’re converting 41.38% in wins and 26.83% in losses. The chasm is even more evident in conference play, where UW is converting just 25.76% of the time (as opposed to 54.55% in the nonconference.)
It doesn’t matter, apparently, that Washington touts a talented quarterback, an experienced offensive line and a corps of capable running backs.
Any way you slice it, the Huskies are (literally) falling short.
The problem is apparent. The solution? Less so.
“That’s a frustrating one,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said on Monday. “Some of the things you think you should be pretty good at, we haven’t been good enough at. We just haven’t. We’re trying to figure that out and address that.
“One thing, you mentioned it earlier, one thing that might have changed us a little bit on third down was when Rich (Newton) went down. He’s an effective runner in those situations, those third-and-medium situations. But we still have a good scheme. We’ve still got guys who can make plays, but we’ve got to get better in those situations.”
Of course, the Washington offense has much more to worry about as well. The Huskies have largely struggled in the red zone (again), and there are lingering injury issues with wide receiver Aaron Fuller as well as running backs Richard Newton and Sean McGrew.