LOS ANGELES — Washington has its biggest challenge of the season facing it when the 105thRose Bowl kicks off Tuesday afternoon.
The No. 9 Huskies (10-3) earned their trip to Pasadena by holding opponents to 302 yards of offense a game, but are facing an Ohio State team that averaged 549 yards a game behind the arm of quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
“He’s definitely the best quarterback we’ve faced all year long,” Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said. “You see him coordinate the offense at the line of scrimmage — strong arm, athletic, big, hard to tackle.
“It’s everything we wanted at the end of the year. We want to play in a big-time bowl game against a big-time opponent and we got what we wanted.”
Haskins set 20 Ohio State and Big Ten records this season in throwing for 4,580 yards and 47touchdowns in his first season as a starter. He threw for more than 400 yards in five games, coming just a yard shy of 500 in the Big Ten Championship.
“To me he looks like a three-year starter when I’m watching him,” Lake said. “If you look at his numbers, the touchdowns he’s thrown, the yards he’s thrown for, the command of the offense, he does not look like a first-year starter to me at all.”
Lake said the Huskies haven’t faced anyone like Haskins in the Pac 12 this season.
Of the quarterbacks he’s had to face as a coach while in the NFL, Lake said Haskins reminds him of Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
“Big, tall, hard to tackle, makes all the throws,” Lake said. “You see him checking plays at the line of scrimmage, has a really good command of the offense.”
Lake said Haskins and the Buckeyes’ success starts up front with the offensive line.
“They’re nasty, they’re physical, exactly what you would want on an offensive line. And they blow defensive lines off the ball,” Lake said.
“I do think what doesn’t get a lot of publicity, for whatever reason, is their wide receiver corps,” Lake added. “There’s a whole set of wide receivers that are as talented as anybody in the country.
“So I know Haskins gets all the print, but he is throwing to some future NFL wide receivers.”