By the numbers: Halftime adjustments key to Washington’s 5-0 start

Coaches always want their teams to get off to a fast start, and that doesn’t just apply to the first quarter of games. Being able to regroup at halftime and come out strong in the third quarter can set the tone for the rest of the game.

For that to happen requires strong halftime adjustments, taking what occurred in the first 30 minutes and tweaking the game plan accordingly. It’s something Washington coach Chris Petersen has been good at throughout his career, never more so than this season.

Through five games the Huskies are outscoring their opponents 66-9 in the third quarter, a plus-57 scoring margin. The 11.4 points per game they outscore their foes by in that period is tied for fourth-best in FBS, based on Pac-12 DieHards research.

Team 3rd Quarter Pts. Scored 3rd Quarter Pts. Allowed Scoring Margin Avg. Margin
Alabama 73 0 +73 +14.6
Wisconsin 56 0 +56 +14.0
Georgia 62 3 +59 +11.8
Washington 66 9 +57 +11.4
South Florida 64 7 +57 +11.4
Virginia Tech 62 17 +45 +11.3

Washington has led at the half of each game this season, but in their road games at Rutgers, Colorado and Oregon State its margin was by seven points or fewer. That wasn’t the case after the third quarter, though:

  • In the season opener at Rutger, the Huskies turned a 10-7 halftime lead into a 13-point advantage en route to a 30-14 victory.
  • At Colorado in Week 4, Washington led 10-7 at the break and was up 24-10 after three quarters, going on to win 37-10.
  • Last week at Oregon State, a listless first-half performance resulted in just a 7-0 lead; by the end of the third quarter Washington was up 28-0 and won 42-7.

Adjustments made by Petersen and his staff paid off dividends right away in each case, as Washington scored touchdowns on its first possession of the second half each time. At Rutgers it first forced a punt and then went 83 yards in 10 plays, with quarterback Jake Browning throwing a 7-yard TD pass to Lavon Coleman, the first of four consecutive drives that resulted in points for the Huskies.

At Colorado, Browning connected with Quinten Pounds on a 43-yard TD pass just 3:22 into the third quarter to build a 10point lead. Colorado managed a field goal on its first second-half drive, then after Washington missed a field goal its defense stepped up when Myles Bryant returned an interception for a score and the rout was on.

The first half of the Oregon State game saw Washington score a TD on its first drive and then either punt or miss a field goal on the other four drives. The Huskies went 87 yards in six plays to open the third quarter, with Dante Pettis hauling in a 5-yard TD pass from Browning, and had TDs on four of the next five possessions (including two more Pettis TDs) while the Beavers ran 17 plays with three punts and two turnovers.

Washington’s blowout wins over Montana and Fresno State saw similar dominance in the third quarter but in those games it led at the half 35-7 and 41-7, respectively.

How will Saturday’s home game against California go? Based on what we’ve seen to this point, expect the Huskies to use the third quarter as their personal playground.

The post By the numbers: Halftime adjustments key to Washington’s 5-0 start appeared first on Diehards.

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