While Alabama possesses nearly every matchup advantage against Washington in the Peach Bowl, SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic believes the Huskies could have success in the passing game.
Washington faces a Herculean task in the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Alabama. Playing in Atlanta, in front of what will surely be a majority pro-Crimson Tide crowd, the Huskies will be up against the most talented team in the country led by, arguably, the best coach in the history of the game.
Are there any advantages that Chris Petersen’s team may have over the vaunted Crimson Tide? SEC Network sideline analyst Cole Cubelic told Campus Insiders it could come in the passing game, with quarterback Jake Browning and wide receiver John Ross possibly creating a mismatch.
“You look at some of the movement in Alabama’s secondary, and I think you can make a case for the success Browning and Ross have had. He’s a guy [Ross] they could maybe create space and mismatches for, and he could have a big game.”
Browning has been excellent this season, throwing for 3,280 yards and 42 touchdowns while being picked off just seven times. The problem for Washington, said Cubelic, will be protecting him from an Alabama defense that has recorded 45 sacks this season and whose front seven is loaded with NFL talent.
“Although I think the left side of that offensive line is pretty good, I’m not a big fan of the right side. With what Alabama is able to do when rushing three, four and five [players], especially in one-on-one situations, I think Washington is going to have to max protect and slide protect. Doing that puts you in a bit of a bind, and that gives the defense a bit of advantage. From a personnel standpoint, you can’t give that group [Alabama] advantages.”
Finding a way to get the ball to Ross, who finished the season with 1,122 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, will be both the responsibility of Browning and head coach Chris Petersen. Alabama has held its opposition to just 184.5 yards per game through the air, ranking 15th in the nation.
“I think they [Washington] will find some big plays. Chris Petersen is a good enough coach that with this much time, he’ll be able to find ways to get Ross the ball, and they’ll be able to push the ball down the field.”
With Alabama holding every other advantage in the Peach Bowl matchup, does Cubelic see a way of the Huskies pulling off the upset?
“Washington will find success. Will it be enough to beat Alabama? No.”