In sizing up Saturday's competition, Washington coach Jim Lambright said he has tremendous respect for BYU's control of the line of scrimmage. He's also impressed with tailback Ronney Jenkins and the Cougars' defense.
What he failed to mention, however, was BYU's storied passing attack.And with good reason.
Through two games this season, the Cougars have yet to establish themselves in the air. BYU has attempted just 51 passes, completing 26, for a total of 348 yards. By appearance, the pass is a thing of the past in Provo. Over the course of a 38-31 loss at Alabama and last weekend's 26-6 victory against Arizona State, the Cougars have run the ball 81 times for 319 yards.
Jenkins, who rushed for a career-high 171 yards in the win over the Sun Devils, said BYU hasn't changed its offensive philosophy. The Cougars are simply capitalizing on whatever works. Jenkins, by the way, also happens to be the team's leading receiver with six receptions. He had three last week when starting quarterback Kevin Feterik completed just 6 of 20 passes for 166 yards.
"I can't fault Kevin. Because it wasn't completely his fault. The receivers weren't catching the ball like they should've been," Jenkins said of BYU's passing woes. "I think it will be different this week. We'll be focused."
If past history with Washington means anything, BYU had best get its act together. The Huskies held the Cougars to just 2 yards rushing in 25 attempts last year and 14 yards on 27 carries in 1996.
Jenkins and Edwards are confident Saturday's meeting will be different. Each acknowledges, however, that BYU will need a balanced attack to end its three-game losing streak to Washington.
"We've got to get better at throwing the football as well as running it," Edwards said. "And we will."
The keys, he said, are keeping turnovers to a minimum - the ball needs to stay up and adequate pass protection provided.
"If we don't throw the ball better than we're doing, it's not the quarterback as much as it's receivers getting open and timing," Edwards said. "It's no one particular fault. We've just got some work to do to get better at that phase of our game."
Improvement could come quick-ly. In its season opener (a 42-38 victory), Washington allowed Arizona State to complete 20 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns. The Cougars, however, aren't as deep as the Sun Devils.
BYU's receiving corps isn't as strong, and Feterik lacks the arm that Ryan Kealy possesses.
Edwards isn't concerned, though. He believes BYU's air attack will improve with experience.
"We'll get better at it. We'll get that part taken care of," Edwards said.
Passing on the pass?
QBs G Com-Att Int Yds. TD
Feterik 2 25-50 1 348 2
Miller 1 1-1 0 0 0
BYU 2 26-51 1 348 2
Foes 2 39-74 1 482 1